Just finished a conversation with a client and I see an interesting trend evolving. Interesting in that the emergence benefit from the social computing movement can and often does lead to a lack of enterprise agility. We need to distinguish between levels of agility. Individual agility, team agility, group agility, business unit agility, geographic region agility, and corporate agility can all manifest in different ways and impinge on each other.
Unfettered emergence may increase team or group agility but can impede business unit and corporate agility. I rarely use sports metaphors but in honor of the upcoming superbowl (USA football) I shall. Imagine a football team with super agile players all moving in different directions to pursue their own personal agendas (well intentioned). What do you have? You have an organization that achieves chaos far more quickly than ever before. There seems to be a prevailing sentiment amongst the “emergence purists” (this is my impromptu term) that an organization will be able to identify which of their players really gets it right and then can rally everyone around that player’s approach. This “choosing of the fittest” makes the chaos worth it in the end.
I have a hard time swallowing this approach and I certainly would not recommend it. I have talked to many clients that are pulling their hair out over unfettered emergence. For example, one client says they have over 10,000 Sharepoint team sites. Although some might call this a success, he considers it a nightmare. He called it an “archipelago from hell.” A mess of unmanageable islands of small picture collaboration that is impeding movement towards a more enterprise approach to agility. This isn’t a failing of Sharepoint but a lack of strategy.
You must also understand the levels of agility towards which you are striving. And you must have a playbook to keep your agile players working in concert towards those goals.
Am I right? Am I wrong?
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