Open Enterprise 2009: Venkatesh Rao, Xerox - InformationWeek
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4/20/2009
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Stowe Boyd
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Open Enterprise 2009: Venkatesh Rao, Xerox

I pinged Venkatesh Rao, a contributor here at the Enterprise 2.0 blog and a researcher at Xerox, after I had received several comments from other interviewees in the Open Enterprise 2009 study about his recent writings. A wonderful example of the "coincidensity" rising around the research study, where I am finding more and more fascinating people working in this area.I wanted to dig into some recent thoughts Venkatesh has offered here about culture and change in business (see There Is No Such Thing As Culture Change), and various related posts at his other blog, Ribbonfarm. Venkatesh and I had an interesting sojourn into the future of business:

  • Venkatesh argues that 'culture change is hard' may be an excuse for not pushing hard to get adoption to happen. "It's part of people playing the Impossible Problem Game." If you set up something as culture change, then everyone frames it as impossible, like boiling the ocean. You should look for a more 'Darwinian survival of the fittest' model, where various alternatives are envisioned as competing with each other.
  • In a similar vein, he discussed his view that 'social media' is actually quite different from other management disciplines that preceded it, like knowledge management. One factor is the generational differences involved, as when younger people join the company with deep social media experience. The technologies may look similar to earlier technologies, but they are very different in practice.
  • I love his thought that we need to move the discussion about Enterprise 2.0 to where there is some dissent.
  • Venkatesh agrees with me that 'knowledge management' is a dangerous metaphor, and leads people into a very static mindset. He says that we need to have a 'dialectic', which is another take on take on social. His discussion of how dissent can be too timid, and lead to groupthink, is very illuminating.
A tremendously helpful discussion for me, and I hope for others.

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