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Enterprise 2.0 Reflects the Culture

June 18, 2009

Enterprise 2.0

If you think that the enterprise-wide wiki you’ve been pushing to install is going to change the culture of your organization, think again.  That wiki is going to reflect the culture of your organization, not change it.

Enterprise 2.0 holds a lot of promise: Increase collaboration!  Break down stovepipes!  Enable open and transparent communication!  Crowdsource white papers and presentations!  Use wikis to eliminate email!  Cure cancer!

And in some cases, these technologies DO allow organizations to realize these benefits – well, except for maybe the last one, but you get the idea.  But in many of these social media implementations, I’ve come across a lot more people saying, “I have an internal blog but no one reads it,” or “We have a wiki, but no one uses it!”

Why are Enterprise 2.0 implementations of blogs, wikis, or forums not living up to the expectations of the technology?

The primary reason is because social media tools reflect the culture of the organization – they can’t change the culture of the organization by themselves.  If the “social” part of social media doesn’t exist within your organization or is corrupted, all you’re going to end up with is “media” – a blog with no readers or a wiki with no edits.

I recently discussed the challenges of creating a social media culture behind the firewall with several of my colleagues on our internal Yammer network – here are some of the more interesting quotes from that conversation:

On needing a restricted access wiki, even behind the firewall:
“I need a wiki with both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ pages so that I can keep our team-specific items out of sight. The rest of the wiki would be open to engaging others in our work and designed to ‘market’ our capabilities to others.”

On the (often ignored) issue of intellectual property within and organization:
“People spend lots of hard work and man-hours developing a work product. They don’t want someone who ‘has an idea’ to swoop in, use the work, and have them get all the credit and acclaim for it.”

On how social media impacts the corporate rat race:
“For commonly held skill sets, [social media presents a problem because] someone may know enough to be dangerous, but the work someone else does and posts in an open environment would give that person the tools to advance their own careers without crediting those they got the information from.  That’s what I feel is the main reason people fear transparency internally.”

On how people can “steal” your work and use it without asking for it:
“I encourage people to borrow/steal/run off with my work. More often than not, it is difficult to get colleagues to take the first step to deliver/create new intellectual capital.  If borrowing my work is their first step, that’s ok. I’ll borrow from their step 2 or 3.”

Ultimately though, no matter how many pages your wiki has or how fantastic your internal blog is, the technology is going to reflect your organizational culture.  Not the culture you talk about on your website, but the real, honest culture of your organization.

Do you have people who routinely appropriate other people’s work as their own?  It will continue on the wiki.  Do you have people who punish their staff for speaking their mind and taking risks?  Those managers will forbid their staff from blogging.   Employees who regularly go above and beyond to help others?  Those people will be your wiki gardeners, making the wiki run smoothly for everyone else.

If you want to change the culture of your organization, social media tools can be a part of the solution.  But culture is determined by people, not by tools.  Make sure you supplement those tools with a change management strategy that will address the people too.  Consider incentivizing employees to share information and collaborate with each other.  Make information sharing part of their annual review (my team reviews the employee’s contributions to our internal network during their annual assessment debrief).  Reward staff for taking risks.

Enterprise 2.0 tools will always reflect the culture of your organization – for better or worse.  Make sure you give it every chance to succeed and address the people, policies, and processes too.

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About sradick

I'm Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about me here (http://steveradick.com/about/).

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73 Responses to “Enterprise 2.0 Reflects the Culture”

  1. Tom Canning Says:

    Steve,

    I think you hit the nail on the head wrt to social tools really mirroring the existing culture! In fact they accelerate and amplify it! An empty wiki is classic. Tools deploy in minutes or hours – whereas human evolution takes years. Depending upon the level of executive sponsorship and participation – some companies will unfortunately take a long time to adopt social media and miss out on the benefits it represents today.

    Thanks for the post!

    -Tom

  2. Tom Canning Says:

    Steve,

    I think you hit the nail on the head wrt to social tools really mirroring the existing culture! In fact they accelerate and amplify it! An empty wiki is classic. Tools deploy in minutes or hours – whereas human evolution takes years. Depending upon the level of executive sponsorship and participation – some companies will unfortunately take a long time to adopt social media and miss out on the benefits it represents today.

