Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Two Bits

Over the last few days, there is a lot of discussion around Enterprise 2.0, started off by the post by Dennis Howlett, where he things Enterprise 2.0 is a crock. Andrew McAfee blogged about what he thinks about this. What are they saying?

Dennis believes:

Like it or not, large enterprises - the big name brands - have to work in structures and hierarchies that most E2.0 mavens ridicule but can’t come up with alternatives that make any sort of corporate sense. Therein lies the Big Lie. Enterprise 2.0 pre-supposes that you can upend hierarchies for the benefit of all.

Andrew writes that:

I believe that over time companies that don’t use them will fall behind those that do, but how far behind, and over what time frame? Not that far, that fast.

He goes on to give examples of how some of these tools can be used to solve specific business problems.

However, the point that we probably need to think about is that the way for organizations could be somewhere between these two. True, people dont have the time for web 2.0 or any other term. But, are there better ways of achieving things than the way they are done now? There probably are. On the other hand, are hierarchies so bad? Not necessarily. Its what you do with them that probably builds or takes away value from these. There would be, in organizations, a mix of hierarchy and community which would co-exist because this is probably the model which would bring value, as also take care of some of the things which communities throw up which organizations cant manage. For example, lets not assume that communities are so self-driven that there is going to be no need for someone to define your objectives, and do a performance appraisal. True, appraisal systems could have a community component which defines how well you can create value by being part of a community, but this would, probably, be the way these two viewpoints would merge, if they do.

Lets look at this in a simple way. Maybe this is oversimplification, but it illustrates. If communities were to be the cornerstone of the business world, the organization would either yield to communities (dont think thats probable), or becomes a loose gathering of communities. Let us keep in mind that with the latter, the communities would need to be in synch with each other, and not pull in oposite directions. How would that happen, if there were not going to be any hierarchy? Today, this is achieved by business processes, which are brought together by some form of hierarchy. To look at it another way, even commuities have hierarchies. You find some people emerging to lead a community, and this may or may not be based on the hierarchy of the organization.

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