In my previous post, I briefly introduced how the Internet, by empowering peer to peer mode amongst customers, forced enterprises to reconfigure themselves, in a more cooperative manner. Now, once an enterprise is willing to move to 2.0, how can it be done ?
There have been many attempts to transform enterprises into horizontal mode. Quality circles, matrix model, lean management, etc. When looking at them, they may have brought slight improvement, but no major disruption. For most of them, they were used by people who had little understanding of the importance of technology. The general idea was that technology would follow business restructuration rather than playing a major role. Worst, none of them seem to have seen the impact Internet could have on enterprise restructuring.
However, even when considering the technology, and the major role played by the Internet, there are always many ideas that flows around. As an example, marketing must change its habit to do market studies, and should see what happens in blog, forums, twitter, social networks, etc. As pointed out nicely by Moore in “Crossing the chasm”, it is better to have less customers who talk together than many customers who are not exchanging.
Whenever an enterprise sees its customer exchanging, the value of it is big. As another example, sells people must go in the Internet, and meet their customers online, not only in real life. Working for Renault, I realized in a forum that one top car dealer was in a discussion forum about the brand, and was exchanging a lot with the brand’s customers, instead of waiting for them to come in his physical place. I think he should have been appointed as sales director !
A comment I often hear from CEOs is “there is so many things happening, how can I catch them ?” Well, in order to better track what happens on the Internet, everybody in the company should watch, and post whatever he or she sees. Only the network can interact efficiently with the network.
But all those are just tricks, ideas, which need to be ordered.
I consider an innovative process as a systemic relationship between three major components: structure, tools, and behaviour. By structure, I mean how an enterprise is configured: who reports to whom, what are the information and control flows, how decisions are taken, etc. By tools, I mean all information management tools: emails, intranet, ERP, repository, etc. By behaviour, I mean all the human aspects of an enterprise: fear, enthusiasms, desire, hate, etc. Any attempt to move one of those three aspects, and letting the other untouched, has lead to a failure.
The Lippi case is an interesting illustration of how to do. Lippi is a 300 employees French company which does industrial fences (France loves fences..). Amongst their customers, they have airports, industrial zones, etc. To make the story short, Lippi decided to work on three axis:
- Lippi created a web school, and all employees without any exclusive were proposed to follow training. Courses were all about digital world, ranging from how to set-up a blog till digital video processing.
- Internet tools were used inside the company, on top of them an internal twitter, which acted as the information backbone of the company.
- The top manager decided to reconfigure the company, by taking some very disruptive decisions : traditional control was abandoned; middle management role was shifted to medium term thinking, and to support their employees when they had troubles; organizational chart became fuzzy, but sociogram becomes stronger.
The outputs are interesting. Employees became more involved in the life of the company. A worker decided to bring his own movie camera to shot how fences were assembled, and posted them on youtube. Others decided to create a wiki. Pressure of middle management was replaced by pressure of the peers. On twitter, a delivery problem was solved in 20 minutes, without the customer even noticing there was an issue. Employees set-up a blog, which contains both nice or funny information about everyday’s life of people, and business information, such as the contracts Lippi signed with various airports. Well, this is so much human.
In 1996, I created the innovation tripod :
With this idea that all three components must be globally considered, in a systemic manner.
Lippi did it, and came the following scheme. They are really pioneers.