Governance & Process, Leadership

How democratic should “enterprise 2.0” be?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in August 2011 ……


EICIM – European Internal Communication & Intranet Meeting took place the 5th and 6th of October, 2011, in Warsaw. (2017 note: links no longer active.Overall, it was an excellent intranet  & internal communication conference-  a first class event with international and Polish speakers.

The conference finished with a round table discussion led by a Polish TV journalist who took us into the “human territory of ‘enterprise 2.0’ ” and triggered some thought-provoking discussions from the audience and the round table speakers.

When you are with people for whom the “open market economy” is 20 years old, your perspective changes. Enterprise 2.0 raises fundamental questions.

The conference finished with a round table run by a Polish TV journalist. I participated along with a few of the other speakers: Felix Escribano from Adidas Group, Frank Wolf from T-Systems Multimedia Solutions, Wojciech Mrugalski from  Kompania Piwowarska and Piotr Pełzowski from Kolibro Intranet Experts.

We ended up talking primarily about the human aspect of “enterprise 2.0”. What does it mean? How does it change the way we work? And many other questions.

No answers, but very intelligent questions including “How democratic should decision-making be in an enterprise?”.

Frank Wolf of T-Systems Multimedia Solutions told us a story about how they launched their own website designed by a supplier. The workers (all very techno-oriented) were not impressed by it and mobilized a negative reaction on their internal social network. Senior management listened, opened a forum and invited workers to give their suggestions. Step by step the company implemented ideas from the “people”.  Smart reaction and very democratic.

Listen, then decide.

My own answer to the question was that people in an organization are accountable for specific things. The decision-makers need to listen, then make  decisions. I’m currently working with a global company head-quartered in Northern Europe and their policy is: committees don’t make decisions: individual people make decisions. The strategic decisions about their intranet have names attached.

Decisions are not democratic; consulting with everyone should be mandatory.

The  question about democratic decision-making came from someone in the audience who was probably thinking: what does Enterprise 2.0 really mean?. I’ve never heard this specific question asked before.

But then I’ve never been in a  country where a truly open economy is only 20 years  old.