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February 24 2010 Posted by: Mark Fidelman in: Enterprise 2.0, Miscellany

The Machiavellian Guide to Enterprise 2.0

This is not a blue print for how to be a ruthless employee, rather some sound, in-your-face examples from the best of the Enterprise 2.0 crowd.   This article is for internal champions  who have aspirations of of getting ahead and making a name for themselves in their company.

Lessons from Machiavelli

In January 1503, Machiavelli began to work on a project influenced by Cesare Borgia.  Machiavelli was responsible for building a better military by studying the conditions of the current system.  He understood the disadvantages of the current system when they engaged condottiere and their mercenary troops (modern day consultants) with outdated military technology. 

He quickly realized that in order to have a best in class military, Florence needed to develop leaders and employ soldiers from the citizenry where the very threat of losing their homeland, farms and family were at stake.  He was now determined to furnish Florence with a modern, highly capable national militia that worked together with common interests (continued below).

What Would Machiavelli Do?

I am choosing to expose you to the more Machiavellian posts from my friends and fellow bloggers.  They don’t make apologies, they simply tell it like it is.  Perfect for the Internal Champion with a steel spine and persistent resolve. (in no particular order)

1. Enterprise 2.0: Skip the Pilot: Idinopulos’s view is that size matters and that pilots do very little to prove value. 

2. Enterprise 2.0: What do we know today about moving our organizations into the 21st century? Hinchcliffe describes that “in general we’re seeing more social computing being run by the groups responsible for collaboration, knowledge management, line-of-business, and corporate communication and less with IT, human resources, and other support units.” A good trend to understand and follow.

3. Adoption Can’t Be Driven: “If you have to ‘drive adoption’ you’ve failed at 2.0 design and implementation"  Paula Thornton explains why adaptation is the better approach. 

4. IT failure? Blame your CEO. Krigsman highlights some very true issues in the executive suite.  Most CEO’s are not invested in IT they way they need to be.  It’s your job to get them engaged for successful enterprise deployments. 

5. Enterprise 2.0 Chalk Talk Scrupski’s coaching advice for internal champions is spot on.  

6. Doing It Wrong; Tim Bray’s excellent and thought provoking article on iterative product development and agile development is a must read for all internal champions.  He gives some sage advice hidden in an Enterprise 1.0 rant. 

7. Enterprise 2.0: Culture Is as Culture Does: Hutch Carpenter explains why you may need to force the corporate culture to embrace new technology.  Not through mandate, but through a series of incentives and use cases.

image 8. Enterprise 2.0: Totally Unacceptable Howlett writes that “content without context in process is meaningless”.  Maybe not meaningless, but important to understand before risking your political capital on an E2.0 initiative.  It’s a worthy read. 

9. Machiavelli, Cheers and the Lukewarm Effect “He who introduces it (a new idea or scheme) has all those who profit from the old order as his enemies; and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new.”  – Machiavelli.  Oliver Marks compares two approaches to selling Enterprise 2.0 internally.  

10. The Secret of Enterprise 2.0 Implementation Success (alert! shameless plug):  My own Machiavellian view on the subject.  In short, set expectations low, then over deliver. 

Machiavelli Builds a New Military

For three years Machiavelli labored on his new military plan until finally the signoria and a special ministry (nove di ordinanza e militia) approved his plan on December 6, 1506.  Machiavelli was immediately promoted to be their Military Secretary.  The country districts of Florence were divided into departments and organized to communicate and share intelligence. 

The unification of Italy with a national army was his dream.  That dream was never realized in his lifetime but some say his influence on the matter was significant. 

In Summary

It’s important to understand that his ideas have been misunderstood and his name misappropriated. Yet Machiavelli was color blind to morality then and now.  While we may reject some of his ethics,  there’s no question that some of his str
ategies and ideas are sound. 

What’s your experience been?  Does a Machiavellian approach work? 

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