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Organizations Must Get Out of Their Comfort Zones

John Hagel III and John Seely Brown at Net:Work 2010Collaboration tools are reshaping organizations, John Hagel III and John Seely Brown of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge told attendees at GigaOM’s Net:Work conference in San Francisco. The edges of an enterprise — as opposed to its core — now have access to the power tools.

One collaboration tool on the edges of an organization and returning huge benefits to the core was SAP’s Netweaver, originally released in 2004 and developed as a trivial part of the business. Hagel recounted how it was used as an opportunity to create an online network to attract third-party software developers. Nearly 2 million software developers are now developing on the platform; it’s a huge productivity driver, and many of SAP’s own engineers are now using it.

Organizations need to get out of their comfort zones, Seely Brown said. Routines lock organizations into certain ways of doing things, whereas businesses should be investing their time in developing new skills. One key way that organizations will need to change is in talent development, because in recent years, Hagel said, the half-life of skills has reduced markedly. One example Hagel gave of a company doing a great job of nurturing passion throughout the organization is Toyota, where everyone — from the company’s core to the employees working on the line — is encouraged to be passionate about their work.

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