Our corporate evolution in the past three years is nothing short of staggering. The way we work, collaborate and communicate at EMC today is dramatically different than it was just a few short years ago.
Polly Pearson is doing a bit to document the phases of our journey. As she notes, everyone's at a different point in the spectrum of readiness with regards to embracing the E2.0 movement. Having seen first-hand how our company has benefited from this transformation, I'm of the firm belief that it's a question of when, not if, every company embraces this new way of conducting business.
I'll rewind the clock and pick up the discussion in 2007. As Chuck notes in the comments of Polly's post, there were a few 'social' offerings in place in 2006. Mostly discussion forums and virtually all public facing. While each valuable in their own right, these things were largely disconnected from one other and not part of an over-arching strategy.
If, as Polly suggests, there was 'something in the air' in 2006, then 2007 would see us lay the foundational strategy that would ultimately guide us through the journey ahead.
We very intentionally chose an inside-out approach to social. The intent - build a very strong foundation of proficiency across our global employees. Learn about the nuances of social amongst ourselves as opposed to experimenting with our customers and partners.
We also chose to crowdsource the opportunities ahead. To this day, folks claiming to be 'experts in social media' still make me cringe. This stuff is still new - and no one person has all of the answers. A community of really smart folks, on the other hand, can start to expose some compelling and innovative concepts.
Our earliest internal community conversations involved hundreds of highly passionate folks from across the company and focused on the opportunities and challenges inherent with the social web.
There's a new approach
Business cases, proofs of concept, pages of justification, waterfall project methodologies. It's easy to over-complicate simple things.
The seed that would eventually become a vibrant internal community at the very epicenter of internal collaboration at EMC started with some open source software during an afternoon on a laptop.
Within weeks, this seed started to germinate, and we knew we'd quickly outgrow a homemade solution. This stuff started to take off FAST. So, we picked an out of the box package and evolved. This whole process happened within six or so weeks and with funding that would amount to little more than a rounding error in our coffee budget.
The new approach was one of experimentation. The acknowledgment that we were trying new ground here and that, if it didn't go as planned, we'd simply adjust on the fly. And, with such a trivial up-front investment, this was OK. Heck, if for unseen reasons we decided to pull the plug, that would be OK too. The point was, we were open to experimenting, learning and adjusting - all in real time.
We didn't over complicate the path. We saw what we believed to be an enormous opportunity, and went after it. Simple as that.
Some years later, we've re-calibrated our culture to be far more agile than ever before. We experiment, we learn, we adjust... quickly. Where appropriate, we've abandoned waterfall approaches for more agile methodologies.
Trust had to be the norm
As it became evident that this 'experiment' was going to be something really big, then came the inevitable conversations around moderation. After all, what if people say bad things? What if they post inappropriate pictures? We should hire a small army of people to moderate all of this...
We chose to put trust in the community... And we were right.
It was (and still is) easy to see the emergence of Enterprise 2.0 tools as new. To some extent, they are. Suddenly everyone in the company has a voice - and an equal voice at that. Was there some risk? Perhaps... But not necessarily any more so than with email. If someone wanted to be malicious, there's little to stop folks from mass mailing something inappropriate around.
I suspect with any new technology, there's bound to be some level of discomfort. Looking back on three years of this journey, putting our trust in the community at large was undoubtedly the right move.
So - I'd say that 2007 really laid the groundwork for what would ultimately become our strategy for embracing the social web. We left the year knowing we were onto something big. Although, to be honest, I'm not sure I could completely fathom just how enormous the opportunities ahead would be.
As Polly suggests, this will have to be a series of posts - and perhaps we'll ultimately pull all of this together into some sort of phases of adoption paper. It may be helpful in comparing notes and understanding where folks are in their respective journey.
Standby... More to come.