This is what to conclude from this McKinsey Survey (by the way, it confirms what I’ve been thinking for years) that tries to bring us a view of the state of the art in enterprise 2.0 adoption. At first sight I really didn’t like the title “building the web 2.0” enterprise because it would suggest tools are central in organization. Fortunately, their survey shows it’s really the opposite.
First conclusion : bringing web 2.0 within the enteprise is not a fad but a heavy wide-range trend : internal, external, variois tools, wide perimeters of experiment. Second conclusion : promises are not as easy to be delivered than many thought.
It’s not a suprise for me and it matches what I observed. Two kind of companies are emerging : those who had a tool-centric view and thought the rest will follow, and those who used tools as pieces of an organization change process.
The first obviously seems to be the one that didn’t meet success, the second those that were successful.
Is it only a surprise ? Did people think half a second that providing tools that allow people to work differently without changing the way they were working would change anything ? In the best case nothing happens. In the worse case it causes more turbulences than it improves things. Without coordination, purpose, without sense, it’s impossible to imagine than uniform and productive ways of work would emerge, except by luck.
One the the point they raised as a cause of abandon is lack of participation. Usual case : since new tools don’t make sense in an old working environment, it’s not used. Or for wrong purposes. Thus we can conclude whether the tool or the organization is irrelevant. The first solution (ie considering tools as irrelevant) is more comfortable at short term but only postpone the decisions that have to be made in order to improve organizational efficiency. Believe me, they’ll have to rethink their position.
Another cause of failure is what I call the “pilot syndrom”. A tool is experimented in a short range use although it needs a criticall mass of users to provide benefis. No change management because…except the tool nothing changes. “We won’t change the way people work for a pilot…but if we validate the tool, we’ll think about that”. You can guess the result from the start : tools are not used because they don’t match any day to day need. So it’s useless, so it’s abandoned. Another point of view would be to say the experimentation failed not because of the tool but because of an irrelevant working context.
In the other hand, those who succeeded used the web 2.0 tools into processes, workflows, in short they made it used for business purposes. Once again we can identify two mistake made by those who didn’t do that : the first was to think tools were self sufficient, the second was to focus on small pilots athough in a contexte where people have never been so interdependant they can’t be asked to work differently according to who they are interacting with.
Other causes of failure : lack of involvement of leadership teams. Once again, it’s the characteristic of every projects which impact on management was neglected. Among identified causes of failure we can also find an unadapted culture. Obviously, it really seems to be about everything but technology.
IT departments are also key : when tools are chosen at an operational level projects often success, when the IT dept does, projects often fail. An evidence that some change is needed.
One more thing : a common characteristic of all successful experimentations is that people already notice a change in organizational structure. It proves that promises can be (quicly) kept if tools are a part of a global vision.