The kick-off Keynote for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference (renamed for 2012 as E2Innovate for the Santa Clara/Fall edition, and the yearly Boston spring/summer edition starting next year, as E2Social), was Nathan Bricklin (@socialbrick), SVP & Head of Social Strategy at Wells Fargo.

With Enterprise 2.0 as a concept now at least 6 years into maturity, Nathan's story was remarkably refreshing -- as any meme that is older than a few years runs the distinct possibility of becoming STALE.

E2.0 - From Zero to Scale

For me, his keynote demonstrated that not only are there many companies who have only recently begun their journey with Enterprise 2.0, but that companies can go from zero to scale, in a much shorter time frame than most would think.

This idea is near and dear to me -- as I've become convinced through the work I've been doing through consulting and workshops, to rapidly start and sustain change. And I'm seeing this more and more often, from all industries, and organizations of all sizes.

Nathan described that last year was his first year at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, and that it was only a few months before that, that he had begun a project on internal social collaboration across the corporation at Wells Fargo.

For a sense of the scale of Wells Fargo, they have 265,000 team members across 80 lines of business.

2011 was a great year for Nathan to be immersed in the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, as it was the year that really punctuated that Enterprise 2.0 isn't all sunshine and the wonder of wikis -- but is really about the distributed convergence of a variety handful of concerns.

He was concerned last year that Wells Fargo was so far behind the 8-ball with Enterprise 2.0, that it might not be possible to catch up, and found Andrew McAfee's E2 talk -- you can't win or lose in the first inning -- very comforting. Combined with Ross Mayfield's talk on Enterprise 2.0 Evolution, it was clear that the key was to get started on an Enterprise 2.0 journey.

As other highlights, he noted:

  • John Stepper's tweet re: a handwritten thank you note is far better than any other "recognition system" -- Lesson: don't forget you're human, and simple, personal recognition is all too rare.
  • Jacob Morgan -- hearing a lot about the opportunities of E2, but not a lot about risks/consequences -- Lesson: pay attention to downsides AND upsides -- or you will stall when you don't address the concerns of naysayers.
  • Rachel Happe -- community managers are seen as part-time jobs, but really require dedication for an under-appreciated job -- Lesson: are you staffing/training the right people? "Community technology" doesn't run itself.
  • Oliver Marks -- static IT stances aren't helping -- IT departments need to be as adaptable -- Lesson: "to the cloud" may be a trite phrase, but at the speed that companies need to work at, we all need to be able to change in an instant.
  • Sara Roberts -- leaders need to realize their orgs are mirrors. -- Lesson: Collaboration takes work and it starts at the top. Do what I do, AND what I say.

As far as the focus Nathan pursued for the Social Strategy at Wells Fargo, it was focused not on technology, or "working better", but on honing in on the day to day, real-world frustration of team members at Wells Fargo to help solve real problems.

For example, rather than ask people to do "more collaboration" (which I hear all too often), they've looked at how to reduce unnecessary collaboration (which was also repeated in other sessions -- this is a huge change at this conference -- focus focus focus).

Put it In Context

Another aspect of the focus of results for Wells Fargo, is pulling collaboration, information, social INTO THE CONTEXT of the applications and systems that people use at Wells Fargo TODAY.

His tip on this front was that you need to move from focusing on the "point of desire" (the "Ooh! Shiny gadget phase" -- where you're scratching the "hip and cool" itch) to the "point of use" (where you are actually getting work done).

My last presentation at Enterprise 2.0 was purposefully pointed directly at that conversation, 2 years ago -- see "Avoiding the Silo Trap of Enterprise 2.0" - and it's great to see this mindset continuing to spread throughout the industry.

For Wells Fargo, this integration at the point of use means email is a default space -- embrace it and integrate into it. Mobile and smartphones -- iPhone of course, but for next year or two, supporting BlackBerry as well.

2-3 years ago at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, the rally cry to "kill email" was a vibrant discussion -- but really, missed the point, and it has largely died down in the face of being unrealistic and radical.

There's no single way to do any bit of Enterprise 2.0, and Nathan's final advice could be summed up as, everybody's Enterprise 2.0 journey is going to look different, and it should. Get started and enable better, faster, smarter work.

Have you started? Have you stalled? What are you finding along your journey in Enterprise 2.0?