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.

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