Hmm, interesting thoughts on idealism around web 2.0 and the reality in the enterprise from AccMan’s blog. I have my own strategy for dealing with this conundrum which I’ve been developing since 1999:
I like discovering smart people who can make connections that I miss, didn’t consider or just plain forgot. This from Oliver Marks who I first met in San Francisco the other month:
People get very paranoid when they think you are encroaching into their space, and are understandably always wary if they think they are about to be made a smaller cog in a bigger machine, real or imagined. This is a common problem when you ask enterprise people to collaborate. It’s a diplomatic initiative – ‘enterprise collaboration’ is an oxymoron unless it is structured well.
Oliver’s thinking was sparked by a post from JP Rangaswami:
With very few exceptions, I have found the following to be true of large organisations:
- We stress the importance of human resources, human talent, human capital
- We stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration
- We stress the importance of openness and transparency
- We stress the importance of trust
And then, mysteriously, we somehow manage to create an environment where we jealously guard information; where we seek to create and extend power as a result of this jealous guarding; where we then exploit this power in all kinds of ways, some less abhorrent than others (but all abhorrent, at least to me).
I’d take JP’s argument further. It doesn’t matter the size of the business. We all live in ecosystems that contain hierarchies and structures. Just as you might be part of a department, the firm as a whole operates in the context of many businesses and partnerships located within a specific competitive environment. I sometimes think that despite the fact 80% of what we know is commodity information, we continue to mistake our knowledge as partly defining the power we wield. In a knowledge based economy, that’s a fallacy, an illusion that serves to bind us to the past.
Genuine and lasting differentiation is not defined by how much we know but by how much we share. I go back to my opening statement: smart people help me by reminding me of what I’ve forgotten, omitted or don’t know. But I only learn that through sharing thoughts and ideas. If we’re going to be serious about helping clients then the sooner we recognize that, the better.