We have heard of web 2.0 with enough explanations “I think Web 2.0 is…” Even though there is no crystal clear definition that everyone agrees upon at least now we are used to this term and we hear a few jargons around it and look at a site and say “Oh yeah, a Web 2.0 site..”. Whether we agree upon those jargons as part of web 2.0 or not one must definitely admit that one of the aspects of web 2.0 being effective user participation. An increased user participation makes a site really powerful as the data needed to power the site comes for free and in abundance without any stopping. This culture has tremendously picked up and applications of all sort is coming up that is typically run by user’s data. Enterprise 2.0 is another phenomenon that pops up then and there if not as frequent as Web 2.0. Nevertheless it is matter of time this word is going to become a common term too. While I am not interested in trying to define Enterprise 2.0, what I am interested is the user participation part of Web 2.0 that is going to be prevalent in Enterprise 2.0 as well. User participation in Web 2.0 translates to employee participation in Enterprise 2.0.
The difficulty in current enterprise environment is there are too many teams that work in silo. There is no single point of means to say what’s happening as a project irrespective of how many teams under different areas of project is working on. At one point or the other these teams have to meet the dependency of each other and when they get together there are always surprises because a team doesn’t know what or how the other team is operating on and if it will satisfy the dependency needs. Rather than working as silo teams, if each and every employee is able to participate and provide update on his/her activities at a central point that gets distributed to every other member then that gives an opportunity for constant communication and collaboration. Thus a set of tools that can help make the teams collaborate and work effectively within an organization is a must. One can argue that there are already tools that do this and in fact a simple solution would be to have a common storage space where each employee could put a document containing his/her status of work. But these are formal traditional approaches that have not been very effective because usually an employee is more bothered about his/her work and tends not to see what is happening around. What we need is an informal environment and a tool that can help in an effective collaboration. Take wiki as an example, there is no predefined rule or structure to building content in a wiki. Each and every user has the same set of rights and privileges as any other user and is free to add information and link to other areas as well. Another good tool might be to have an intranet blog for each project and make each member author of the blog, so that he/she can post the updates. An RSS feed reader could be used to distribute the new content to the entire project team automatically.
Does it mean that the teams should stop creating documents and other necessary artifacts related to a project? No not at all, what employee participation helps is to capture unstructured information that gets accrued on a day to day basis. This unstructured information is an important piece that can bring to notice something going wrong at an early stage and reduce major damages later. Take for example a developer running into an issue and troubleshooting or in a situation where he/she is stuck because of dependencies. How often does other members related to it get to know about it? Give him/her a template and ask him/her to write a document, do you think it would be effectively followed? I don’t think so. But if there is an informal environment where an employee can add content free without any structure it could be effective. A developer would be more than willing to write a post on how he/she fixed an issue or explaining the situation he/she is stuck rather than creating a document.
What will make such a culture reality is when there is an attitude shift and willingness to accept such a change and work towards building it. This is easily said than done as it is not possible with one or two employees doing it but the entire organization adapting to it. It may be late but it is the near future.