ThoughtFarmer Featured in McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 Book

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For those of you who missed it, Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 book launched recently. Now Andrew can say he not only coined the phrase, but he wrote the book on Enterprise 2.0 too. Formerly at Harvard, Andrew works at the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He blogs regularly on Enterprise 2.0 topics,asks lots of questions on Twitter, and hosts a mean house party to boot.


photo: Andrew McAfee keynoting at Enterprise 2.0 in San Fran, Nov 2009 (Alex Dunne photo)

We were in San Francisco at the Enterprise 2.0 conference when the book launched. Andrew was keynoting at the event and talked about some of the dangers surrounding the continuing adoption of social tools in the enterprise. He had a solid, thought-provoking list of items, wonderfully summed up on Timo’s SAP blog that detailed the keynotes:

Declaring war on the enterprise. As Andrew points out, this is a really bad sales pitch – if the goal is to make the executives go away, they are unlikely to sign up for the plan. Plus, and more importantly, it’s flat-out empirically wrong – there’s still need for some hierarchy, there’s still need for management. To illustrate the point, Andrew pointed to a news story from the satirical journal, the Onion — “Marrxist’s apartment a microscosm of why Marxism doesn’t work”.

Allow walled gardens to flourish. Create mutually inaccessible silos of information. The web works because there’s “a” web, not lots of different webs. He illustrated this with a picture of walled fields from Normandy France.

Accentuate the negative. The risks are manageable, and shouldn’t be ignored, but shouldn’t stop things going forward. For example, one organization implemented a “flag” that could be set to show a potential problem – but so far it’s never been used.

Try to replace email. We’re not going to replace email any time soon. It works well for a lot of people, and in particular, senior decision-makers are happy with it, especially the “one stop shop” aspect of the inbox.

Fall in love with features. Users don’t want more bells and whistles. We have a tendency to cram in more features – but this doesn’t make it any easier to use. The phrase to retain is “what’s the simplest thing that could possibly work?”

Overuse the word “social”. The word is technically accurate, but “I’ve rarely come across a work that has so many negative associations for managers” – it sounds like “technology to organize social hour” (cue picture of Woodstock: chaos, despair, etc.)

For a handful of lucky conference participants, Andy had some copies of the book available. Chris McGrath snagged the last copy on day one of the conference and was pretty darned excited.

Chris and Enterprise 2.0

And why was Chris excited? Other than the fact that Andrew signed it for him? Well, we’re in the book. Page 134 to be exact. Andrew used the knowledge sharing example from our Intrawest Placemaking Case Study to demonstrate the uniquely valuable benefits of Enterprise 2.0 from an authoring perspective.

You can read the Case Study (and many more stories of wiki success in the enterprise) on the Cases 2.0 site hosted by the fine folks at Socialtext.

Gil Yehuda posted his review of the book which I won’t try to duplicate here. What I will point out is a great passage from Gil’s review:

Let me ask — which is easier: to find information on the Internet using Google or to find information in your corporate intranet? If you say that finding information on the Internet is easier then this book is for you. If you said the opposite, then you are probably lying (and I bet you are a salesman for an intranet search company too). It seems illogical that your intranet (which you pay good money to have) fails to perform nearly as well as the public Internet (which costs you nothing). Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee explains why corporate information sharing has failed to live up to our expectations – and more importantly what you can do about it. Read this book to learn what companies are doing that fundamentally changes the way they view their information, their intranets, and the teams of people who come to work every day to turn that information into business results.

Now there’s a great challenge for all intranet vendors, ourselves included.

Go grab yourself a copy of Enterprise 2.0 on Amazon, Chapters, or your local bookstore. It’s a great read.

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  1. Mat X

    Managers should be more afraid of “Enterprise 2.0” than social tools themselves. Anyone trying to sell them 2.0 whatever should remember web 2.0 or whatever happened to the beautiful dream of a bright future building interwebs.

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