Prometheus gave mankind fire. Actually, Prometheus playing a trick on Zeus forced Zeus to withhold fire. “My bad.” said Prometheus and he retrieved fire back for mankind. His reward – bound to a rock sharing his liver as the daily entrée to an eagle. Being immortal, he rebooted a new liver each night. Tightly bound to the rock, “Pro” was forced to endure this daily ritual. Eventually, Hercules freed “Pro” from this drudgery. Sadly, “Pro” now struggles with severe Ornithophobia.
Ancient tales of Greek imagination are seldom inspiration for an “Enterprise 2.0” thought piece. This post originally flickered to life from recent posts here on our Jive community. On March 12th, Fraser Edgar posted an excellent query centering on executive support. Jill Butler, Jennifer Thorimbert, Mamie Peers, Kevin Jones and Debbie Sacks fortified Fraser with useful information. Within Kevin Jones response, he sourced an article from Andrew McAfee – the “Enterprise 2.0” term originator.
The article provided an excellent review on McAfee’s “Enterprise 2.0” concept. Specifically, McAfee discourses useful tactics to deploy discussing “Enterprise 2.0” with the CEO/C suite level. McAfee strongly advocates avoiding the term, “social”. At the C suite level, McAfee sees distinct aversion driven primarily by Facebook and Twitter opinions. Rather than attempting to debate terminology, McAfee highlights 3 “triggers”
- productivity impact from weak knowledge sharing
- the Gen Y workforce expectations
- the concept of “weak ties”.
These 3 triggers can be helpful when discussing social "Enterprise 2.0" concepts with the C suites.
“Weak ties” was quite intriguing for the effect these have on innovation or change. Paradoxically, a greater amount of “weak ties” within a network, creates a greater chance for new thinking or introduction to new ideas/concepts. Seminal research by Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties” illustrates this concept. Granovetter defines “tie strength”:
... a (probably linear) combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy (mutual confiding), and the reciprocal services which characterize the tie. ...
Based on this definition, a “strong tie” is likely a family member, friend or trusted business partner. This can be illustrated by this A, B, C figure. A solid line denotes a “strong” tie. In a collaboration or knowledge setting, A & B likely share knowledge, A & C likely share knowledge, but B & C unlikely share knowledge lacking a tie between the two. Only with the addition of a “weak tie” between B and C will there be a potential knowledge increase. Adding other nodes further illustrates the “weak tie” effect.
In layman’s terms, if A through F were all “strong ties”, there would be little uncommon knowledge. Insulated is my term for this. Granovetter calls it fragmentation. Granovetter’s paper is a dense read, but will likely provide a much better explanation.
A much clearer example is the Jive Forum. This is an excellent example of “weak ties”. Personally, I have two “strong ties” within these forums. All other amazing forum folk would be considered a “loose tie”. Very valuable “loose ties”, but loose nonetheless. Without this looseness, I would have never read the McAfee article, never been exposed to the Granovetter research and never have written this post. From these “loose ties”, I gained insight and knowledge sparking my “creativity”. Loose ties rock!
More importantly, “loose ties” have been greatly enabled by technologies such as Jive. From a corporation standpoint, this is doubly important. An example given by McAfee is a famous quote from a Lew Platt, former HP CEO. “If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive.” Platt knew that information was stranded within each division. The “strong ties” created by organizational politics and practices hampered knowledge sharing. If a Jive enabled “loose tie” collaborative culture featuring advanced search, “what matters” and following was present within HP, I daresay HP would be at least 3x more productive. Maybe, Lew needed to loosen his tie first?
Now that you have been armed with “loose tie” knowledge, this can be used in future C-suite conversations. You can even throw in this little illustrative mashup. Once, there was a game changing company. Their new product instantly won customer favor. In turn, this “fired” rapid growth. Over time, the company failed to recognize external market changes and stagnation set in. Seemingly, they were “chained” in place while competitors “feasted” on their once dominant market share. Despite their best efforts to change, the company culture and insulated business practices ensured a “cycle” of mediocrity.
After that lead in, introduce “loose ties”, Jive and “Enterprise 2.0” into the conversation. With your “Herculean” efforts, you will win the day!