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Enterprise 2.0 : the last step before the project economy ?

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A few months ago I wondered if we were on the road to an externalisazion of enterprise’s non structuring function, which may paradoxally put value creation outside the enterprise. In this situation the enterprise’s only job would be to manage outsiders according to its needs. I don’t say it’s a good or a bad thing, it’s only an objective possibility.

Someone reminds me of this note and told me : “it’s more real than you may think : if we could measure ressources used to fight against the weight of the system compared to those reallu used to create value it would scare a lot of people”.

Let’s come back to the model that may be offered by the future enterprise. Let’s have a look on the engagement model proposed by the digital natives which looks more like partnership than employement. Let’s, at last, have a look at the Coase Theorem (enterprise’s size depends on transaction costs…but how much costs information today ?). Let’s also consider solutions like innocentive for example…

The most obvious conclusion would be to say that if companies can’t, internally, combine employement and partnership model, decreasing not only information acquiring costs but also the cost of use of all its intangible assets (ie making them available and usable, not only being satisfied they are “inside”), we may soon reach a tipping point.

When I say “nuclearization” I don’t inevitably think about an enteprise-initiated phenomenon : companies may also become victim of their talents. And I don’t think inevitably about the “all self-employed” model : it thing about human sized structures wich are more likely to provide collective efficiency in a more totally fulfulling context, especially if we consider digital native’s expectations. It reminds me of an indicator that I would find useful : measuring the time needed to have the authorization to do someting, time needed for coordination (meeting), for reporting…but also the time managers spent to try to have an overview of what everybody does (even if it doesn’t change a thing)…and the time left for doing the time do to the job people are paid for… According to an Harvard Business School Survey (Beyond Budgeting : How managers can break free from the annual performance trap, Jeremy Hope et Robert Fraser), companies spend 25000 days on planification and control.

But this model which sets the enterprise at the center of an ecosystem of partners who would serve it not upon orders but with a real will of engagement, not according to time but according to a defined objective, a project, is not so new.

This model prevailed to the creation of many business units. It’s the case when huge companies create startups at their periphery in order to make them reactive and innovative. With less than convincing results as the mother compan often failed to take benefits from its externalized units, most often for cultural reasons.

Let’s consider the number of self employed people in the USA, in the countries that last joined EU or in emerging economies that had to build very competitive structures to compete with industrialized countries. Let’s consider the number of less than 50 employees in France, compared to the global employement. And people’s appetence for smaller companies where they can fulfill themselves by their work, not being annoyed by too many administrative tasks.

Not a self-employed world but ecosystems of small structures, externalized business units, poles of competences.

In the knowledge economy the need for capital is close to zero, people are their own capital. A ten people team can efficiently work from a distance.

Then we can ask ourselves what will be the next step, if companies can’t built within them an intrapreneurship economy, relying not on a command chain but a co-contract chain. Perhaps we’ll see the emergence of a partnership economy, a project economy.

Globally if knowledge and competences marketplaces don’t emerge inside the enterprise, they will emerge outside.
PS : If, with luck, companies could manage to balance all of that internally, this note would obviously be useless. Let’s review the situation within ten years.

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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