Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Social Business Forum 2011: Keith Swenson keynote speech on the Quantum Enterprise

Keith Swenson keynote speech at the Social Business Forum2011 on the Quantum Enterprise
Today I attended the Social Business Forum 2011 in Milan. It was a great event, with a huge line of speakers and events. The audience was huge (1200+ people I think), so big praise to Open Knowledge for the organization.
If you want to grasp the level of social interaction, just look on twitter to the #sbf11 tweetflow. You could barely follow it in realtime.
I have no time to go through the entire stack of sessions, but I wish at least to report here on the keynote speeches at the Social Business Forum. Great speeches from Dell, Oracle, and Fujitsu VPs actually.
Among the many things going on, the Social BPM book was launched at the event, sponsored by WebRatio and the event itself (during Keith Swenson speech at the end of the day). That's why I'm focusing especially on Keith's speech. Some hints on the other speeches are reported too.

Keith Swenson speech (Fujitsu): the Quantum Enterprise

The discussion basically start from this simple question: Why do we think that we should have simple processes?
Chaos and turbulence are there, both at the macroscopic physical level (thus challenging the Newtonian thinking) and at the atomic level (Quantum thinking). Why shouldn’t they be there within an organization made up of complex human beings interacting?
Repeatability and mass production at the office place work well until you stay at the level of routine work. However, this level is being more and more automated and thus eliminated. We have now a much larger percentage of work which can be defined “knowledge work”.
What distinguishes a knowledge worker is the way to apply their knowledge by figuring out what they need to do based on the intelligence and knowledge. This spans from university professors, to paramedics, rescue and firefighting crews, police detectives, judges, and so on. They follow up clues and they have no way of predicting and modeling in advance what to do.
The thing is: 40% of workers today are knowledge workers and this percentage is going to increase.
While a good model for the enterprise for routine workers is a machine, a good model for knowledge workers is an ecosystem, ie. a place with several parts that are self-organizing and self-regenerating.
Thus, the paradigm is moving from a Newtonian model (external observability, smoothness, simple rules, predictability) towards a Quantum model (limited precision, turbulence, relationship-based, unpredictability).
This also implies a move from push to pull models in the organization. The push model assumes centralized choices, passive consumers. The pull model instead bases on loosely coupled and modular systems.
So, enterprises should be careful of not to oversimplify. The value today must be on promoting the culture of sharing knowledge and decentralizing.
We are on the verge of this change, and enterprises must be able to master this transition. Here is the link to Keith's presentation:

Bill Johnston speech (Dell): Paving the Way to Social Business
On this, you can directly look at the slides that the author put on SlideShare:

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