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Will Enterprise 2.0 ever enter big organizations?

I have been reflecting lately on how Enterprise 2.0’s experimentations could be introduced in a big organization environment. There is a lot of “change management” thinking there for sure: start small, pick quick wins, build a community of supporters,… But it seems that there is also more profound forces involved as well: Enterprise 2.0 represents a real paradigm shift for process oriented organizations.

I hate to use the term “paradigm shift”, because it has been used so many times, and for quite common situations. But in this case, I’m starting to wonder if there is not indeed a very distinctive approach between the two modes that would require organization to adopt very different ways to think about their internal dynamics.

Let me first give a bit more background on what I mean by process oriented. It is obvious that many big organizations, if not all of them, conceive their production of value (be it an actual product or a service) as a succession of tasks performed by different individual in specific roles. In this approach, the actual individual fulfilling a role is quite irrelevant as long as he or she has the capacity to perform the corresponding operations. The greatness of such a design is that it tends to make production fairly predictable. The downside is that you can not use the complete value of every individual in your organization because you ask them first to fulfill roles and you miss everything they can do outside of this specific role. Plus there is also a natural tendency to accumulate slack: if you use 100% of the time of an individual in a particular role, you create a bigger uncertainty than if you ask him to operate at 70%, plus or minus a couple of percents; and thus, you become less predictable.

On the contrary, if you loosely define Enterprise 2.0 as the adoption in a production context of collaboration modes as found on the Web, you end up with a very different picture. The individuals and their abilities are at the center of this picture. People freely decide to which project they will contribute and on which part. The whole dynamic is anything but predictable. It is on the contrary very efficient to perform many projects at the same time but with no coordination of a central authority that would ex ante define which one are really worth pursuing. Projects happen not because they are dimmed important by a couple of executive roles, but because the necessary skills aggregate through the desire of each participant of contributing. You trade predictibility for an incredible speed of implementation.

Now imagine a big organization that has been defining and refining its internal processes for the past decades. That has established its recruitment and dismissal processes to constantly have a sufficient stock of resources to fill the different roles. Imagine that you ask it to conceive itself as an internal market where resources can freely recombine to pursue emerging projects. That you promote the notion that you will, through this, greatly augment the output by loosing control on the nature of this output. Did I mention the term “paradigm shift”?

BarCampBank as an open incubator for breakthroughs

There is a recurring question about BarCampBanks and what you get there beyond meeting great people, exchanging business cards with them and feeling the dopamine running through your veins hearing what they have to say. If that’s not enough for you, I’d say that in my view there is even more: a powerful accelerator of ideas maturation and pre-innovation incubation.

I’ve been doing the pitch on a couple of occasions and I thought it may be good to write this on paper because it may sound counter-intuitive to some: it’s by sharing your ideas that you get a better chance of implementing them.

First point of the pitch is that “an idea has not value in itself”. I don’t want to run into the debate that it often starts, but just bear with me and take for granted that if you do not implement the idea, you’ll never see any value come out of it; and that for the community, it’s better that an idea is implemented by a good executioner than put in practice by a less able orginator who would have supposedly conceived the breakthrough out of the blue.

Second point is that if you try explaining your idea, you just realize that usually everything does not come out so oderly that you thought it was structured in your head. That people have sometimes intelligent counter-points that you did not think off; and that finally it helped you refine your understanding, opened new horizons and all-in-all accelarated your thinking process.

Third point is that thanks to the BarCamp format and its emergent approach to subject selection, you end up speaking with people who have at the same time very similar interests than those you’re just pursuing, and slightly different as well. Confronting your ideas with them help you understanding in what sense what you think is definitely unique, but also at time how complementary it is to the others’ points.

Finally, I point to the image of conceiving discussions at a BarCampBank like a way for everyone to bring their own pieces of the puzzle, of putting them on a table, of trying for a couple of hours to compare and trying to adjust them together. Then letting everyone go back with a still incomplete picture, but certainly slightly larger and more focused than everyone had when entering the room.

So what’s the deal? For me it is because execution is the real test that you should not spend unnecessary energy in producing ideas on your own. It is much better to speed up the process of idea creation by contributing to a common pool, then let the best implementers bring the result to reality.

There is also the question of knowing if this does not entice a free-ridder attitude: just listen to others’ ideas without giving yours. While everyone is perfectly free to adopt this behavior, I’d say that there are probably those that will get the least out of the deal. I have rarely seen people understanding perfectly what the others say without asking questions, plus I also think that you get the best explanations when you really give the context of your question and you let the train of thoughts run full speed.

