We had planned to kick off our focus on Enterprise Collaboration today, but it seems there are a couple of holidays in our way — in Canada and the UK. So we thought we'd wait for everyone to arrive for the party to start.
To get you ready for tomorrow, here's a post that Hutch Carpenter wrote in June after the Boston Enterprise 2.0 conference: When Should Management Push Enterprise 2.0 Adoption? This is just a sample of the interesting guest contributions to come over the month in addition to some of our own ideas and concepts.
If you find yourself interested in contributing to the conversation and think you have some great ideas to share, drop us a line email@example.com.
When Should Management Push Enterprise 2.0 Adoption?
After the Boston edition of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, IBM’s Rawn Shah wrote a great follow-up post outlining ten observations from the event. A couple points that I found myself agreeing with wholeheartedly were:
Adoption is about transforming human behaviors at work – More folks are starting to recognize that it is not trivial to bring communities and other social environments to life.
‘Let’s get beyond “adoption”’ – This was another sentiment I heard several times, but I attribute it to short-attention span. The general statement was ‘adoption’ was last-year’s thing, and we needed a new ‘thing’.
The underlying philosophy of his post contrasts with that of Paula Thornton, who finds talk of driving adoption to be antithetical to the true nature of Enterprise 2.0. As she described in a post from several months ago:
If you have to “drive adoption” you’ve failed at 2.0 design and implementation. The fundamentals of 2.0 are based on design that is organic — meets the individual where they are and adapts based on feedback — it emerges. The ‘adoption’ comes from rigorous ‘adaptation’ — it continuously morphs based on involvement from the ‘masses’. If done right, you can’t keep them away…because you’ve brought the scratch for their itch.
While I empathize with her design-driven perspective, I personally find there to be more to people’s adoption patterns. Sometimes the superior design does not win. Existing network effects may prove a high barrier to adoption of something new. Embedded history makes the current approach valuable. And other reasons intrude.
In considering adoption, we have the push strategy (by management), and the pull strategy (viral, organically spreads). Both are viable approaches. The key factor is to determine when each needs to be employed.
A Decision Framework for Pushing Enterprise 2.0 Adoption
The graphic below outlines a basis for determining when Enterprise 2.0 adoption must be pushed, and when to let adoption be pulled:
The two key factors in the framework are user-centric and organization-centric.
The X-axis highlights a key reality. If a current approach/technology is working well enough for users, there is an inertia to making a switch of any kind. This principle is nicely captured in the “9x problem”, an explanation by Harvard professor John Gourville that was highlighted by Andrew McAfee. The 9x problem is this:
Users will overvalue existing products/solutions by 3 times, and undervalue the benefits of a new products/solutions by 3 times.
We’re for the most part risk-averse (e.g. technology adoption lifecycle is back-end loaded), and giving up existing ways presents a level of uncertainty. It’s the devil we know versus the devil we don’t. We place a value on the certainty of current methods, even if flawed.
The other part of the 9x equation is that users will place an uncertainty discount against new products/solutions enumerated benefits. Yes, it’s true. We don’t always buy everything we’re told.
The Y-axis speaks to the value of E2.0 to organizations. Certainly there will be use cases that can drive high value for the organization. And just as certainly, there will be those use cases that contribute little to organizational value.