In the third segment of this series, we’ll look at a case where by a team found success by focusing on the most pressing problems that they faced in engaging other teams, and how those efforts spiraled into a much wider effort to strategically leverage other teams and tools to increase transparency and share knowledge.
Starting small and scaling up
Starting small (not the same as a pilot) will lead to a quicker return, better narratives, more “evangelists”, as well as measurable value-add. While some of what you do is luck, you’ll be able to measure quite a lot because you have two controls: those who aren’t participating, and the way things were before. If your leadership is skeptical of Enterprise 2.0, this might be your best bet. But on to the story.
My team (a group of grant writers) was wasting a lot of time responding to requests from some of our colleagues (who were also writing grants) for information about different parts of the organization, fielding questions about data, and even passing information around on our own team. After trying several different systems – including the good old monthly conference call – we were willing to try some quite different. As I recount here, we built a wiki to share information and sample language with each other and some of the folks who also wrote grants or worked on external communications. We had no issue with buy-in because we all needed it and it saved us time. Clear value-add.
The curious thing, at least at the time, was that it caught on like wild-fire and that people were using it ways we hadn’t anticipated, like preparing notes for meetings with donors. The wiki had become the default source for up to date information about the organization almost overnight.
After a few months, we had an important decision to make: focus on the content and data or get ambitious (people liked what they saw and we were just beginning to see a lot of other potential). How did we make the choice? We asked lots of different teams what they were struggling with, nice and open ended. What we heard was a resounding “help us get better access to everything we need to know and do, from toolkits to org data to collaboration spaces.” We could have said no, we had other priorities (we did). Instead, encouraged by their enthusiasm at the content we had produced and the ease of the tool we made some internal team changes and set a target for killing our file folders.
We could have done a bulk upload to our Google Site. The search function alone would have been a great value. However, we knew that the real problem was that staff didn’t have access to the tools or information they needed to do their job really well and efficiently, and we were only going to fix that by improving the systems and the design of it all.
In the end, we’ve built a successful “intranet” using just Google apps (mainly Google Sites) that meets the direct needs of our team and that has the potential to keep growing as other features, like Google+, are introduced. For now, we don’t have a lot of the typical social features like micro blogs or profiles, but it already has tremendous value.
The lesson from this is two-fold: starting small can very quickly become a substantial project, so be prepared to grow and adapt. Second, when you really commit to listening to your colleagues, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to create a solution (notice I didn’t say tools) that will directly add value that you can measure.
Join us next time as we look at strategies and best practices for measuring the value of your work