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Beyond Adoption to Value Creation

maturity scale

A great deal of attention in enterprise social networking has gone into ‘driving adoption’. A focus on adoption can distract organisations from the real challenge of any business activity, creating value in fulfilment of the organisation’s strategy.

Adoption is an intermediate goal

Adoption is a means to an end. Adoption is a tool of value creation. It is not the result. The desired outcome is the value created by an engaged community that allows for the fulfilment of a strategic goal through outcomes like better alignment, innovation, adaptation, better customer & community focus, greater agility or improved efficiency.

The desire to move beyond adoption is growing. Luis Suarez recently argued that the language of driving adoption is missing the mark. Joachim Stroh has also highlighted ways in which we need to move beyond traditional adoption.

The logical next step from adoption is the end goal of work. Business and people work to create value in line with a strategy. We need our use of enterprise social networking to create value for each users and for the business as a whole.

Adoption as a goal alone can lead us astray

Our focus on adoption is often reflected with concerns from our traditional hierarchical ways of working. For example I have been asked the following questions about adoption that indicate something is going astray:

  • If we don’t have universal adoption, how will people get our messages?: If you are focused on one-way communication, there’s a good chance they don’t listen to your messages already.
  • Can’t we just mandate adoption? You can, but it rarely works to create an engaged & valuable community. Incentives may be a transitional tool to help people engage with the solution but take care that they don’t make participation an end in itself.
  • Won’t our people resist adopting this new solution? If the solution offers no value or is seen as a distraction from real work, they should resist. If it creates value for users and they see its value to the organisational strategy then this is an issue that we will overcome.
  • What’s the right number of users to adopt a social network? There is no magic number. The right answer is enough of the organisation to create enough valuable conversations for users and the organisation. That can be a surprisingly small percentage of the organisation, provided they are well connected into the larger organisation.
  • We have lots of users. Nobody knows what to use it for. What do we do now? You have users but it is likely you don’t have a community that understands how to do things together to create value for your strategy.

Most importantly of all, enterprise social networks are infrastructure, not tools. Employees need tomake sense of a new enterprise social network and integrate it into their work. There is no pre-ordained usage that people can adopt like many other technology systems. Adopting a network as another conversation tool may be interesting but rapidly loses relevance in a busy workplace with many high volume channels for communication. The best guide to employees is to direct their sense-making into how it will create value for their work and strategic value for the organisation.

Often adoption drives demand a lot of overhead and effort. They are pushing something into a community. Where this effort goes to creating niche use cases with easy adoption, selling a uniqueness event in an enterprise social network or investing all the time in unusual campaign activities it can backfire. Employees who come to think of the enterprise social network as being used only for a special activities may not consider the opportunities for every day value creation. In these networks, there is a dramatic difference in utilisation between when adoption is being driven and every day use limiting the potential of the platform. Use caution that your efforts to drive use reinforce the connection to value in daily work and strategy.

Importantly adoption is rarely a goal that makes sense to the managers and leaders whose support is needed to foster a collaborative culture and role model usage. Conversations advocating adoption of social collaboration and other future of work practices can seem abstract and a side issue to the work of the organisation to many managers. Managers are looking for how enterprise social networks contribute to value creation.

Personal and Strategic Value

Value is different for every organisation as organisation’s purpose, strategies and goals differ. Value need not be a hard dollar return on investment. ROI can rarely be calculated in the abstract for infrastructure. From an organisation’s perspective defining a contribution to a strategic goal is often more effective.

Value is different for each individual depending on their goals, their role, their work preferences and their needs. Individuals will need to change their work practices in ways that make sense to them. Role modelling and storytelling will assist this journey but they will make their own sense of value.

