Enterprise 2.0 and Human Capital Management to support strategy

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As we saw in a previous post, since human, information and organization capital support all the processes that create value, the question we have to answer is whether all these things we put in this “big bag” called enterprise 2.0 can help developing this pool of value. Or to make it clearer : in which way a company can rely on enterprise 2.0 to achieve its goals.

I’ll start with a warning : when saying enterprise 2.0 I’m talking in a broad sens, which also includes management practices and culture in addition to the tools. I don’t believe in the tool-centric definition that reduces a company to the tools it uses and forget its rules, its people, its culture, its history.

I’ll also add that what I say is “how can enteprise 2.0 help” : in no way I’d think that enteprise 2.0 would be self-sufficient. What we’re talking about must be used together with many existing things.

So let’s start our first step : human capital.

What are we talking about : competences, talents and know-hows which are necessary to achieve strategic goals.

The point is to assess which key-competences are needed just as their availability.

So it takes us back to the strategy in question. If the company realizes that a better internal use of information, that the fact people can work both horizontally and vertically in order to escape from silos when needed, that it has to improve the way external information is harnessed and reused internally…is essential, so well, it’s a part of the 2.0 attitude. Knowing how to use, identify, transmit information is one of the enteprise 2.0 paradigm pillars. Saying that, if formal processes need such competences we’re on the right way.

I also include what is about inter-personal skills. And what are the enterprise 2.0 pillars : transparency, autonomy, trust, partiality for exchange, communication, sharing, mutual aid, co-building, collaboration. Here agian it seems like they are key competences companies really need.

We can also mention the excellent example of archivists : competences are already here, whithin the company. The only missing thing is that internal processes learn how to rely on them and take the most of what they can bring. It also prooves our rocket is a multi stages one.

In the other hand, when we talk about knowledge and know-hows, we adress the tacit and informal fied which is KM 2.0 domain. Formal knowledge are already manageable (with less or more success but it’s another debate) just when informal is unexploited : local expertise, individual experience only remain local and can’t be harnessed by the whole organization in order to use and spread it.

Let me also add that enterprise 2.0 is the ideal field of microlearning or peer to peer learning which role in transmitting knowledge are keys.

This leads us to the question of disponibility.

Skills, competences, knowledge, expertises are key but is it worth recruiting an expert is no one can learn from him, if its expertise leaves the company at the time he resigns. Things have to made in order to what is proper to anyone or a team can be considered as a part of the enterprise’s patrimony. If processes are global, the assets that support them can’t remain local.

As this Aspen Institute Report concludes : “the most accessible form of knowlegde is conversation”.

At this point we’re reaching the software level, web 2.0 tools, because they make knowledge more easily expressible and are efficient discussions platforms. So they are very relevant to make knowledge available to people who will more and have to build their own information supply chain, supply chain made possible by the above mentionned technologies : semantic search engines, social search, social bookmarking, aggregators, RSS feeds.. who help sourcing, sorting, searching (noise to signal ratio…) what’s published on all blogs and wikis inside or outside the company, build in information flow to the user and formalize the actual networks within the organization.

So we can see the dual side of enterprise 2.0, in the field of human capital : one which is more about HR people and the other which is about tools that will support their projects.

Also have a look on this post from Volker Seubert which addresses the same issues.

Of course we can imagine that, in order to achieve its goals, a comapany would need people who don’t exchange, who don’t need to progress together, whose main quality would be to be withdrawn and who like to reinvent the wheel every morning. In this case this post has no relevance.

In any other case, enterprise 2.0 has its role to play to improve human capital in order to support strategy.