They had previously written another article on the topic which we covered in this blog. I always find these articles particularly useful, not because they uncover some hidden truth, but because they provide powerful arguments to convince senior management that ‘it is ok’ to go down a more adventurous route because McKinsey is saying so (and so are other big companies they are quoting).
The name of the article is a bit confusing as less and less people feel brave enough to use the word ‘Web 2.0’ as it has been so overused it has stopped meaning a great deal. Social media seems to be the new term in vogue. However it is better to say what it actually means, which is a collection of minor web tools such as blogs, wikis, rss feeds and numerous other ones that can be integrated into a campaign and are generally associated with online communities.
Other than that, the key learnings from the article (the so-called ‘Six ways’ to make Web 2.0 work) are the following:
1) Transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top. In a nutshell don’t count of these projects to happen exclusively through grassroot movements. Agreed and reasonably obvious to anyone who has been involved in such projects.
2) The best uses come from users – but they require help to scale. The idea of creating a communication or development approach that will evolve with user input is very correct and leads to the ‘permanent beta’ approach in which a project is never finished but is constantly evolving feeding on user input.
3) What’s in the workflow is what gets used. The point made here is that the tools need to fit ‘easily’ within the existing workflow of the users or add value to an existing one.
4) Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs – not just their wallets. I would stress needs and desires first, as it is often the simple desire to communicate and learn about each other that make these initiatives work and very rarely some sort of cash incentive (which can help with short term marketing campaigns but never achieves real community building).
5) The right solution comes from the right participants. Again it links to the importance of ‘user adoption’ – people need to find a relevant use for the technology being introduced. But then again, we hope that management or whoever introduced the technology, has put some thoughts into the purpose of the new technology before it started the roll-out and isn’t trying to find out what needs might be answered by the technology after the technology has been chosen.
6) Balance the top-down and self-management of risk. In this point they raise the issue of legal and HR fears created in large companies by these initiatives. It is a big obstacle but it is large a conceptual one as in practice very few companies find problems they cannot deal with using common sense (don’t post confidential stuff and don’t insult people).
So no great break-through insights but a useful summary of some critical thoughts that need to go into this kind of project. I would however urge leaders to think about web 2.0 and web 1.0 as part of the same whole and not to think of them as distinct. Web 2.0 is simply an evolution of web technology and shows how certain tools can be taking further and gain more ‘user engagement’ through innovative use of different channels and tools – but it is part of one strategy, and should be driven by a clear and integrated business strategy.