    Thanks for the post!

    -Tom

  3. Michael Idinopulos Says:

    Steve,
    I agree with you only up to a point.

    By embedding collaborative tools into the daily flow of work, companies can indeed change their cultures to become more transparent and collaborative. Of course, people won’t use the tools just because you introduced them. But is that ever the case with new technology?

    Culture is important, but if we wait for companies to “become social” before we introduce social tools, we’re just wasting time.

    See also my blog post “Culture is a Destination not a Starting Point” http://michaeli.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/culture-is-a-de.html

  4. Michael Idinopulos Says:

    Steve,
    I agree with you only up to a point.

    By embedding collaborative tools into the daily flow of work, companies can indeed change their cultures to become more transparent and collaborative. Of course, people won’t use the tools just because you introduced them. But is that ever the case with new technology?

    Culture is important, but if we wait for companies to “become social” before we introduce social tools, we’re just wasting time.

    See also my blog post “Culture is a Destination not a Starting Point” http://michaeli.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/culture-is-a-de.html

  5. Sameer Patel Says:

    Fantastic post Steve. Every honest consultant should make their client read this before the kick off meeting.

  6. Sameer Patel Says:

    Fantastic post Steve. Every honest consultant should make their client read this before the kick off meeting.

  7. Gil Yehuda Says:

    I use the analogy: if you give someone like me a treadmill, I’ll hang my clothes on it every night before I go to bed. Having a treadmill will not turn me into someone who exercises. But if you throw in a personal trainer, and give me a real incentive (e.g. pay me) — you’ll probably see results. I’ll still complain though (but I’ll also be happy with the benefits). Some people, like my sister, don’t need the treadmill. They just find a way to exercise no matter where they are, ‘cuz they are wired that way.

  8. Gil Yehuda Says:

    I use the analogy: if you give someone like me a treadmill, I’ll hang my clothes on it every night before I go to bed. Having a treadmill will not turn me into someone who exercises. But if you throw in a personal trainer, and give me a real incentive (e.g. pay me) — you’ll probably see results. I’ll still complain though (but I’ll also be happy with the benefits). Some people, like my sister, don’t need the treadmill. They just find a way to exercise no matter where they are, ‘cuz they are wired that way.

  9. Sameer Patel Says:

    Nice analogy Gil. I tend to agree with you but Michael does have a point though. If its not there, you’ll never have a chance to prove out the benefits.
    Maybe the answer is get the treadmill and make sure your sister gets you trainer lessons for your birthday. Now you wouldn’t want to waste her money, would you? :p

  10. Sameer Patel Says:

    Nice analogy Gil. I tend to agree with you but Michael does have a point though. If its not there, you’ll never have a chance to prove out the benefits.
    Maybe the answer is get the treadmill and make sure your sister gets you trainer lessons for your birthday. Now you wouldn’t want to waste her money, would you? :p

  11. sradick Says:

    Michael – I’m not suggesting that we wait for companies to become social, more like parallel paths. You can’t just deploy a wiki (like people just deploy PeopleSoft, etc.) and expect it to get used. You have to focus on both tech and people – can’t just embed it into daily work either because people will actively try to avoid using it. Forcing it on them doesn’t work either – they have to be aware of the value that it will bring before they will even try to use it.

  12. sradick Says:

    Michael – I’m not suggesting that we wait for companies to become social, more like parallel paths. You can’t just deploy a wiki (like people just deploy PeopleSoft, etc.) and expect it to get used. You have to focus on both tech and people – can’t just embed it into daily work either because people will actively try to avoid using it. Forcing it on them doesn’t work either – they have to be aware of the value that it will bring before they will even try to use it.

  13. sradick Says:

    Love the analogy Gil – I’ll be using that one in my presentations too!

  14. sradick Says:

    Love the analogy Gil – I’ll be using that one in my presentations too!

