Today I sat on a panel having a conversation with a group of business people at The Cowen Group’s Leadership Breakfast (@TheCowenGroup). My fellow panel members were from a local utility (Edison), academia (Annenberg School, USC) and the litigation support department of a major law firm (Orrick Herrington). As the conversation unfolded, facilitated with skill by David Cowen, one thing became abundantly clear: The “future” is here and were up to our eyeballs managing it.
As business leaders it’s up to us to keep strategy clear and make the translation into actionable plans that return value to the enterprise. What I found refreshing was that the companies were in a variety of stages in the change management process but that their enthusiasm remained for the future direction. My key observations were:
There is still a gap in collaboration and communication between business, corporate IT and the legal / risk management folks. Policies can sometimes be written after an implementation that may no longer relate to the implemented technology. A dialog on intended results and behaviors needs to be had between these key groups on a regular basis as business needs and technologies evolve. Once is not enough. Who drives this process is as important as the process itself.
We don’t know how to manage new behavior. This isn’t about the technology but instead about our ability to hire & train the right people for our organizations that are a cultural fit. Each organization must define for itself, it’s industry and it’s region what is appropriate business behavior for enterprise social tools. A policy is not enough. Risk exists in the behavior of your employees not inherently in the technology itself. You can mitigate that risk by giving this constituency a voice in the process.
Workforce expectations have changed. Today smart, savvy knowledge workers expect enterprise technology to have a similar degree of flexibility as their personal tech. They are willing to make some sacrifices for security but ultimately trying to lock down everything will only drive your workforce to find ways around your system. The advent of BYOD (bring your own device) policies will continue to complicate this for corporate IT and the legal department.
This series of Leadership Breakfasts are a valuable way to spend a couple of hours. You can enjoy some real world conversations on complicated subjects with peers you might not otherwise meet. I’m happy to have been asked to participate and look forward to the next one set for July 31st. Follow the link to the series schedule to find one in your city.