There’s Only One Way to Settle This

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is coming up next week in my adopted hometown of Boston. I’ll be giving a keynote speech on Tuesday, June 19 at 9:05, after which I plan to stop talking and start learning. Registration is still open, so please attend if you’re interested in the tools and approaches of Enterprise 2.0.

Before my keynote, however, there’s one other important piece of business to take care of. Tom Davenport and I are going to figure out whether we actually do disagree about the importance and likely progression of Enterprise 2.0. And we’re going to do so in an open forum.

Tom and I have gone back and forth on this a couple times (Tom then me last fall, then Tom then me this spring), but these point-counterpoints were written, sequential, and uncoordinated. Susan Scrupski and her employer BSG had the bright idea to stage an actual debate, and to hold it in Boston during the conference when interest will naturally be high. Conference organizers Steve Wylie and CMP graciously agreed to let us hold the event at the actual conference site (The Westin Boston Waterfront), and to open it to anyone who’s interested, whether or not they’ve registered for the conference.

So on Monday the 19th at 10 am in the Westin, Tom and I are going to go podium-to-podium for 45 minutes. The debate will be moderated by ZDNET’s Dan Farber, who’s fantastic at this kind of thing. My understanding is that Dan’s going to ask us questions for the first 20-25 minutes, then open it up to the audience. I also understand that the debate will be webcast and recorded. Watch Susan’s blog for details. I know very little about the debate beyond what I’ve written here, and Tom and I have not spoken about it at all, which seems exactly right to me. This will be a lot more fun, and more informative, if it’s as freeform and emergent as Enterprise 2.0 itself.

Those expecting a bare-knuckle brawl, or even an event full of thinly disguised scorn and Truman Capote-style barbs, are going to be disappointed. As I’ve said before (and I wasn’t just trying to be polite), I actually agree with what most of what Tom has written on the topic, particularly his points about how hard it’ll be to introduce egalitarian and boundaryless technologies in hierarchical and siloed companies. I’m eager to hear more from him, and to see if where our real disagreements, if any, lie.

Tom is a great colleague and a gentleman, so if and when I lob an insult at him it’ll all be in jest (okay, Tom?). To butcher one of Muhammed Ali’s great lines, "We gonna get it on, even though we get along!"