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Is Enterprise 2.0 Learned From a Book or From Doing?

Last week, I participated in AIIM’s Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner Certificate program, a two-day course focused on learning the principles and best practices of Enterprise 2.0 – social media behind the firewall.  Now, I’ll admit, I was extremely skeptical of this course when I first heard about it.  I don’t think that social media or Enterprise 2.0 is something that you can learn about from a book, course, class, or test.  I think that above all, it’s learned from doing.

It’s one thing to read that successful Enterprise 2.0 deployments are about changing a culture and not about implementing a new tool, but it’s another thing entirely to actually do it.  I think the most successful social media efforts are those that are driven by passionate people who love people and who truly want to change the way their organization operates, not by people with degrees, certificates, or titles.

So when several of my colleagues urged me to enroll in the two-day AIIM Enterprise 2.0 Practitioner Certificate program, I didn’t really pay much attention to it at first.  However, I figured I should at least do some research into the program to see if it would be worth my time.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that a number of social media luminaries that I respect were involved in the development of the course – Andew McAfee, David Weinberger, Stowe Boyd, Patti Anklam and Eric Tsui.  Well, ok, if those guys were involved, I figured I’d give it a try.

I wanted to be challenged by this course, to get out of the social media echo chamber and get different perspectives, and to learn about specific strategies/tactics that have been successful elsewhere.  I didn’t just want to learn what I needed to pass some test.

Day One

Along with 20 or so of my colleagues working on Booz Allen’s own deployment of an Enterprise 2.0 platform, our first day began with our instructor, Hanns Kohler-Kruner, leading us through an activity to determine what Enterprise 2.0 was about – was it about culture?  Technology?  Innovation?  Tools?  All of the above?  After seemingly hundreds of slides of definitions, acronyms, models, and terms, I started re-thinking my decision to enroll.  I wasn’t a fan.  It soon became clear that the attendees of this class were far more advanced in Enterprise 2.0 than the typical attendee.

Hanns did an admirable job of adjusting his teaching style to include conversation and less lecture, and he promised to totally re-work the material for Day Two.  The material from Day One was best suited for someone who has little to no knowledge/experience with Enterprise 2.0, and is interested in discovering the basics.

What I Liked:

  • The adjustments that Hanns made to accommodate the audience
  • The occasional conversations/debates that the course attendees had

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Hundreds of slides!!
  • Too much lecture, not enough conversation and brainstorming
  • Curriculum seemed to be too focused on teaching you what you need to pass the test rather than having discussions about Enterprise 2.0 strategy
  • No hands-on application of the tools we were discussing
  • Very little discussion of what’s worked/what hasn’t

Day Two

Before even arriving for Day Two, I was excited to find Hanns on Twitter that night, responding to our #aiim tweets from the first day.  I was really looking forward to the conversations about more advanced E2.0 strategies and tactics instead of definitions of terms that I would need only to pass a test.

Discussions on Day Two centered around the right balance of policies, rules, guidelines, and best practices for internal wikis; the risks of open vs. closed networks; and the need for open/transparent communication between IT and the user community. Some of the choice nuggets from the second day included:

“Stop focusing on the HUGE task of changing culture, and instead focus on changing habits.”

“Give people the tools and the time to do their work inside the firewall and they’re less likely to use less secure applications on the Internet.”

“The IT staff HAS to communicate regularly with their users and remain flexible and adaptable to their needs rather than their own wants and desires.”

For me, there were two big takeaways from Day Two.  1) Enterprise 2.0 tools like blogs, social networking, wikis, etc. aren’t some panacea – there is still a place for email, for face-to-face meetings, and for other “old-school” tactics.  And 2) Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a set of tools, it’s a mindset.  The actual tools don’t matter as much as how you use them.  Organizations can have blogs and wikis and still have just as many silos of information and isolated information as one that doesn’t use any of these tools.  Just as organizations without any of these new tools can still be open, transparent and participatory.

What I Liked:

  • The open, free-flowing conversation where ideas were debated and assumptions were challenged
  • The instructor was not only on Twitter, he’s been actively using E2.0 tools internally at AIIM
  • The breakout groups where we worked together to help fictional organizations
  • The slides had been completely re-adjusted for our needs

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Hundreds of Slides!!
  • Too focused on structured models and not enough on the cultural norms/nuances
  • Not enough discussion about real-life Enterprise 2.0 examples

Following Day Two, we were all given a link to an online test consisting of 64 multiple choice/true-false questions.   This is where I was most disappointed with the course.  In taking the test, I quickly became annoyed that the questions were completely objective, focused on testing my knowledge of theoretical models and frameworks (e.g., “True or False: The tags described in the FLATNESSES model do not include meta-tags”), rather than on real-life Enterprise 2.0 practices.  Seriously, I could care less if someone can recite what that acronym means.  Why does that even matter?  I’m more concerned with answering questions like, “You’ve just implemented an enterprise-wide wiki – what are the arguments for/against keeping it completely open vs. allowing some private wiki spaces?”