  15. Gil Yehuda Says:

    Indeed Sameer. Michael is right, and so is Steve. The expectation needs to be set that change takes time. They way I’m reading Steve’s post is that you must understand the culture you are in. E2.0 will reflect it first, before any change could take place. I have heard the very same reactions that Steve has — many times in fact. If the cultural motivators are set up against transparency, then people will use these tools to leverage secrecy. One of the first questions I get when implementing is “can we just set up a private group/wiki/blog etc. so we can see how it would work with no one knowing about it?” And it always makes me smile to hear that. Eventually they’ll get it. But it takes time. I think Steve and Michael agree, but are looking at two points in the adoption timeline.

    Steve, I’m glad you like the analogy. As Patrick Henry once said “give me credit or give me tipjoy” :-)

  16. Gil Yehuda Says:

    Indeed Sameer. Michael is right, and so is Steve. The expectation needs to be set that change takes time. They way I’m reading Steve’s post is that you must understand the culture you are in. E2.0 will reflect it first, before any change could take place. I have heard the very same reactions that Steve has — many times in fact. If the cultural motivators are set up against transparency, then people will use these tools to leverage secrecy. One of the first questions I get when implementing is “can we just set up a private group/wiki/blog etc. so we can see how it would work with no one knowing about it?” And it always makes me smile to hear that. Eventually they’ll get it. But it takes time. I think Steve and Michael agree, but are looking at two points in the adoption timeline.

    Steve, I’m glad you like the analogy. As Patrick Henry once said “give me credit or give me tipjoy” :-)

  17. Andy Jankowski Says:

    Steve,
    Excellent post. I deal with this on a daily basis. I am curious to hear your thoughts regarding “Specific actions that can be taken to help Enterprise 2.0 succeed less-than-optimal business cultures?” I have observed the following, but I would love to hear what you and others have to say on the topic.

    1) Promotion needs to come both from the top down and bottom up. Bottom up seems to be the most popular starting point, but without a management team that rewards and promotes it, E2.0 activity will eventually fade away in order to allow time to meet management demands.

    2) Promotion in large, segmented corporations requires many small fires (pockets of interest) to be started and allowed to continue, before a larger cultural shift can occur. Even in cultures where E2.0 is actively discouraged, if enough fires start, they eventually become to numerous to extinguish.

    3)One of the most effective ways to sway non-believers is to show them two use cases (preferably a video/animation) illustrating a common business process they perform. Use case one should illustrate Enterprise 1.0 and the second should show the time, money and pain that can be avoided using Enterprise 2.0 (not to mention the better results).

    These are a start, but what else can be done? Thoughts?

    Best,
    -Andy Jankowski

  18. Andy Jankowski Says:

    Steve,
    Excellent post. I deal with this on a daily basis. I am curious to hear your thoughts regarding “Specific actions that can be taken to help Enterprise 2.0 succeed less-than-optimal business cultures?” I have observed the following, but I would love to hear what you and others have to say on the topic.

    1) Promotion needs to come both from the top down and bottom up. Bottom up seems to be the most popular starting point, but without a management team that rewards and promotes it, E2.0 activity will eventually fade away in order to allow time to meet management demands.

    2) Promotion in large, segmented corporations requires many small fires (pockets of interest) to be started and allowed to continue, before a larger cultural shift can occur. Even in cultures where E2.0 is actively discouraged, if enough fires start, they eventually become to numerous to extinguish.

    3)One of the most effective ways to sway non-believers is to show them two use cases (preferably a video/animation) illustrating a common business process they perform. Use case one should illustrate Enterprise 1.0 and the second should show the time, money and pain that can be avoided using Enterprise 2.0 (not to mention the better results).

    These are a start, but what else can be done? Thoughts?

    Best,
    -Andy Jankowski

  19. Nikhil Nulkar Says:

    Excellent post, Steve! I more than agree with you! In fact the comments here say it all as well! Agree with Sameer and Gil. Gil’s analogy and the context that you and Sameer are referring to, if put together than we have a decent strategy to start with! :-)

    Recently I wrote similar views that I have around this. However I suggest that we have a bunch of people who would evangelize and help the organization with this aspect that you have mentioned in your blog above.

