Enterprise 2.0 Summit 2013 – the Social Business Hackathon

(Photo by Na-Young Kwon)

The 2013 edition of the Enterprise 2.0 Summit was held last week in Paris. A great opportunity to have a clear vision of where we stand today in terms of implementation of collaborative technologies in the enterprise and how it transforms the way we work, the way we manage and the way we collaborate.

A great organization by the Kongres Media crew (Bjoern Negelmann, Thomas Koch), featuring many speakers we haven’t seen much in France : Euan Semple, Sandy Carter and Dion Hinchcliffe. The case studies were very insightful as they covered many different industries (Amadeus, Sonae, Continental, Deutsche Telekom, Van Marcke, SNCF …).

The format of work sessions made it very dynamic : one or two 15 minutes case studies and then discussion with the panel and the audience. Not to forget the Management Hackathon (more on this in a dedicated post to come) or Lego Games (hence the photo) as brilliant collaborative initiatives …

Learning from others

You may wonder why one should attend this type of events. My take : to understand how the people driving these projects tackled their business, organization and change management issues.

What are the main problems they had and how did they solve them ? What are the best practices that emerge ? What they did do wrong ? How would they do if they had to start it all again ? This is what Eric Ries calls Validated Learning and this is priceless.


I was very excited by the menu of keynotes. As mentioned earlier, you don’t have the opportunity to hear Euan Semple, Sandy Cater and Dion Hinchcliffe that often in Paris.

Semple talk (closing one), though mentioning the Enterprisey dark side of e20, has been a bit disappointing. It activates again the war between the revolutionaries and the evolutionaries. I didn’t find him very convincing when answering some reality check question by Philippe Borremans (from memory may not be 100% correct) : I used to wear the badge of the corporate anarchist but then what : how do you solve your business problem ? Philippe has a point even though him wearing such a badge sounds quite unlikely.

Euan was amongst the first to deploy such technologies to large scale organizations (BBC in the early 00’s) and he may have gained some pride out of this. The result is that he could sound a bit condescending – the executive blogging compared to your dad on the dancefloor may be a bit offside. In The Rebell Sell, authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter defend the idea that focussing on radical changes prevent evolutionary changes from occuring. The very same thing John Stepper told us about Steve Denning Radical Management presentation at #sbf12. I tend to agree with that and, despite all due respect to Euan for his amazing work on the topic (and his seminal blog), I am not very comfortable with such mocking.

The holistic trap

Dion Hinchliffe recommended us in a panel to be cautious not to be too overly holistic, I somehow feel like some speakers may have felt into that very trap – him included. Don’t get me wrong : his keynote was very enlightening. I loved how he correlates the increasing speed of mass use of inventions on one hand and the reduction of life expectancy of S&P 500 companies on the other. If someone is looking for some material to illustrate the increasing pace of change we are witnessing, look no further.

Dion provides a complementary perspective to Jon Hagel’s (moving from a world of knowledge stocks to knowledge flows) stating we are moving from a transactional system of records to a conversational system of engagement. Dion is adamant Social Business is the way to scale engagement throughout the whole organization eco-system and I don’t see how we could argue with that.

Zero email : BS ?

A holistic trap Robert Shaw program leader for zero e-mail project at Atos may have fell into.

I am quite impressed with the initiative, a bit like conquistador Cortes burning the ships while arriving on the shore of South America. Yet, discussing with people knowing Atos employees, it does not sound at seamless as in Mr Shaw presentation (especially if you consider that their Social Software platform keeps on sending notification emails). A bold vision but we will strongly recommend M. Shaw to scan his presentation material using the BS detector.

The networked organization

There have been a few sessions on the topic, but the most inspiring one has probably been the one of Jon Husband. Jon has been in the business for thirty years or so and he’s had a vision of what is happening in organizations for years. His perspective from an Organizational Development professional is bringing great intellectual substance to the conversation. The father of Wirearchy has suggested new grounds for management in an open world which are pretty much the ones of Agile methodologies :

  • transparency for common strategic information
  • participative /inclusive processes for creating individual and groups objectives
  • decentralization of accountability
  • 1st line managers as coach and enablers to get rid of obstacles (and partner with RH)
  • a group of common purpose as a unit of work
  • increasingly, self-management principles will apply

The Generation issue

Sandy Carter talk aimed at being very actionable but in all fairness it was a bit disappointing. She provided 5 steps to implement Social Business but I am afraid she lost half the crowd when she gave “Bridging the Digital Divide” and integrating digital natives as one of the key items to sell Social Business to executives.

The starter kit (with case studies, Gartner and McKinsey papers) looks like a valuable asset.

Case Studies

I have attended a few case studies but unfortunately I’ve missed a couple that I’ve heard many good things about (Continental, Deutsche Telekom). Despite the Death by Powerpoint, I still liked SNCF presentation because, as Fabien Grenet noticed, they openly discussed where they failed and what they learned from these failures. Most insightful from my perspective have been the ones from Philippe Borremans (Van Macke) and Joao Gunther Amaral (Sonae).

Though a bit Enterprisey, Borremans was very pragmatic and his approach to lead this project in Van Macke (a 1200+ family lead Belgium organization) was full of communicative conviction. They first identified the business problem and conduct many survey to assess the current status on these business problems. The most impressive thing about this case study is how serious they have been about the people and social thing. They conducted face to face interviews with people and they trained whole teams with real training : 1 day on the technical side of things, and 1 day on the business use of the technology.No : you can’t become social the cheap way, but that’s how you succeed. The only thing I felt uncomfortable with this presentation was the number of KPIs. My take on KPIs : the more there are, the more likely they will encourage sub-optimization and misalignment.  Still : impressive how they moved from a “static intranet with heavy email based collaboration” to “an enterprise grade online social collaboration tool integrated into a company wide intranet”.

