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« Modernizing Notes applications - lessons from the trenches | Main| Don't try this at home! »

Enterprise 2.0 and weight loss - siblings separated at birth?

This blog entry is inspired and largely translated from this German article authored by enterprise consultant Andreas Schulze-Kopp. Having gone through some personal transformation (final results in November) myself, I found Andreas' comparison of Enterprise 2.0 initiatives and weight loss programs intriguing.
The tasks are comparable: alter habits, break through the mould of old behavioural pattern (a.k.a processes in business lingo) show enough determination and will power to see it through. While Andreas provides an "Augenweide" I'll offer (only) a mindmap. (Buzan's own iMindMap ditched their Linux development, so I'm switching to XMind).
Enterprise 2.0 and Weight loss

Change of habits

Without rethinking habits and processes neither a social business project nor the latest, greatest diet have any chance for sustainable success. Change is inevitable and needs to be embraced openly. Don't commit the folly presuming to get it right the first time, so even the change process needs adjustment, change changes. As with the diet: Start moving!. Without movement both your weight loss and your social business initiative are dead in the water.

Process cleanup

Once you got rid of old habits, your procedures and processed need to be adjusted or terminated. There is no more space for the sugar bomb in the freezer or the Monday morning spreadshit in the inbox. You drink green tea and the latest figures are either in the Social CRM or in your openly shared files.

Will power

The key ingredient! Without the unwavering will to see it through both can't be sustained. Unavoidable setbacks and negative experiences can be offset by determination. The determination to continue even if initially you lost a few pounds only, despite feeling hungry and moving a lot. The determination to see the project through even when the initial project acceptance isn't stellar and contributions stay sparse.

Conviction

A life style change (induced by a diet) and an enterprise 2.0 project must be backed by the conviction to do the right thing. If I'm not convinced my willpower will wafer and I soon find myself crafting excuses to exit. Senior management must be a role model and participate authentic in the enterprise 2.0. Employees have a fine BS radar and "lip-service only" participation of senior management will result in lip-service only imitation and ultimately failure.
Will power is fuelled by conviction and conviction needs to be fuelled by vision. Where do I want to be: "Envision you look into the mirror and you love what you see". Or to use Antoine's words: "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea".

Patience and endurance

Rome wasn't built in a day, real change in shape and organisation take time. In a time where the cadence of most organisations is determined by their quarterly reports, patience is a rather rare commodity. The temptation is great to increase the pressure to see results now, only to face a backslash shortly thereafter. Behaviour and understanding are no simple switches that can be flipped, their fundamental changes need to be practised and settle in

The Jo-Jo effect

Easy goes, easy comes (daily mourning of a "diet pro"). Changing your shape, personally and in the enterprise requires permanent changes in behaviour and attitude. A short term, high effort, fast paced program can't sustain (even if lots of organisations think so), once the effort fizzles out (typically replaced by another corporate wide initiative) old habits resurface, old processes get reinstated and goals get abandoned. The organisation bounces back to old habits. Changing habits takes time, allocating to little of it dooms any project.

The support group

Working out, moving, doing things different makes more fun in the right company. Members in a group motivate, compete and catch each other. The same is true for the enterprise 2.0 projects. Group dynamics will require skilled leaders. This is where your social champions become crystallisation points for the social transformation.

Counting vs. quality

Remember (or ask one who remembers) how counting calories in the last diet sucked big time. It feels like being restricted. A good diet rather improves on the quality and variation of food, so portions can shrink. The same applies to the enterprise 2.0 space. If all that is cared for are numbers, employees feel additional pressures and will time and again prove their creativity in gaming the metric - not the result you are working for. Focus on quality!

The tools

There is a whole industry catering to weight loss candidates - as there is for enterprise 2.0. If running is your weapon of choice, you should have good shoes. Measuring vital signs makes sense too, you don't want to waste effort (too low) or kill yourself (too high). The same applies in the organisation. Tools on their own have no effect (think sport shoes in the closet), but with the other items in this little list they can make success easier. Pick them well and in line with your goals (having "share" in the name doesn't make it social by default).

This list by far isn't complete and you are welcome to add your own thoughts

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