Who Will be the “Internal Evangelist” of the Year?

Picture 18Interest in the 2.0 Adoption Council has been fantastic. Over forty members have filled our ranks. Each of our members has an extremely demanding day job. Educating, motivating, cajoling, rationalizing, bargaining, organizing, tracking, recruiting, and learning are all part of the job skill requirements. The “Internal Evangelist” (IE) has to carefully balance the needs of the business with an incredible responsibility to drive change in the organization with tools and practices that are outside of the comfort zone of most large enterprise employees, not to mention the pockets of organizational resistance predisposed to preserving Enterprise 1.0.

For this reason, I have decided to award an “Internal Evangelist of the Year.” One member of the 2.0 Adoption Council will be selected to exemplify the tenacity, courage, and sheer energy it takes to inspire a large enterprise to embrace the principles and practices of Enterprise 2.0. The award will be announced at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

“…the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!”

Please feel free to nominate someone who you believe is deserving of this award. If they’re not a member of the Council already, I will be happy to extend an invite. Refer the individual to me on my LinkedIn profile. We’re still screening candidates via LinkedIn.

UPDATE: 8/10/09. We now have a form for nominations.

A Year’s Summary of Personal Reflection III

DSC00007_3Bear with me. I only do this once a year on ITSinsider after the annual Enterprise 2.0 conference. I post a somewhat more introspective essay of sorts reflecting on what my impressions were from the conference and where I think we are as a micro-movement in the tech landscape.

(If you’re really interested, you can read the first two years’ posts before reading this one: Year I and Year II.)

As I re-read Year II’s post, I realized not too much has changed from last year, and I could probably get by simply reprinting that post. But, no. There are a few things I want to address this year in greater detail.

Here we go:

IMG_07311. My Mind on my Money and my Money on my Mind

I started this post on the plane returning home from Boston (as did Oliver Marks). I snapped this photo of the guy in 27C. Blocked by his left arm is a clever little tool with which he was using to make some decisions. I overheard him telling the guy in 27B, my seat mate, that he was a manager for the terminal division for Continental. He was saying he had three projects he was evaluating, and he was trying to decide which one to do first. As I was gathering my thoughts around this year’s conference and the year ahead, I thought this little bit of eavesdropping would make for a nice intro to this blog post. The deadly little tool in Mr. 27C’s arsenal was a calculator. With a line-ruled notebook, a pen, and a calculator, he was set to make a decision that would most likely affect the work of dozens of people at Continental. And, if he did his ciphering correctly, his decision might even affect the business performance of his division at Continental Airlines. With that vignette, I’d like to suggest a lesson:

“What Enterprise 2.0 Needs to Learn from Enterprise 1.0”

Paramount on the minds of the boards of directors of the types of large firms we’re trying to move to Enterprise 2.0-style thinking and acting are items like… quarterly earnings. So, let me suggest that the currency of the Enterprise is not social connectivity, is not relationships, is not kumbaya, or even whuffie… the currency of the Enterprise is currency (and the colder and harder the better, as those clever credit financial instruments have a way of surprising you). We can debate whether ROI is a sensible metric; whether solutions are off-the-rack or tailored, whether there are enough case studies, whether we have the right brainiac analytical model, and on and on. But at the end of the day, we need to prove our business case in the Enterprise. Just like Mr. 27C, we need to run the numbers and see if our Enterprise 2.0 initiative is generating a positive business result:

  • is it saving us money?
  • is it making something faster?
  • is it helping reduce the cost of something else?
  • is it improving our customer’s loyalty and therefore repeat purchases?
  • is it flattening out a supply chain and thereby reducing our costs?
  • is it identifying new products or services that will throw off incremental revenue?
  • is it measurably improving our performance to our primary customers?

You get the idea.

At the risk of becoming the Paul Krugman of Enterprise 2.0, I can’t emphasize this enough– quit ‘yer socializing and make some money, willya? It’s what we all need to survive. I was actually joking at the conference to my e20 friends that I’m a living example of of the hype factor in this market. I was laid off effectively six months ago, and I have not received a single (real) job offer. Therefore, my joke: “I’m too big to fail” considering (my size – that’s the funny part, and) all the good will I have amassed with my evangelism. Good will doesn’t pay the rent, my friends. I, like all my Enterprise 2.0 compadres, must find a way to make money at this or we will all be looking at working for “The Man” we are so desperate to discredit.

2. Re-thinking Diss-Organization

One of the most interesting socio-anthropological aspects of 2.0 evangelism is the dismantling (at least disrupting) of the power structures that rule large corporations. I heard it best at the conference from Marc Smith, Telligent‘s Chief Social Scientist in residence, who casually reminded us, “All social systems have power structures.” Even in the 2.0-osphere, we have a social structures. Who’s connected to whom? Who’s a social CRM rockstar? Who has more friends/followers than whom? Who gets to speak at the conference? Who gets into the best parties? Blah, blah, blah. Who are we kidding? The cruel reality is: we are social creatures driven by base human motives. Same as it ever was.

