E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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How To Build An Enterprise 2.0 Culture – Empowering Everyone to Have a Voice and Starting Small

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I am having a day off today and, although I have spent a good amount of time making all of the different preparations for the upcoming trips I will be doing over the next few weeks, I still managed to spend some time this morning catching up with some RSS feeds. As usual, I was able to find a couple of, what I call, serendipitous knowledge accidents that I thought would be worth while sharing over here as they cover subjects that I have been talking about in the past. The first one comes from the Digital-Telepathy (Internet Marketing Strategy & News) weblog and it is titled How to Build an Enterprise 2.0 Culture.

It is actually a rather short weblog article with a number of worth while reading reference links at the very bottom that will make for an interesting and enlightening read as to why businesses should be paying attention to the social computing space in order to help their knowledge workers improve the way they share their knowledge and collaborate with others. As I said, it is a good read, indeed, if you would want to find out some more what some of the different advantages of embracing social software tools would be, but let me just quote over here a couple of gems that I am sure you would find equally relevant to the discussion:

"Somewhere inside those blogs posts, wiki comments and forum discussions are golden nuggets of information that could give executives some insight into the culture of the company, the next big idea or just reoccurring issues that need to be addressed before they get out of hand. Every person on your staff has something to say, so why not give them somewhere to say it" (Emphasis mine)

This is exactly one of the main reasons as to why I got involved with social computing about five years ago and why, throughout the years, I am still as excited as I was back then. This is actually one of the main reasons as to why I have always believed that social computing would bring back Knowledge Management, along with Personal Knowledge Management, into the spotlight and start balancing out that extra focus that has always been placed on both tools and processes leaving behind the people. Remember that pyramid graphic chart showing the three of them interconnecting with one another? Well, here is social computing bringing in the people aspect into play for any KM successful strategy. All in all in combination with both the tools and the process. All three now walking hand in hand to enhance the overall knowledge sharing experience.

At the same time, this is also a quote that I have found rather interesting from the perspective of how plenty of folks out there seem to be constantly saying that the blogosphere is full up with uninteresting information (To make use of a mild word) from different bloggers who are just sharing their silly thoughts that would be of no interest to anyone as they do not provide business value to them. Hummm, what can I say about that? How do you judge that? Just because a weblogger and his thoughts are of no interest to yourself, or those who you read, does not mean it provides whatever value add to others. The key thing in here is that people are empowered to share what they feel would be worth while sharing with others and that at some point there would be other folks out there who would be able to connect with those webloggers because of the content they share. As simple as that.

So just because it is not useful to you, it doesn’t mean it would not be useful for anyone else. We are all entitled to have a voice and express our own thoughts and ideas in whichever way we decide to go ahead with whether it will be done for a business reason or not. It will then be up to others to stick around or not, but don’t underestimate the power of knowledge sharing by every single knowledge worker out there, because there is a great chance that you will eventually bump into different "golden nuggets of information" that you would be able to reuse at some point and, why not?, find ways to connect with those different knowledge workers that you may not have thought possible in the past.

The other relevant quote that I wanted to share over here, based on different conversations I have been having in the past, is this one:

"Enterprise 2.0 not only works on the internal area of your business; it provides valuable insight into the B2B arena […] Now do you read this and head back to your CEO and tell them, we need a blog, wiki, forum and live chat. Turning the big ship takes time, so start off by implementing one new social tool into your organization and see what kind of feedback you get"

A couple of interesting things in here. First one, is that social computing adoption should not be something that would be just happening internally alone. On the contrary, perhaps even much more useful it would be when adopting social software tools to reach out to customers and vice versa, allowing customers to provide you constructive feedback interacting with the multiple options you may put together, i.e. wikis, weblogs, podcasts, social bookmarks, etc. etc. As we all know, it is about getting the conversations going and building further up on the strong statement that innovation happens through close collaboration between both parties and, if anything, social computing tools are terrific to help spark those conversations and get them going in the first place.

And on top of that, you would be building up a closer relationship with your customers by allowing them to participate from the development process of your tools, offerings and solutions by interacting in common social software tools available to both internal and external audiences. So from here onwards it is perhaps now time to start questioning the usage of a firewall as it may be hindering your multiple methods of innovating with your customers. Some further food for thought, I am sure…

Finally, the last comment that quote sparked from my own experiences is that you do not necessarily need to start with a fully blown social computing tools suite to get those interactions going. You can always start small. And probably you should. For instance, just implementing blogs behind the firewall and allowing knowledge workers to have their own and get things going may be the best approach. Then at a later time they themselves would be the ones triggering the move on to the next one, which is probably when wikis, or social bookmarks, or syndication, or whatever else would come into place. And continue to build up from there till you have got a comfortable tools suite that everyone is not only familiar with, but that they would be more than willing to make extensive use of it as well.

The good thing about approaching social computing’s adoption within the enterprise in this particular way is that one that would allow knowledge workers to figure out their level of consumption from the different tools they have been exposed to. And from there onwards leave it down to them to decide which tools they would want to stick around with and allow them to become the critical mass that will drive the wider adoption of those different social software tools.

As you would be able to see from this weblog entry, building an Enterprise 2.0 culture may not be as difficult as what most people seem to think. Perhaps the most important initial step towards a successful cultural change in this area is for us all to let go that command-and-control attitude that still seems to be floating around all over and help empower knowledge workers to be just that: people collaborating and sharing across the board their knowledge with others by focusing more on the social aspects of knowledge sharing than whatever else they may have been exposed to in the past. That is the way forward. That is what will shape the change of different businesses from a labour-based business into an asset / knowledge based one. And it will be up to us, knowledge workers, to decide which way we would want to go.

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