I’ll tell you a secret – I was a history major who thought my chosen path had as little to do with data as Jackson Pollock’s masterpieces did (although I do see some nice parabolas). As I changed directions my senior year and joined a group of incredible and passionate people to “teach for america” there was data everywhere. It wasn’t what I expected – little did I know I was walking into one of the most data-driven organizations I’ve ever heard of or worked with.
When you orient collaboration around more efficient and strategic action, you move from speaking the lingo of vague promises and neat technologies to the ultimate scorecard: business value metrics. It’s what separates Chatter from random social networks, and why vendors who layer a social layer over their existing tools to ‘fit in’ totally miss the point.
With a few key steps you can rise above the clutter.
One of the teams I work with recently asked a simple question that everyone involved with any collaborative effort should: “are people using the content we developed?” The ask implied not only a need to get it right, but a desire to make data-driven decisions about what to do if the answer was no.
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.
In the second part of this series, we’ll look at two more case studies that cast light on some lessons on adoption strategies and the mindsets behind what priorities teams should have when implementing and deploying 2.0 strategies.
Ben Lopatin’s response to this question on Quora was so spot on I wanted to share here:
Bottom line up front: Show the benefits and make it easy. External incentives might work to get traction (e.g. some award or ‘badge’) but the only sustainable incentives are those that are inherent to the process.
So first, focus on the problem for which the tools are to be employed. Most people don’t care about enterprise wikis, they care about being able to do their jobs, about finding the right information and the right people. Make sure you understand the process you’re trying to fix, improve, or even replace with your enterprise 2.0 tools. Replacement is key because it’s easy to take new tools and “improve” a process that’s inherently broken or unnecessary, with or without new tools.
Provide people with a working demonstration of an existing business process. You’ll have busy people and you’ll have technologically disinterested or just plain unsavvy people. Work up an example that makes it obvious how the new system works and where the benefit is. This should be a real working example, i.e. take a process in your business and actually change how it’s done using the new tools.
Especially in a large organization, you should actively help people figure out how their processes, tasks, etc, can be accomplished with the new tools. Sometimes this means rethinking tasks and entire processes. Oh, a dozen people are all contributing duplicate copies of a PowerPoint presentation to be updated for hours on end and then printed off to brief the admiral? Why not just collaborate in a central location on the content… hell, why not just brief from that location, and skip the PowerPoint wankery altogether? If you want to spread the idea of indoor plumbing you must go from village to village showing people how it can work for them, and helping with the initial implementation.
Get people up the ladder using the new tools. Grassroots efforts to use new tools can be successful, when they’re led by people who just want to use the tool. But if you want to achieve pan-organization adoption you need leadership to show that they’re using it, too. Unfortunately, in large organizations you often have to work to the tools and styles of management. When the VP is working from the shiny new enterprise 2.0 tool, so can – and will – everyone else (eventually).
Be careful about underestimating how easy the tools are for everyone. And not just the interfaces, but changes in underlying concepts. Even tech savvy users approach tools and systems using preconceived notions. If you’ve ever read anything by a developer complaining about the transition from Subversion to [name your DVCS] you’ll understand
These are not new concepts, but just simply described and plainly spoken. Thanks Ben!
Amit Kothari over at Dachis recently wrote a post sharing what the entire Enterprise 2.0 conference should have focused on. His summary is so well articulated I wanted to add it here:
People promoting social software internally are like entrepreneurs launching a product into a messy world. There’s no set paths that give you the best results. In time, as more organisations build a library of stories about how they became a Social Business, I look forward to tales that are rich with experimentation.
The process of people adopting internal social tools to constant use is the next frontier in Social Business. We don’t need to grab all the real-estate on the screen and take all the attention. We need to show it helps people get work done faster, better and easier. You will see this being reflected in an organic change to your business processes. Do this properly, and your company will endure.
His point about a pilot not being the right way to start is spot on, but I think more discussion on when it is appropriate would really help those looking to get started.