Can E2.0 Overcome Human Nature

Last night, somewhere in the second quarter of the Steelers-Bengals game, I asked a rather loaded question on Twitter: “Does anyone actually believe that e2.0 can overcome human nature?”

I forget the specific thing that triggered me to ask the question, but I do know that I get tired (quickly) of the “it’s all about culture” answer in regards to what brings success in e2.0 projects.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it *maybe* that it is truly “all about culture” — but what frustrates me is A) the complete lack of specificity that usually accompanies that comment and B) the underlying assumptions about human nature (more B than A)…

Last night, somewhere in the second quarter of the Steelers-Bengals game, I asked a rather loaded question on Twitter:

“Does anyone actually believe that e2.0 can overcome human nature?”

I forget the specific thing that triggered me to ask the question, but I do know that I get tired (quickly) of the “it’s all about culture” answer in regards to what brings success in e2.0 projects.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it *may be* that it is truly “all about culture” — but what frustrates me are A) the complete lack of specificity that usually accompanies that comment and B) the underlying assumptions about human nature (more B than A).

You see, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about “culture” — heck, our whole first morning of Defrag is essentially devoted to it — it’s just that I want to begin by talking about the assumptions that underlie what we mean when we say “culture.”

And those assumptions are driven largely by our (individual and collective) view of human nature. For example:

Q: Are humans naturally sharing and good, seeking to benefit those around them? A: Have you ever put one desired toy in a room with 2 two year olds?

Q: Okay, are humans naturally bad, self-interested beings? A: Have you ever seen a person sacrifice themselves for someone they barely know?

My point is that 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.

Are we stuck, then, in our efforts to deploy things like this in the enterprise? Of course not. We have to deploy –even if we can’t solve the answer to “human nature.” But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set aside time to consider the hard questions, to push back against the assumptions, and to sweep aside the easy pop-culture philosophy of modern western civilization.

This is sticky stuff that deserves real thought in a setting that is filled with concerned, intelligent, thought-provoking antagonists.

Wait – I think I just described Defrag.

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