April 18, 2010
enterprise 2.0

The Org Structure of Enterprise 2.0

I’m lucky to be a member of the 2.0 Adoption Council, founded by Susan Scrupski. As a member, I have access to a plethora of sharing, information and intellect as it relates to how individuals are driving Enterprise 2.0 in their respective organization.

Naively, it donned on me recently that the members come from everywhere in the organization; IT, Learning, HR, Consulting, Customer-Facing and even Social Media specific teams.

And then it struck me – the Org Structure of Enterprise 2.0 should be exactly what Enterprise 2.0 calls for, which is a cross-functional, collaborative, open and seamless environment that enhances organizational innovation, productivity and engagement.

But what should that look like?

Andrew McAfee, in Enterprise 2.0, New Collaborative Tools For Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges pens the following:

Most of the tools of Enterprise 2.0, however, do require both behavioural and technological changes and are therefore long-haul products.

By tools, I believe Andrew implies both software and process are potential barriers to adoption, and as such, we should be patient with Enterprise 2.0 strategy for the organization. Thus, in order for the ‘practice’ of Enterprise 2.0 to successfully roll out across an organization, perhaps we should link the org structure to the technology adoption life-cycle developed by Joe Bohlen, George Beal and Everett Rogers at Iowa State College.

If we make this alignment we can see the Enterprise 2.0 org structure come to life. The first diagram outlines four key org structure phases plotted against the technology adoption life-cycle. The key piece is to establish, up front, a cross-functional Enterprise 2.0 core team made up of at least one member from HR, IT, Corporate Communications, Customer Facing Business Unit(s), Learning/Corporate University, Social Media (if you have one) and ideally an Executive Sponsor. (see figure two)


Once the Enterprise 2.0 core team is established (embodying the spirit of E2.0 itself) the members will strategize what ‘great’ looks like for the future health and success of the company. But ensuring that this is a cross-functional and equally representative core team will drive positive aspects such as but not limited to:

  • Learning reshaping their ‘training department’ to become E2.0 specific (formal, informal & social)
  • HR and/or Learning ensuring core competencies are revised to include E2.0 principles
  • HR helping to drive other key HRIS and HR process linkages to E2.0 strategy
  • IT obviously stating what’s possible, what’s not, and aligning to other technology plans and/or investments (previous, current or future)
  • Customer facing representatives indicating requirements and thoughts to drive profit/revenues
  • Corporate Communications outlining potential impacts to any and all things related to formal company-wide communication linkages
  • Social Media Team (if you have one) obviously wanting to have a seat at the table
  • Executive Sponsor to ensure someone at the senior leadership echelon of the company is both aware and supportive of where the ‘vision’ is heading

Once the E2.0 Core Team has in fact established a working theory of adoption, including the combination of technological and behavioural change, it’s time to recruit E2.0 ambassadors, mentors and champions. According to the technology adoption life-cycle, that’s up to 13.5% of the organization getting close to ‘early adoption’, so it makes sense to align however many ‘ambassadors’ you need to help champion your technological and behavioural changes, be it through pilots, mash-ups, Google labs-esque opportunities, as well as flatter and more connected ways in which to collaborate and communicate. (ie. The behavioural bit)

If the ambassadors, mentors and champions have done their job, all of your alpha and beta work should now be readying itself for enterprise-wide formal adoption. At this point, the E2.0 org structure has official top-level executive sign-off as well as rollout. The exec’s not only buy into the vision, and approve the plan, but they recognize the E2.0 core team as the delivery agent of E2.0 for the organization; a first for many companies which is a cross-functional, every business unit represented virtual team moving things ‘officially’ forward. At this point, we are up to 50% of the organization adopting the plan, past the so-called Tipping Point, and aligned with the technology adoption life-cycle too.

We now get to what I refer to as the Organizational Assimilation Point. 50% of the organization is not on the ‘bus’ yet, but with the leadership of the E2.0 Core Team, and ambassadors now gaining in strength as well as executive level buy-in, we can align the entire E2.0 vision principles to all HR processes, practices and policies. By doing so, we ensure the ‘late majority’ and ‘laggards’ can in fact adopt, and most importantly, adapt to a new way in which to operate.

