A central corporate department is in charge of your enterprise 2.0 project ? Some traps to avoid

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An enteprise 2.0 project (or whatever the name it’s given) can be carried by many different kind of people or departments. A dedicated joint team (what is ly prefered choice), HR dept, Communication Dept, IT dept… This is something that has to be thought about upstream but in many cases someone takes the leadership and starts the engine. There is no perfect solution but some traps to avoid when a central corporate department is in charge.

So sum it up in one line : B2E professionals struggle to do E2.E. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter and it’s logical. The only things to do is take the necessary precautios and everything will be fine. Beyond this abstruse formulating, let’s see what’s the reality behind…

Let’s consider, for instance, a project driven by the communication department or the HR department. They are B2E departments, what stands for “Business to employees”. These departments usually address employees in a vertical and one way fashion. If these departments take the lead on the project that’s often because they can see the limits of their current model and try to improve their efficiency. For instance the Com’ Dept can think that wat matter is not to deliver the message (what is a means) but to ensure that it’s understood by all. Explaining things supposes to know if the message was understood, what are employee’s concerns. This implies a feedback channel and the ability to enegage conversations : hence the interest for 2.0 things when they understand that expressed or not  doubt is a doubt and  the easier way to correct and react is to let the signal come to them. Of course, the scope of the project can be wider but this is the kind of concerns that are often at the beginning of an E2.0 project.

These depts are here for doing vertical stuff, and it’s necessary. The 2.0 logic is a part of a PDCA-like approach that helps to adjust and react in real time to improve their impact on the organization. That’s no that hard to understand provided people know have a clear vision of the expected results and what will happen, what is the best way to avoid last minute fears.

So everyhting is fine….until the day when the project blocks. The reason is known and foreseeable : the question of the possible use of tools par employees, at their initiative, for their own needs arises and, suddenly, projects leaders feel like their loosing control, that their project is running away from them. That’s normal :  as I wrote above, their role is to do “B2E” things, and, even in a 2.0 approach, to keep the lead, the initiative, in one word : keep the process under control even it they try to democratize it. On their side, employees  also need “E2E” stuff (stands for employees to employees” in order to facilitate their workaday work. So it should be an employee-driven process, for their own problems and, necessarily, practical-things-oriented  on subjects on which, logically, and HR or Com dept does not have neither any hold nor any expertise or competence since that’s local management’s call.

This may lead to an interesting schizophrenia case : “as a central corporate departmen I do some 2.0 stuff toward employees but as a manager of this department I don’t know how to do so with my own staff (rather, let them do it on their own).

Does it matter ? No, because it’s logical and it’s possible to go beyond provided the reason of the confusion is understood as explained above. It we come back to thechart I recently published and explained, it becomes even clearer.

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Integrating Enterprise 2.0

Even if a B2E department is at ease in the “community management” part, because that’s its job, it’s very uncomfortable in the “socio-collaborative management” (or management 2.0)  part, ie in the workflow world because it’s not its call. That does not mean the project has to be half-done or that half the enterprise”s needs have to be left uncared and people left alone, or (even worse) that E2E things should be forbidden because the so-called corporate dept does not know how to manage that.

So, what to do ?

1°) Take care of the upper part of the chart and do it well.

2°) Understand that the folling part of the project needs a different approach and what does not mean loss of control. And be comfortable with that.

3°) Refer to my previousIT and HR dept post and get some inspiration from it. It’s not anymore about keeping control and leadership for oneself but being apple to help managers and accompany them on their practical and ground-work issues, to be a center of expertise, positioning oneself as an internal service provider, an internal offer. It may need some extra “out of department” expertises, that’s why I suggest an adhoc joint team. Then they have to increase their understanding and skills on things like : identifying operating issues, conceive and implement a social routine, users training, managers support (not in community management but operating management through social tools) etc… At this time, the corporate central department will be able to accompany managers who have operations related needs that can be solved by E2.0 and, so, to embrace the full E2.0 scope. In some case it would even be a good way to dust its image and improve its internal prestige by appearing as a soluton provider on a new problematic it contributes to make easy and simple to deal with for the whole organization.

Note : both can happen on the same tools but with dedicated spaces, or on different tools. It does not matter. What’s important is to find the most relevant model in any specific enterprise case.

adoption, B2E, Communication, communication-interne, community management, drh, E2E, Entreprise 2.0, Management, management 2.0, management socio-collaboratif