This is part three in a multi-part series on how Océ is implementing Enterprise 2.0 within their organization. Part one covered the business drivers of Enterprise 2.0, and part two covered making the push for Enterprise 2.0

Today I will cover how Océ dealt with change management issues.

Océ was faced with how to deal with the current company culture.  Traditionally, employees were not encouraged to ask questions or be open about personal doubts and ideas.  Employees were oftentimes perceived as being weak if they had doubts about something and as a result, they refrained from asking questions or challenging ideas.  This was a difficult challenge to overcome and I commend Samuel and Jan for being so open and honest about this.  They overcame this culture of closed communication by leading by example.  This meant a few things; the first is that Samuel and Jan had to show their peers that other organizations have successfully adopted an open culture of sharing ideas and expressing doubts and uncertainties.  The second is that Samuel and Jan had to “walk the talk” so to speak and lead by example.  They had to ask questions and openly express their doubts, uncertainties, and need for help.

At one point, a small department called “The New Media Lab” was formed to enable the use of social media while helping to implement new social media tools and ideas.  The “Lab” was comprised of a group of employees that were interested in new tools, technologies, and strategies.  They tested everything on themselves first before deciding to roll anything out.  Unfortunately, over time everyone dropped out of the Lab due to lack of interest, time, or understanding.  The only two people left to carry the Enterprise 2.0 torch were Samuel and Jan.  They were the two visionaries that continued to see the need for these new tools and strategies.

Organizational structure shifts and technology adoption

If  Océ really wanted to see success in Enterprise 2.0, then a silo-ed structure (what they currently have) would not be able to deal with these new tools and technologies.  Océ knew that some of the things they wanted to try with E2.0 were going to fail for various reasons such as lack of adoption, bad timing, or perhaps not meshing well with the existing culture.  Océ admits they are still making baby steps in making organizational structure shifts.  Currently they are trying to create a new department called the “Social Media Lab” that can deal with both internal and external collaboration efforts.  Océ was very candid and admitted that currently their organization structure has not changed much at all, which is making things a bit difficult.  This is becoming an issue not just with Enterprise 2.0 but with their external facing social media efforts as well.  There are different Twitter accounts, various blogs, many wikipedia entries, and bits and pieces of scattered information.  This is a problem because new things are happening but the organizational structure is not adapting.  There still needs to be alignment between new technology use and strategies and how the organization is structured to support these things.  I’m hoping that over time Océ will start to see these changes happen.

New technology adoption is never easy and in Océ’s case one of the challenges was not simply getting people to use the new tools but actually getting them to understand the concepts behind them such as trust and transparency.  The reality is that people are just fine with using email and don’t want to share their conversations or activity with the rest of the organization.  As with Vistaprint, Océ observed that it was challenging to get employees to use the wiki platform at first (they used Mediawiki, the same platform used by Vistaprint).  The issue was mainly platform specific as the interface is not that simple to use or intuitive.  Yammer, on the other hand was adopted much more easily and quickly.  Samuel and Jan pointed out that not everyone is an early adopter; it’s natural that some employees will lead the charge, while others will follow.  A normal adoption cycle exists and companies need to remember that.

Key takeaways
  • Océ had an interesting cultural issue to deal with: the perception of weakness and vulnerability.  They overcame this by leading by example.
  • New initiatives were first tested out on a small group of a employees (just a handful) to ensure that they were viable and possible.
  • Océ knew in advance that some things would fail and some would succeed.  It was a natural part of how things work.
  • No organizational shifts have happened up to this point, which is starting to make things difficult for the organization.  Eventually this will force change.
  • Companies must remember that adoption cycles for new tools and technologies do exist.  Some employees will always lead, others will always follow.
  • It’s not only important to get people to use the technologies but also to understand the concepts and ideas behind them, such as building trust and transparency