There appears to be a growing recognition that successfully dealing with cultural issues is a critical success factor in the deployment and adoption of Enterprise 2.0 tools and the changes in ways of working related to these tools. Many of the presenters at the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston spoke of the importance of culture in Enterprise 2.0 deployment in organizations. A common comment was, "it's not about the tools, it's about the culture."
The change management challenge is to move the organization deploying Enterprise 2.0 tools from what may be a traditional, hierarchical, command and control culture to one that is less hierarchical, and more collaborative, agile, open and transparent - characteristics which are more congruent with Enterprise 2.0 tools.
Here are six conversations that I recommend occur in your organization that will help your organization bridge the cultural gap between the status quo and the organization as an effective user of Enterprise 2.0 tools. This builds on a previous post where I stated that "to optimize the technology and achieve improvements in organizational effectiveness...a focus on the overall organization is important."
Preliminary Step: Discuss the nature of the Enterprise 2.0 tools being deployed.
A preliminary step prior to these six conversations is to educate members of the organization about these new Enterprise 2.0 tools. The matters to be shared include: the nature of the Enterprise 2.0 tools being deployed; how the tools compare with the popular Web 2.0 tools with which people may be familiar (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, bookmarking, wikis, search); how the new tools fit with existing tools being used; the major functionalities of the new tools; what the new tools will enable people using them to accomplish; the business and people rationale for the use of the tools; what is being initially asked of people; and how users will be trained in the use of the tools and what will be the resources for ongoing assistance.
1. Be explicit about cultural changes required to effectively utilize Enterprise 2.0 tools.
We currently have enough stored experience in using Web 2.0 tools and their Enterprise 2.0 counterparts that we can specify the behaviors, attitudes, norms and values that will be required to effectively use these tools in an organization. Cisco Systems is one example of this.
We can compare these behaviors, attitudes, norms and values to what exists in the current organization. We can ask, in what ways will we have to behave differently or need to develop different attitudes and values. One common example is moving from a "need to know" organization to a "need to share" organization. We can specify the changes that we desire and the extent of these changes. We can then identify what will be minor changes and what will be more significant changes. Finally, we can take some time to visualize these tools in use.
2. Learn from other user organizations about their experience using Enterprise 2.0 tools.
We can create multi-level linkages with other organizations that have successfully adopted a similar package of Enterprise 2.0 tools and learn about their experience - positive and negative. This knowledge of their experience can include knowledge about new behaviors, attitudes, norms and ways of working that they have successfully utilized. For example, how did they build the openness, reciprocity and trust necessary to operate in an Enterprise 2.0 mode?
3. Identify how mission performance can be enhanced in an Enterprise 2.0 context.
Begin an ongoing conversation about how these Enterprise 2.0 tools can be used to enhance the production of the organization's products and services. How can these tools assist people in doing their jobs? What are the opportunities for new ways of working presented by these new tools, especially with regard to collaboration, knowledge gathering, knowledge transfer and use, and innovation and flexibility?
Discuss existing assumptions about what kinds of actions lead to successful mission performance and whether these assumptions have to be updated in the Enterprise 2.0 context.
Enlist customers in a two-way discussion of how the use of these tools by the organization can improve customer satisfaction.
4. Be clear about necessary new roles and how to put these roles into action and adjust to them.
In current working groups and at an organization-wide level, identify the roles that will be required for executives, mid-level managers and rank and file employees to effectively utilize these tools and to what extent this represents a change from current roles. Talk about the skills, responsibilities and authority that will be required for these new roles and about the behaviors and attitudes that go along with these new roles. Discuss how the organization will go about meeting the training needs for these new roles. Make it legitimate to talk about the feelings that go along with the loss of old roles and the opportunities presented by learning new roles.
5. Talk about how to reinforce and incentivize new behaviors.
Develop a list of the critical behaviors needed in using Enterprise 2.0 tools and new ways of working and how these can be reinforced through performance reviews, training, mentoring or otherwise incentivized. Discuss appropriate ways of using these approaches.
6. Share stories of successful use.
Identify and share stories of successful use of the Enterprise 2.0 tools and the desired behaviors, attitudes, and ways of working related to these tools. Help make the stories of successful cultural change a new currency in the organization and develop a repertoire of these stories of cultural change. Ask people to share their experiences as they use the new Enterprise 2.0 tools.
Finally, in all of these conversations, ask people to talk in person as well as to utilize existing communications and networking media. Ask them to begin to have their conversations using the new tools. Set up a mechanism using the new tools to highlight the knowledge obtained in these various conversations. Designate a role, e.g. community manager, to facilitate conversations and create the spaces in which the conversations can occur.
Ask all affected people throughout the organization to join in these conversations.
The commitment of leadership to the cultural change should be reflected in the overall tenor of their comments even though they like others may not yet be clear on the specifics of the change. They should be engaging in dialogue and conversations focusing on what they can learn from other parties to these conversations.
I am interested in your comments to this post.