I recently read the McKinsey report on six ways to make Web 2.0 work. They were primarily speaking about Web 2.0 inside the enterprise so I will rename the topic enterprise 2.0 for clarity in my own mind. They “studied more than 50 early adopters to garner insights into successful efforts to use Web 2.0 as a way of unlocking participation…surveyed, independently, a range of executives on Web 2.0 adoption.” They found that “unless a number of success factors are present, Web 2.0 efforts often fail to launch or to reach expected heights of usage.” They also said that enterprise 2.0 might end up having a greater impact that such recent enterprise approaches as ERP and CRM. So far I agree with them.
Then I looked at their six success factors. Not only did I agree with them, but these six were some of the exact same success factors we found for process centric KM in the early 90s, at least at the headline level. Now some of the details are a little different to no surprise but the essence is the same. I am not saying that KM and enterprise 2.0 are the same but I think their success factors are similar so we can learn from the past. In addition, there is an historic continuity of the early process-centric KM and enterprise 2.0 when it is applied to business processes. I touched on these factors a bit in this series on early KM (see KM Stories: Lessons from Six Implementations). I recently found a 2004 reference to this KM series and a few related ones by ReadWriteWeb . Belated thanks to Richard MacManus who writes and manages a great blog.
Here are the six success factors McKinsey found for enterprise 2.0 and why they were essential for process-centric KM, and still are. I will let you go to the McKinsey report for the details of what they provide to enterprise 2.0.
One: The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top. I called this: Gain and Enlist Top Down Support to Overcome Turf Issues. I could have subtitled it in the early 90s as “creating a culture of knowledge sharing from the bottom up.” I also think that with process-oriented enterprise 2.0 you also need to overcome turf issues and top down support is needed for this effort. .
Two: The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale. “our research shows the applications that drive the most value through participatory technologies often aren’t those that management expects.” I referred to this as Listen to the Users – success is directly proportionate to the amount of user involvement. We turned to the process experts to build the KM supported need for these processes. In the past many firms had enterprise software that dictated process steps imposed on the users. Many of them resisted this top down approach. So the involvement of users not only got the software right, it helped with adoption.
Three: What’s in the workflow is what gets used. For KM this was called - Align Knowledge Applications to Key Business Goals and Process as well as Design Measures Aligned to Business Processes. I have long thought that process centric KM is much more valuable than library centric KM. The later was what gave KM a bad name. The process centric approach was my introduction to KM and the better tools in enterprise 2.0 are a way to realize this approach.
Four: Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets - traditional “methods tend to fall short when applied to unlocking participation.” One way to do this is to address the daily business needs of the users or Design Performance Measures Aligned to Business Processes. If you put the tools into the work flow you will generally achieve this objective. Financial incentives that for things that do not directly support work are domed to failure or gaming or both.
Five: The right solution comes from the right participants “select users who will help drive a self-sustaining effort (often enthusiastic early technology adopters who have rich personal networks and will thus share knowledge and exchange ideas).” We always looked to the evangelists to aid in the spread of KM. It is no different here.
Six: Balance the top-down and self-management of risk “Numerous executives we interviewed said that participatory initiatives had been stalled by legal and HR concerns.” One why to avoid these obstacles is to involve all the key stakeholders from the start, another KM best practice. I remember when the legal department at one firm said they wanted to review everything that went into the KM system before it was placed there. That bottleneck would have killed the system. The legal department had not been involved from the start, a lesson learned. We were able to negotiate a compromise approach that allowed the project to move forward.
In summary, when you attempting to get people to embrace a new technology and business approach such as enterprise 2.0 that involved greater participation, lessons can be learned from the relevant past. I also think the similarity helps validate the six factors that McKinsey found.