Today we emphasize both Enterprise 2.0 and IT governance, which can appear to be at opposite ends of a continuum. On the one side we have IT governance which promises to introduce order, discipline, and accountability. There are many frameworks designed to support this level of maturity, including the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), ISO 20000 – IT Service Management Standard, Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), ISO 9000 – Quality Management Standard, and many others.
On the other end of the continuum we have enterprise 2.0 and social computing principles and tools, which threaten to break down barriers, flatten the organization, and reduce human latency. Enterprise 2.0 tries to breaks down bureaucracy. It is bottom-up, agile, and flexible. The benefits include faster speed-to-market, decreased cost, and increased innovation. So, how do we resolve IT governance and Enterprise 2.0? Are they mutually exclusive? Or can they coexist?

Mixed Messages
Today we receive mixed messages from management. We can hear about the merits of prescriptive processes from the same person who is telling us we need to adopt Enterprise 2.0 practices and tools. We are told that we shouldn't be working on anything except approved initiatives that follow the perscribed process. At the same time we are deploying tools that will make it easy for people to find and engage experts in ad hoc interactions. Do we have a split personality? Can we ever have an open collaborative workplace if resources feel constricted by IT governance?

Ideas for Reconciliation
Here are my ideas for reconciling the seemingly incompatible perspectives of IT governance and Enterprise 2.0. They depend upon top-down management endorsement and communication of how we employ social computing principles and tools within a disciplined work environment.

  • Be clear about why we believe Enterprise 2.0 is important. This message needs to be succinct and repeated often. Tie it to business benefit. This message needs to be part of the earliest communications regarding the upcoming social computing capabilities.
  • Communicate management's endorsement of an open, and collaborative work environment. Acknowledge that this is a cultural shift. Set the expectation that it will take hard work and that we will make mistakes. Introduce performance objectives that encourage collaboration and hold people accountable for achieving them.
  • Communicate that certain collaborative activities are not only allowed, but expected, as part of our new culture. For example, we expect people to enable instant messaging, ensure that their status is accurate, and make themselves available. We expect people to populate and maintain their personal profiles. We expect that anyone can engage with anyone else - no boundaries. We expect people create a personal blog and use it as a knowledge repository, a virtual notebook for meeting notes, and for status reports. We expect people send links to content, and not to send file attachments via email. (There are obviously many others. These are just a few examples to get started.)
  • Determine how to incorporate social computing principles and tools IT governance processes. Look for ways to leverage social computing technologies to reduce human latency and to promote a more open workplace, within the boundaries of good IT governance. For example, are their ways to eliminate some of the governance meetings. Instead of holding in-person review meetings that can throttle progress, leverage a virtual workspace for managing asynchronous discussions and approvals?
  • Make it okay for people to interact with anyone. We must be clear that we expect people to make themselves available for knowledge sharing, even when it is not part of an approved initiative. Get over the idea that when someone wants to tap into your knowledge that it is a negative thing. Calling it a "virtual mugging" or even just annoying discourages the open interaction and trust necessary to succeed with Enterprise 2.0.
  • Sharing knowledge should be allowed and expected, and a measure of one's value to the company. Find ways to reward and provide incentives for sharing knowledge in real-time or by capturing it within a virtual workspaces, such as a blogs or wikis.

The bottom line is that most people will not adopt social computing on their own, despite the personal benefits. You cannot rely on grass-roots adoption alone. People need social computing to be officially integrated into their IT governance processes. Then, from their perspective, they're just following the process. Otherwise, Enterprise 2.0 appears to be something extra, or in addition to their real job. In that environment, Enterprise 2.0 will fail.

What do you think? Do you have other ideas on how to reconcile IT governance and Enterprise 2.0?

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