There are 5 key elements of the work to moving the focus of enterprise social networking to value creation:

  • Create Strategic Alignment: Make explicit the connection between social collaboration and the strategic goals of the organisation. At a minimum, these conversations will educate your employees on the purpose, strategy and goals.
  • Guide Personal Value Creation: Guide employees to understand how the enterprise social network creates value in their work. In my work with organisations, I use a Value Maturity Methodology based on users maturity through 4 stages Connect>Share>Solve>Innovate.
  • Experiment & Learn: Create an environment for employees and the organisation where the enterprise social network fosters experimentation to create new forms of value in work. Encourage sharing and solving challenges.
  • Foster A Learning Community: An engaged and aligned community of employees working together for business goals is the greatest opportunity for value creation in organisations. Focus on how community accelerates value creation and the key roles required in any community. Understanding the roles of champions and leaders is critical.
  • Discuss Value Creation: Social networking accelerates double loop learning. Discuss value creation in the network as the work conversations occur. Celebrate lessons and successes. Back innovations with corporate muscle. Use these new learning conversation to foster alignment with strategic goals and encourage people to find new personal value.

If you would like to create greater value in your enterprise social network or discuss how the Value Maturity Model applies to assist your organisation to create strategic value, please get in contact. I can be reached through Change Agents Worldwide @simongterry or Linkedin or www.simonterry.com

Facelift Marks the Next Chapter for our Progressive Ideals

w2

Change Agents Worldwide has a unique business model that is in perpetual beta, as our friend and fellow Change Agent, Harold Jarche, likes to say.  Everything we do, we do ourselves including all our branding and our web site.  Funny thing is, we don’t have a web designer or UI/UX professional in the network.  We’ve spent a tiny amount of funds on a couple freelancers, but for the most part, we are boot-strapped and we don’t have a marketing budget.  We love that about us.  We only answer to ourselves, and we only do things we can afford.

Last February, we spent a little money on a photographer to immortalize our first annual dinner.  My partner, Joachim Stroh, says hiring that photographer was the best idea I have had so far.  (Should I be worried?) Lol.

lWhen we launched our web site, we wanted to establish an image of being bold, being different, being courageous enough to tell our story with imagery that would establish our brand.   The company is maturing, and today we are well over 50-strong in our network.  We are now replacing our edgy images of lobster girls, turkeys on the beach, and space travelers  that were designed to attract the kind of people who’d be willing to be bold with us.  That worked, and we now proudly feature actual photos of our Change Agents with some select quotes. See for yourself.

Change Agents Worldwide is not about technology. It’s not about organizational redesign.  It’s not about KM practices or e-Learning or Innovation or Change Management.  Change Agents Worldwide is about people. People who share what they know about all these things and more with their colleagues to be the change they want to see in this world.  The bright people in our network are not ego-less, but our hearts are bigger than our egos.

If you want to hang with brilliant, caring people who also want to change the world, join us.  Better, if you want to fix what’s broken in the depths of the soul of your company, hire us.  If you’re just a little “transformation-curious,” try us.  We’re right here on the Web, and we’re always open for changing the world of work.

 

 

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Reason #30 Why We Can’t Change: We Don’t Have the Time

fear change

My friends and colleagues at Change Agents Worldwide are kicking off a “blog carousel” to address all these reasons why organizations can’t change.  This list was carefully compiled by a Product Engineer of the Milwaukee Gear Company in 1959.  These objections still live on today in memos, meetings, analysis decks, and teleconference calls over a half-century later.

I decided to start with #30.  “We don’t have the time.”  This one always bugs me.  You’re busy; we know.  We’re busy too.  But, it really takes no time at all to participate on the social web and to communicate internally via a social channel.  Let me narrate this story via my friend, Jim Worth. Jim is CIO of a large industrial  manufacturer in the U.S.   A longtime member of The Society for Information Management (SIM), he recently  volunteered to do a presentation for his industry peers at the local  NJ SIM Chapter meeting.

Jim took the attendees through his decades-old IT leadership career from his 15 years at Philips Electronics, then Merck where he was introduced to social technologies, and Labcorp where has was most recently.  Jim’s a progressive guy who loves technology and loves the freedom and mobility of social tools and new gadgets.  He was one of my first recruits to our team for this reason.  But, heck.  THE GUY IS BUSY.  I can’t even begin to tell you what he has on his plate, plus he is an active cyclist, has a wonderful family, and maintains two lovely homes.  Jim’s presentation opened many eyes at the SIM meeting.  His colleagues were blown away by what he was showing them.  This was the first time they were exposed to his other persona as a “Social CIO.”  This issue of time came up after the usual issues of privacy and security.  He explains:

The questions then turned to, ‘How do you have time to do this?,’  ‘How can you keep up with it all?’  I said it does not take much time to be social.  Using a smartphone you can keep up and keep the conversation going all day.  Regarding keeping up, I said that I don’t.  It is like a waterfall of information and I catch a little in a cup, but that is better than missing out all together.  I said I would rather be tapped into this information flow and take some from it, instead of not being present to take part.

