A gift arrived for executive leadership with web 2.0 technology. This gift sometimes slips in the back door, under the radar of the IT department, but it is one that should be exposed and embraced. What gift? The gift of free form, emergent, collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs, and other enterprise 2.0 tools for large organizations. Top management needs to take a long, hard look at the asset value stockpiled in the bottom of the organization. Users can adopt these tools on their own and start sharing their street smarts about their jobs, their industry knowledge, the competitive market, even the business processes that run the company’s critical operations. Most of these tools are either free or so inexpensive, they can be charged to a credit card, so departments can forego formal budgetary approval for them. The result? Fast, open, connected access to the best thinking in the company—at every level.
For many decades now, executives have overused the tired maxim, “our greatest asset is our people.” If you believe that, then give your people a voice. Put a tool in their hands that will enable them to revolutionize their workplace. Encourage them to start blogging about their day job. Give all your employees the opportunity to collaborate on corporate-wide wikis for their projects and process improvements. Experiment with a social networking platform like Facebook or Twitter which answers the question, “What are you doing?” The more your employees are connected to each other and the outside world, the easier the ideas will flow about how to add value to the company.
Unlocking the intellectual horsepower of your talent base is the competitive weapon of this new century. Your talent will make the difference as you navigate the tough economic climate that faces the global economy. The next generation coming into the workforce, as well as the digerati generation currently entrenched, naturally embraces and champions web 2.0 technology. Even though some of us are a few steps behind this new generation, we need to recognize web 2.0’s liberating potential and open our minds to the possibilities it will deliver for our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and our shareholders. The closer we’re connected, the less distant we are from the truth about our markets. We need to foster a corporate culture of collaboration and sharing, openness and honesty, truth and transparency—trusting our most valuable resource, our people, to turn our organizations upside down and sideways— shaking out the dead wood and letting the brilliance rise to the top.
It starts with you– leading by example. Go bottom feeding to fortify your fiscal health.