    You guys may want to give it a read and let me know your thoughts around it. I call this group of evangelists a Social Media League!
    http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/05/social_media_league.php

    Thanks for your thoughts/post above. Liked reading it!

    Regards,
    Nikhil

  20. Nikhil Nulkar Says:

    Excellent post, Steve! I more than agree with you! In fact the comments here say it all as well! Agree with Sameer and Gil. Gil’s analogy and the context that you and Sameer are referring to, if put together than we have a decent strategy to start with! :-)

    Recently I wrote similar views that I have around this. However I suggest that we have a bunch of people who would evangelize and help the organization with this aspect that you have mentioned in your blog above.

    You guys may want to give it a read and let me know your thoughts around it. I call this group of evangelists a Social Media League!
    http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/05/social_media_league.php

    Thanks for your thoughts/post above. Liked reading it!

    Regards,
    Nikhil

  21. sradick Says:

    Thanks Tom – I’m most afraid that too many organizations will deploy these TOOLS, expecting some magical transformation and when they don’t see it within a year, they’ll drop them, thinking that they failed. When in reality, it just takes time and commitment to a new way of working.

  22. sradick Says:

    Thanks Tom – I’m most afraid that too many organizations will deploy these TOOLS, expecting some magical transformation and when they don’t see it within a year, they’ll drop them, thinking that they failed. When in reality, it just takes time and commitment to a new way of working.

  23. sradick Says:

    I think some organizations need the treadmill, the training lessons, AND a live-in trainer to yell at them to get on the treadmill!

  24. sradick Says:

    I think some organizations need the treadmill, the training lessons, AND a live-in trainer to yell at them to get on the treadmill!

  25. sradick Says:

    I’ve seen that same thing here at Booz Allen – people wanted to start with a private wiki open only to five or six people so that they can “see how it would work and if it would be worth it.” They don’t realize the benefits they read about – the emergent knowledge, spontaneous collaboration, innovation, etc. – are made possible by opening up your work products and processes so that new people can contribute.

    One definitely has to understand culture and the people first – there’s no blueprint for how to deploy these things and see them succeed.

  26. sradick Says:

    I’ve seen that same thing here at Booz Allen – people wanted to start with a private wiki open only to five or six people so that they can “see how it would work and if it would be worth it.” They don’t realize the benefits they read about – the emergent knowledge, spontaneous collaboration, innovation, etc. – are made possible by opening up your work products and processes so that new people can contribute.

    One definitely has to understand culture and the people first – there’s no blueprint for how to deploy these things and see them succeed.

  27. sradick Says:

    Andy – you’re right in that it needs BOTH top-down and bottom-up adoption. Bottom-up is great to get things started, but if you’re looking for enterprise-wide adoption, it’s got to have top-down support as well. You can only go around and in some cases, through, your opposition before you realize that you need them.

    Your second point makes sense in theory but is often most difficult for the E2.0 champions to embrace. There’s a certain amount of “letting go” that has to be done. There are going to be pockets who are using these tools in ways that the champions and purists may not agree with, but they’ve got to realize that in many cases, losing a few battles may end up winning the war.

    To your third point, have you seen this (http://www.slideshare.net/slgavin/meet-charlie-what-is-enterprise20) before? I found “Meet Charlie” to be pretty effective at doing exactly what you say.

    To add on to your ideas, I would also suggest that organizations would do well to invest in community managers – those people who blog, garden wiki pages, and moderate forums as their primary job. These shepherds help guide the rest of the community in best practices and show them where the lines are – how informal and personal can you be in a work blog? How critical of leadership can you be? These are risks that many aren’t willing to take, but the community manager needs to be empowered to do so on behalf of the community.

  28. sradick Says:

    Andy – you’re right in that it needs BOTH top-down and bottom-up adoption. Bottom-up is great to get things started, but if you’re looking for enterprise-wide adoption, it’s got to have top-down support as well. You can only go around and in some cases, through, your opposition before you realize that you need them.

    Your second point makes sense in theory but is often most difficult for the E2.0 champions to embrace. There’s a certain amount of “letting go” that has to be done. There are going to be pockets who are using these tools in ways that the champions and purists may not agree with, but they’ve got to realize that in many cases, losing a few battles may end up winning the war.