Through his example, Jim demonstrated that someone who had a job just like they did, who was in the same demographic as they are, had the same and more experience has they have, was able to demonstrate mastery of social tools and a profound understanding of the tenets of social working.  So, you do have the time.  You just need to know how to work and play out loud with online networking.  It’s good for your career, your life, and your peace of mind.

cross-posted from susanscrupski.com

Voices Of The Corporate People

W. Kandinsky - Squares with concentric circles
W. Kandinsky – Squares with concentric circles

How can organizations become “social”? Adapting companies to the social economy so they can meet the requirements of empowered and connected customers requires some massive internal transformation. Even when leaders understand the necessity to shift away from old models and modernize their organizations, they hardly know where to start.

To decide to join the social dance floor is a first, smart decision. But then, what? “Deploy an internal social network” says the CIO.  “Publicize a new Vision & Mission statement” says Internal Comms. “Hire a consultant” suggests the Strategy dept. “What’s a social organization?” silently asks HR. All classical, outdated and unsuitable answers in our social age.

In fact, what is at stake here is a deep culture change. Tools are important enablers, but they don’t trigger the necessary transformation on their own. Changing the corporate culture and actual behaviors of employees at all levels, across functions and geographies, is a huge challenge. One size certainly doesn’t fit all. But it doesn’t help to over-complexify the issue. What’s really needed is action: tangible activities that advance organizations into the social world.

Let me suggest a very simple and pragmatic approach to this transformation. It goes with 2 steps only: getting ready, then acting; and a culture change framework that I named ‘Voices’. Because I believe that becoming social is pretty much about freeing the voices of the corporate people: listening to what they say, encouraging them to communicate and connect.

Get Ready

If it’s about culture change, one has to understand the existing culture that is to be changed; and who will help, versus who’s not. This point is particularly important because we know now (except for some top leaders overestimating their impact, maybe) that large-scale change requires much more than the executive team’s determination. Social can’t be top-down. It takes a network to spread a network culture.

1.      Understand the baseline situation. Where does the organizational culture currently stand in terms of perception and efficiency? Where are the pain points?

Companies are sitting on massive amounts of scattered data which, if linked and made sense of, form the best foundation for a transformation initiative. The combination of employee surveys, social media monitoring, corporate reputation assessment (such as PatientView’s for pharma companies), image audits, employer brand assessment, investors’ perception reports etc. provide a fair sense of the current corporate culture, from a relational and multi-stakeholder perspective. Diagnosis should also include existing processes & rules of engagement (what exists, what is possible, what is prohibited) and take into consideration the company’s ‘DNA’ and history.

On top of data, and because social is about emergence and conversations, assessment should comprise people’s insights through interviews. Internal stakeholders (leaders, change agents, existing social communities) certainly have a lot to say and interesting suggestions. The diagnosis phase is also a fantastic opportunity to engage with external stakeholders and have them participate in the organization’s transformation.

To make sense of all the collected insight, data visualization techniques are to be preferred to thick (boring) reports.

2.      Understand key contributors. Who will facilitate the transformation, or make it happen? Who will stand in the way, and why?

The organization is full of people longing for a more social working environment, whose understanding and energy are fantastic resources for culture change initiatives. They are sometimes just not visible by the executive team. A good diagnosis should identify those people: active participants to internal and external social networks, internal community managers, members of communities linked to innovation / collaboration / societal issues / digital, change makers in general. Beside, map the institutional “key holders”: decision makers, but also potential road blockers (control freaks, old-style power-driven leaders).

External stakeholders can help the change too, and it’s important to map them as well. Often, messages are better accepted when they come from outside. Know your external social advocates, selected thought leaders or executives in companies that have undergone a successful social transformation, and connect with them.

