Monday, February 23, 2009

McKinsey on Web 2.0 Success

For a long time I’ve worked with McKinsey consultants on a non-profit board. I admire their work and I admire the content of the McKinsey Quarterly. When I first started reading it, you

either had to be a customer or to know someone in order to get access to it. It has interested me to watch as they moved onto the web and gradually made more valuable content available there. I get their emails so I don’t miss anything.

Several days ago I got a newsletter and was immediately attracted to “Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work.” The article is a summary of what they’ve learned from numerous surveys of middle and top level managers who are finding their way into the Web 2.0 economy. They make six main points about how to make Web 2.0 initiatives work in your organization and, in the article itself, they give examples of each. They are worth reading. Here are the six rules for success:

1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.
3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used.

4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets.
5. The right solution comes from the right participants.

6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

Their focus is mostly on internal and B2B uses in this article, although the admonitions fit B2C environments as well. The B2B evolution from automation to collaboration is highlighted in this chart. The focus is on workflow and improving productivity, and that’s very important.

What’s also fun to watch is that McKinsey is following the advice it gives. The next day I got another email from McKinsey. It encouraged me to participate in their Web 2.0 initiatives. As I’ve often pointed out, Web 2.0 initiatives are not “build it and they will come.” They have to be nurtured and promoted, both of which take effort from employees.

They also understand the importance of using multiple channels and making their content visible. When you go to the site to read the article, notice a widget you can download to put McKinsey headlines onto your website or blog. That not only provides additional fresh content to your visitors, it allies you with a respected brand. What’s not to like?

Look again at the six success factors above. They are all management—not technological—factors. In fact, the article makes the point that Web 2.0 tools often represent “a relatively high overlay” in terms of technological investment.

This article represents yet another call for managers to encourage strategic Web 2.0 initiatives and to manage in ways that offer opportunities for success. Without management commitment, Web 2.0 initiatives are doomed to failure!

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