Last year I was asked what I thought about Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0). While it’s a popular subject amongst some management theorists, there aren’t many examples of E2.0 in practice. Peter Evans-Greenwood has a good analysis of why E2.0 is not ready for mainstream business implementation due to regulatory constraints:
So, I agree with naysayers that the business case for E2.0 etc “transforming business into a more social business” is not there today. I disagree in that I think it will happen, but we need to up-end regulation first.
As I write this, it seems the term “social business” is already replacing E2.0. Social business should be understood by organizational leaders because they will need to be ready for a significant change in their operating models in the near future. Social business is almost ready to cross the chasm.
Social business is about a shift in how we do work, moving from hierarchies to networks. The highest value work today is the more complex stuff, or the type of work that cannot be automated or outsourced. It’s work that requires creativity and passion. Doing complex work in networks means that information, knowledge and power no longer flow up and down. They flow in all directions. As John Seely Brown said, you can only understand complex systems by marinating in them. This requires social learning. Complex work is not linear. Social business is giving up centralized control and harnessing the power of networks. It is as radical as was Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management in 1911.
The potential of social business is organizational survival. Enterprises must be able to share knowledge quicker than before. This requires a shift toward something like a starfish framework that not only allows for independent action but also distributes knowledge through all the parts. Social learning is how organizational knowledge gets distributed. Social businesses can learn quicker.
The main barriers to social business are cultural. People in charge of most organizations today got there by doing things the traditional way of the MBA mindset. They feel they do not need to change and few are willing to give up power and authority, even if it is for the good of the organization.
Shortly after posting this, I came across an article in CIO: How Social is Taking Over Business [dead link]