Act: Get on with Culture Change

E. Degas - Singer with a glove
E. Degas – Singer with a glove

Now the preparatory work is done, it’s time to reboot the corporate and organizational culture and install a 21st Century, social version. How? By rolling out very concrete activities, to enable employees to connect. I’ve often been frustrated at the lack of specific, tool agnostic guidance to drive the change, so I’ve developed a framework which can hopefully help others.

Much more than tools, this is about humanizing organizations: support meaningful connections, let people speak, listen to what they say, and leverage the power of their voices.

The VOICES framework:

6 steps to internal social transformation

The proposed structure is named after an acronym that reflects 6 key dimensions of organizational culture change.

1)      Vision – Develop & explain the strategic perspective. One has to be explicit and sincere about where the organization stands today, why it has to evolve, and where to. Share Lee Bryant’s remarkable presentation about 21st Century firms. Inspire the decision-making team: let them read Dan Pontefract‘s Flat Army, Frederic Laloux’ Reinventing Organizations, and Robert Phillips‘ ideas on public leadership. Explain why and how social is an enabler, frame the culture change, write the story of the organization as a social company (picture the target) and link it to corporate historical roots. Benchmark social companies and be inclusive: we all have a role to play in changing the culture.

2)      Openness – Encourage external connections, instead of preventing them (the common rule as of today). Set up a corporate speakers’ bureau, train employees into delivering engaging presentations, and promote them externally. Encourage attendance to social-related conferences, and post-event sharing of acquired knowledge. Check engagement rules applicable to employees in external speaking opportunities and social media, and revisit them since they’re probably too restrictive. Identify & publicize initiatives where staff supports local communities. Support co-creation opportunities with external stakeholders.

3)      Information – Educate about social: increase social media literacy at all levels of the organization. It doesn’t have to go through expensive training programs: MOOCs abound that offer free alternatives. Leverage conferences and communities of practice for benchmark, education & networking. Train the Legal, Compliance, Communication departments to the opportunities of social. Make use of visual tools such as mind mapping and infographics to ease understanding.

4)      Culture – Impact the corporate leadership culture. Connecting the social transformation effort with HR processes is critical. Something has to change in the way HR operates, both as a condition and a result of the change. This is no small task: training HR to social, working with them on management culture change, revisiting talent identification (to support internal social leaders and disruptive thinkers) and performance management (to reward collaboration rather than competition), seriously improving leadership diversity, implementing workplace flexibility, etc. The leadership team also has to be specifically trained and supported. Having them write a collective internal blog about their journey into social media could be a good idea.

5)      Enterprise 2.0 – Develop collaboration networks. This is about tools and using them well. Assess existing tools and improve their likability. Enable collaborative & social platforms, move away from predominantly email-based working culture. Shine the light on community managers (it’s high time to recognize the value of this job) and support their skill building.

6)      Success Metrics – Monitor selected performance indicators, since organizations don’t just go social for the mere sake of it. Beside classical KPIs (number of employees on internal social networks, of active users, of active communities…), a few new indicators should be considered: top leaders’ activity on internal social networks as well as external social media, speakers’ bureau activity, number of HR processes improved, mentions of the organization as a social company in the media, and so forth.

Internal social transformation is a critical challenge for companies, because it is the condition for them to succeed with their customers. As Susan Scrupski states it, “organizations must evolve beyond industrial age management structures and practices in order to prepare for a future that is predicated on agility, responsiveness, and distributed leadership”.

Thoughts, ideas? I’d love to hear your suggestions so as to help organizations become social.

Working Out Loud Requires being Vulnerable

Working Out Loud requires being Vulnerable
Photo by Eric Ziegler

I love listening to Podcasts. I listen to podcasts when I drive to and from work. I listen to podcasts when I am on a long drive – 6+ hours. I listen to a broad spectrum of podcasts: Football (soccer), Finance, Economics, News, Public Radio, Social business, etc. This weeks blog is prompted by a one episode I listened to recently from the podcast Shift, by Megan Murray and Euan Semple.