In short, it’s unlikely we will re-write the rules on social hierarchy for large organizations. What’s different, IMHO, is the role credentials and pedigree will play as we move forward in an ever-more connected world. The more we give voice to innovative ideas buried in the bowels of the organization, the more we will self-subscribe to a tacit endorsement of social darwinism. This can be liberating, yet troubling in many ways. Our peers, our management, and our reports will judge us exclusively on the merit of our contributions. Are we ready for that?

3. A word on Social Business, Social Enterprise, etc.

This last bit is a familiar refrain for these annual reflection posts. Now, with all due respect for my friends at the Dachis Group, my new writing colleague @technically_women, Jennifer Leggio who writes the Social Business blog, and the Jive marketing team (SBS), I want to raise the inconvenient issue that outside of our circle, Social Business and Social Enterprise, have a completely different meaning. Yes, we can loosely associate what we do with what “they” do, but it’s not really the same thing, is it?

Social Businesses seek to profit from acts that generate social improvements and serve a broader human development purpose. A key attribute of social businesses is that an increase in revenue corresponds to an incremental social enhancement. The social mission will permeate the culture and structure of the organization and the dual bottom lines – social and economic will be in equal standing with the firm pursuing long term maximization of both.

Similarly, academic institutions (including this program from Harvard) have been focused on educating leaders to make a difference in the world long before we came along and decided “social business/enterprise” was a groovy fashion statement for a 2.0-transformed business.

That being said, however…

Not sure what motivated you to get into this space, but “changing the world for the better” with computer technology has always been a passion of mine. I believe it is possible to 1. make money at this and 2. use our mad skillz to right some wrongs on the planet, once we figure some things out about working socially en masse.

With that, I will return to the ITSinsider regular programming. What have you learned this year?

The Urgency of Now

Picture 1The news about Sarah Palin broke today while I was working.  Where did I see the news?   Twitter (of course).  Seconds turned to minutes, and I found myself impatient with not knowing the inside scoop on the why behind the resignation.  What was the target of my impatience?  The Twitter community.  Seems ridiculous, but it’s just expected these days that you’ll get to the heart of a breaking story within seconds.

To that end, it reminded me I wanted to write a post about the “unbearable heaviness of not-being” current.  Way, way back around the Christmas holidays, I was flattered to be one of only three reviewers for Andrew McAfee’s book on Enterprise  2.0 by Harvard Business Press.    They asked me to review the manuscript, and I accepted (for a small stipend).  They gave me a couple weeks to review it, and I submitted my comments in mid-January.

At the back of mind, however, and something I probably should have included in the review and regret now that I didn’t was a lingering doubt.  “This book will be obsolete before it’s published for the community of folks who track this sector.”

When Andy and I caught up at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, he told me that he too is really troubled by the delay on the publishing schedule.  He had hoped the book would have been published by the conference deadline (June), but it is now pushed back until December.  December?   You’re kidding me.

The demand for Andy’s book is today, not six months from now.  I’m wondering if, as a community, we can lobby Harvard Business Press to move the publication date up as its value is inextricably tied to its timeliness– especially in this fast-moving space.  The Editorial Director in charge of the publication timeline is Jacqueline Murphy .   I urge you to contact her and express your support for moving the book up in Harvard Business Press’ publishing queue.  I also started a Facebook group with the same goal.

What (2006), Why (2007), now How (2009) for Enterprise 2.0

3663034859_5127cdbd16_o Yes, the baby was born in ’06, started crawling in ’07, and now is running around like a maniac with boundless energy in ’09. The Enterprise 2.0 movement is now a healthy child, growing stronger and more willful every day (just a cabinet door away from getting into trouble…) I returned from the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week rejuvenated, as I’d hoped to.

The number UNO issue on the minds of this year’s customer conference attendees was: HOW THE >>>> DO WE DO THIS??? Customers wanted to hear from other customers, not us (the so-called experts in Enterprise 2.0). The best sessions for me were definitely the unconference sessions where real practitioners could talk frankly about their challenges and share their successes.

Listening to customers during the conference, as well as culling the data that has been coming in from various surveys, I’ve decided the time is right to launch a community for “Internal 2.0 Evangelists.” As I’ve been a 2.0 Evangelist for the broader sector (and I thought my job was difficult), I realized the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!

So, that said, I’ve begun the 2.0 Adoption Council on LinkedIn. Once we reach a critical mass, we will be moving the Council to a more fluid socio-collaborative platform. If you are a customer of a large enterprise rolling out an enterprise 2.0 initiiative, you are invited to join the Council. Here is a LinkedIn invite I sent to some key customer contacts that explains the Council’s mission and goals:

picture-10

You can reach me on LinkedIn on my profile if we’re not already connected. Send me a note you want to join, and I’ll send you an invite. The Council is free; there are no strings attached. Andrew McAfee has joined the Council, as well as several prestigious global enterprises.