“The Dawn of Emergent Collaborationâ€ for MIT Sloan Management Review in 2006, and went on to expand on those ideas in our magazine and in the book Enterprise 2.0 (Harvard Business Publishing, 2009).
In a new Q&A with David Kiron, executive editor of Innovation Hubs at MIT SMR, McAfee looks back at the past six years and what heâ€™s learned about the triggers that generate CEO interest in social networking, what he misread and why the idea of controlling information flows is becoming obsolete.
In retrospect, I should have anticipated that weâ€™d be hanging the â€œ2.0â€³ suffix off everything, but I didnâ€™t. We hadnâ€™t yet been bombarded with â€œEverything 2.0,â€ so that suffix wasnâ€™t as tired as it is now.
I have always tried hard not to use the term â€œsocial,â€ not because itâ€™s inaccurate, but because it has primarily negative connotations, especially for a really hard-headed, pragmatic manager in a business, decision-maker in a business,
He looked around Hewlett-Packard and said, â€œIf only HP knew what HP knows, weâ€™d be three times more productive.â€
Whenever I say that to a room full of executives, you can see the heads nod.
especially if you want innovation and novelty, or introductions to other social networks, that your weak ties are a better place to go than your strong ties.
Iâ€™d say the idea of controlling information flows is becoming an obsolete notion. To me, the basic point of the 2.0 era is that we can get out of the business of predefining and controlling those information flows
Theyâ€™re afraid of hate speech or harassment. Theyâ€™re afraid of that one person whose idea of a joke is completely incompatible with somebody elseâ€™s idea of a joke. Afraid for security reasons, of the bad guys getting in or corporate secrets getting out. Afraid that thereâ€™s another body of information that could be part of a legal process, that could be subject to discovery rules.
Iâ€™ve been trying to collect horror stories for five-plus years now, and the amount of bad stuff that actually does happen when you open up the conversation and let more people, particularly your employees, participate in this stuff, is shockingly low.
Historically, for both internal and external purposes, there has been one official voice of a company, and itâ€™s blessed by the executive team and generated by the communications department. In the external world, on the Web, that world is over. You cannot be the only voice about your company and its products and its brands. Internally, you can try to stop that. You can shut off all the 2.0 stuff. My point is, if you do that, youâ€™re turning your back on a huge opportunity.
itâ€™s not the death of the hierarchy, of the manager, of the org chart, of the job description, any of that stuff. Some of my colleagues who are interested in this phenomenon, I think take it a bit far, and they become zealots for the manager-free, hierarchy-free, gestalt organization. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s smart, and I donâ€™t think itâ€™s likely, and I donâ€™t think it would be a good idea.
When I talk to CEOs, they desperately want to hear the voices of their customers, the voices of their employees. They want the straight talk to flow down and flow up in the company. But I also get the impression that thereâ€™s kind of a middle layer that has traditionally been the signal processor, both up and down, and some of them donâ€™t want to see that role go away.
They noticed that over and over again, some of the people who were on the leader board in the Java category, for example, were not hired for their Java. It wasnâ€™t their job. It wasnâ€™t even anything that TCS knew they were good at. But these people were manifesting not only an ability, but a willingness to share their knowledge and be helpful to colleagues.
This is actually one of the things that Iâ€™ve been advocating: why donâ€™t we make enterprise-level collegiality 10%, 15% of performance reviews every year?
“Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything youâ€™ve got working for you. They can hire away some of your best people. They can reverse engineer your processes. The only thing they canâ€™t duplicate is your culture.”
your competitors can see what you deliver, what you get done and the core pieces of how you do it. Even if they canâ€™t duplicate what you do exactly, they can get close enough to hurt you â€“ or take it to the next level and render your processes obsolete.
Itâ€™s the context that makes it so hard to duplicate a winning culture. Because every organizationâ€™s environment is different, matching someone elseâ€™s behaviors, relationships, attitudes, and values will not produce the same culture.
The big thing Lou Gerstner did was reversing that attitude. Behaviors and relationships followed.
“To get a glimpse of what tomorrow’s young global managers might be like as leaders, take a look at how today’s young people think about communications.
For one thing, they are devoted to connectivity. In a recent survey of more than 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries, Cisco found that more than half said they could not live without the internet, and if forced to choose, two-thirds would opt to have an internet rather than a car. This intense desire to be connected leads to a demand for greater flexibility”
Two out of five people said they’d accept a lower-paying job if the position offered greater flexibility on access to social media, the ability to work from where they chose, and choice on the mobile devices they could use on the job
Young leaders will use social media to create a running dialog with their employees and colleagues, issuing constant updates about their projects and ideas. Employees will use it to provide instantaneous input and feedback. Workers, via this medium, will insist on having a voice in shaping the company’s vision and strategy.
