Enterprise 2.0

It took me the last two days to realize: My boss really means it. The company I work for is being transformed into a Web 2.0 company. Or maybe, the essentials of our corporate culture – in my view: open communication, feedback and individual reputation – are what today is best described as “2.0”. And now our processes and tools follow suit.

The consequence and range of this transformation is still a bit stunning. At the beginning of this week, up to five volunteers were invited to join the management meeting that would make one of the most significant business decisions for this year, our product portfolio. CoreMedia is a software product vendor, its products are its prime investment and source of income, so the decision boiled down to – where is the company going to go.

I volunteered, and here’s where it starts getting unusual: out of those who “volunteered”, the 5 to join the show were not picked – rather, the volunteers were told to decide as a group who should go. Group dynamics galore. We discussed, and in the end made a poll. It felt like a small democracy.

Here we were then, random employees “observing and giving feedback” – watching our directors discuss the company’s future. At first I had assumed that we would just observe, make notes, and help in “viral marketing” of the decisions made. As it turned out, we were actually asked to give substantial feedback, to point out weaknesses, to help in shaping a sustainable solution. And did we take that opportunity! After watching the directors’ discussion for some time (sometimes deeply impressed, sometimes gnawing our fingernails) the roles were reversed, and then our directors had to watch us discussing their “results, the process and their behaviour”! And they were actually listening. Like a discussion on a blog, or a news forum.

The most unusual part is the way decisions will be communicated. There is no committed and fixed communication strategy, no long-fought-over formulations in the final protocol. In the end, after two days of discussion, the feeling was that everyone actually agreed and trusted each other to disseminate the results each in his own way. The communication strategy is – “everyone, go write your view on the internal corporate blog”.

Oh my god, we’re so 2.0. They dare. They are taking it all literally, and chances are, it’s going to work.

6 thoughts on “Enterprise 2.0”

  1. Unbelievable, isn’t it! I begin to think our engagement at the last CCC meeting really sucked us in. I learned a lot and am really surprised how things develop at work.

  2. Great Blog Post, Axel. I now slowly get to know what Enterprise 2.0 is. Even that it is possible to discuss these interna in such a (possibly) open forum is great.

    What impressed me most is your comment about the “final protocol”. I think this is the key why the word of Enterprise 2.0 should be spread all over the world. The problem in any written protocol or other document is that emotions and the whole process is missing. To “transmit” this is only possible through witnesses. If an independent observer reports about the process why a decision is made it’s most of the time much better to understand than the decision alone.

    Well, I am happy to be a part of Enterprise 2.0 🙂

  3. @Mark: The “final protocol” was also the point that got me. Of course, any witness is partial, in both senses of the word: taking sides, and only reporting part of what happened. When combined with power and authority, the report is likely to reinforce the existing power structures, so we need reporters that are not also the decision-makers.
    In a strictly hierarchical system, understanding the process and reasons behind a decision may not even matter, because the decision will be enforced no matter whether people relate to it, and no matter whether it is a good decision or not.
    But that is not our world. Our world is more complex. The jobs we do are only done well as long as we believe in them. We need to be convinced, we need to see the logic behind a decision. We need many witnesses, because no witness is independent. And if we do not see the logic, we need to ask for new decisions.

  4. Watch out! Maybe it’s just a trick to keep the key players busy while they are doing major reorganizations behind your back. Now that DRM is dying …

  5. jan, there are certainly layers of motives that I’m ignorant of. But I can hardly imagine even more reorganizations going on behind my back than those already happening before my eyes…

Comments are closed.