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Enterprise 2.0 Summit : In the experts minds

As stated in my previous post, I have been invited to the Enterprise 2.0 Summit as an Ambassador.

As such, I am in a unique position to reach out to the Speakers and ask them a few questions … so I contacted some of the French Speakers and here’s the result of the (wiki-based) interview I conducted.

But first of all, let me introduce my three guest (even if you probably know them all already!).

Bertrand Duperrin is a Consultant at Nextmodernity, where he carries out consultancy missions in the field of new management, information, and communication technologies. His career began in an HR and management consultancy where he mainly focused on collaboration issues. His goals are to make social networks serve organizational performance and value creation in such domains as innovation, sales performance, or collective efficiency. Bertrand is a member of the E2.0 Summit Advisory Board and he will present us his thoughts on how to overcome cultural boundaries in an Enterprise 2.0 initiative.

Franck La Pinta is Employer Brand Marketing Manager at the Société Gérérale HR department. He defines and builds the employer brand and the strategy of actions to implement, including the use of web and social medias for internal and external objectives. Franck will cover some best practices for improving talent & skill Management.

Anthony Poncier is a Consulting Director at USEO, a French consulting firm that helps its customers to improve their internal and external communication, content management, collaboration, with the use of web-based solution. He is specialized in the management of Enterprise 2.0 and social media strategy, and works on impacts of those social technologies on the organization and management process. He is an active blogger and twitter user. Anthony will tell us about managing the participation in an Enterprise 2.0 project.

Now to the “interview”.

You will be Speakers in the coming E2.0 Summit, can you maybe tell us a bit more about the subject of your presentation?

[Frank] The subject of my presentation is about the opportunities of social networks for human resources’ external objectives : contribute to develop an attractive employer brand and facilitate sourcing and recruitment. Today, the relation between job seekers and companies is totally impacted by the new behaviours brought about by social networks. Instead of being afraid of these “fully empowered candidates” who want to change the rules, I’m convinced that it’s an opportunity to build a new long-term and more efficient relation.

[Anthony] The title of my presentation is Managing the participation  for Enterprise 2.0. The advisory board asked me to focus on internal communities. So to sum up, I’ll talk about how do I set up a vivid community, how do I incite participation, how do I govern the participation.

[Bertrand] I’ll be hosting a panel that will discuss how to overcome cultural boundaries. This is a topic I find essential for two reasons. The first is because most of the Enterprise 2.0 paradigm is strongly influenceb by the north american culture and has to be “europeanized” to be adopted here. The second is because Europe is not a unique concept but is made of many local specificities. Any European organization aiming at deploying an E20 strategy on a global scale has to be aware of that and know what favors adoption in a given context.

Bertrand, you are also a member of the E2.0 Summit Advisory Board, could you describe what this means exactly?

As a board member I also help the organizer to find local cases. Since the Summit is an European conference it’s very important to have cases from many countries to have a comprehensive view of what’s happening across the EU. We are also consulted to share our views of what matters in the Enterprise 2.0 landscape and what attendees should expect from such events.

Bertrand, again, company culture is often cited, and rightly so, as one of the major barriers to E2.0 implementation. Would you say that Cultural Boundaries are also to be listed among the top ranking obstacles?

Depending on where we’re from we all react differently in our work. Hierarchy, autonomy, respect of rules, willingness to engage in other kinds of relationships at work differ according to the local culture. I don’t even mention language issues : sometimes making people adopt one common language is a really hard job and often limits the spreading of new collaboration practices. Moreover in Europe, we all have our History, our past and as borders are slightly disappearing people tend to overemphasis some points of their culture to preserve their identity in face of a globalized organization.

Another point is that European companies have often a country based organization. There’s the french headquarter, then the german, spanish, italian…. branches. Organization silos were built, relying on cultural ones which makes things even more difficult to deal with.

To be honest, this is nothing really new, but as the economy is becoming more global and as we’re trying to break down organizational silos, being successful in a multicultural context is not “nice to have” anymore but a  “must have”.

Frank, talent and skill management are not always fully leveraged in 1.0 companies, how can E2.0 help improve this situation?

I do not think that, talent and skill management are not fully leveraged in 1.0 companies, the current process is meant to meet the objectives and to be consistent with the organization and culture. On the other hand, E2.0 is an opportunity to propose a new social agreement in order to  promote new skills in relationship, cooperation, collaborative approach in the way of working. These skillls are being called to mind, for some companies, as the behavioural objectives are beginning to include cooperation. At the end of the day, E2.0 can be a new model of reference.

What I meant by “not fully leverage” is that I see many organizations that do not organize talent and skill management (for many reasons, but often by lack of resources and/or skills at the HR management level) , and I was wondering whether E2.0 could help them improve on that?

I’m not convinced that talent and skill management is directly linked with E2.0. It’s more driven by culture and HR policies. But you may consider that E2.0 provides  new informations about employees competencies and skills to HR, or give a way to better match competencies, employees expectations and internal needs.

Anthony, the E2.0 philosophy is quite a cultural change for a company, will the possibilities for incentivation and governance have to be as innovative? Or should the good old methods be used?

Of course like any organization transformation project, there is a large part of change management. As in all these kind of projects, communication is the cornerstone, even if it’s less top down and more interactive. Usually training is also one of the pillar of change management, but it’s not the case for Enterprise 2.0. If the tools/plateform are not user friendly and very simple, you’ll fail. So you don’t need a real training but more a resource person to guide you when you need.

Else it’s about cultural stuff, collaboration is not “natural” or “usual” in the corporate world (particularly in France), so you need to show to your co-workers that they have more to earn than to lose, by quick wins for example. But most of all, you have to show that collaboration is a way to do a better job, not something besides daily work.

I have one more question, on implementation. We all agree that an E2.0 project should embed itself in the way people are used to work throughout the organization, and should be aligned with the company’s overall strategy. However when the initiative comes from a single department or team, how do you bring it to the next level without losing its momentum and DNA? (i.e. the department or team will have embeded its own way of working which might not be suitable for the whole organization)

[Frank] The key point is to begin by setting the objective of the 2.0 project. If it is dedicated to a single department or team, it is necessarily a work tool, with concrete, operational and short-term objectives. I believe that it is difficult to align a work tool with a means to convey the company’s strategy. To launch an E 2.0 project, you necessary have to send it in internal by using objectives, strategic arguments, completed with concrete results (even small) to spread in the next level.

[Anthony] I’m not quite sure that a team DNA is exactly the same as a corporate DNA, it’s not the same strategy or objectives. I guess, that you need stronger process, cause you don’t have the daily social link which enable things. Sponsorship is more fundamental then with a strong incentive too and a large role for peers communication.

[Bertrand] If the deparment project was a kind of pilot before a wider implementation things are not that hard since the purpose is to learn from this department to scale the project up. The problem is where the local project is rather an “under the radar” one. Once such a project is successful, the organization can decide to learn from it and that’s ok. But in many cases the project will be shut down because some people won’t like to have been kept away from it. Internal rivalries at the corporate level can kill local successful initiatives.

My conclusion is that when a local initiative is a success, its leader should get the C-suite onboard as soon as possible. If not, the more time passes the harder it will be to scale up without having to deal with internal opposition.

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