Emergineering!

June 18, 2010 | | Posted by Jordan Frank

Since introducing the idea of Social Process Reengineering? earlier this week I've socialized it virtually and personally (at E2.0 Boston) with at least a dozen customers, bloggers, analysts and other leading thinkers.

Consensus on the concept was generally positive with a variety of feedback ranging from the matter that the "facebook" approach doesn't just work in the enterprise to the matter that the social, structural and business pain have to be taken into account for successful E2.0 efforts.

Two real gems came out of conversations with John Tropea and Nick Gall.

John pointed me to a recent post, Bridging the Enterprise Gap for a new level of literacy, where he references a similar June 4th post by Rex Lee titled Beyond Serendipity for Enterprise 2.0. Rex says we need:

a shift from emergence to social engineering. Social engineering, not in the IT security sense, or Machiavellian sense, but as a means to better focus and harness intellectual capital for specific business purposes.

Serendipitous is the timing of our respective thoughts on social engineering!! Of greater importance is the message of course. His emphasis on a solution points to the engagement factors which include Motivation, Opportunity and Capability. I'll concur that grasping and addressing these factors and then casting them in context of a use case and E2.0 platform structure for supporting the use case are of cardinal importance for those of us looking to maximize success of a use case and achieve the 10x results needed for success.

Separately, I got in touch with Nick Gall (an enterprise architecture and design thinker at Gartner) after watching Introducing Hybrid Thinking where he opened by saying "all too often we are doing architecture to people rather than architecture for people." He comes back to his foundational point in the conclusion of his talk by showing the T-Shirt pictured here. I think its a brilliant reminder that the goal of IT is for human productivity, with a balance of consideration of standards, rather than the other way around. This sounds like E2.0 (doing architecture for people) vs. E1.0 (doing architecture to people). I reached out to Nick figuring he would be keen on concepts of a Social Architect or Social Process Engineer who may lay foundations where emergent work could achieve best returns. Turns out he prefers the metaphor of a Farmer or Gardener, but the semantic debate will take me too far into the weeds.

At E2.0 he swung by for a tour of TeamPage 5.0 and, in discussion of Social Process Reeingeering, he came up with (and even told me I could claim) a modification: Social Process Emergineering.

I liked it. I called another design thinker, Paula Thornton, to chew on this further and we resolved that the term Emergineering is inherently social (emergent) and inherently considerate of process (engineering).

So, Emergineering it is. Lets run with it.