Reconciling the Conflicting Priorities of Your Enterprise Social Network

Competing Values

Social business is maturing and becoming part of the mainstream tool belt of many companies, yet success is still elusive for many. A recent article in PC World titled Many employees won’t mingle with enterprise social software states that the lure of an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is often unrealized. The article also suggests that 70-80% of companies who are implementing an ESN are struggling with them. It goes on to list several reasons for this. They also include a decent case study from GE to demonstrate the success that can be achieved. However, I feel the article is too specific, leaving the reader to extrapolate how this applies to them.

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Social Business Buzzword Bingo

Social business Buzzword Bingo-CompleteWhat do you do an a business space where the signal to noise ratio can be so low you can hardly hear yourself think? You poke fun at of course. In an effort to raise awareness to the jargon that is being used in Social Business, I offer you Social Business Buzzword Bingo. If you’re talking or listening to a Social Media Expert, Thought Leader, ninja, Guru etc. Listen to what they say. Are they talking clearly and articulating the value of social business or are they talking Jargon?

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The risks of doing gamification poorly in social business

Update: 3/24/15 – I renamed this post from “Why gamification is bad for social business” because I think it sends a different message than what this blog post was trying to convey. I believe gamification can be very beneficial for driving change, but heuristics make us all take shortcuts that focuses us on the points, badges and leaderboards.


 

Many believe that introducing gamification to social business systems can and will drive behavior change inside of organizations. Introducing these components will certainly cause many people to act differently, but will the changes be the desired changes, or will they actually make things worse?

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Improving organizational communications

To help social business emerge from hype to mainstream adoption, it is important to demystify how social business improves people’s jobs. One area that social business can benefit across a wide range of areas inside of companies is the Communications Plan. Today, communications plans have wide application across many areas of business:

  • Projects
  • Programs
  • Change Management
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Change (re-orgs)
  • Crisis Communications
  • Product releases

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Selling Social Business to the CFO

In the social business arena, many strategists and practitioners have learned to dance very well. Usually they do their best moves when asked, “What’s the ROI of Social Business?” From industry experts, to vendors, to practitioners you hear lots of soft benefits from people when asked this question. Often, you hear some broad sweeping general statement such as Find experts faster or Improve innovation. I’ve written in previous posts that these terms are mostly jargon that must be demystified to be understood.

Another approach to estimating ROI is to look at the social media tool in use and suggest the value is people are logging on and participating. Another area of confusion is the topic of “engagement“. This term has been used for years to describe workers who are “fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work.” But somewhere along the way it’s been repurposed to mean “contributor” by the social business crowd. These definitions are completely different and can cause great confusions inside of companies.

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Principles of a Social Business Strategist

Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen some incredible successes implementing social business solutions both personally and from my peers. As I look for my next opportunity to drive social business inside of organizations, I wanted to build and share a list of principles that I believe are critical for the success of any social business strategy.

  • Focus on other’s success, not your own – This isn’t about you. Your key objective should be to make the people who can benefit from social successful. You can do this by offering possible solutions to their business challenges without being preachy. Establish a good reputation inside the company as a person who will help you be successful. One way to facilitate this would be to share your goals & objectives publicly so that others can see what your motivations are. (see:  https://blog.greg2dot0.com/2012/06/21/transparent_goals/) Continue reading “Principles of a Social Business Strategist”

Radical Transparency: Sharing Objectives and Goals in your organization

As we look at enterprise social networking and the benefits it enables, it’s clear that the companies perform better when people collaborate. Yet as individuals, collaboration is not necessarily how we’re judged and rewarded. This usually has to do with our objectives which tend to be very focused on being individual contributors. Even executives’ objectives tend to be focused toward organizational performance, and sometimes these objectives can only be achieved at the company’s or other executive’s expense.

When dealing with new people inside a large company, it is common to question why people are acting the way they are and be suspicious of motives. This is often because people don’t understand what your role is inside the company and as a result, that lack of understanding and trust can make getting things done challenging.

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Microsoft’s challenges in Social Business space

Microsoft is no stranger to enterprise. It’s been doing it for over 30 years. But what is a challenge, is Microsoft is a technology company that interfaces primarily with IT. This is the group that traditionally believes their job ends at deployment. Social Business on the other hand is a space where deployment is the easy part. Getting business people to leverage the technology to do things differently is really hard. The limited success of Microsoft Dynamics is one example of what happens when Microsoft tries to interface directly with the business.

In many companies, the relationship between the business and IT is strained at best, but even in companies where the relationship is good, it’s unclear that IT has the expertise or capability to drive social adoption within a company. This is for many reasons:

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Improving collaboration, breaking down silos, and innovating better. What does that all mean?