And finally, however long this takes, at the end of the cycle we can deprecate the term Enterprise 2.0, as we will have successfully integrated every aspect of the original plan into both the technological and behavioural processes of the company.

In summary, the org structure of Enterprise 2.0 starts first and foremost with the cross-functional equal weighting team. A leader for this team will naturally surface over time. As there is a litany of technological and behavioural changes for the organization to consider, I believe it’s easier to view the org structure and E2.0 strategy rollout as it relates to the technology adoption life-cycle.

11 Replies to “The Org Structure of Enterprise 2.0”

  1. Yup .. significant structural change will be useful.

    Cross-functional and cross-silo ffectiveness (at communications, alignment, etc.) has long been called for but almost never well-accomplished. Now the reason(s) and the means are clearly available to make progress on that important (if not mission-critical) front.

  2. Definitely agree that organizing a team around E2.0 combined with executive level buy-in can help adoption and implementation. We’ve seen this method work in complex rollouts when the concepts of Enterprise 2.0 are purposed for innovation and companies embrace innovation management platforms to help, collect, decide and execute on ideas. Some of Brightidea’s most successful rollouts were successful because they went beyond streamlining the process of idea management to actually helping foster a ‘culture of innovation’ by using the principles of organizational structure and ‘ambassadors’ as you outline here.

  3. Totally support the cross functional buy-in, executive sponsorhsip, and phased approach. Ideally I would like to see a sense of urgency created by aligning to a well defined business case. The impact being something everyone in the organization can articulate. I also think it is critical that HR/OD gets behind a competency initiative to accelerate individuals through the mental and physical barriers of learning new social technologies. It is commmon today, not withstanding some good effort, for organizations to suffer push back from employees to using web based applications as individuals are either too busy, don’t know how, etc. Ironic, because it is the same push back you often get to attending a formal learning event. Let’s start with the core and lead the change.

  4. One of the things I’ve always found around tech adoption is that while we are crafting vision/redesigning structure, gaining exec support,etc, we miss the opportunity to define what we want people to actually do. I use the HPT approach and when you start to dive down into the details and describe what/how/when type of info, people can clearly understand what the future state looks like from their desk. That’s what they really care about anyway…Perhaps this would move E2.0 from conceptual to practical. What do you think? Too granular? Too soon?

  5. Reading your post and especially the graph/exhibit 1, it occurred to me that such ideal 2.0 org framework replicates the stages that can be found in open source communities from their inception -when they are totally organic- to the latest more ‘bureaucratized’ stages (I’d recommend you to read this paper, and substitute new developers by new users; maintainers by ambassadors, etc to make sense).

    Good post, congrats.

  6. Two pieces I would add. One the legal team needs to be at the table if your social initiatives include external communications in any way. Secondly, and more importantly, once you have a cross-functional team, it’s critical to design a cross-functional decision making process or otherwise cross-functional teams become a cauldron of subjectivity on which projects are more important than others. Agreeing on how decisions will independently of making decisions is critical so that everyone understands how prioritization and focus happens. That then implies that this cross-functional team has some authority and resources to allocate… if not, it will remain a ‘nice-to-have’ discussion group.

  7. Really enjoyed the E2.0 overlay to the technology adoption life cycle. For the E2.0 core team, I would add to Rachel’s comment and include the “Operations” management/team. Whether it’s program managers or the COO the team needs to fully understand and integrate the internal business processes and operations to redefine how business is done.

  8. It’s interesting to see the similarities between Enterprise 2.0 and technology adoption Life Cycle. Based on the diagram, we will definitely falls into the middle stage – Early Majority & Late Majority for many years to come.

    This is because we are driven by a strong sense of practicality in their decision making processes. The content to wait to see how others are faring before committing to what could be a “passing fad”. In addition, we are comfortable with the application of new technology comprises about one-third of the total buying population.

    On the other hand, late majority will make us wait until a technology becomes a standard before buying into it, wanting to see lots of support and tend to buy from well established enterprises. Finally, we are not so confident as the early majority with their ability to handle the new technology
    that comprises about one-third of the total buying population.

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