Sometimes some of my readers, rather than letting a comment or leaving with their doubts, send me questions by email. And among the questions, one comes so often that it desserves a public answer.
Generaly the mail looks that that
I’m very interesting in all that’s being said about enteprise and web 2.0. As a matter of fact, lack of information sharing, email overload, the fact good ideas never come to the surface are situations we experience everyday and we have to fix them for our company’s wealth. It’s obvious we have to learn to work a little bit differently.
On the other hand it’s hard for me to understand how all these tools, this “cloud computing”, will make my people work differently.
Perhaps you could give me some pieces of advice.
First I could start explaining the difference between tools and cloud computing, the second being rather a way to deliver the tools, or saying that enteprises are not the web that…
But what’s important is not there.
The issue is precisely identified, with concrete operative needs. Tools are identified too. The problem is about the “magic stick” that’s to say “I deploy tools, I close my eyes, I open them and then, all these things that would have need a change management project, actions in terms of communication, coaching, are not here anymore”. I have the regret to inform you that the “magic stick” feature has not been implemented in any software solution so far.
There’s nothing new saying that
– email did not make people communicate : it met a need for quick and frequent exchanges
– ERPs didn’t change any process : they were parametered in order to fit the existing processes or the company took benefice of its implementation to redesign process.
– databases are not created because there’s a hope someone will fill them but because somebody needs bases to store datas.
So we have to get back to basics : as Bell Canada showed us “tools don’t solve problems that are human by nature”,and, generaly speaking, all those who once tried to do things with communities of practices learned, sometimes at their expenses, that if a scattered community needs relevant tools to live, the tools by themselves never create ex-nihilo communities. Saying it another way, as I told at a conference where I spoke last year “instead of wondering how to make you people adopt 2.0 tools you should first wonder why”.
In brief, people who like to think there’s a magic stick hidden on the coulds may experience a strong shower when they try to find it. In the other hand, sun can be found by wondering ;
– how we’d like things to be if we could start from a blank sheet of paper (in terms of behaviors and way to do business)
– measure the gap with the existing situation
– bridge the gaps step by step, making things possible. It’s about management, HR, communication, processes…. and a few wisely choosen tools that facilitate things and show it’s possible.
– go faster : once this will be done you’ll be asked to go further because a real business purpose will exist.
Which means :
– whare are people’s needs in terms of exchanges and interactions in order to do their day to day job.
– how to make these interactions happel in real life, even before thinking of virtualizing them.
– what’s already possible with relevant existing tools ?
– how is it possible to optimize the rest, what isn’t shared or through irrelevant chanels ? (starting with adopting a proper use of email may be a good thing).
– and once this is done, that people are more comfortable with tools, that the things that really make sense for people are more simple, we can proceed to the next step : really new practices that were too hard to be understood and visualized at the beginning by people who couldn’t understand what tools there were not using could make possible.
Tools won’t change the way people work by themselves. But they support the change and are essential for it. They are a mean and not a goal and enterprises may think about how people should behave every day before thinking of tools. They won’t do everything but seing how critical is the issue, they make a great and essential job.