    To your third point, have you seen this (http://www.slideshare.net/slgavin/meet-charlie-what-is-enterprise20) before? I found “Meet Charlie” to be pretty effective at doing exactly what you say.

    To add on to your ideas, I would also suggest that organizations would do well to invest in community managers – those people who blog, garden wiki pages, and moderate forums as their primary job. These shepherds help guide the rest of the community in best practices and show them where the lines are – how informal and personal can you be in a work blog? How critical of leadership can you be? These are risks that many aren’t willing to take, but the community manager needs to be empowered to do so on behalf of the community.

  29. Mike Boysen Says:

    I don’t know how anyone could argue with this. Seems like common sense to anyone who has ever worked in an Enterprise.

  30. Mike Boysen Says:

    I don’t know how anyone could argue with this. Seems like common sense to anyone who has ever worked in an Enterprise.

  31. Property Preservation Says:

    Great blog post. Adding you to my list. Thanks!

  32. Property Preservation Says:

    Great blog post. Adding you to my list. Thanks!

  33. Nate Nash Says:

    Steve – While I think you raise some valid points, I have a somewhat dissenting opinion. The pingback from E2oh.com is mine.

  34. Nate Nash Says:

    Steve – While I think you raise some valid points, I have a somewhat dissenting opinion. The pingback from E2oh.com is mine.

  35. Cam Says:

    Great post. I think the change comes when the organization shows that it is listening and acting on the collaboration that occurs in these social spaces.

    We have a chat on Twitter planned for next Wednesday at noon on this topic. We did our first this past Wednesday. #behindthefirewall

  36. Cam Says:

    Great post. I think the change comes when the organization shows that it is listening and acting on the collaboration that occurs in these social spaces.

    We have a chat on Twitter planned for next Wednesday at noon on this topic. We did our first this past Wednesday. #behindthefirewall

  37. sradick Says:

    You’d be surprised Mike – people who deploy a wiki and think that a memo from the boss will be enough to get people to use it exist everywhere. “But, we told them that they had to use it, why aren’t they using it?”

  38. sradick Says:

    You’d be surprised Mike – people who deploy a wiki and think that a memo from the boss will be enough to get people to use it exist everywhere. “But, we told them that they had to use it, why aren’t they using it?”

  39. sradick Says:

    Thanks for the heads-up Cam – I saw this hashtag floating around the other day too. I’ll definitely let my team know about this chat – hopefully, I’ll have a chance to participate too!

  40. sradick Says:

    Thanks for the heads-up Cam – I saw this hashtag floating around the other day too. I’ll definitely let my team know about this chat – hopefully, I’ll have a chance to participate too!

  41. KC Says:

    That’s a brillaint analogy Gil – especially the facet of people who will find a way to exercise without the treadmill.

    I’ll share this with my team and give you credit for it (sorry, no tipjoy!)

  42. KC Says:

    That’s a brillaint analogy Gil – especially the facet of people who will find a way to exercise without the treadmill.

    I’ll share this with my team and give you credit for it (sorry, no tipjoy!)

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  47. Scott Bryan Says:

    I try to understand things from the perspective of an alien scientist studying our planet. It just seems so bizarrely ironic that our greatest fear seems to be exploitation from someone else and how it shapes everything about us. It’s obvious why this is the case–we’re best described as creatures designed to outwit and exploit our surroundings (including ourselves.)

    What isn’t clear is why we don’t address that fact. Why we don’t search for that economy and infrastructure which would leave us predisposed to empower and enrich our world rather than exploit it. Why does everyone seem to subconsciously conclude that would be impossible? It only requires redressing the externalities that leave us predisposed to exploit in the first place. We got here honestly, in a world where creatures changed over evolutionary time and simply couldn’t outrun their own impact. That is no longer the case. We can change the world far faster than we can adapt to it.

    The internet is the neurogenesis of a genuine, independent, meta-consciousness. It still seems to be stumbling to find a model for forming useful neurons; the means to add significant value by virtue of the way we interact with each other and the information itself. Yet we still haven’t come to grips with the most fundamental dysfunction of our predicament; that most aspects of our world predispose us to outwit and exploit each other rather than enrich or empower.

