A Curious Penguin’s Guide to Enterprise 2.0

Two hundred and sixty-eight emperor penguins live together in a colony in Antartica.  On an iceberg.  Of them all, only Fred was curious and observant enough to discover a potentially devastating problem threatening their home – and pretty much no one listens to him. It’s a problem shared by businesses today, whether we have realized it yet or not.

Fred, the curious penguin: “Our iceberg is melting”

Many businesses are on equally thin ice when it comes to recognizing the opportunities and challenges brought by Enterprise 2.0 – evolving social software tools, social collaboration, and embracing the changing attitudes and behavior needed to achieve greater success in using them.  Or more to the point, they take the competitive risk of not at least evaluating Enterprise 2.0, and increase their chances of sinking to the bottom of a black, icy sea, while more adaptable competitors swim to dry land.

Like Fred, the ‘Enterprise 2.0’ evangelists in these businesses can find it difficult to make themselves heard.  Many of them are gathering in Frankfurt next week for the Enterprise 2.0 Summit to hear each others’ tips for success and share experience.  OnPR is a sponsor of the Summit, designed to put businesses on the right track to creating an agile enterprise, and I’ll be there too and look forward to some conversations about the essential role of communications in achieving this.

Ask any good consultant for a view on something, and they will often pull a book out of their bag. My book recommendation in this instance is Harvard Business School author John P. Kotter’s Leading Change, which sets out an effective eight step process for successful change.  Luckily for consultants everywhere, this is often where businesses appreciate their experience and functional knowledge to help their clients to translate such a useful methodology into practical action!


Leading Change: The Eight Step Process of Successful Change

Set the Stage

1.        Create a Sense of Urgency.

Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.

2.        Pull Together the Guiding Team.

Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change – one with leadership skills, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills, and a sense of urgency.

Decide What to Do

3.        Develop the Change Vision and Strategy.

Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.

Make it Happen

4.        Communicate for Understanding and Buy In.

Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.

5.        Empower Others to Act.

Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.

6.        Produce Short-Term Wins

Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.

7.        Don’t Stop

Press harder and faster after the first successes.  Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is reality.

Make it Stick

8.        Create a New Culture.

Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become strong enough to replace old traditions.


The role of Thinking and Feeling

Thinking differently can help change behavior and lead to better results.

  • Collect data, analyze it.
  • Present the information logically to change people’s thinking.
  • Changed thinking, in turn, can change behavior.

Feeling differently can change behavior MORE and lead to even better results.

  • Create surprising, compelling, and, if possible, visual experiences.
  • The experiences change how people feel about a situation.
  • A change in feelings can lead to a significant change in behavior.


… And That’s Where the Penguins Come into It

It’s this latter point, paying attention to the impact that people’s feelings have on leading change, and in fact communications activities designed to result in change, that the penguins teach us about. A second book, by Kotter and Rathgeber, tells their story in an accessible and sharable fable: Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions.

If you are trying to introduce Enterprise 2.0 changes to your organization, I recommend sharing some copies of this quick-to-read story with your wider team.  And naturally, OnPR would be happy to support your communications efforts!

Ronna Porter, OnPR Munich

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