Today I read the words adopt, social and enterprise and tweeted:
You can't adopt Social to the Enterprise, you have to adapt the Enterprise to SocialThat led to a small storm of ReTweets by various other people; apparently I wasn't the only one thinking this
It's been the issue for a small period of time now, and I've contemplated the idea in a few blog posts: I really think this is the end of us throwing technical 'solutions' at a business or organisational 'problem' - and that we will all agree that E2.0 and Social are about humans, people, change management, radical organisation change, and, in the end, about tools
And, on the field of Integration, the theme of adopt versus adapt has always played the most significant role in my working life. Do we adapt to our suppliers? Do we adopt the industry standards? Oh my the implications involved, the political consequence, the loss of face - versus money saved, gained, invested and ROI-ed. The eternal sandwich in between Business and IT - I just love it
I've mentioned John Hagel more than a few times, and decided to show what I find to be his core table here:
|Push Programs||Pull Platforms|
|Demand can be anticipated||Demand is highly uncertain|
|Top down design||Emergent design|
|Centralized control||Decentralized initiative|
|Tightly coupled||Loosely coupled|
|Resource centric||People centric|
|Participation restricted||Participation open|
|Few participants||Many diverse participants|
|Efficiency focus||Innovation focus|
|Limited number of major re-engineering efforts||Rapid incremental innovation|
|Zero sum rewards||Positive sum rewards|
|Extrinsic rewards dominate||Intrinsic rewards dominate|
Right in the middle of this Luis Suarez released his latest blog post as a reaction to Andrew McAfee's latest one. Gawd it seems like we release our energy en masse during Summer and Autumn / Fall
Luis prepared his post a while ago but got positively kicked in the chins by my other Tweet:
Todays enterprises are employed by Millennials and GenX, and run by BabyBoomers - and the gap will widen even moreSo, once again, it all comes together. I will just name Intimacy versus Anonymity and Proximity versus Distance, and point to the meaning of Change versus Growth. It's all too much for a simple blog post, even if it's this long
There we have all the forces in place:
- Enterprises are run by Boomers
- Enterprises are populated by GenX and Millennials
- Outside the door there is #E20 or #Social media or whatever you want to call it
- Millennials live in Social, GenX is quite good at picking it up
- Boomers are used to Push, Millennials to Pull, GenX is torn in between
Enterprises do everything top-down. Have been doing so for ages. Ye good olde chain-o'-command. And believe me, that method is starting to crack. I'm leaving my 100,000+ employee enterprise after 13 years because it's suffocating me, and I'm only 40 years old. I'm not leaving it for the next best enterprise (I firmly believe there is none anyway), I'm starting my own business
Enterprises aren't used to adapting. They adapt their environment to themselves. If their environment doesn't adapt, they adopt their environment: slash and burn them into a subsidiary, a third, fourth or fifth leg. If I name Oracle, will you finish the endless row of take-overs and what that's lead to? Likewise IBM, and others.
Employees aren't used to adopting. They feel they have to adapt to their company - and rightfully so. Of course they (should) add value to their company, but it's not their company - they only (want and need to) belong to it
Social is a Pull movement. It brings to the Enterprise everything there is in John Hagels' right column. And that stands for everything the Enterprise has always subdued, ignored, denied and persecuted
Picture old-fashioned managers, the Boomers, sitting behind their spreadsheets in their old boys networks - can you see them? Can you hear them? Sending one-way emails to their subordinates, creating Innovation Programmes in perfect isolation, populating those with their next-of-kin, preaching New Ways but practicing Old Ways, adding and adding to the already abundant overhead, suffocating any margin there is. Nepotism like in the old Roman days just before the collapse of the Empire
Will they adopt? Why would they, what's in it for them? Only less control, less power, less certainty, less visibility, less predictability, less image, less prestige. Why would they change? Can they change, even? Heck no
Can they adapt? Heck no, either. Not willing to adopt, unable to adapt. Destined to die. So who will, want, or can?
The Millennials for sure. It's in their blood, they don't know any better. And looking at Twitter and Facebook demographics, GenX isn't doing that bad either
In my last post I picture what Social is really going to do to the Enterprise: blow everything wide open and crush the existing relationships. Whereas currently management is the one single point of entry in the one-to-many relationship between company and customer, Social will flood the enterprise with many-to-many relationships and call for horizontal management in stead. Peer management. Where management comes from the Latin 'manus agere' (lead / guide hands) we'll need collaboration in stead: 'com laborare' (work together)
I don't see a need for management there, do you?
To a certain degree I understand what Andrew's saying, but I think the future will prove him wrong. Yes he has a point about how the young always whine about the old, but now we can just compare it all out there in the open. I used to never see my ex-colleagues again as a rule, but now they still stay in my LinkedIn network, my Twitter network, everywhere.
The only thing that is really ending these days, is employer-employee ties. The employee-employee networks persist
Luis is more positive towards the future but still uncertain - then again IBM has 400,000 employees so I presume I know where he's coming from. He has a very valid point around Knowledge; knowledge is what makes and breaks old-boys-networks, and thus the Boomers. The natural sharing of knowledge and information we all are used to out here in our social networks, big or small, combined with our lack of fear of using new tools and platforms, will eliminate our dependency on them.
But if Sales, Delivery and Staffing are continuing the old ways too, the Enterprise will simply end up making itself extinct - and the Social Employees still in it will leave and find a job elsewhere within a minute
Enterprises will have to adapt to Social via the Millennials and GenX employees they have.
They will need to do so to be able to handle the changed customer:company relationships and take on the Power of Pull, and answer to the need for Intimacy and Proximity of the Social Employee.
They will need to Grow before it's too late and Change is the only option left - next to Extinction
What will the Boomers (have left to) do?