I’ve been in the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business space for almost 5 years now, and have been both on the customer and vendor side of the table. What most people are guilty of, is really not knowing what the heck they want to do. I was guilty of it too. I thought Improving Collaboration and Breaking down silos were great business problems to solve. It was until recently that I started focusing around the business value of Enterprise Social that it hit me. Most people talk in jargon and have very little insight into what the underlying business problems are that they are trying to solve. Don’t get me wrong, they know their business problems, but in most cases haven’t connected the dots between problem and solution. Why? Because it takes a lot of analysis and thought to develop that understanding and most of us lack the time to do it.

Over my next few posts I will examine this jargon and help people understand each of these, very vague, clearly misunderstood, terms used around social collaboration inside of companies and help people help their organizations to get past the jargon to provide real business impacts.

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For Enterprise Social Networks, how much adoption is enough?

Originally posted on the Yammer Blog, I wanted to share here for people that might not follow that blog.

In traditional enterprise change initiatives, you tend to start with a defined set business requirements to address a given problem or opportunity. Socially-driven enterprise change, however, is different because parts of the organization are already changing prior to full articulation of a problem or solution. Companies find their employees using social technologies without any formal support within the organization. People are finding value, but may not be focused on quantifying that value into a business case that can be used to support the effort.

Once a company finds itself in the midst of groundswell of social adoption, it needs to determine how to effectively integrate it into its culture and operations.  And a key consideration is; “How pervasive must adoption be?”  To determine the answer, the organization must understand the scope of the solution:  is it a global one or targeted to a specific department?  We can then start to map the population to the AdoptionCurve to best predict when users will start using the solution.

Effort/Cost of Adoption

If we look at the effort it takes to achieve widespread adoption in a large enterprise, the further you get along the curve, the more effort (and cost) is needed to get people on board. This typically means engaging smaller groups that may have very specific individual reasons for not adopting social, and may require things such as small team meetings, printed collateral, travel and other off-line channels. At the extreme, this may include classes and/or mentoring programs to help people get up to speed.

The ROI of Adoption

As we start to examine the ROI of social inside an organization, we must start with the value and then subtract out any cost to achieve this value. The further along in the adoption curve the higher the cost of getting people on board. This increased effort has an impact on your ROI and can significantly decrease the ROI without significant gain in adoption.   (Note: This assumes that each individual contributor provides potentially equal value). The actual value to the organization can only be answered if you determine where your stakeholders and use cases fall on the adoption curve. This can be achieved by performing a Stakeholder Analysis to determine where the various stakeholders fit along the adoption curve and the potential value each represents. For example, Sales may be late adopters because they are too busy focusing on customers to experiment with new tools and processes but may offer great value by shortening the sales cycle.

When to stop?

Knowing when to stop focusing on adoption is difficult, but I would offer that once you reach the point where the costs are starting to impact the ROI in a negative way, that you should give up on adoption and focus your efforts elsewhere. In an average large organization getting 100% adoption is very unrealistic. Usually complete adoption falls in the 60-70% range due to many factors.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are reducing the value that your solution provides, but instead that you are reducing the cost component of the ROI equation, leading to higher efficiency. This is something IT has been doing for years.

What about the rest?

Focusing on getting the Late Majority and Laggards to adopt social technologies may not be your best use of effort initially, but eventually they may become participating members of your network. Keep focusing on the people who drive value out of the solution and the others will eventually catch on (or not). It is through recognizing the success that the solution creates, that the others will participate. Even with that being said, there is a small fraction of your employee base that will never use a solution. Their reasons in many cases are valid. I would encourage you to try to understand why people don’t want to use the solution, but not put a lot of effort into trying to change their minds.

Where to focus?

Knowing where you effort can be best realized is a challenge as it may be different for every company, but in general, you should look to areas where you can increase the value with the least amount of effort.

One area would be to help to ensure the people who are using the solution are leveraging it to the maximum. I cannot begin to tell you how often I see solutions (both social and non-social) implemented where people are only using 10-15% of the capability. When I asked to better understand their jobs, I often come across many more ways they could realize value, but they seemed to lack the understanding of how they could do this. A good way to do this may be through a capability blog, where you take one capability and demonstrate how it works and how people are using it to make their jobs easier.

Another area of focus could be around bringing new employees on board. Since these individuals are new, they are much more likely to adopt something new and can be brought up to speed using these new methods of getting their jobs done faster and better. One thing to keep in mind is that as a community matures, the rules of engagement for new users will also change; you should be periodically checking to ensure that the new user experience remains easy.

Conclusion

While there are no hard and fast rules for determining when to shift your focus, by understanding where your key stakeholders fall on the adoption curve, you can better understand the timing. The cost of adoption will eventually cut into your ROI — this realization should drive your actions. By continuing to share the success that your adopters are realizing inside the organization, you will eventually draw the others in. Behavior change always takes a long time; it is always best to be patient and focus on activities where you can have greater impact.