Walls and bridges: even more on Facebookisation

Whatever gets you through the night it’s alright, it’s alright
It’s your money or your life it’s alright, it’s alright
Don’t need a sword to cut thru flowers oh no, oh no
Whatever gets you thru your life it’s alright, it’s alright
Do it wrong or do it right it’s alright, it’s alright
Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no

John Lennon, Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, Walls And Bridges, 1974

Note: The song was Lennon’s first and only US solo number 1 during his lifetime. (Just Like) Starting Over, the only other Lennon single to make it, didn’t actually make number 1 until after his untimely death.

Do you remember the “high street” banks of the UK in the Sixties or Seventies or Eighties? What wonderfully decrepit institutions. A place where 85% of the space was devoted to “admin”; where customers didn’t exist, only account numbers; where the plysical manifestations of these account numbers, the human beings, were sardine-smashed into the remaining 15%; where staff took lunch breaks to make sure queues were at their highest at the only times customers could come in; where bank managers ruled, and considered it an insult if you actually came in to withdraw some money.

Do you remember?

The key thing that struck me during that time was the enormous amount of space given over to the internal workings of the firm, and the tiny area allowed for the customer.  A tiny area that was usually not air-conditioned, smelled of damp and dank, looked like a check-in queue for prison.

You know something? We still have them now. In most firms. They’re called e-mail systems. [Stowe Boyd, come in, I can hear you calling. Time to tell everyone about your Publicy, Privacy, Secrecy. And your love for e-mail :-) ]

Think of e-mail within a firm as a physical space consisting of 100 square units of “stuff”. Then divide that stuff into two parts. Stuff that stays within the firm. Stuff that goes out of the firm, or comes in to the firm: stuff that crosses the firm’s boundaries. And think of these two kinds of stuff as represented in a ratio.

In many firms, “internal” stuff far outweighs “boundary wall crossing” stuff. Check for yourself. In my experience the ratio is close to 9:1. Ninety per cent of e-mail is generated by the firm and never leaves the firm.

Note: I did not count external spam in this measure. Spam is not mail.

Think about it. The majority of collaborative conversations taking place in an enterprise mail world do not involve the customer. Words fail me. Well actually some words come to me. Words like “unbelievable” and “circle” and “jerk”, but then I’m too polite to string those words into a coherent sentence.

Why do I spend an entire post on this point? Because it is really important. Facebook is facebook because it is multitenant. Multientity. Not to do with a single person or home or firm.

Whatever we do in the enterprise, we need to ensure that the walls of the enterprise do not keep customers out. Think Cluetrain.

Collaborative systems are still evolving, people with collaborative instincts are still evolving. Whatever we do, we must ensure that the model of collaboration we build is a holistic one, one that encompasses staff, customers and supply chain.

Building a walled garden in your own enterprise is the equivalent of taking your computer and burying it in six feet of concrete. [On the other hand, since that is precisely what so many firms are wont to do, perhaps I should not be surprised].

10 thoughts on “Walls and bridges: even more on Facebookisation”

  1. I’ve suggested “glasnost” to Stowe Boyd as an improvement on the ugly “publicy”. I’m afraid “publicy” reminds me of that awful Americanism “normalcy”. I’m not against innovation in language but I’m certainly against reinventing the wheel.

    And we shouldn’t forget the lessons of history.

  2. This is the kinda thing @dnwallace and I were trying to convey in our twitter responses to your Jan 2 post. Sure, we may be perfectionists in an imperfect world, but preserving the value of my network connections as I move between enterprises and through life is what wholistic collaboration is all about.

    Good stuff.

    p.s. One day I must annoy you with my ‘nit picking’ thoughts on the architectural significance of ‘keeping just the secrets secret’ (or put your jewelry, not the whole office, in the safe).

    Take care – @fang

  3. Hey Fang, agree completely. Never said everything needs to be encrypted. Just that encryption needs to be supported at the device.

  4. Leaving aside the ratio will depend on a) how big your company is and b) how much of your role is internally facing vs externally facing (I’m all for all members of staff being a “salesperson”, but the public don’t really need to know about holiday forms or project management timelines or their being a cake by the kitchen)…

    Is it really so bad that the majority of communications remain internal? I’m a firm believer of working in beta, but that doesn’t mean I want to send my initial designs or alpha version to potential customers or competitors

  5. Hi JP,

    Hope you are doing fine.

    Is’nt thiswhat CRM are meant for. It’s the channels and tools that they use to interact which needs to keep changing with facebbookisation.

    The media is changing, instead of leaflets and catalogues, it’s twitter today !!

    I am trying to think if it is possible for any company design a product/service with active particpation of customers using facebook. How do you keep the competitors away..

  6. You have the heart of a startup guy. Have I made this point before?

    From moving to banks to emails, that was a dramatic twist, made for a powerful metaphor. Email: ripe for some major innovation.

Let me know what you think

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