Jon Husband

1.) What is your name?

My name is Jon Husband, and I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

2.) Who are you and what are you doing?

I am a middle-aged man who considers himself an observer of human systems and human behaviour, a systems thinker, a listener and facilitator, and a techno-anthropologist.

In less fancy language, I am a strategy, organizational design and change researcher and consultant.

I am also a member of the ITA Alliance, a brain-trust of 5 organizational-and-social learning thought leaders and practitioners, with me as the sixth ‘hanger-on’.

3.) How did you get to the E2.0 topic?

Getting to the E2.0 topic has been a (very) long road for me. I got interested in the “sociology of work” in the early 70’s at the beginning of university. Ten years later I found myself at the start of my career consulting to and facilitating in organizations.

From the mid-80’s to the mid-90’s I was a Senior Principal with the global HR and organizational effectiveness consulting firm Hay Management Consultants. Thus, I was equipped with the theoretical and practical background of organizational design and all of the core elements of how an organization’s strategy, its capabilities and the motivations and competencies of its people converge into more (or less) effectiveness.

From the mid-90’s on, I have been an independent thinker, writer, consultant and change agent. I have worked with OD (organizational development) principles and processes, immersed myself in the Internet and social media, and I began thinking about the large and long-term impacts of the interconnected digital infrastructure we call the Web on our established ways of doing thins, our core assumptions about how humans live and work, and what this means for established institutions and the institutions yet to be created.

I created the word and the concept of “wirearchy” in 1999, as I began to realize that massive change would eventually be visited upon information-and-knowledge intensive enterprises of all stripes. Over the next 5 or 6 years, I began speaking about the concept, and also created a blogging / KM-related start-up. Then, in 2006, along came the term Enterprise 2.0 and it seems clear that it fit alongside what I was already doing. I have been writing and speaking in that area since.

4.) What is your understanding of the core concept of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

Let me first say that generally, I think the term Enterprise 2.0 is relatively vague and may be as much of a hindrance as a help in assisting organizational leaders and decision-makers see and deeply understand that large and important changes to the nature of knowledge work are underway, and are accessible to the objectives of improving productivity, capability and effectiveness. That said, Andrew McAfee’s recent new book has helped frame the issue in more accessible and practical ways.

Effective collaboration in the face of constant competition, turbulence, and change has been an issue for the last twenty years. We have seen successive waves of calling for … continuous learning, learning organizations, flexibility, resiliency, knowledge management, improved speed-to-market, employee engagement, the critical need for innovation, and so on.

It’s clear that hyperlinks and the Web, improvements in user interfaces, database capabilities, search, etc. have brought the possibility of large increases in the effective use of information and knowledge by knowledge workers. It’s also clear that many organizations have completely “wired” their processes with information systems. And further, it’s also clear that the Web (cloud computing) and ecosystems of increasingly-interconnected information systems bill bring further changes and new models to the game.

But, most organizations still use work and organizational designs coming out of the period dating from the 1930’s through the 1960’s (see Hamel, Malone, Drucker, Stan Davis, etc.)

For me, the notion of Enterprise 2.0 denotes a growing understanding that the enterprise will be surrounded and embedded in ecosystems of electronic / digital functionality and capability which also includes humans as core participants in interactive co-creative processes.

That, to me, means massive (eventual) change to organizational structures and rhythms, not to mention leadership and management philosophies and practices .. and I think the notion of “2.0” denotes the next version, no ?

In short, organizational transformation towards the (often distant) responsiveness and effectiveness suggested by the promises held out by an engagement-driven information-and-knowledge based society.

5.) What are the main potentials of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

Greater and more pertinent and practical involvement and engagement of customers and employees in what an enterprise produces / provides, how it creates the offerings, how it rides the waves of (continuous) change and how it becomes and remains a vibrant living system in a larger eco-system.

It also, I think, holds the idealistic potential of making many aspects of ‘work” more interesting and more engaging for many individuals, which I believe is a critical issue in an increasingly knowledge-based society where talent will always be at a premium.

6.) What are the main challenges, threads and issues of the Enterprise 2.0 idea?

There are several important ones, I think.

  1. The core assumptions about how organizations are structured … in other words, the core design principle(s) of hierarchy, division of labour, measurement of (increasingly) intangibles that make up significant proportions of economic value.
  2. The deep (current) embedded-ness of increasingly questionable core assumptions about power, status and decision-making.
  3. Effective and sustained “culture change”
  4. The knotty problem of what and how established management concepts and practices (may) need to change, i.e. work design, compensation, performance management
  5. The impact of customers and markets in perpetual motion combined with hyperlinks, open API’s, the Web, etc, on business processes
  6. Transition to a new paradigm for the IT function .. less gatekeeper, more facilitator, business partner with line management and HR, cloud computing, managing the line between ‘open’ and ‘secure’.

7.) Please give us three tags that describe your person and work best?

Open, collaboration, respectthepastbutseizethefuture

8.) Please give us three links to articles/contributions that describe your views best?

I write on a regular basis for one of the E2.0 arena’s well-known blogs, FASTForward .. The 3 articles below are drawn from that blog.

  1. Will Enterprise 2.0 Drive Management Innovation ?
  2. Employee Engagement as a Core Goal for Enterprise 2.0 Adoption ?
  3. Exploring an HR Framework for Enterprise 2.0
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    9.) Please give us three names of colleagues that you would refer to as brother-in-spirit?

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