It's always interesting to watch the push and pull of the keynote sessions versus the tracked sessions at a conference. In this case, Nike's Director of Enterprise Collaboration, Richard Foo (@nike) talk about "Staying Connected -- Driving Innovation at Nike."

If you don't know the history of Nike, the treads on the first shoes were made with a waffle maker (the first innovation), and sold out of the back of a car at local sporting events. At the heart of the business, Nike is built on relationships and connections -- and Nike employees are famously connected to sports and fitness. They ARE their target markets -- which makes it that much easier to connect to the "real" customers.

As with any mature business (Nike is now over 40 years old, with 38,000 people in over 100 countries, speaking/writing in over a dozen languages), the scale of collaboration has changed over time. It's simply no longer possible to have "team meetings" in the hall or on the same floor, when you need to coordinate across thousands of miles and multiple time zones.

Evolution Sparks Innovation

So the challenge that Richard threw out is that "Faster" is the watchword at Nike -- despite global scale, be faster. Faster people, with faster access to information, which allow for faster answers, decisions, performance and innovation, and so on.

You would expect the company that is famous for it's "Just Do It" slogan would be an early adopter, and that's certainly true -- his recommendation was to "Evolve immediately" -- don't sit on the sidelines, get into the game.

That may be a counter-intuitive statement -- "evolve immediately" -- as evolution in biology takes time, and lots of it. But this is exactly the same reality that I've seen, particularly post-2008: rapid evolution, rapid learning, and perhaps most importantly, rapid behavior change, is not only possible, it's necessary.

The overall vision for Nike, from Richard's standpoint and Enterprise 2.0, is to "Amplify people and information connections to accelerate business performance, inspire ideas and ignite innovation."

Top Down Support Isn't Enough

Being based on a focus on relationships and people, Nike is aiming to flip the way many technology deployments are rolled out -- technology first, people second -- and are taking advantage of new deployments, while focusing explicitly on tying people and technology together, with a focus on Mobile First and Desktop Second.

There's been a lot written, and people are still coming to what it means to do "Mobile First" -- but among other benefits, Mobile First forces you to simplify and focus on getting things done. There is nothing like a truly horrific mobile app to turn your users against you.

Overall, Richard's team is aiming to help people see the value in working in a new way by:

  • Creating new behaviors
  • Starting simple
  • Making their jobs easier and better
  • Creating compelling reasons to change

With a focus on what he calls "Performance Value" -- focused not just on "the goals of the business" but also on those of the individual -- a disconnect that I constantly have to fight in consulting work as well. There has to be value FOR EVERYONE if you are going to succeed these days, not just a self-serving, one-sided value statement.

As you're working on your Enterprise 2.0 strategy -- ask yourself, who am I creating value for? Is that value easily had, or do we still have barriers in the way that we can remove? And above all, should we "Just Do It" and improve it as we go?

Editor's Note: To read more of Dan Keldsen's coverage from #e2conf: