(Illustration by Frédéric Williquet)
The E20 Summit was celebrating its fifth edition in Paris in the stimulating premises of ESCP, and just like Jon Husband said on Facebook : “I have been having a blast”. Notice that it’s rather challenging to be somehow unbiased since I am an ambassador of the event and I always am longing for the opportunity to exchange ideas, stories and drinks with the E20 mob.
Unfortunately, I could only attend the first day of this year edition. Despite my absence I have still been able to follow the conversations of the second day thanks to the “#E20 peeps Tweeting like maniacs” as Lee Bryant noticed.
Some may have expressed their regrets that their were not so many new ideas but I don’t really share this perspective. The main impression I have brought back home is this : we are reaching some kind of maturity on the topic as some patterns of successful implementations emerge. It is great to have thought leaders discussing ideas, principles and concepts but the main value out of these conferences from my perspective are the returns of experiences : those were very inspiring indeed.
Inspiring to such an extent that I after 5 years into the topic, I eventually found my one tweet definition of Social Business …
Most speakers have been ending their narrative about collaborative platforms usage with business value and operational benefits. The stories have been quite telling in that respect : Telus (Dan Pontefract), Bosch (Joachim Heinz), Solvay (Martial Tardy), Société Générale (JP Chapon), Grundfos (Martin Risgaard) have all clearly correlated platforms usage with bottom line results : customer satisfaction, EBITDA, employee retention, projects lead time.
This is what you want to hear when you run a business and someone is trying to sell these tools and organization mode. Andrew McAfee noticed it when the Social Software for Business Performance report was first released 3 years ago by the folks at Deloitte.
There has been a great focus on change management in this edition. I missed both but had the Twitter stream to somehow catch up : this has been the very topic Céline Schillinger and Claire Flanagan addressed in their respective talks.
Claire is now Director of Business Value Strategy at Jive (a vendor) and her talk is very enlightening (slides). She hardly talks about technology or process, her focus is more on Change Management. Claire has achieved remarkable success while leading the implementation at CSC, getting a few awards in the process, a story she came to present at the E20 2010 edition, so her talk if not just about theory : she has been in the trenches and she perfectly knows all the difficult steps of implementation people have to go through.
Céline talk was about her experience at Sanofi Pasteur running some projects where the E20 approach has proved to be fruitful. Her talk has sparked off a quite vibrant tweet streams (this one being my personal favorite), and a great illustration by @fredericw, so I would strongly recommend to check her slides. I had the pleasure to make a video interview with her with the objective of cracking the secret of her phenomenal drive and energy.
It is worth mentionning that both ladies are active Change Agents Worldwide, a community created by the self proclaimed Enterprise 2.0 concierge Susan Scrupski whose presence has been missed during the event.
Top Performers Vs Laggards : the numbers
Emanuele Quintarelli presented the results of the survey they made at Ernst & Young to understand the key levers of successful organizations in social business implementation. The trigger of this study ? Their frustration with the low ratio of successful projects. A very rational approach to the problem and a will to have a closer understanding of what is going on. Many priceless insights in the report related to top performers Vs laggards practives and strategy during the implementation :
- In 54% of the surveyed organizations, adoption is stucked between 10 and 30%. We know it has to go above 35% to be considered as meaningful enough for the organization.
- Middle management is an obstacle only for laggards : performing organization don’t identify it as such
- half of laggards have no-one in charge of the implementation. (Only 10% of successful organization have no-one)
- top performers have about a 3.5 more important budget than laggards
- top performers use performance metrics 3 times more than laggards
As usual, these pieces of data have to be taken cautiously, but they still provide interesting inputs to establish your own strategy.
The revolutionary and the evolutionary : (oh not again !)
This issue has been the one discussed by Luis Suarez (who took this opportunity to announce he was leaving IBM to become an independent consultant – congrats Luis) and Emanuele Quintarelli during the panel dedicated to employee engagement.
In all fairness, I think we all are tired with the same old discussion between the revolutionaries and evolutionaries – an article I wrote 4 years ago. Emanuele position (we need to focus on business results) Vs Luis (we need to foster on teams engagement first) even had Greg Lowe to tweet : « Interesting : after 5 years we’re still regurgitating the same old challenges ».
Check out my dedicated post on employee engagement following that conversation.
Immersed within this effervescence of ideas, I’ve reached some definition of the Enterprise 2.0 / Social Business concept and here is my proposal :
E20 implementation is a change management initiative aiming at scaling up collaboration throughout the whole organization. Why scaling up collaboration ? Because it is the only way to tackle the complexity of problems in the 21st business world.
This complexity is both external and internal. It is external with the evolution of regulations and rules, continuous emergence of new technologies and usages, extended globalization, emerging markets etc … It also is internal with the the self inflicted complicatedness of our organization – see this enlightening article by the Boston Consulting Group on this topic.
With this definition, and inspired by the Scaling Up Excellence book by Sutton and Rao, we can ask ourselves interesting questions :
- Before scaling up collaboration, is there any pocket of successful collaboration I want to draw on ?
- What is the point of scaling up collaboration in an organization without a proper collaborative culture ? That’s an excellent point made by Declan Kavanagh in the comments of a McKinsey interview with Don Tapscott (sorry could not find the link… )
- Does the organization see any value in extended collaboration ?
- Before selling the project and the tools, it might be worth understanding the position of the organization regarding collaboration. What is they might be afraid of ? Is there any horror story ? Any success story ?
Freedom Inc. + Enterprise 2.0
There has been many references during the conferences (OK most of them were mine) to the Freedom Inc approach (french revue of the book). The Poult story has been rated “the best one I have ever heard by Bertrand Duperrin who, believe me, has heard quite a few. Is it a coincidence that the enterprise is une entreprise libérée [FR] ? I don’t think so … I was not lucky enough to hear it but I’ve heard the journey of Chronoflex by CEO Alexandre Gérard during Agile Tour France in Nantes (french review of that keynote) and I was just stunned.
My take : if what you really want to do is to empower your team, then deploy a leadership and management strategy that does empower your teams. Then you will be in a position where you can reap all the benefits of the social business implementation. In that case : don’t start with the tools.
As Hans Juergen Sturm noted, most company successful in implementing Social Business already shared most of the values beforehand.
Check out the video interviews I did during the summit with Céline Schillinger, Jon Husband and Dion Hinchcliffe.
Kudos to KongressMedia
Thanks again to the great KongressMedia team for the organization and the great job : Thomas Koch, Ann-Kathrin Tegtmeier, Susanne Bach, Jan Grüb, and Bjoern Negelmann. It already is complicated to organize such an event in your own country, so doing it from abroad is quite challenging. Vielen Danke and looking forward to next year edition.