Then there is the finaly question if this mechanism is equally interesting for big organizations and entrepreneurs, and if one side should not be wary of having the other one stealing their ideas. And here, people often think of entrepreneurs seeing their great ideas stolen by big organizations. My answer to this is first from the macro level on one-side: if an idea has every chance of better be implemented by a big organization, the community should spare the cost of seeing an entrepreneur duplicate capacities to just do what the big organization could provide at once; plus, if this is really the case, it is more than probable that the above entrepreneur will get squashed by the big organization when it realize that he/she has discovered a lucrative market. Then my answer is on the micro-level on the other side: there are ideas that can better be implemented by big organizations, then there are those that cannot – these are innovations called disruptive because they cannot be carried by current organization the way are operating.

So anyone, from a startup or a big organization, should find interest in participating in a BarCampBank if they are attracted by innovation and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance. I hope that I made my point in explaining why in my view the more they bring to it, the more they’ll get out of it.

Would your organization accomodate an outer-space organigram zap?

James Gardner has just been putting in his latest post the case for an increased ability by organizations to nurture disruptive innovations. I’m not sure I share James’ optimism, furthermore I don’t think that a renewed agile strategic process will do any difference in that regard.

This made me think of an intellectual experiment. What if we witnessed the appearance of alien ships equipped with a new arm aimed at our business organization? In the vein of a neutron bomb – that leaves intact the building but destroy any life forms within it – this weapon would be more lenient and able to keep the occupants, their brains and skills intact- to the exception of any recall of what was the former organigram and the functions attached to anyone.

My first question would be: what do you think would be the instant drop in capitalization of your company on the market place after such an attack? My second question would be: do you think it will ever be able to recover?

With that in mind, I believe that the market has shown an amazing capacity at creating this sort of organizational value by quickly assembling different skills readily available to build on an innovation. I see an extreme difficulty in reshaping most organizations beyond acceptable adjustments.

We can take the Google and Microsoft example as a yardstick. I think that , if we were to investigate the composition of the two employees population, we should find statiscally a very comparable pool of talents, age distribution and so one. Nevertheless, I think that Microsoft’s pecking order makes excessively unlikely that they will ever be able to compete with Google on their turf.

If you are still sceptical in the leeway that the market has and that organizations have not: Can you imagine an organization accepting to replace most of their 50-something senior management staff by 30-something guys? This is what the market is putting ex nihilo in place regularly. Whenever a 40-something has acceded by chance to the upper position of a venerable organization, he/she has never tried to rejunevate the executive populations and usually stay on the chair for the next 20 years aggravating the excutive age problem all along.

BarCampBank London was great!

Last Saturday happened the first BarCampBank London. I shared earlier my excitement of participating to this first English BarCampBank and I must say that I’ve not been disapointed. BCBL was just great!

First we had an interesting mix of participants with

Second, the different workshops were really great and covered diverse subjects like biometrics in fi-services, innovation and regulation, near money, open banking,.. This all showed that the European ecosystem in financial services is currently full of vibrance.

I disclosed earlier the different projects I’m working on. At BCBL, I had the opportunity to expose in more details the piece about FundCamp FinTech. From the reactions to the discussion and because of the general atmosphere during this BarCampBank, I feel that we should definitely move forward. Anyone interested in this intiative, please do not hesitate to contact me.

How to organize a BarCampBank?

Since the first BarCampBank in Sept. 2006 in Paris, BarCampBanks have been springing up everywhere as William Azaroff noted on NetBanker. With such a number of BarCampBanks currently scheduled or being planned, it made me think that we could use some sort of “How To” guide for anyone interested in getting the ball rolling in their city. I decided to throw a shot and put down on blog a couple of ideas and tips. This only represents a personal view and need to be elaborated. Please, anyone build on this and create your own version.

Rules?

  1. What is a BarCampBank?: this is a BarCamp where people gather around the mission of “fostering innovations and the creation of new business models in the world of banking and finance“. This means that people will be enjoying the power of the unconference format with the expectation of finding like-minded people interested in innovation in banking and finance.
  2. Should it be free?: the goal of a BarCampBank is to attract very motivated people. A fee should not be a barrier to get interested and interesting people in the room. But we know that having people pay a small fee shows commitment in participating and helps planners arrange for logistics. My view is that a fee of the order of a good meal at a near-by restaurant could serve as a landmark. We should try to get sponsors to cover most of the expense and let costs be supported by the fee only for essential things (which means that we should definitely get a sponsor for the room)
  3. Should I use the BarCampBank logo?: my view is that we should benefit from having some sort of visual link. While I think it is great that logos reflect as much “localness” as possible, it would be great to keep a central recurrent theme. The BarCamp’s logo with the piggy could serve this purpose at this time.

