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Human nature's effect on E2.0

We've talked on our blog about how we view organizational culture as one of the key ingredients of Enterprise 2.0 adoption. A culture of knowledge sharing is crucial to spreading E2.0 across an organization, and, as a result, addressing pain points surrounding productivity and collaboration.

We also believe another key component is having the right social technology to support knowledge sharing. It needs to be customizable so organizations can tailor it to meet their business objectives.

But what other factors could be important? Eric Norlin brings human nature into the mix in this recent post on the Defrag Blog. He argues that if we're going to have a discussion about culture, we must have a discussion about human nature.

He writes, "... any discussion of 'human nature' is so nuanced, so philosophical entangling, so old as the hills that philosophers have been debating it for (literally) thousands of years -- that it’s just silly for us to step in, make a bunch of easy assumptions about human nature and then move on to solving 'the culture problem.' You can’t talk about 'sharing' or 'collaboration' or 'incentives' in an enterprise setting without running into this thicket of nasty presuppositions."

I take this to mean that we cannot assume everyone naturally wants to share their knowledge and collaborate. Human nature is complex. And so Eric asks, "Can E2.0 overcome human nature?"

But I don't know whether that's the right question. Can you overcome Mother Nature? Temporarily, maybe. But probably not in the long run. A better approach might be, "Can E2.0 and human nature coexist?"

Any time we try and bulldoze Mother Nature we eventually, and inevitably, suffer the consequences (global warming, polluted rivers and oceans, adverse health effects, etc.). Likewise, trying to bulldoze human nature with E2.0 will also eventually, and inevitably, cause less than desired side effects.

Humans are naturally sharing and good, seeking to benefit those around them. However, those same humans can also be self-interested, egotistical, and arrogant. Therein lies the challenge. E2.0 can help draw out the good, but it must also be able to handle the bad. That's where an understanding of your own culture, people, and management is crucial to achieving E2.0 harmony.

What are your thoughts?

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