    I write this (and do realize this is somewhat off-topic; meta-topic?) only because the internet seems to be the only place we actually might be able to, for example, ensure that the various minds involved in the crystallization of great knowledge are all property credited. And that I honestly believe we’ve unwittingly built a world that is a bit backwards; I see people enjoy what they do for others more than anything else. Just imagine how awesome work would be if the economic rewards matched the emotional ones?

    Google’s WAVE technology seems to be an effort to do this, but I think it is a better model for most organizations that are looking for ways to wring more utility out of their intellectual capital. Especially if it evolves into an encapsulation of entire projects–turning them into data in their own right and promising a quantum leap in our capacity to rapidly deploy extreme competency in response to every challenge.

  48. Scott Bryan Says:

    I try to understand things from the perspective of an alien scientist studying our planet. It just seems so bizarrely ironic that our greatest fear seems to be exploitation from someone else and how it shapes everything about us. It’s obvious why this is the case–we’re best described as creatures designed to outwit and exploit our surroundings (including ourselves.)

    What isn’t clear is why we don’t address that fact. Why we don’t search for that economy and infrastructure which would leave us predisposed to empower and enrich our world rather than exploit it. Why does everyone seem to subconsciously conclude that would be impossible? It only requires redressing the externalities that leave us predisposed to exploit in the first place. We got here honestly, in a world where creatures changed over evolutionary time and simply couldn’t outrun their own impact. That is no longer the case. We can change the world far faster than we can adapt to it.

    The internet is the neurogenesis of a genuine, independent, meta-consciousness. It still seems to be stumbling to find a model for forming useful neurons; the means to add significant value by virtue of the way we interact with each other and the information itself. Yet we still haven’t come to grips with the most fundamental dysfunction of our predicament; that most aspects of our world predispose us to outwit and exploit each other rather than enrich or empower.

    I write this (and do realize this is somewhat off-topic; meta-topic?) only because the internet seems to be the only place we actually might be able to, for example, ensure that the various minds involved in the crystallization of great knowledge are all property credited. And that I honestly believe we’ve unwittingly built a world that is a bit backwards; I see people enjoy what they do for others more than anything else. Just imagine how awesome work would be if the economic rewards matched the emotional ones?

    Google’s WAVE technology seems to be an effort to do this, but I think it is a better model for most organizations that are looking for ways to wring more utility out of their intellectual capital. Especially if it evolves into an encapsulation of entire projects–turning them into data in their own right and promising a quantum leap in our capacity to rapidly deploy extreme competency in response to every challenge.

  49. sradick Says:

    Scott, you brought up a lot of interesting and philosophical points but I’ll add on to your first one – I really like the alien analogy. Similarly, I like to ask my social media skeptics this: “What if wikis had been invented first, before there was email?? What if we showed them this picture (http://matwww.ee.tut.fi/~huhtis/koulutus/2009/vy/verkkoyhteisot/kuva/wiki-vs-email.jpg) and asked them to pick which one made the most sense for collaboration?

    The problem with corporate adoption of social media tools and Enterprise 2.0 technology is that it’s usually too focused on deploying the new tools instead of using the tools to help change the processes and the way people work. Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a set of tools or a new technology – it’s a new way of working that is facilitated by the new technology. You can’t use same old processes with new technology.

  50. sradick Says:

    Scott, you brought up a lot of interesting and philosophical points but I’ll add on to your first one – I really like the alien analogy. Similarly, I like to ask my social media skeptics this: “What if wikis had been invented first, before there was email?? What if we showed them this picture (http://matwww.ee.tut.fi/~huhtis/koulutus/2009/vy/verkkoyhteisot/kuva/wiki-vs-email.jpg) and asked them to pick which one made the most sense for collaboration?

    The problem with corporate adoption of social media tools and Enterprise 2.0 technology is that it’s usually too focused on deploying the new tools instead of using the tools to help change the processes and the way people work. Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a set of tools or a new technology – it’s a new way of working that is facilitated by the new technology. You can’t use same old processes with new technology.

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