Overall, I’d give the course a C.  I don’t think Enterprise 2.0 can be learned from a book – it needs to be experienced.  In the future, I’d like to see them shift the focus away from lecture (as Hanns did so aptly on Day Two) and more toward facilitated conversation.  I’d also like to see more use of these actual tools – how about an intstructor’s blog where we could all interact with our instructor before, during, and after the course?  Lastly, and most importantly, I’d recommend that AIIM incorporate some sort of # of months/hours of hands-on experience actually involved with Enterprise 2.0, a la the Project Management Professional requirements to have at least 4500 hours of direct project management experience.  Without this requirement, I’m scared that people will become “Enterprise 2.0 Certified Practitioners,” so they can cash in on this hot topic right now without ever actually having done any Enterprise 2.0 at all.

*Image courtesy of Flickr user billerickson

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Booz Allen Panel Discusses Enterprise 2.0

My employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, recently held an Enterprise 2.0 event where a panel of speakers, both internal and external, came together to discuss the implications of Enterprise 2.0 at Booz Allen and within the public sector.  Panel participants included Amy Shuen, author of “Web 2.0, a Strategy Guide;” Don Burke, Intellipedia Doyen; Art Fritzson, one of Booz Allen’s Vice Presidents; and Grant McLaughlin, Principal at Booz Allen.  This event was held at Booz Allen’s corporate headquarters in McLean, VA, and the target audience was internal Booz Allen employees, specifically middle management.

Why middle management you ask?  Because in my experience, that’s the demographic who are most likely to avoid social media and in fact, often actively discourage their teams from using it.  At Booz Allen, we’re seeing great gains among both the junior staff and the senior leadership, but the middle management has been slower to get on-board.  The Enterprise 2.0 panel was held to try to answer some of the most common questions and to build support of our internal social media platform among the middle management.

The ROI of Web 2.0

The ROI of Web 2.0

Amy brought up a great slide (on the right) on the ROI of social media. She used this graphic to compare the different business models of Flickr and Shutterfly. She suggested using a similar illustration for Enterprise 2.0 implementations – show your leadership how the minimal initial investment in social media can lead to a higher ROI, especially when compared to traditional methodologies.  The reason that I really liked this slide is because it resonates with leadership.  What may seem like second nature to the social media early adopters often needs to be related to middle management in more concrete, familiar ways.

Don Burke then discussed Intellipedia and how it has changed the way the Intelligence Community collaborates and shares information.  I’ve heard Don speak a few times before, and I always enjoy hearing his insights into the challenges and benefits of Intellipedia.  When asked what the most important feature of an Enterprise 2.0 application, he replied, “fight like hell to keep it open.”  I love that quote.  If you allow walled gardens, if you allow sections to be closed off, you’ll never realize the collaboration and innovation that true openness allows.  I’ve had clients ask “can you give me an Intellipedia for my organization?”  But, then they’ll say something like, “one of our requirements is that every page within the wiki needs to be access-controlled.”  I always point them back to that quote.  If you want a compartmented enterprise-wide wiki for whatever reason, that’s fine – just don’t expect to realize all of the benefits that something like Intellipedia brings.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow summary of the rest of the discussion, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the panel discussion, as captured by my colleague Travis Mason, on his blog on our internal blogging platform.

How can we change a culture a bit here and get more of an understanding of the Web 2.0 tools?
Burke: “We’ve taken a very viral approach.” Every time we’ve tried a top-down approach it’s failed miserably.” “Not a very elegant way but very organic.”
McLaughlin: “Lead with content, its not about the tool…you have to drive the content. If you don’t leap with the content first, then you’ll lose people.”
Fritzson: “I don’t think it’s a generational issue at all…Web 2.0 is just a technology that people adapt to, there is no blockage in the thinking.”  “Learning this stuff is not that hard…”

How do you bring all the tools in the enterprise together in a way that doesn’t intimidate people?
Fritzson: “I’m looking for a robust toolkit more than a unified tool.”
McLaughlin: “This (toolkit) doesn’t haven’t to replace anything – it can enhance existing processes too.”
Burke: “Leverage the power of everyone around you. Find what works for your team.”

