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?
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:
- Change Management
- Organizational Change (re-orgs)
- Crisis Communications
- Product releases
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.
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: http://greg2dot0.com/2012/06/21/transparent_goals/) Continue reading
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.
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:
In this series of blog posts, (Improving collaboration, breaking down silos, and innovating better. What does that all mean? & Breaking down silos, what does that mean?) I have talked about the jargon that tends to fly around social business. Today, I’m going to make it personal.
When we talk about innovation, we’re really talking about doing things differently to achieve better outcomes. Dictionary.com defines innovate as “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.” This sounds great and it makes it clear why leadership wants their companies to innovate better, but it’s never as easy as it sounds. There are many challenges and personal behaviors that need to be addressed to be truly innovative and be successful at having your employees innovate better.
Today’s post is a writeup I did for the GIT Society for Information and Communications Technology newsletter which is targeted at information and technology professionals in Austria:
You can run, but you cannot hide
While social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter may or may not be in your future, you may not have a choice but to be “social” inside your organization. Companies are starting to see the advantages of opening up information and allowing it to flow freely. This isn’t appropriate for all information of course, but many topics such as operational excellence, product Q&A and employee communications all benefit from Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) and transparency. This allows people who have an interest in the information to find it easily and leads to things such as increased sales, reduced costs and improved satisfaction.
Having this type of accessible information is essential for competing in a global market where time zones and languages may make collaborating difficult. By having information available, it makes finding things faster and provides better agility allowing organizations to outmaneuver the competition.
Even if your organization does not have an ESN today, there is a high likelihood that you will soon. Many business applications you already use are adding social components to their applications, and platforms like Yammer are already accessible to your workers. By understanding how ESN’s drive change in your organization, you can be prepared for this shift before it happens and ready to leverage it when it does.
I’m sure you all know one. That person that’s always trying to poke holes in your work, the one that never seems to be satisfied, the one that you get frustrated with because it seems like things are never good enough to escape their critique. Well, believe it or not, this person is a very important role inside of your company and more importantly inside your social networks to avoid a phenomenon called “Groupthink”. Groupthink is a mode that a group of people gets into when they desire harmony in decision making without a realistic appraisal of alternatives and where there is a desire to minimize conflict.
Sure, we all want harmony in decision making, that makes our jobs easier, but does it give us the best decision? Most likely not. Let’s face it, how many times have we been in the situation where we know what we’re doing isn’t right, but the effort required is just too great considering your workload or the political cost? When you add a boss’s opinion to the mix, the chance that the group will align with his/her opinion is very high, despite the fact that it could possibly be the worst possible approach.Continue reading
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.
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.