The Dynamic Networked Organization: Evolution of the Next Generation Collaborative Enterprise
I wrote previously about the Next Generation Collaborative Enterprise (NGCE) and received a lot of insightful input from many of you. It is exciting to see so much interest and I would like to thank all of you for the great feedback. I would like to now build on the concepts we talked about earlier and share an evolution of those initial ideas.
In this post I am introducing the term that John Chambers has coined, the “Dynamic Networked Organization.” John often talks about how Cisco’s unique structure, built around the principles of collaboration, has helped us recover faster from the recent economic crisis compared to some of our peers in the industry. We believe that the “Dynamic Networked Organization” model helps large enterprises balance operational discipline with broad innovation. I will also share some ideas on how organizations progress toward this future and highlight some practical examples of industry leaders who are successfully making this transformation.
While the concept of a network-centric organization has been well-documented, what takes the model to a new level today are the capabilities enabled by social media applications and intelligent networks. At its core, the Dynamic Networked Organization is the collaborative model for business transformation.
Most organizations, regardless of size or industry, appear to go through three distinct phases as they evolve to become a true DNO. Let’s call this the “collaboration evolution curve.”
The first phase is investigative, in which early adopters (meaning early users) of collaborative or social media technologies are typically addressing a specific pain point with a stand-alone application. In this phase the focus is often on improving individual productivity through better interactions.
Next comes the performance phase. This is where the organization begins to extend collaboration methodically to their business processes. New stand-alone collaborative technologies or applications are combined into solutions and then applied to existing processes and workflows to drive group productivity.
Finally, during the transformation phase, organizations achieve more significant results in the form of high-impact business improvements. At this stage, the combination of a collaborative culture, technology solutions, and new business processes and models has the effect of fundamentally transforming how an organization delivers its products and/or services. There are four key benefits that a Dynamic Networked Organization achieves, namely: speed, scale, flexibility and replication.
Of course, these three phases I just outlined are not quite so distinct and scientific as they appear on paper. Culture and technology transformation on a global basis is never that simple, as you know. Even within a given enterprise, certain groups may be exploring phase one while the rest have progressed to phase two or three. And that’s okay because efforts in the earlier phases contribute to later phases. The opportunities are very significant in the performance and transformation phases – but so is the need to focus on the culture and process to cross the “collaboration chasm” and ensure success.
So how do I know all this? What is this model based on?
Cisco launched a Collaboration Consortium in 2008, with 18 participating members to share experiences and best practices about collaboration. The intent with this initiative is to develop a reference model for enabling business value through collaboration. Over the past two years we have documented our learnings. If you are interested in the details, check out “Making Collaboration a Reality: Insights from the Collaboration Consortium, Year One”. This is publicly available for download on the Cisco Collaboration Community site. There are several vignettes that show how members use collaboration to achieve value.
I want to highlight just three examples here:
- The government of Canada (Treasury Board Secretariat and Canada School of Public Service) is promoting knowledge-sharing by experts across traditionally independent government organizations through wikis and communities of practice. Both projects started small as proofs of concept in the investigative phase. The Canadian government then scaled these initiatives by broadening support services, infrastructure, and other core framework components. The result was two very successful country-wide programs delivered in both English and French, including full compliance with a complex matrix of regulations and laws. Both initiatives are now moving into the performance phase.
- Statoil, a global energy company, used collaboration within their Integrated Operations (IO) program to radically transform drilling operations in the North Sea. The program used a cultivation approach to redesign workflows and business practices. It created virtual rooms between the onshore/offshore experts and management teams, which led to better synchronization and empowered the teams to jointly manage the activities of the platform. The Statoil results are measureable and impressive.
- Were you waiting for me to mention Cisco? No, you weren’t? Oh come on : ). One thing we’ve done is apply collaborative solutions to our sales processes so people with expertise in key areas can be available worldwide on a 24/7 basis. In a company with over 68,000 employees, anyone can quickly identify a subject matter expert (SME) and get that person in front of customers and partners via video. An hour later that same SME might meet with customers in Buenos Aires or Bahrain. This solution has delivered benefits ranging from increased sales margins to improved customer satisfaction and employee morale.
So far, it appears that it doesn’t matter if you provide public services to a nation, or operate within the private sector — the results are consistent. Collaboration is an evolutionary process, value accrues steadily from one phase to the next, and the benefits at the transformation stage are significant.
I hope this pragmatic approach and these examples are useful to you. Let me know if you or your organization has embarked on this journey to become a Dynamic Networked Organization. Love to hear where you are on this evolutionary curve.