(This article has been originally published in the 7th eSangathan newsletter)

What are the links between e-management, web 2.0 and corporate governance? They are in the fact that it is more and more clear every day that participatory tools and collaborative working environments are changing drastically the human interactions within corporations, and impacting first the organization and the management. For the benefit of the corporation itself, thanks to the raise of a new level of collective intelligence, and a new standard of productivity.

The use of participatory technologies in the company is changing radically relationships between individuals. Breacking top-down hierarchies, we are moving to a Network Centric Management, where the supervisor will no longer base its legitimacy on its authority to direct the work of others, but where he’ll be at the same time coordinator, moderator, advisor and arbitrator of his teams and employees.

Lying, incompetence and other bad habits of a lot of deviated organizations that can be more easily concealed in an authoritarian management, will be unveiled in broad daylight in a participatory management imposed by the use of this new tools.

The introduction of these technologies in the enterprise, and even within the extended enterprise (customers, partners and subcontractors), will change this things, it is inevitable. Why? Because in the same way, when intranets arrived in the companies, they were sometimes promoted by the hierarchy, but most often they were growing from the grassroots, under the radar, because the need was too strong to prevent people to deploy them. People wanted to publish information without constraints. But a few years later, IT people succeeded to master this freedom, and intranets became again a hierarchical organization for content production. So the intranets were at the beginning a cultural revolution in most of our businesses, but at the end the impact in terms of management finally was very weak.

It’s totally different with the participatory web, where the questioning of management is complete, and hence the organization of the enterprise itself. That is why we can replace the previous-decade-words “e-management” with “Management 2.0”, and “e-organization” with “Enterprise 2.0”.. Not to be hype with a « 2.0 » acronym, but because the prefix “e-” hasn’t been disruptive for organizations and management. The “2.0” prefix by contrast illustrates this qualitative and fundamental leap that we can no longer go back.

The Enterprise 2.0 will be a cross-organization, where information will flow seamlessly and securely, and where the creativity of everyone will be unleashed giving to everybody the opportunity to write, to say, to show, to talk, to share, to discuss, to participate, and ultimately to build together.

Other virtues will then appear as a result of these liberation, such as individual and collective efficiency, increased productivity, quality improvment and transparency.

Business leaders, from large and small organizations, that will anticipate the first these new usages, both within and outside their company, will be the first to reap the real benefits of this new corporate governance. It is necessary to invest massively, to train and support users, from the assistant to the CEO, because adopting these practices doesn’t happen overnight.

This is not about learning to use a software and pushing buttons. This is about thinking and acting differently, working differently, establishing different relationships, and this will not be done in a day, but in several months. It’s why the change must start as soon as possible in order to reap the benefits as soon as possible as well.

We must all commit ourselves to evangelize. We are on a fertile ground, because we are not at this disruption level only thanks to the technology. We are facing the convergence of two fundamental factors: (1) technology, and (2) the changing usages due to the Internet being here now for many years.

Most of the technologies of the Web 2.0 have nothing revolutionary, and some of them exist for over a decade! But they have spread this recent years very quickly because human beings were ready to receive and exploit them.

We’ve reached the limits of our actual organizations, and it is not possible to gain in daily productivity continuing to use the same tools (files, emails, and legacy systems) with the same organizations, because this tools are not anymore helping to improve these organizations. They are even creating more and more disorganization, and people are a lot more conscious of this now.

This is why we are in the good momentum, because the consciousness and the demand exist. We must therefore push both managers and users to be trained to these new usages, in order to implode the traditional business models and managements, and usher them in a new era of corporate governance, an era where individual, its efficiency, creativity, and its relationship to the team and the corporation, will be at the very heart of economics and social growth the next few years, for the benefit of all.

Miguel Membrado (May 1st, 2008)

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