Intervista a Laurence Lock Lee su PMI & E 2.0 per l’International Enterprise 2.0 forum

Grazie a Stefano ed Emanuele ho avuto la possibilità di porre qualche domanda a Laurence Lock Lee, speaker d’eccellenza del prossimo Enterprise 2.0 International forum. Qui potete trovare tutta l’intervista, di seguito invece una delle risposte che più ho preferito.

In Europe 99% of businesses are SMEs and 81.1% in Italy (according to Istat (2007): 46.5% of enterprises are micro, 22.1% are small and 12.4% average). In regard to content creation and participation, the online community complies with the principle of 90-9-1. Focusing on these two data: how can a SME have the culture and the strength to produce enough content to keep alive the interest in a 2.0 system? Does innovation start from the bottom for SME, too? 

I think the global data would support that more and more people will be employed in SME’s as large corporations actually reduce in numbers and rely more on SME’s as supply partners. I have spend most of my career with large corporations, initially BHP Billiton who is the world’s largest resources company and Computer Sciences Corporation, which is a top 10 global IT services company, but I am now running my own SME. Large corporations have their own internal ecosystems that include “internal SMEs”. I recall the results of a global SNA study I did in BHP Billiton in the 1990s which exposed this ecosystem within their global engineering workforce. Some of the more remote mining sites were indeed acting like SME’s, appreciating their limited resources and therefore actively reaching out and trying to engage in knowledge sharing with the organisation at large. The larger units, in contrast, tended to be inward looking, expecting that the answers to their problems could always be found internally.
In terms of the “principle of 90-9-1” as posted to the wikipatterns site I refer you to the study we did on that community in 2008 where we mapped the community evolution into social network maps using the electronic communications data from the site. The data supported the 90-9-1 principle but I think we need to explore why this is so? It was clear to me that the basic principles of community formation dictate that a level of trust building is generally needed prior to action. Therefore in the wikipatterns community the core drivers for its formation were all personally known to each other, and mostly working for Atlassian at the time. As we reach beyond the close personal relationships and 1st degree connections to 2nd and 3rd degree connections the drop off in trust and therefore influence can be quite dramatic, as evidenced by the 90-9-1 observation. So a corollary law to the 90-9-1 observation I would coin the “Networking law of diminishing influence”. I was recently reminded of this effect as the organiser of an on-line innovation competition using the Spigit ideas management platform . In the first week of the launch I contacted my close associates to participate and was thrilled by the strong uptake. In the next week we then contacted hundreds of contacts expecting an explosion of activity, which really didn’t eventuate. Again lots of viewers but much fewer idea contributors …. alas the 90-9-1 and the networking law of diminishing influence!
The other strong finding from the wikimining and mapping study was from the survey we ran on the participants in conjunction with the mapping activity. What we found was that those participants that took the trouble to participate and engage with people that they previously didn’t know, in fact rated these connections as the most valuable to them. This is encouraging news and by promoting this we can at least get to say 90-20-7 🙂
To the second part of your question, my research has shown that there is a difference between how SMEs and large organisations might thrive in the networked world. In my talk at last years E2.0 Forum I spoke about the fact that being connected externally was much more important for SMEs who do not have the “brand” advantage of the larger organisations. In fact their use of E2.0 technologies should be focussed externally with less attention to its internal use, in contrast to the current practices for larger organisations. SME’s do need to engage with “bigger brands” to achieve some level of “reflected reputation” to help build their own brands. The other warning from the talk for SME’s is that good people and financial responsibility are the other elements of corporate social capital that are critical. I believe the trend for large organisations to increasingly look to SME’s as their source of innovation is clear. SME’s need to position their business strategies to provide unique innovations to the larger corporations. They need to do this through the intellect and passion of their key staff. Promote their people, ideas  and their capabilities actively across the net to their target markets. But at the same time they must not overstretch their finances in achieving this. For large organisations, the biggest risk in engaging with SME’s is the fear that they may not be around for the long term.