January 20, 2011
enterprise 2.0

Call it Collaboration, Not Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business

Colin Powell once said:

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”


The meme forest fire of Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business is blazing wildly across all geographies of opinion.

We’ve got Enterprise 2.0 in one corner with no shortage of opinions and Social Business in the other corner with even more opinion. There are too many blog and article entries to point back to, although I am partial to Cordelia Krooss’ post entitled “To Reach Mainstream, We Need to Talk Mainstream”.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, there is even a Quora question/answer/discussion burning finger typing calories.

The ‘phrase-father’ of Enterprise 2.0 has also weighed in.

My Thoughts

Individuals in roles that are coined community managers, social media/networking/learning leaders, consultants, VC’s, 2.0 bleeding edge personalities et al, can easily drift in between the terms Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. The problem, obviously, is the rest of the adoption curve. Personally, I don’t think either term resonates with the business and/or executives.

Enterprise 2.0 (although it originally had me at hello) got the ball rolling for all of us. We should be thankful to Andrew McAfee for this, but 2.0 monikers are yesterday’s pet rock and even I have to evolve and stop using it. I’ve had to explain the term Enterprise 2.0 more often than I would have liked over the past 18 months, and if I’m doing that too often, then something is definitely not sticking.

Social Business (although a vernacular enhancement) is saddled and thus hampered by the first word … social. We can’t simply tack on the word ‘social’ to business and expect anyone to understand its underlying intention. Yes, I personally get it, but hearing it for the first time or executives trying to run an organization, it seems to imply that business wasn’t social in the first place. (and it most certainly is)

My Idea

If Colin Powell suggests we should debate, argue and debunk to get to a consensual solution, I’d say we’ve done all that over the past six months or so debating two terms, and not a unifier.


Let’s call it “Collaboration”.

As the noun of the word ‘collaborate’, it embodies what Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business strives for, which is people working jointly together to address business, human, customer, employee or societal challenges and opportunities through technology and in person.

Collaboration pays homage to the patois lineage of the Latin term collaboratus, past participle to the word collaborare which is signified by the simple phrase “to labour together”.

In an interconnected, networked world filled by countless technologies, and new ones coming afloat each day, we are all ‘labouring together’ to achieve common understanding of intellect, of ideas, of results, and so on through said technologies.

And ‘Collaboration” is something that will make sense to anyone on the adoption curve, regardless of role or title because it is starting with a term they already inherently understand.

“Oh, it’s two or more people working together, collaborating on stuff. Yah, I get that.”

We do have, however, some history to overcome with the term collaboration as it has some pejorative linkage to Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II and so-called ‘collaborators’ within the occupied country itself assisting Germany at the time. I believe, nevertheless, that we all can work together (hint hint … collaborate) and overcome any negativity associated with its former association and use Collaboration as the term to describe Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business.


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