How to get started

  1.  create a page on BarCamp’s wiki with the naming convention BarCampBankMyCity and possibly a number if this is not the first one in your city
  2. start filling out the page, using possibly content taken from http://barcamp.org/BarCampBankTemplate
  3. register on http://barcamp.org/BarCampBank under the “Getting planned” section
  4. broadcast the news to see if it gets momentum
  5. if you get enough interest, set a date (having a firm agreement for a venue usually helps in the choice of the date)
  6. move on http://barcamp.org/BarCampBank to the “Firm” section
  7. open up registrations. This can be done directly on the wiki, but – because of regular defacements on BarCamp’s wiki – I would recommend using a tool like EventBrite or equivalent to keep a clean list. You’ll need this tool anyway if you are planning to ask for a small fee.
  8. broadcast even wider when date and venue are set. You can use the different BarCampBank groups on Google, FaceBook,.. to make your BarCampBank known.*

OK, now if you are playing with the idea of organizing a local BarCampBank, hopefully this will help you get going. There’s only one thing to remember: you’ll never know if this is going to work if you do not give it a shot!

Join us for BarCampBankLondon on July 5th

This is going to be quite a fastuous Summer for BarCampBank this year with no less than 4 events happening across the globe: BarCampBankDallas, BarCampBankLondon, BarCampBankMadison and BarCampBank Vancouver are the 4 BarCampBanks on firm dates.

I’m personnaly involved in the organization of the only European BarCampBank in this series: BarCampBankLondon. Antony Evans and Thomas Barker have done a wonderful job making this first UK BarCampBank a reality and I’m excited and honored being part of their team. While I wish I could have intended every single BarCampBank on earth, I must admit that being 2 hours away from London makes this most convenient. With the commendable determination of attending every BarCampBanks in the US (and Canada..), Morriss Partee will thus surely hold very soon the record of participation to BarCampBanks. We should all applaude his stamina. I’m nonetheless equally happy that London has now joined the club and offers a valuable opportunity for European fi-startups to gather and show the vibrance of entrepreneurship in this sector.

I hope meeting a lot of you there. Resgistrations happen on http://bcblondon.eventbrite.com/. Thank you for all your help in broadcasting this event and making it an absolute success for innovation in financial services.

 

My bank money is too sticky!

Like the vast majority of people I think, I have only two places where I hoard money.

The first one is my physical wallet The amount is not significant, but I could not do without it, yet. Money in it is not sticky, in the sense that it’s flowing efficiently and rapidly out of my wallet, sometimes too rapidly. So cash is nice, except for one thing, it’s reach is rather limited, I have to hand-out cash to make a payment and be physically connected. So I turn to this storage of money for standard use, buying bread, paying taxis,… When I want to replenish my physical wallet, I turn to my second pile of money: my bank account.

My bank account is indeed the second place wher I store money. The amount is more significant and certainly too high from a pure financial consideration. While replenishing my physical wallet by going to an ATM is a bit of drag, it’s all-in-all quite ok. Money is flowing relatively well between the two. In fact, most of the flow out of my bank account is done for standard payments like grocery, electronics,.. and is done via a debit card. There again things are not that bad and; at this point money is not too sticky.

But then, there are all this other flows or non-existing flows which show that my bank money can be very sticky.

In the category of existing flows where money is a pain moving, I’d put things like buying financial assets, making payments to a foreign friend. If you want to buy a financial asset that is not offered by your bank, you then see how sticky money is, you have to make multiple operations to complete your transaction. Sure, banks have a interest in making your money sticky, they would rather having you buy financial assets they provide. But even there, money is not flowing swiftly: what’s the point of raising customer satisfaction when your money is captive anyway. Concerning payments to a foreign friend, we reach the ridiculous: you don’t see money flowing, but evaporating through fees and time delays. Before we had PayPal, transfering money to a friend in another country was close to the non-existant category.

Which leads to the category of non-existant flows, or at least not existing yet. And here, I’ll turn again to my P2PMoney pet project. Leaving in a global world, with many interactions with a growing community of contacts, I think we will have more and more a desire to see our money freely and swiftly being pooled, spent and redistributed among varying groups we belong to. And for these workflows, bank money is flowing like a rock.

So we have now Telecom operators coming with the concept of a M-Wallet. While I don’t know how fast I’ll turn to this third type wallet, there’s one thing I’m sure: I don’t want my M-money to be sticky. And being not sticky does not mean money flows swiftly for transactions that are in the operators best interest, it means it flows swiftly for thing I want to do!