Luis Suarez on #e20s: “Knowledge shared is power”

Luis Suarez (IBM) has been working in the areas of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Online Communities and Social Computing for over a decade now. Here are some of his thoughts on that topic and his appearance at the Enterprise 2. SUMMIT.

1.) You take part in the panel on different adoption archetypes for Enterprise 2.0 initiatives. Please give us three tags that describe what to expect from your contribution to this session.

Culture, Disruptive Change, Smart Work

2.) In your opinion: What is the best way to implement an E2.0 initiative in a corporation?

In principle, and to get things started, every single business out there that may be looking into implementing an Enterprise 2.0 initiative should have an internal adoption program; a methodology that could be extended throughout the entire organization that would help knowledge workers understand quite clearly the business imperatives as to why social networking tools for business are nowadays a reality within the corporate world and beyond. Inside IBM we have put together, and shared across openly, such methodology from our internal social software adoption program called BlueIQ and folks can download a free copy of it by going into this URL to find out plenty more about the program I have been part of for the last three years.

Now, once your social software adoption program is in place, and like I have been saying for a long while now, the next step would be to have a community building program for online communities to help accelerate such adoption rate(s); more than anything else, because we all know that the biggest major drivers of social software within the corporate firewall are actually online communities themselves, so it would be helpful to have such Communities program in order to realise fully such implementation.

Finally, in order to make that implementation rather complete and effective you would need to have the best of both worlds combined as well; first, a commitment from top executives to support and lead rather actively your Enterprise 2.0 deployment efforts and, secondly, an online community, an army, of social software ambassadors and enthusiasts who will use plenty of grassroot efforts to help execute the various different activities that the internal adoption program may have set up itself to over time. So a combination of top down, and bottom up approaches would probably be the best way to carry out your Enterprise 2.0 initiative.

3.) At IBM, you call yourself a “knowledge worker”, helping to push and accelerate the adoption of social software within the enterprise. What are your personal experiences and key learnings from that task?

Initially, that it is not an easy one; that it takes plenty of effort and energy to make it happen. That to change an organization from inside out with such social software adoption efforts requires a time investment and commitment from the business itself to make it happen as a way to empower your knowledge workers to do what they do best. That in order to do that you would need to have the right level of technology and overall infrastructure to make it happen. Enterprise social tools are not enough.

That it is all part of having the right culture keen on knowledge sharing, on collaborating across the board, on helping accelerate innovation at a much faster pace than ever before in order to help meet current business objectives. That it is not as difficult as some people seem to have claimed all along. That it all starts with re-thinking the way you work and finding smarter ways of working together, getting your job done, because it’s all about “working smarter and not necessarily harder”. And that small change starts within each and everyone of us. We, knowledge workers, are the gatekeepers.

We need to keep freeing up the human batteries at work, as Lee Bryant has mentioned all along and for a while, just as much as I have been capable of freeing up myself from corporate email over the last couple of years living “A World Without Email”. Yes, that kind of change is what we need to aim for!

4.) What are the crucial points in making the adoption successful? Is the cultural change a prerequisite or a key element of the adoption activities?

Definitely, the culture and not so much the tools & technologies. I know of a folks who also claim that culture is not that important, if the technology is there from before already, but, to me, culture is *the* single key and defining factor that will help your Enterprise 2.0 implementation become a success or not. Having the right culture, i.e. one that is open to knowledge sharing and collaboration, to break the silos across the organization, is essential in helping people find new ways of doing smart work, or finding the right experts, or the right piece of information; eventually, helping them become more effective and efficient in what they already do; in short, help us all tackle those daily tasks and activities we all keep struggling with and which we would like to address or fix so that we can move forward along… Essentially, that’s what a successful implementation of Enterprise 2.0 is all about for me.

Focus your deployment efforts on the day to day work activities and tasks from knowledge workers, show them new ways of doing things much better and much smarter, and before you know it the viral effect will take over and almost everyone out there will be on board. It needs to start somewhere: on the culture and on achieving a specific set of business objectives that may have been defined already from before.

5.) At E2.0 SUMMIT we try to discuss the challenges for the E20 initiatives from the following perspectives: adoption, hindering aspects, management. This is still a classical approach to the topic – but as E2.0 works differently, must we also discuss the topic differently?

Maybe. Enterprise 2.0 initiatives are a whole lot more than just implementing a new specific set of social software tools, or business processes; they are a whole lot more than just adoption, inhibitors or management. It’s all part of a single conglomerate, the glue that would make everything stick together and which covers, pretty much, every single aspect of how a business runs. In essence, pretty much the very same promise that KM was envisioned as a few years back. It’s going to be our responsibility, eventually, to make things work this time around; we need to take more of a holistic approach towards implementing Enterprise 2.0; we need to make it become our DNA in how we all operate as a business. Some of the main traits from E20 need to continuously flourish and permeate throughout the corporate world: openness, publicness, transparency, collaboration, (personal) knowledge sharing, etc. etc.

All of those traits are part of the Enterprise 2.0 culture we have become rather proud of over the course of the years, which needs to mix quite nicely with the corporate culture from each and everyone of the businesses out there. It’s a unique opportunity to help transform not only how businesses operate, but also how knowledge workers get to operate sharing their knowledge and collaborating. “Knowledge is power” needs to transform itself into “Knowledge shared is power”, which is where we are definitely going to see that radical change and progressive move for a successful transition into the Knowledge Economy of the 21st century – for every business that would want to survive in the long run.

6.) What are your expectations for the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT?

My main expectations are those of, once again, having the unique opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the top notch thinking in Europe around Enterprise 2.0; to be able to network with 2.0 thinkers and practitioners who are walking the talk trying to absorb and learn as much as we possibly can. This year’s Summit will also highlight (how the superb quality of the agenda, and the list of speakers is at its highest peak so far) gathering some of the most amazing talent of Enterprise 2.0 thinking in Europe. A rare treat and unique opportunity to find out plenty more about what’s happening in this field, and how much we may have advanced within the enterprise since last year’s event. Something tells me that we may be witnessing the tipping point and I just can’t wait to watch it and experience it live over the next couple of days! 🙂


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