When building up the Enterprise 2.0 – do you trust organic growth or do you actively drive adoption? I’ve seen this question discussed in some blogs, and also heard it on the Enterprise 2.0 Summit 2010 in Frankfurt.
Let me give a botanical answer to this question. If “trust organic growth” means “build the platform and see what happens”, you will get the business equivalent of ruderal species. These are the first plants to colonize lands that have just been disturbed, e. g. by a fire or construction activities. While this event overstrains the established plant population, some highly opportunistic species take the chance. You might compare them to the innovators in the Technology Adoption Lifecycle. These specimens will be a tremendous help when your wiki, network, etc. is all fresh and needs being populated. But they will not be enough.
When I think of organic growth, I don’t see a ruderal community of some fast growing plants. I see a healthy mixture of many different species, all thriving and flourishing. To get such a lush greenery, you actually have to do something!
Let it grow organically means prepare the soil, sow some carefully chosen seeds, maybe transplant some larger specimens, administer the right amount of water and fertilizer, make sure every plant gets enough sun, cut some shoots where necessary, provide climbing trellises when needed – and let the plants do the rest. Don’t get impatient: grass does not grow faster if you pull!
Applied to the business, this means you can – and should – do a lot to drive organic growth. Every company is a different ecosystem. Here’s what we did at my company:
- Preparing the soil: Instead of skipping the pilot, we made it a content pilot (as opposed to an IT pilot).
- Seeding: We invited some key communities to the pilot and helped them create interesting conversations.
- Transplanting established specimens: We approached stakeholders with existing stand-alone solutions and involved them into developing our network.
- Water and fertilizer: We regularly share best practices and success stories. We also help to transfer communications and workflows to our network – this gives people a reason to use it.
- Sun: Visible commitment from top management does wonders for user adoption!
- Cutting shoots: Has not yet been necessary.
- Provide trellises: We provide consulting and encourage exchange in regular face-to-face events.
- Do not pull: Participation is voluntary.
If you want to know more details, check out this presentation. We have shared it on various occasions, the most recent was when I talked at the German Multimedia Congress in Stuttgart. The slides will be updated regulary, so it might be worth coming back from time to time.
Considering that we only started real cultivation a little more than six months ago, our garden has thrived quite nicely up to now. Let’s see how far we can drive organic growth – I’m dreaming of a luxuriant park!