McKinsey identifies 6 key sucess factors for enterprise 2.0

McKinsey recently issued a report on enterprise web 2.0 projects which identifies what they think being the six success factors for such projects. Before reading what follows, I suggest you to read what they were saying about that a few months ago in order to get some distance.


Companies has been trying to optimize their transactional processes (ERP, CRM) for a long time. Now, we’re getting close to the end of what these logics can bring and the next challenges are about collaboration and participation. In this approach, many businesses tried to import web 2.0 tools within their organization, hoping they will “de facto” bring the same resultats as those we can see on the general public web. Most of times they failes, for two reasons. The first is the uncomfort of managers toward the potential risks implied by the needed changes. The second comes from the fact managers don’t know how to encourage and make possible the form of collaboration that can create value. Whatever, companies will persist and this market will experience a significant growth in 2009.

According to me it’s a classical analysis of the current situation and issues what does nothing but confirm what many experts have been saying for years. What is good it that somethings things are most likely to be heard when the come with a McKInsey logo.

Technically speaking I would make a reservation about the first chart of the report. According to me web 2.0 is also about transactions, but a different kind of transactions than those that were taken into account before. Maybe it would be useful to qualify more this evolution of the nature of transactions to have a better positionning for this kind of project.

For what’s about companies’ perseverance, I think it’s unavoidable. After having focused on optimizing processes, new performance pools have to be found elsewhere and, I as wrote earlier, the current crisis is more about management and business models than purely economic. So, finding new ways of operating in alignment with tomorrow’s business models is strategic.

Second reservation : in their web 2.0 tools chart, all of them are postionned as being broad communication or creation tools but social networks which appears as being about social graphing. I think we have to get rid of the common general public vision of social networks to make them used to collaborative and intelectual proximity analysis. Their purpose may not be to link people but link people through information and information through people.

Whatever, here are my thoughts about this 6 success factors.

Quoi qu’il en soit McKinsey a identifié six facteurs de succès pour réussir les projets web 2.0 en entreprise. Je vous laisse lire le rapport pour prendre connaissance de leurs analyses, voici le regarde que je porte dessus.

•The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.

I often say that enterprise 2.0 lives from the bottom and is born by the top. No one knows what are employees’ needs better than themselves. But companies also have to provide guidelines, frameforks. We must also remember that, condidering the number of pasts initiatives aiming at “putting employees at the center of the company”, the so-called employees now wait for their hierarchy to show the example before getting themselves on the train. Sense is also key : asking people to adopt such or such behaviors while these behaviors are contrary to the objectives people have been assigned and to the way they are evaluated is a nonsense. Both sense and alignmend must come from the top.

• The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.

The report shows that the applications that deliver the most value are seldom those that were identified by the management. That said, one a good use emerges, its spread must be facilitated and not fought against for the reason it’s not a part of the scheduled plan. This takes us back to the previous point. More generally, it points out a mistake I often saw in projects : the participative web 2.0 tools are not made to do what companies would like but makes no sense for employees, but to remove barriers to help people do what they need to achieve their objectives. No group will do “online” what he would not “in real life”, in a meeting room. Sense and alignment again.

• What’s in the workflow is what gets used.

Another point I mentioned here many times. Companies should not built a bubble 2.0 within their walls but makes it easier for theor staff to get things done and achieve their objectives. Employee 2.0 is not the internaut 2.0. One expresses himself and speaks, the other exchanges and interact in the context and scope of his job, of projects. Because I experience myself both sides, I can tell you these are two radically different ways of 2.0ing. As convinced as I may be, I consider that if any 2.0 tools doesn’t fit what I have to do and the context I’m in at work, in my daily production process, I won’t use it because it won’t be relevant. I already have a pot plant on my desk and I have no need to lose my time to water a new one on the intranet just to make it survive.

• Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets

The underlying idea is that the hunt for bonuses and achieving goal is not what drives participation and that egos the need for recognition are better drivers.

I don’t fully subscribe to this point of view. Sometimes that works. Sometimes not at all. It depends on the corporate culture and, according to what I saw in many cases, the fear of being exposed is stronger than the need  for recognition for many employees. It also depends on generations but everybody’s needed to achieve successful implementations. Globally speaking, I stick to what I said before : the most relevant thing to position tools as a production tool and integrate it in day to day workflows. Once it’s done, participation is not a concern anymore : there is a new norm and people have to follow it. It get people rid of their complexes because it was not their choice, they don’t take the lead and, in some ways, it makes them feel comfortable to start something new. Once a new core of shared practices has been built, those who are driven by recognition will go further by themselves and serve as practice leaders.

As an example, consider what’s been done at GE, where the focus was on communities’s needs

We focused on community needs to deliver a process,” says Grewal. “It was a far cry from a portal… We were about real people, not grandiose visions.”

As regards the fact of setting individual goals linked to the way people use 2.0 platforms, you know what I think of that. It’s not relevand and can have painful side-effects. The activity on a platform is an indicator for means, not for results. It can be used to drive a project, not to evaluate people. The best way to make people use a tools is to make it senseful and not to set incentives. The incentive has to be put on the final purpose the tools is supposed to serve. How useful it is to reward people for something without checking the final impact on business ?

So I agree with the focuss on needs. Less with the focus on egos. Whatever, it must not be the only driver. And if you want to do things well, check the alignement of incentives with the needs. Encouraging people to do things that does not match anything in the scope of their mission is dangerous. But it often happens…

• The right solution comes from the right participants.

What to add ? It’s key to be able to identify quickly the right people to involve them in exchanges on a given topic and that “right” people are not only defined by their title or their function.

• Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

Here again, between a stric control that kills any initiative and a global “letting do” which is not relevant in a corporate conext, the solution is halfway. It depends on the corporate culture or of the vision of a manager that drives a project, that runs a business unit. One of my favorite policies is “don’t be stupide”. It’s often more efficient than tons of internal regulations.

Nothing new since last autumn so… and not many things you didn’t read from other experts before. But I hope the fact it comes from McKinsey will help businesses to understand that it’s not a matter of tools and that neglecting the human and managerial sides often lead to failure.

For those who want to read some more things, have a look at my advices to a friend who’d like to try enterprise 2.0 and the 20+1 reasons not to lauch an enterprise 2.0 project.

I also think that to build the perfect conditions, a glance at Hamel’s thoughts would be helpful. We can also start wondering about the link between management 2.0 and enterprise 2.0.

Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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