The magnificent city of Paris received once again the Enterprise 2.0 Summit, one of the most important events on E2.0 and Social Business. A crowd of practitioners, consultants and some vendor-related folks gathered during two days to share experiences and discuss the current state and future of the transformation of business in a connected world.
At the end of day 2 @fredericw tweeted an interesting proposition for attendees: summing up the event in 5 keywords.
— fredericw (@fredericw) 21 de março de 2013
That proposition is the basis for this blog post as I digest on the last few days.
Luis Suarez, one of the best known faces of the E20 community and a great guy, proposed at some point we should stop talking about adoption of social and start talking about adaptation: building capabilities to deal with an uncertain world; adapt to the different needs & styles of working of employees.
To me this is highly related with Jon Husband‘s definition of a social business as a social system focused on purpose & results and on building capabilities (organizing for adaptability and agility). (PS – Jon has promised to blog to go deeper into this definition and I’m looking forward to it).
One of the discussions I found more interesting, and a topic that I think will be increasingly relevant both on a personal and organisational level, is that of social learning, a theme I covered recently in this blog. Ellen Trude brought to the event a fresh perspective on what it means to learn at work and for work purposes, and how different it is from the current approach of organizations to training. In her view a social business is a learning organization.
As she stated “the workplace of tomorrow is more complex than that of today but maybe we are now more apt to deal with complexity now”, which somewhat is connected to the need of building adaptable and constant learning organizations. She also looks at learn not from the perspective of acquiring skills (traditional view of learning) but from the prism of developing competencies (to thrive in a connected world).
Business, and work, is increasingly connected: as Dion Hinchcliffe stated in his opening keynote “in a traditional world we are used to being asked to do everything ourselves. We need to learn to let the network do some work for us”. And learning will also increasingly occur, in a dynamic and constant way, through networks.
According to Thierry de Baillon “we need to rethink organizations. What we now have are organisations that are complex systems. This means there is no available framework for these kinds of enterprises”. So challenges still abound, uncertainties remain, different perspectives
I can’t help but feel as if we were sailors, setting out into the vast unknown and unchartered territory of the organisation of the 21st century, armed with nothing but a few guiding tools but no clear map of how to arrive there nor of what we will find. Being Portuguese this feels like an homage to the brave period of the Portuguese discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries, and I deeply hope I can contribute to this exploration and navigation.
And I was reminded, both through the discussions in the event and the always fascinating conversations on those moments of delightful conviviality outside of the official program, that perhaps it is still too early for us to expect big conclusions or recommendations, which makes me question if we should be talking about maturity.
A challenge was what myself, Rawn, Sebastian, Rogier, Martin, Nathanael and Benoît embraced in the Management Hackathon on the Principles for the New Organization (on a side note, organisational design was a topic often addressed during the event). The outcome was a concept inspired from the work that Dave Gray has been doing about the Connected Company that organises into pods: small autonomous units that tackle specific ventures in a self organized way.
We envisioned work much more project-based, with managers acting as sponsors for projects which develop though self organised teams (the pods) that come together. In order to give visibility to the different competencies of colleagues, rotation dynamics would be put in place to foster network effects. Accountability is important in order to make sure that projects get done and progress is tracked & reported. And in this new work design, teams self regulated but this new reality needs to be fostered through an environment that allows teams to fail forward. We thus thought it would be important to recognize and “reward” failure (through the chicken award :) ).
Different people, nationalities, languages, backgrounds, ages. But also different wording regarding the phenomenon we are witnessing, different views on how to prepare organizations for the challenges ahead and different opinions on the current state of affairs: I guess what Dion Hinchcliffe’s had in mind when he said in his keynote on the current state of Enterprise 2.0/Social Business that “when something matures, reality sets in and we get pragmatic“ is based on a different view of the present than that of Euan Semple’s that in his keynote worried about us “turning what could be a very powerful change into a highly structured thing put into little boxes?”
This is actually a very healthy sign. From diversity comes debate, questions, possible paths and a shared construction of the future.
Once again the Enterprise 2.0 Summit proved me, though proof was not needed, how smart, knowledgeable, kind and caring is the group of people that online and offline contribute to the discussions around this topic and share their expertise and experience. The conversations that occur during events such as this one are increasingly what I treasure the most!
Some “usual suspects” as Samuel Driessen, David Demetrius and Oscar Berg were missed.
A final word of congratulations to Björn and his team for organizing yet another good event and a thank you for inviting me to participate in a discussion panel (more on that on a separate blog post). Having organized events myself I know how stressful and crazy things can be and how difficult to find the correct balance between topics, speakers and dynamics of the event.