00:23 AM

SecondFloor: Charlene Li In Conversation With Broadvision CEO Pehong Chen

Here is Charlene Li, principal analyst and co-founder of the Altimeter Group talking about her background and social media within the context of business.

She is interviewed by Pehong Chen, the CEO of BroadVision, which offers a business collaboration service called Clearvale. The event was video recorded by a crew from Sina.com, the Chinese Internet giant, on the second floor of BroadVision HQ in Redwood City.

This interview kicks off the first in the "SecondFloor" series of interviews with key thought leaders. I'll be conducting some of the future interviews.

Here are some notes from the evening:

- Charlene Li spoke about her latest book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead.

-She spoke about her upbringing in Detroit as the daughter of parents from Taiwan and Hong Kong. She said she felt very much an outsider, living in the heart of a working class community of Polish, Irish and Italian. This outsider feeling has proved useful to her career in being able to gain insights into companies and trends.

- Charlene Li worked for many years as a reporter. She joined the San Jose Mercury in 1993 and went to Boston where she helped run local newspapers. She has been passionate about communities for 14 years.

-Pehong Chen has a large following in China for his video interviews with CEOs and key thought leaders. He asked questions about Ms. Li's book and about the importance of being "open."

- Charlene Li said having an open leadership requires a change in culture and it can be done slowly and it can start small. Create a "sandbox" and then gradually expand that sandbox to include more and more of an organization.

- She said management has to give up the concept of control. It's not anarchic, it takes discipline to not try to control everything. She gave the example of the US navy allowing 8 bloggers to visit the USS Nimitz and freely wander around talking to anyone. The Navy wasn't trying to control the bloggers and the service men, it knew that its personnel had the discipline and the training to say and do the right things.

- Charlene Li said that middle management is often the most resistant to change because they are squeezed in the middle and they have trouble with the loss of control.

- She spoke about Facebook and the privacy issues and that within a few years we won't have the same concerns, we will get used to the fact that we are tracked and the data is shared. We are only 5 years into the Facebook "era." Caller ID caused a huge privacy storm when it was introduced, yet today caller ID is seen as helping to protect our privacy and we don't pick up the phone if it is an unknown caller ID.

- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) now has a chance to live up to its name and be what it says it is "relationship management" rather than transaction tracking.

- Business is about people. B to B is really about B to P and P to B. There are lots of Ps.

- I asked if it is too late for some companies to change because they are vulnerable to what I call "new rules enterprises" new businesses unencumbered by legacy culture and legacy ways of doing business. These are faster moving, more agile organizations. Ms. Li said that businesses have 3 to 5 years to start changing their culture and way of doing business otherwise, yes, they will not survive, customers will flock to more open competitors.

- Mr. Chen said that in his experience, once people within an organization "get it" and the benefits of social media in enterprise 2.0, even a little, change happens quickly.

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Please see my recent interview with Pehong Chen:

Broadvision Reboots Its Business As A Collaborative Enterprise Platform