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As time goes by, I see more and more surveys and positive case studies about Enterprise 2.0 adoption. This is good, but not so much. Most of the time, use of technologies such as instant messaging or web conferencing is viewed as concrete steps toward Enterprise 2.0 adoption. But is there any behavioral difference between meeting up face to face with someone and talking via IP networks? Barely any; this helps saving fossil fuels for our planet’s health and sets up a hypothetical technological ground for some later adoption. Not that much to jump for joy about.
Monitoring Enterprise 2.0 adoption should instead focus on communities, networks, and flows of knowledge, These are the real bricks on which to measure change, with a lot of precautions nevertheless.
Communities of practice exist for some time now in big organizations. They gather people with similar or related roles in a company, and are built around practical cases sharing, knowledge emergence and collaborative problem solving. While this is a great move toward new modes of collaboration and new, tacit, knowledge capture, these communities are often heavily structured and managed, just to insure that they “work”. Regular fixed-date gatherings, mandatory outcome, fixed agenda and assigned roles are among common practices. In other words, keeping control on the internal working of communities of practice allow organizations to fit roles, responsibilities and (collaborative) productivity all together.
But communities are inherently dynamic and have fuzzy boundaries. Networks, which may both encompass or be nested inside them, are often unpredictable, uncontrollable, activate and dissolve on purpose, instill passion and disruption into communities. In networks relies the real power of communities. Without purposely enabling them and fully fostering their capabilities, which means giving up control and deeply changing the way we think about work, online communities are, and ever will, only be technology assisted para-hierarchical structures. Communities are the bodies, while networks are the souls of the collaborative enterprise. Without a real cultural change, ‘change toward Enterprise 2.0 adoption’ merely means creating Zombies 2.0. Is your company into ‘socialwashing’?