Stowe Boyd recently posted the following statement:
It came in response to a post of mine about Enterprise 2.0 adoption where I wrote that:
Boyd's drawing a really important distinction here. In our daily lives, we are all members of various groups: our families, neighborhoods, church groups, ethnic groups, etc. Also at work, we are members of groups: departments, business units, project teams, carpools, weekend soccer players, etc. These are collections of people--more or less dynamic, more or less formal--who share some common set of attributes, activities, or interests. At the same time, we all have our personal networks--the individuals whom we know and interact with. There is of course a lot of overlap between a person's groups and her network; we know many of the people in our groups. But an individual's personal network typically spans multiple groups. My network, for example, includes my colleagues at Socialtext, my former McKinsey colleagues, my neighbors in Philadelphia, the other parents at my childrens' day care, and so on.
When Boyd says that Enterprise 2.0 is about personal relationships in networks and not group membership, I think he's saying that the point of Enterprise 2.0 is not to enable existing organizational groups, but to empower and mobilize social networks for getting work done in new ways.
Who's right? I think we both are.
Boyd makes a really important point about social networks. Web 2.0 is waking us all up to how powerful it is when social networks are made transparent. From a professional standpoint, a worker's long-term career development, sense of belonging, job satisfaction, mentoring and guidance, etc., are often driven more by social networks than by formal groups. That trend will accelerate as social networking takes off in earnest within enterprises.
But it's important to recognize that the fundamental unit of collaboration is the group. Departments, divisions, business units, teams, committees, etc., are the wheels on which almost all companies run. That's not an Enterprise 1.0 or an Enterprise 2.0 thing; it's a reflection of the fact that collaboration around tasks of any size requires continuity and accountability.
This isn't an either/or thing, however. The sweet spot for Enterprise 2.0 lies at the intersection of group collaboration and social networking. As I've blogged about before, Enterprise 2.0 has business impact when it's integrated in-the-flow of everyday work. For most workers today, it's their group work that's in the flow. Social networking becomes truly valuable--and generates meaningful organizational adoption--when it's layered on top of, and appropriately integrated with group collaboration.