Tuesday, 26 June 2007

McAfee v Davenport

In Andrew McAfee's recent post he links to a video of his debate with Tom Davenport. If you have half an hour to spare, it's worth a watch, provided you're not hoping for blood on the carpet. Both men are measured and rational in their analysis of what Enterprise 2.0 is and where it might be headed. They agree about a lot: the tools are not individually especially new, but the combination of them probably is; their adoption by corporations may perhaps not prove to be transformational; the outcome is hard to predict; the ROI is tricky to quantify. Even their points of disagreement were more matters of degree than they were a dichotomy: how much potential there is in the concept of emergence; how significant corporate culture is as compared to the tools; how much value there is in the 'wisdom of the crowds'.

So perhaps this was not quite the 'big fight' that some billed it as. On the other hand, the wide areas of apparent agreement conceal what I think is a strong difference in view on a key issue: the nature of corporations and, indeed, human nature. Tom Davenport has a somewhat cynical, or at least sceptical view to Andrew McAfee's slightly utopian one, when it comes to the possibility of hearing the voice of the grass roots in organisations.

So who is right? I don't think there is a simple answer. Personally I do agree with Tom Davenport that the cultural barriers to widespread blogging and wikiing are very high in many organisations. But I also think the potential that resides in combining a number of tools for uncovering know-what and know-how is greater than Tom Davenport says he thinks it is.

What do you think?


Michael said...

Hi Simon,

Your recent post link is broken.


Simon Carswell said...


Thank you for pointing that out. I've fixed it now, I hope.