What is the appropriate level of openness?
How much blurring of public and private life is too much?
How can the company prevent abuse of social media?
When employees from VPs to interns are sharing company information on Twitter, on Facebook, and in blogs while your competition is watching, how do you ensure that your employees understand what information is confidential and what is public?
As companies resolve these issues, management styles will evolve. The days when a leader can confidently say “I know best” will come to an end. Managers will no longer be able to communicate with just a small circle of trusted advisers â€” they’ll be expected to interact digitally with a much broader range of people both inside and outside the company.
“In my last post Don’t Cross the Streams, I challenged the idea that integrating multiple sources of information into activity streams is a good thing. This struck a nerve with some people (mainly vendors) while others completely agreed with me. A friend of mine an fellow industry analyst suggested that I follow up by posting possible solutions, so below are the few of the areas I think can help: “
Not everyone wants to see status updates in the same place they see support tickets or new sales opportunities.
If we are going to continue down the path of taking dozens of different pieces of information and cramming them into one place, then a single stream is not the way to go
Most enterprise products like Yammer, SocialCast, Jive and Socialtext enable the creation of groups, but these are not the same as lists. A group is public (at least to it’s members) and controlled by an admin.
In order to make sure they don’t miss important information there should be options for being notified via email and/or SMS,
these notifications just create more email, but for most people that is still a very necessary evil.
Enterprise software vendor Tibbr has an excellent filtering system, where people can easily set up their own streams based on a combination of parameters such as subject, sender or time. You can give each stream a name, set up the rules and viola
Facebook does this by providing a choice of Most Recent or Top Stories. The problem is perhaps 3 people on the planet have any idea what logic goes into actually making something a “top story
NewGator has a nice feature where you can display the activity stream as a heatmap. Colour coding is used to display the most active conversations, which you can then click on to drill down into more detail
Jive Software has a “What Matters” stream which their help describes as “an engine that collects and analyzes user activity in the community to recommend useful content, people, and places to individual users, and reports trending content and people. The Recommender looks at business relationships, user expertise, and areas of interest based on a user’s behavior in the community to suggest relevant content that Jive knows a user has not yet seen.
BM has told me they are working on similar smart filters for IBM Connections which will leverage the power of their Cognos analytics tools.
I do think automated smart filtering has potential to help people navigate huge amounts of content. However, I remain skeptical about an algorithm’s ability to decide what I should, or more importantly what I want to see, especially at a specific time or context.
“On reflection, it struck me that the conversation this year was very different than in years past. We were no longer talking about reinventing leadership but about adding new elements to the old model. An additive operation in the algebra of change, as my colleague Stuart Albert would put it, not a subtractive or transformative process.”
Since the 2008 economic crisis, two very different “rhetorics” about leadership have coexisted. One, the traditional rhetoric, says that our perpetually shifting environment calls for leadership that is more decisive and crisis-oriented than the slow and consensual style that we might prefer in more munificent times. The second, more “politically correct” rhetoric says that the old, command and control model is responsible for many of the problems of the recent years and that only with a more collaborative and inclusive leadership will we get the flexibility, innovation, and new thinking that we need to prosper in a fast-changing and hyper-connected world.
Now it seems that we have settled on a solution â€” not “either/or,” but “yes/and.”
“The raw materials of the knowledge era are knowledge-based intangibles. You may be nodding your head as you read this. But do you really know what it means? If not, you are not alone. Knowledge continues to be seen as an amorphous, misunderstood part of business. This widespread ignorance isnâ€™t helped by the vocabulary. The word intangibles itself is troubling because its very definition implies that an intangible is invisible, untouchable, and unknowable. The word knowledge is also very general and lacks a specific connotation for business value creation. Yet knowledge is the core asset of this century. “
There are four basic types of knowledge assets that become the raw material for your value creation: human, relationship, structural and strategic capital.
What has changed is that these knowledge intangibles have moved from a supporting to a star role in business models.
Even the future of manufacturing is dependent less on tangibles and more on intangibles such as a trained workforce, a culture that supports continuous improvement, a network that maximizes the quality and cost of your total production process and structural knowledge that ensures consistency as well as serving as a launch pad for innovation. Buying equipment is not the hard partâ€”getting all the intangibles right is.
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