Relevance of Enterprise 2.0 for HR

On this blog I have frequently given perspectives on implications of Enterprise 2.0 (E20), the use of social software in an enterprise context, for Human Resources. With this entry I want to summarize and update what I wrote earlier. I gave a general update on the value of social networks for HR in January 2008 including a presentation I held at our global HR Business Partner meeting. Tonight I will be presenting at an HR sharing event on the relevance of Enterprise 2.0 for HR. Find the slides posted to Slideshare.

The introduction of E20 requires a cultural shift in the enterprise to be effective. From the perception that knowledge is power to sharing knowledge, from know how to know who knows how, from hierarchy to community. Management needs to let go of control and expand employee autonomy as Gary Hamel states in the moon shots for management. The ultimate goal is to create social capital, a workforce that is interconnected to make collaboration thrive through relationships of trust. This really brings added value to the company in form of constant learning (the learning organization), change agility, speed, efficiency and scale. In this context new organization forms are emerging like communities of practice or agile forms of development, an environment that fosters innovation.

This is what Cisco CEO Chambers talks about in a presentation that Bertrand posted to his blog a year ago. Cisco has so called councils that work cross functionally and make far better decisions than hierarchical structures have generated in the past. Managers are measured against their success working across organizations. Speed and scale are key benefits.

HR is required as an enabler of E20, as change agent and organization designer. HR should be the engine behind company culture (Towers Perrin 2008). It is definitely the function influencing and creating a specific culture. It needs to put HR practices in place which support E20. For example employees need to be measured and compensated according to how successful they collaborate, the leadership brand needs to be redefined and Managers' mindset adapted! In my previous entry I have shown that HR's main responsibility is to build and implement the appropriate HR practices to support the creation of key critical organizational capabilities that bring competitive advantage to the business and that define an organization's culture.

Now how is E20 enabling HR? In order to show this it needs to be demonstrated how social software can be used for the implementation of HR practices. I just want to give a few examples, each for every HR practice category as defined by Ulrich. I already had an entry to this topic in 2007.

For the first which is people and everything related to their flow within the organization I want to point to the benefits of alumni networks providing the company with mature and seasoned talent, e.g. retirees for mentoring or consulting work, or the low cost ability to rehire former talent. My former entry on this here.

Looking at performance measurement social software provides high levels of visibility for employees. Experts are easily identified. Find an example how to measure “community equity” here.

In the area of work processes and environment clearly social software and communities make collaboration more efficient. Over the internet companies can also tap global collective intelligence or the “Wisdom of the Crowd” like Canadian company Goldcorp with the “Goldcorp Challenge” or Cisco with it's I-Prize.

For the information flow in a company, externally and internally the new tools are THE communication enablers. Nowadays CEOs write blogs, employees give their opinions in forums... Alone for this point I could probably write up an own entry but as there is so much out there on the topic I will stop here.

To see what Sun does in the E20 space have a look at this entry.


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