GE, enterprise 2.0 since….1989

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One of the the most frequently mentioned enterprise 2.0 successful project is General Electric’s SupportCentral. It’s true that their numbers are really impressive even for those who usually criticize anything that’s about 2.0. So, inevitably, people wonder how they dit it.

The recipe is obviousl well known : a long term project, deeply anchored in employees’ day to day job, where conversations are led by operations. So we could content with this explaination and say that anyone who wants the same results just have to do the same things. But there’s certainly something else…

While investigating, I found the trace a project gradually implemented between (if my sources are rightà 1989 and 1992 at GE. That’s to say a long time before the conscience that the web, generation Y and all the usual arguments will revolutionize the way people work.

The idea behind “workout” (since it was its name) was, when facing a problem, to gather the more relevant people (regarldess to their functional or hierarchical position) and make them interact in what was nothing else than a flat problem solving process. For further details, everything is explained here.

Building groups according to people’s relevance and not to the organization chart, favor “flat” discussions, beeing problem solving oriented, relying on a strong executive sponsorship, making managers teach by the example, inviting a facilitator when needed…. all these things seem very close to what we say have to prevail in internal communities implementation ? It really looks similar. And embodies the diagram I suggested here.

Workout’s template looks very relevant to implement these famous communities that enterprises still don’t get what makes them fail too much often.

If we extrapolate, we can say that workout is “small scope 2.0” since the need for gathering people prevented large groups, systematization of bottom-up, and making it a background routine for everybody. The new tools are only removing the barriers that prevented from making “workout” a common and day to day behavior, they only powered actual practices that match actual needs. We could deduce that more than being something new people had to be convinced about, they were meeting an expectation.

I don’t know in which way SupportCentral and workout are linked (and even if they are) but it’s obvious that SupportCentral was more likely to succeed in a company that implemented something like workout years before, the one being the natural development of the other.

Enterprise 2.0 does not solve any really new problem but removes the barriers that used to limit the solutions implemented (successfully or not) to solve more traditional problems. Its implementation will be more or less easy depending on wheter enterprises accept to deal with the underlying problems or not.

Entreprise 2.0, GE, résolution de problèmes, workout,management,organisation

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

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