What’s Needed First? Culture Change or Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

There is a dilemma that exists in the 90-9-1 phenomenon. Do we first require an organizational culture adaptation prior to any meaningful Enterprise 2.0 adoption? Thus, helping us reverse the order where, now, 90% of the population are active creators versus 1%?

Or, do Enterprise 2.0 tools need to become so simplistic, easy to use and of course generally available to an organization before a culture can be considered connected, flat and more collaborative?

It feels like a causality dilemma worth exploring.

Peter Bregman states that an easy way in which to begin changing an organization’s culture is by telling stories. That got me thinking. Perhaps, if we truly want to flip the 90-9-1 phenomenon to improve employee engagement, company productivity, future innovation, etc. we should get fabulous stories circulating into the conversation ecosystem. That should change the culture, right?

Well, how do you do that?

  • Email – employees press delete in their inbox more often than their heart beats
  • Newsletters – are they even read or made anymore?
  • Intranet – possibly
  • Water-cooler – possibly

Obviously the aforementioned possibilities are not exactly Enterprise 2.0 party crashers.

Steve Dale also wrote that storytelling is invaluable when it comes to knowledge sharing. To me, knowledge sharing is as “Enterprise 2.0” as it gets these days, so maybe there is a correlation here.

Maybe we need to publicly state that, for once and for all, knowledge is going to be shared across the organization. Knowledge sharing becomes the new ‘company culture’. Silos are to be broken, the training department dismantled (or reconfigured), fiefdoms burned to the ground and then let the sharing begin.

Ok, now what?

If, philosophically at least, knowledge is being shared (be it content, documents, videos, learning, skills, expertise, whatever), and storytelling becomes part of the equation to help drive a culture change, an Enterprise 2.0 platform and tool-set have to be made available … at the same time … to achieve the equally stated mission of a culture change.

Maybe, in the year 2010, to get to a connected, collaborative and communicative culture that is rife with sharing as an invaluable operating principle to the success of an organization, we need to introduce both a culture change and Enterprise 2.0 to the masses.

  • Storytelling = Knowledge Sharing = Enterprise 2.0 = Culture Change

Having thought about this for several months now, I believe Enterprise 2.0 and Culture Adaptation must go hand in hand down the organizational change alter. It’s the right thing to do in today’s society.

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12 comments on “What’s Needed First? Culture Change or Enterprise 2.0 Adoption”

  1. Good question! However, from a systemic view point I don’t think there is an answer to it – it’s the chicken/egg thing. Without tools, there is no need for culture change (well, there is always a need for culture change in these times but that’s a different story). Without culture change, it’s not possible to implement Enterprise 2.0 successfully. Maybe it is another example for the http://www.changejourney.org? In about 3 hours, I am going to talk about why blended collaboration is so difficult. Cultural barriers is one reason, among many.

  2. Great thoughts Dan. We are approaching 2.0 at The Cheesecake Factory (160 restaurants / 35,000 people) this very way. We seem to have a green lights for storytelling, knowledge sharing, Ent. 2.0 and an engaging cultural shift. Our red lights are: hourly staff and no space in the restaurants to use electronics (and not in front of guests). Jeff

  3. @Holger – nice site. Hope your talk went well. As for chicken/egg … exactly … that’s the causality dilemma I speak of, but to mitigate, I personally think (now) that we have to take on both at the same time.

    @Jeff – thanks for the note. I wonder if The Cheesecake Factory would be willing (and demonstrating great precedent-style leadership in the process) to schedule staff for 15-30 min of paid company time to ‘share stories’ via the tools. Could be a hard sell to the senior management, but that would definitely be ground-breaking, not ground-braking.

  4. Hi Dan –

    It is a bit of a chicken and an egg question but I believe culture will stop both E2.0 and social media efforts cold if it is not addressed early in the roll out of these initiatives. And, culture can be documented in large part by how an organization tells its stories (you can read more about this in our 70+ page report on community management here: http://www.community-roundtable.com/socm-2010). Changing how the organization tells and accepts stories is a key element to changing the culture. If that effort – which is huge – does not start at the beginning of an E2.0 initiative, it is at significant risk for just not being accepted/used/adopted. You cannot force people to communicate so you have to make it appealing and socially acceptable to communicate in new ways. And the 90-9-1 engagement principal is not a universal rule of thumb – it all depends on the mission of the community and how aligned the target constituent group is to that mission… which is a cultural not a technology challenge. But, yes, couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. HR 2.0 has to happen. Once HR is on board with the E2.0 program then it will be possible to add an extra KPI measurement – sociability.

    Once employees realize that their performance measurements include networking with colleagues and customers, collaboration and knowledge sharing, then the content creation ratio has a chance to go the opposite way.

    HR holds the key to culture change, I reckon. They also control the entry of Gen Y-ers into the business – inviting them to change and grow the new culture. After all, it is all about people.

  6. @Rachel – thank you so much for the link and report. Fantasicubulous!! Glad you have research that backs up and debunks the 90-9-1 ‘theory’.

    @Mike – love the sociability point. In fact, we’re working on something called AUGER (access-usage-groups-eval-return on performance) that might address this as well. Stay tuned for a future blog post for opinion.

    @Joitske – what is “the pill” for the culture change we aim to instill then? Is there such a magic bullet?

  7. HR 2.0 has to happen. Once HR is on board with the E2.0 program then it will be possible to add an extra KPI measurement – sociability.

    Once employees realize that their performance measurements include networking with colleagues and customers, collaboration and knowledge sharing, then the content creation ratio has a chance to go the opposite way.

    HR holds the key to culture change, I reckon. They also control the entry of Gen Y-ers into the business – inviting them to change and grow the new culture. After all, it is all about people.

Hey! I'd love to read what you think. Surely you have an opinion. Love, Dan.