"Control Doesn't Scale" Part II - Let Go to Grow

February 22, 2008 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

In yesterday's note Control Doesn't Scale, I talked about how Enterprise 2.0 relies on an Enterprise 2.0 architecture and approach in order to work more like the web. Reflecting on a speech by Andrew McAfee at FASTForward 08, Bill Ives puts the matter very nicely:

The irony of enterprise 2.0 is that you actually get more control because the free form nature of the tools allow the business people to decide on where structure occurs, not the people who make the software.Image

By giving up control of a system, you allow business people to build structure on an emergent basis rather than entirely pre-planning systems and, as a result, making them too rigid to be useable by knowledge workers.

Ives, like me, believes "total free form is not always what you want - often you need to start a wiki with some structure." As I note in the Yin and Yang of Enterprise 2.0 and Pros and Cons of Emergence, the right balance of initial structure and top-down encouragement are key to success.

Writing about the same speech, Sandy Kemsley captures this bullet point from McAfee:

Excellent gardeners exist to accelerate the emergence of structure, whether or not they contribute content.

So, in an uncontrolled wiki environment, where some users are born to tag and others not, its still important to provide some starting structure and to proactively build and manage that structure as the users of the sytem exert their own influence by publishing, editing and using (or not using) tags.

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