The private vs. the organizational approach to web2.0

12/13/2007 | Christian Kreutz

I have already written about 10 challenges for web2.0 in an organization, but this time I would like to highlight two decisive factors: Culture and a new paradigm of knowledge sharing. Furthermore, this post elaborates the differences between web2.0 in private life vs. in an organizational setting.

  1. Culture is a key factor. Blogs and wikis change communication drastically to a horizontal level and make it transparent. Workflows are given up. Openness is a key to accept ideas and ongoing changes. If employees do not dare to share, the greatest tools will end up on failure. In a way, hierarchy and power driven communication are poison for such a participative approach.
  1. Embrace the new paradigm for knowledge sharing. The collaborative web stands in contrast to many efforts trying to codify and categorize information. Making web2.0 work in an organization requires to accept knowledge in its different dimensions. Information cannot be own by only one party. Information can be sorted, interpreted and exchanged in multiple ways. Knowledge and learning evolves in a network.

To clarify the second point, I referred to David Snowden, who has mentioned this nice quote in a recent podcast. Elsua has some nice posts about the podcast.

Web2.0 is too unstructured to fit into an organizational setting, which heavily relies on codified and categorized knowledge. When you move to on a free flow of ideas what web2.0 about - then this kind of contradicts to processes and hierarchies of an organization.

All of this is much more difficult than expected in a conventionally run company or organization. In private life, this is so much easier to accept the collaborative web and to play around with. No surprise web2.0 is driven mainly by individuals, and organizations are slow followers.

A nice comparison between enterprise2.0 and web2.0, on the 'Dif-fer-en-ti-ate blog,' highlights the differences and the likely challenges:

web2.0 vs. enterprise2.0

  • Organisational structure: Flat vs Hierarchical--flat organisational structures encourage collaboration while hierarchical ones hinder.
  • Attitude: Sharing vs Hoarding--in your private life you share information freely without expectation of recompense, while at work, all people ask is, 'what is in it for me?'.
  • Visibility: Anonymity vs Recognition--in Web2.0 you are one of the herd; the majority of users can assume that there is anonymity in a crowd. At work people seek recognition for their contribution as career progression can depend on it.
  • Society: Public vs Private--in Web2.0 you are able to control the information you share as well as free to create alternative persona's, masks, behind which you can hide. In Enterprise2.0 there is no anonymity, everything you say and do online can be traced back to you.