I wrote this more than a year ago but refrained from publishing it because the person behind the post just wasn’t comfortable with it at the time. I would like to have been able to dismiss this as being outdated today but unfortunately it’s as relevant now as it was then.
I had lunch with an old friend and colleague yesterday; I’ll call him Fred. Fred is a digital native (I love that term). He is also one of the smartest people I know. Fred is about to start his third job in four months not because he wants to but because he just doesn’t seem to fit in. The problem with Fred is that he makes most digital immigrants (like me) feel very uncomfortable with his ideas and with the way he expresses them. So we choose to marginalize him because he won’t understand and/or respect the prevailing protocol. However, sometime in the next ten years most companies will be run by digital natives like Fred and will be forced to deal with his “outrageous” ideas. Talking to Fred over lunch simply confirmed for me that Enterprise 2.0 is not a question of “IF” but “WHEN”.
Yes, the move to E2.0 is going to be disruptive. Yes, it’s going to make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. But since it’s inevitable, taking steps to understand and embrace it now may just give you an edge over those who are reluctant to venture out of their comfort zone. So if you’re seriously thinking of making changes to your Organizational DNA, why don’t you find the Fred in your organization (every company has at least one) and ask him what he thinks. You probably won’t like his answer but you should, at the very least, take the time to listen. Oh, and Fred, when the immigrants do come calling, please don’t automatically assume that you’re smarter than them. You’re not; you’re just trying to find a common language.
Since I always seem to find parallels with jazz, let me end with this (longish) quote from Pat Metheney’s keynote address at the 2001 IAJE convention;
“… I understand, and I agree completely that the teaching of the fundamentals of the music is central and essential.
But, just as one example, let’s say one day next semester you might look up, and there may be a kid that is hanging off to the side who would love to participate somehow. And say in this case he may even have a beat-box or a microphone or a turntable or a computer, or who knows what else under his arm. And he is curious. Maybe … go ahead and invite him in. Jam with him. Have one of the kids write or make up some kind of a piece to do with him. To some, this may seem like the worst kind of anti-jazz, even, god forbid, “fusion”!! Or they might see it as an encounter that, while maybe being fun, could never result in “REAL” jazz at all.
But to me, it would be EXACTLY that kind of gesture — a gesture of inclusion and curiosity and communication and HOPE — that IS the spiritual engine of jazz. It is THAT spirit that has kept jazz’s momentum going forward so successfully for all these years, in spite of whatever cultural blockades have been erected along the way.”