Joao Gunther Amaral story was just as telling. Joao and his team put a lot of effort to prepare for the initiative by moving the project from a technology perspective (webization of processes – web 2.0 technologies) to value driven (knowledge management, innovation, collaboration). Most importantly, while witnessing the immaturity of the current e20 market through interviews, case studies and conferences, they decide to go a very pragmatic way : start with the problem, measure it, build incrementally and define change management process. This solving problem process help them to learn or rather, to build  Knowledge, identify further opportunities and potential adoption obstacles : very Lean indeed. I have been lucky enough to moderate this session with Anthony and Emanuele in the panel and I really enjoyed it.

In 5 keywords

Frederic Williquet proposed on Twitter to give 5 keywords about the all event. So I can’t resist and here it goes :

I may sound a bit demagogue but the first one has to be Community. I know it sounds like BS but meeting Enterprise 2.0 activists from all around the world, sharing with them experience, best practices, problems and good food, laughs, and good times makes me feel part of something great. Anna Van Wassenaer expressed this wonderfully as she tweeted feeling electrified by visiting her social family. So big up to the Enterprise 2.0 mob : Rawn Shah, Luis Suarez, Cordelia Kross, Hans Juergen Strum, Ana Silva, Ana Neves, Anthony Poncier, Emmanuele Quintarelli, Tiffany Assouline, Mark Tamis, Claude Super, Matthias Viry, Jon Husband, Fabien Grenet, Sebastian Schielke, Marie-Pierre Fleury, Olivier Bérard, Céline Schillinger : it is just dead cool hanging out with you guys.

The second one has to be Culture. Sandy Carter elaborated on the topic with a great quote  : Social does not change the culture it reveals it – a very proposition #hypertextual blogged about a while back. Sandy reminded us that Culture eats strategy for lunch so a good question is how to align culture with strategy ? Lean and agile answered that with : practice in daily routines and proceed step by step. Culture also is shaped by the way you reward people (see Schein). I asked the question to Elodie from Amadeus : how can you foster a collaboration culture strategy if you still do personal performance evaluation ? A question asked by Edwards Deming about 30 years ago. Still didn’t get a valid answer on this one.

The third one is Status. There is a bit of a social frenzy where the S word is used in conjunction with many others (business, learning, customer relationship, … you name it). The problem is that many people are mostly interested in Social Status and as Anna Van Wassenaer reminded us in Areva case study, Collaboration in the networked organization changes the power structure : we are moving away from granted power (hierarchical rank) towards acquired power (influence). Don’t expect people to embrass change that question their power. So how do we deal with that with managers ? Internal experts ? Despite asking that question in different sessions, I didn’t manage to get satisfactory answer. Watch for a dedicated post on that topic.

Fourth is ChangeManagement. OK I cheated (that’s 2). As Hans-Juergen Sturm and Elodie Kolasniewski reported during Amadeus story, an implementation of social collaborative solution in an organization is 20% about IT and 80% about Change Management. Which is somehow echoed by the controversial blog post by Jason Falls : Social Business is Bullshit : What “social business” really is, is the digital-first world’s version of change management. “(…) You’re transitioning from the way marketing and communications did work, to the way it works better now. Which bring us back to the critical importance of executives leadership in such initiatives.

Fifth is Agile. In all fairness, I’m a bit skeptical with people talking about making the company more Social and more Agile while showing 18/24 months roadmap and project planning to achieve the vision. Looking at this from an Agile practitioner perspective, I have to say it looks a bit awkward. First, in a world changing at the pace of ours, I don’t see any business value in drawing such long-scale plans (apart from making control driven executives feeling a bit more comfortable) as what you really do while doing so is creating waste. Second, what I witness in the Agile community is that we are drifting away from project and plans and going towards flow of values and just-in-time. Which does not mean there is no vision : we just focus on doing the first thing first. This brings us back to the Enterprisey trend mentioned earlier from Euan talk. I asked a question around that topic in the session I moderated and the panelists (Anthony and Emanuel) didn’t really share my point of view.

Wi The Fi ?

Not possible wrapping-up a summary without mentioning it. Centre National des Armées is a beautiful place in terms of premises : the splendor of 3rd Empire crystal ceiling lights, red velvet curtains, luxury carpets etc … A shame that the WiFi has let us down (in particular the first day – I had my first connection at 3PM) – this is somehow embarrassing during a conference on online collaborative tools. If I dared, I would use this as an image of french organisations today but then again I would be convincted of french bashing so I won’t.

I felt so sorry for Bjoern and Thomas as their great organization work has been tarnished by a below the par IT provider. Frustrating for everybody.

In any case it does not stop me from loking forward to the next edition !

Other Blog posts on the conference


  1. BS scans should be mandatory, especially for sponsor-keynotes… ;))!!
    and i’ve often witnessed quite diverse reactions to Euan’s keynotes (i like them very much); i sometimes suspect it has to do with in how far you can relate to some situations… and seeing your (grand)father dancing in the disco can mean a lot of things: “Dad – great that you’re doing this!! Nevermind…”, or “God – why did I talk him into this and how do I get him out of here…??!!”

  2. Hello Michael and thank you for this comment. Agree the disco metaphor could mean a lot of things but you can tell by the way people laughed during his keynote which option has been understood by the audience.
    For BS scan, I’ve added a ilnk to Scott Berkun seminal blog post on the topic.

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