Social Business Forum 2011: Keith Swenson keynote speech on the Quantum Enterprise

Keith Swenson keynote speech at the Social Business Forum2011 on the Quantum Enterprise

Today I attended the Social Business Forum 2011 in Milan. It was a great event, with a huge line of speakers and events. The audience was huge (1200+ people I think), so big praise to Open Knowledge for the organization.
If you want to grasp the level of social interaction, just look on twitter to the #sbf11 tweetflow. You could barely follow it in realtime.
I have no time to go through the entire stack of sessions, but I wish at least to report here on the keynote speeches at the Social Business Forum. Great speeches from Dell, Oracle, and Fujitsu VPs actually.
Among the many things going on, the Social BPM book was launched at the event, sponsored by WebRatio and the event itself (during Keith Swenson speech at the end of the day). That’s why I’m focusing especially on Keith’s speech. Some hints on the other speeches are reported too.
Keith Swenson speech (Fujitsu): the Quantum Enterprise

The discussion basically start from this simple question: Why do we think that we should have simple processes?
Chaos and turbulence are there, both at the macroscopic physical level (thus challenging the Newtonian thinking) and at the atomic level (Quantum thinking). Why shouldn’t they be there within an organization made up of complex human beings interacting?
Repeatability and mass production at the office place work well until you stay at the level of routine work. However, this level is being more and more automated and thus eliminated. We have now a much larger percentage of work which can be defined “knowledge work”.
What distinguishes a knowledge worker is the way to apply their knowledge by figuring out what they need to do based on the intelligence and knowledge. This spans from university professors, to paramedics, rescue and firefighting crews, police detectives, judges, and so on. They follow up clues and they have no way of predicting and modeling in advance what to do.
The thing is: 40% of workers today are knowledge workers and this percentage is going to increase.
While a good model for the enterprise for routine workers is a machine, a good model for knowledge workers is an ecosystem, ie. a place with several parts that are self-organizing and self-regenerating.
Thus, the paradigm is moving from a Newtonian model (external observability, smoothness, simple rules, predictability) towards a Quantum model (limited precision, turbulence, relationship-based, unpredictability).
This also implies a move from push to pull models in the organization. The push model assumes centralized choices, passive consumers. The pull model instead bases on loosely coupled and modular systems.
So, enterprises should be careful of not to oversimplify. The value today must be on promoting the culture of sharing knowledge and decentralizing.
We are on the verge of this change, and enterprises must be able to master this transition. Here is the link to Keith’s presentation:

Bill Johnston speech (Dell): Paving the Way to Social Business

On this, you can directly look at the slides that the author put on SlideShare:

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4 thoughts on “Social Business Forum 2011: Keith Swenson keynote speech on the Quantum Enterprise

  1. Many well written topics are here and in time I'm sure the world shall come to see them all. I for one do see the better side of the coming of all that the people of earth will achieve in time. This will in no small part be due to your vast inputs of truly high intelligent thoughts. Keep bolgging away and don't stop for nothing. The universe shall open to you and all in which you articulate each day.When the things of your dreams do come to us,so shall they come to you.What does it all mean?For one it means people like you must keep thinking for the poor souls who have given up on thinking-because without true deep thinking people hunanity will be lost. How many people shall see your words and pictures and be touched by its vast goodness and smarts?In time the worlds we don't see now shall open to all,and the glory of their lights will bring a burning fire of more hope to all.Excellent blogs like yours are the things of magic a man with an open mind is worth more stars than the eye can see.We see all of your works, and they truly bring us insight for that which we could need someday write the RIGHT STUFF-thank you Eisengon sci fi.

  2. Very nice speech of Keith Swenson. That is so true – there are more and more knowledge workers appearing. And we really need them – businesses are great in number, but not all of them are successful ones. The reason is that they are not creative enough.

  3. Yes, I agree.. and the real challenge would be to provide systems that not only support but actually boost such creativity, by allowing cross-fertilization, expertise exchange, and so on.
    That's why I like the potentials that Social BPM is promising.

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