How do you balance the informal person with the workplace person?
Fritzson: “This is just a tool. Perfection is the enemy of simplicity, and uniformity is the enemy of diversity.
Burke: “You must have a sense of play, even inside your organization…otherwise you aren’t creating that human factor. It’s all about creating balance.”

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What Makes Government 2.0 Different from Enterprise 2.0?

One of the things that I have consistently noticed in my five years as a government communications consultant is that our new hires who come from the corporate world go through an adjustment period upon first supporting a government client.  That’s to be expected as there are a multitude of differences between public sector and private sector clients – from the mundane (different ways of hiring contractors) to the fundamental (no shareholders to worry about).  These differences extend into the world of social media too, specifically into social media behind the firewall, known in the private sector as Enterprise 2.0.

What makes implementing social media on the intranet of a government agency like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) different than say, General Motors (GM)?  I’ve worked with clients from across the government who are all seeing social media succeed in helping organizations communicate, collaborate, and share information better than they ever have.  From wikis in the Intelligence Community to internal blogs at IBM, many of my clients see these articles and want to use social media to realize these same benefits, but don’t know how to do it.  The first thing that I have to tell them is that just because another organization, company, or agency implemented blogs or wikis or whatever else, they won’t necessarily see the same results, especially if they compare themselves to case studies in the private sector.  There are several fundamental differences between implementing social media behind the firewall in the government as opposed to a Fortune 500 company.  Let’s look at my top six:

  1. Risks – From Mark Drapeau’s excellent Government 2.0 series on Mashable“When Coke’s recipe or Google’s search algorithm get out, there are certainly serious consequences, but ultimately, people don’t die. The government has a higher standard.” On Intellipedia, the Intelligence Community’s wiki, 16 agencies are sharing classified information related to some of our nation’s most protected data – you think that the leadership there might have some pretty justifiable concerns about information security?  Accidentally exposing proprietary information is one thing – accidentally disclosing Top Secret military movements or taxpayer data is another.
  2. Administration Changes – Every November, and especially every fourth November, every government agency has to prepare for the chance that tomorrow, they may have a new boss with a new vision for how things should work.  Organization charts are always out of date, no one ever knows what their corporate strategy is, and people are always getting shuffled from position to position.  The comments to one of my prior posts alluded to this as well – sometimes leaders who know they will be leaving their position want to leave behind a legacy.  These leaders are more apt to take risks, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Getting and maintaining the top cover for an implementation of social media is virtually impossible in these cases – what happens after that leader leaves?
  3. Intra-agency collaboration – Most government agencies do not operate in a vacuum – they have to not only collaborate amongst themselves, but must also collaborate with various partner agencies.  How big of a net should you cast when implementing a wiki or blogs behind your firewall?  For example, let’s say that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wanted to implement a wiki – should that wiki be open to just TSA employees?  Or, should it also be open to other agencies like the FAA or other members of the Intel Community?  Wouldn’t you think that NSA and TSA might benefit from being able to collaborate with one another?  Where you draw the line?
  4. Bureaucracy – One thing that can’t be discounted in the bureaucracy involved.  Getting ANYTHING done often takes months of reviews, approvals, control gate presentations, etc.  I know of some government organizations still using Netscape as their Internet Browser because IE and/or Firefox haven’t yet been approved for their IT system.  Imagine the hurdles that have to be crossed to get blogs installed!  Combined with the various regulations and policies that have to be consulted and the administration issues mentioned above, there is often just not enough time available in the year to get these things done.
  5. Demographics – I don’t have any hard numbers on this (if you do, please pass them along), but in my experience, government employees fit into a very different demographic than those found in the private sector.  They tend to be older (have to learn these tools as opposed to having grown up with them), have longer tenure (are more set in their ways and resistant to change), and are motivated by different things (innovation is rarely on their performance assessments).  The cultural change that social media necessitates is thus inherently more difficult.
  6. Available Resources – If you’ve ever worked in a government environment, you know that there’s a constant battle for funding.  Every department is short-staffed and there’s never enough resources to accomplish everything, and as a result, innovative initiatives like social media tend to get dropped as the focus moves toward accomplishing the day-to-day work that makes up their organizational mission.  There just aren’t too many people who have the leadership support to take on the tasks necessary to make social media behind the firewall successful, like gardening a wiki or developing blog training courses.

Now, I put these six points out there not to discourage the exploration of social media behind government firewall – quite the contrary.  I want to identify the differences so that we can consider them and ultimately address them.  In one of my future posts, I’ll look at some ways in which these differences can be tackled, as well as what happens when these differences aren’t taken into account.

What other differences do you see?

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