2.0 for the Enterprise

Archive for April, 2008

What’s your nGen Era Story?

Posted by Susan Scrupski on April 29, 2008

BSG Alliance, my employer, changed its name to nGenera (en-gen-ER-a) this week. I really like the new name and logo. Because we’ve grown so fast (acquiring 5 companies in less than a year), it was important to mash-up all the humans under one single identity and brand.

I’m sure someone in my company will correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was my idea to center on this meme we call “Next Generation Enterprises.” We kicked around a lot of strategic messaging ideas in the early days and this one stuck. Everyone and their half-brother is now moving into the space we scoped out about a year ago. Of course, we are ahead of the game and have a strong revenue story, so we can be smug for about 5 seconds.

The nGen meme comes to us by way of our in-house guru, Don Tapscott. Most readers of my blog should have already seen Don’s talk this year at one conference or another. I’m incredibly proud to be associated with the think-tankers up at Don’s research organization in Toronto. If you aren’t feeding the Wikinomics blog, today’s the day to start. Terrific bits of brilliance on the 2.0 scene come out of there on a daily basis.

We also have a deep and wide reservoir of expertise in the Talent arena with voices such as Tammy Erickson who is blogging on Harvard Business Online. One of the areas where we excel is pegging trends in the demographics of the workplace. Don refers to the cohort of kids who’ve grown up digital as N-Gens. In Don’s talk, he tells a story about how he thought his son was a prodigy when he was young, but soon realized all his son’s friends were prodigies too. They’re born digitally wired.

So it’s this particular slice of our nGenera story I want to focus on in this post– how different the “youngsters” are from us. This weekend I took my son and his friends to see “Shine a Light” the Martin Scorsese concert film of the Rolling Stones. I kid myself that just because I share an appreciation for 70s bands with my son, I’m cooler than my parents. I’m so not cool in his eyes at all.

I already blogged a while ago about how my son is a guild master on World of Warcraft, but the latest development came this year when his 6th grade teacher asked the class to take a keyboarding speed test. I remember taking typing in high school. A passing grade was 40 wpm, and it was tough for most of my peers to pass that test. My son Alex types 118 wpm with one error. He’s 11.

In the past month, Alex figured out how to use iMovie. He is now the neighborhood film director/producer/publisher. I am arranging for tutoring lessons so he can learn Final Cut from an nGenera GenY who works in our office. Like Don’s son, my son seems like a prodigy to me, but he’s just a normal nGen kid. He lives online. T.V. is a background noise if it’s on at all. He goes to school with his iPod, txts his friends with his phone, and IMs from his MySpace page most of the night, while surfing YouTube for skating videos.

Is Enterprise ready for my son and his friends? No. That’s my mission for nGenera: To make work like play so you can make more money doing what you do.

I’ll leave you with one of Alex’s videos. Taking a page out of Debbie Weil’s comment handbook, feel free to leave a comment for Alex. “No need to say you know me.” 😉

What is your nGen story?

Posted in Enterprise 2.0, Next Net, nGen, Personal Commentary, Social Media, social networking, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Crowd clout du jour– did you say Facebook?

Posted by Susan Scrupski on April 23, 2008

investor FB group

I was flipping through The Economist this morning (one of two publications I subscribe to) and this headline caught my eye:

Beware grannies on Facebook

The story details about how hundreds of small investors self-organized and forced a decision reversal and reimbursement of investment funds. This is a terrific example of the power of citizen collaboration and crowd-clout. I’ve started reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Shirky details several examples along the same lines. If you have some time, watch Shirky’s talk from Harvard last month.

From the Economist piece:

People who would never have met in real life, from pig farmers and retired loggers to MBA students and pastors, created a formidible interest group.

This piece also busts two myths: only kids on Facebook and Facebook is dead.

Posted in Social Media, social networking | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Corporate Antisocial Behavior: the Enemy is Us.

Posted by Susan Scrupski on April 22, 2008

silencefailsThis bugaboo of a word “social” is the irritant with social software in the enterprise. Social just has too many negative connotations in corporate circles from socialism to socialites. I once heard from a Wall Street executive that he was no longer permitted to use the word “social” when describing 2.0 opportunities. It made senior management uncomfortable. Similarly, if there is more emphasis on social than networking, our clients raise the justifiable question of employee productivity. When we talk about collaboration and breaking down barriers with earnest information-sharing and knowledge harvesting, the conversation is more intriguing. But, realistically, can technologies engender cultural change? That is the $5 billion dollar question that will be answered over the next few years.

I heard recently from a manager at a large bank who is rolling out a corporate-wide social network to over 100K employees that the greatest challenge the bank is facing relates to change management, not any particular issue with the technology at all. Even the grand-daddy of Enterprise 2.0 case studies, DRKW, enlisted a consultant to shepherd adoption throughout the organization. ZDNet blogger and fellow Irregular Dennis Howlett recently posited that, “While the benefits of collaboration may be blindingly obvious and the path laid out on a platter, it is only by first understanding the absolute requirement for top down, wholesale DNA change that you stand a hope in hell of making these technologies work within the enterprise.”

At BSG, we recognize that these changes are going to be painful and slow for some large companies. In fact, we have research that proves just how ineffective organizations are when they’re not transparent and openly collaborative. My colleague Andy Shimberg led a major study last year that involved over 1,000 executives and project managers that analyzed over 2,200 projects. The net result was largely undiscussed and ignored problems underlie almost all project failures. Five primary areas were discovered that impeded success:

  • Fact-free planning– padding budgets, ignored estimates and timelines
  • AWOL sponsors– when leadership and support suddenly disappears
  • Skirting– work arounds, scope creep, projects approved with no resources
  • Project chicken– avoiding speaking first for fear of blame/retribution
  • Team failures– all participants have different masters, non-performing team members

Estimated failure rates ranging from 72 to 91%* cost companies hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Imagine the cost-savings corporations would realize if only these folks started communicating and collaborating and avoiding the harsh realities of “Silence Fails” outcomes? It’s just plain unrealistic. The technologies we had prior to web 2.0 would enable employees to “speak up.” Email, telephones, even notes passed under the door could have prevented huge cost overruns and errors, but technology– old or new– won’t fix these problems. When employees are economically linked to questioning authority, there is a downside to voluntary collaboration.

I shudder, but I do remember hearing this before. It was over a year ago we heard Enterprise 2.0-downer Davenport publish these remarks:

Such a utopian vision can hardly be achieved through new technology alone. The absence of participative technologies in the past is not the only reason that organizations and expertise are hierarchical. Enterprise 2.0 software and the Internet won’t make organizational hierarchy and politics go away. They won’t make the ideas of the front-line worker in corporations as influential as those of the CEO. Most of the barriers that prevent knowledge from flowing freely in organizations – power differentials, lack of trust, missing incentives, unsupportive cultures, and the general busyness of employees today – won’t be addressed or substantially changed by technology alone. For a set of technologies to bring about such changes, they would have to be truly magical, and Enterprise 2.0 tools fall short of magic.

As liberating as they may be, as fun as they may be, Enterprise 2.0 tools simply won’t change basic human nature. It will be a new opportunity for change management or perhaps business social process re-engineering that will enable these tools to deliver on their powerful capability for the enterprise.

*”CHAOS Chronicles,” Standish Group, 2004 and Kaplan and Norton in “The Strategy Focused Organization.”

Posted in Enterprise 2.0, social networking | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »