Enterprise 2.0 people-centric ? Are you really sure ?

Summary : one of the biggest claimed contribution of enterprise 2.0 is people-centricity. But, apart from having a rich profile telling who people are and the capacity to publish information without information and sign it with their name, what does this people-centricity mean for people ? According to the principle that says the system only lives by the contents that are published, it seems that, even unconsciously, people are asked to serve the system and not the inverse. In fact, users are “promoted” to a content producer without any consideration for their ability and capacity to reuse and make the most of the shared contents. If we want the system to become really people centric we need more than this : new practices to acquire and the freedom of putting them at work. Any 2.0 approach that does not come with an empowerment project will remain content-centric, not people-centric.

One of the key elements of the proposition of value of enterprise 2.0 is to be people-centric instead of being document, processus or anything else centric. The quite clear idea behind this is to say that, if people are the organization biggest asset in the knowledge economy, the whole system has to be structured around them to serve them instead of enslaving them and monopolizing their time and attention for tasks that don’t creat any value to the detriment of those that do.

It applies to a wide and impressive range of situations : useless emails or email discussions unable to support a long and structured conversation, loss of information and knowledge that force people to waste to find them a big amount of time that won’t be available to use them, to much time used to process “internal spam”…

Centering any logic on the user means sparing him with tedious tasks so he’ll focus on those he’s irreplaceable at.

A user-centric approach would mean providing them with what they need and, most of all, teaching them to use it. Too many employees manage to find the right ideas, the good practices or information and have no means to use them. This kind of situation is often caused by lack of empowerment, when people have the right competences to implement things or to lack of support when they don’t have the competences and are looking for someone to rely on.

And what is the main line of many adoption strategy ? Make your employees contribute. Make them generate contents !

For most employees, it just does make no sense because they have the impression to be told to serve a machine they have to feed without expecting anything in return. It’s a little bit like telling a train driver that the specificity of the new “driver centric locomotive” they’ll drive is that…they’ll have to put coal into the boiler themselves.

At this point, enterprise 2.0 is not people-centric (even if there are noticeable exceptions) but content centric….and the quantity of content is often the way success is measured regardless to what contents are (re)used for.

But this is not an irreversible situation if we consider content generation as a primer But users need to know the following steps that will make them feeling like starting the content machine.

A user-centric system should :

• Guarantee users that the information and people they need will be present, identifiable and mobilisable in the system.

In other words, if we want people to get involved we’ll need more that a system used by only 10% of employees. It implies a systematic sharing of some information (to be put in the flow, with all the consequences in terms of job description, evaluation etc…)

This can partly automated. An action in a given tool  can generate an element and event in an activity stream without asking people to double-enter the same content, what is something they’ll never do. Example : a salesperson enter data in the CRM should be able to enter the quantitative and “narrative” data in the same interface, one going to the CRM and the other to the social platform with a link  between both. Synergies and integration are key here.

Mobilisable… here again we’ll face management/HR issues. Make oneself available may make sense for many employees. It may also make sense for the organization if employees are evaluated and rewarded according to a global optimum vs a local maximum (ex : being incited to generate a value of 10 for oneself instead of helping a colleague to generate 30.)

• Empower employees to help them reuse what they’ll get

Even if they have the impression or the certainty to find what they need, employees need to know how to (re)use it. Change the way they do things, implement a new solution to a problem is something they need to learn and has to be secured. It’s about empowerment, trust, letting go… Without these elements, information is not usable so it has no value. So contributing is useless.

• Optimize the information flow

It’s nothing but a tool logic and the good news is that it’s coming, at least from some clear-sighted vendors. “Pushing” the right sources, suggesting the right contacts to users depending on their activities, history, improves the signal/noise ration and improves the perceived value of the tool and the social approach for employees.

Building anything people-centric in the organization is allowing anyone to mobilize the right resources and information and use it to face their day-to-day problems. What I called “service oriented organization” (or SOO) two years ago shares some points with adaptive case management that will surely be a major trend in the upcoming months….and not only to provide people with a rich profile linked to their contributions in which they’ll say they love fishing or to encourage them to write tons on contents to possibly win an internal Pulitzer prize !

PS : One question  came to my mind while writing this post. In your opinion, is there any difference between people-centricity and user-centricity ?

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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