The podcast I am referring to is episode 21, about Vulnerability. As I listened to the podcast the first thing that popped into my head was that Working Out Loud (#WOL) requires you to put yourself out there and to be willing to be vulnerable. When I think of working out loud, I think of people sharing what they are working on, asking questions, asking for input on a project, takling about an issue you are trying to resolve. In each of these situations you are risking that someone will think less of you. You need to be vulnerable to do any of those things.

People are scared of putting themselves out there and working out loud. They are fearful that there will be negative repercussions when they make a mistake out in the open. They are fearful that people will think less of them. They are not willing to risk sharing because there is no benefit or that other people will not find what they are sharing as interesting or informative.

The opposite is true. Working out loud has so many benefits and everyone should be doing it within an organization. People will learn and grow quicker and faster by working out loud. Organizations are more effective when people share and are open with each other. The likelihood of finding a piece of information increases as more and more people work out loud. People learn from each other only when information is shared. People improve and innovate on ideas only when ideas are discussed openly. By working out loud, your chances of getting the best information, in timely manner goes up tremendously. Even if a conversation happened out loud months ago, finding that piece of information increases because it was stored for others to discover, read and learn from.

So be brave, take the challenge, work out loud and be vulnerable.

Cross-posted from Eric Ziegler’s blog 

Be prepared

Planning

“I read your bio and watched your video about rebels,” the CEO said to me yesterday during our first meeting. “I just want to let you know that we squash that kind of person around here.”

What an interesting introduction to a company hiring me to facilitate their growth strategy planning.  Like all good change agents, I was curious about why this executive disliked those brave souls who bring up new and sometimes uncomfortable ideas.

“I just can’t stand it when people throw out these big, radical ideas and haven’t thought them through or done any research.  You can’t just say, ‘We should move into this market or expand into this new product category.’  What are the implications to operations?  What kind of sales support will we need? What will it take to hire and train the right people?  What will be the impact on cash flow?  When might we see a return? One year? Five years? Ten years?   I realize you can’t have all the answers, but when someone presents an idea they better have done some homework or they’ll lose all credibility.”

The lesson: rebels and change makers need to do their homework, be prepared, and understand how to sequence their ideas.

As Carmen Medina wrote in the post “Top Ten Mistakes of Rebels at Work”:

Mistake #2. Putting things in the wrong order.

Ironically, successful Rebels at Work must be able to mimic good bureaucrat behavior. Specifically, they have to approach their change agenda in a disciplined fashion and make careful and thoughtful decisions about how they will sequence their activities. What do they need to do first; what can come next; what can only be attempted after they have reached a critical mass of supporters.

A common rebel sequencing error is advertising your reform intentions before you have assessed the organizational landscape in which you are operating. Making your goals public before you have a firm action plan only gives fair warning to all those who will oppose you.  They will sharpen their passive-aggressive claws to stop you before you even get started. There’s much for a rebel to do before they give fancy speeches or—God forbid—put together their PowerPoint deck.

Working Out Loud Cannot be Automated

Working Out loud
Image by Eric Ziegler

Not sure how I ended reading an old post by +Bertrand Duperrin but I did. Maybe something was calling to me. Maybe it is just purely coincidence that I re-read his blog post. Either way, it has triggered me to write a blog post for the first time in several months. Let’s dig in.

Bertrand Duperrin, posted a blog post back in August of 2012 called Employees don’t have time to waste narrating their work. What caught my eye originally was the title. First reaction, huh? You have to be kidding me. Bertand might be just trying to be sensationalistic with his title, I am not sure. But it did catch my eye and cause me to read his blog post. While the title is interesting, I have to say that the blog post hits a nerve. Bertrand starts his blog post with a concept that I agree with …

It’s impossible to think about emergent collaboration and self-organized structures without visibility on others’ work.

This first sentence makes me think of +Change Agents Worldwide (@chagww, #CAWW). Why? #CAWW is a self organized emergent collaboration organization that is about helping individuals, teams, companies, employees, etc. be more effective. #CAWW works as a network of individuals that interact, share, and cooperate and collaborate on different topics and ideas, always trying to improve upon ideas that will help organizations be more effective. It is almost like he wrote this sentence with the concept of #CAWW in mind.

In Bertrand’s 3rd paragraph he continues down the same path by stating ….

collaboration, cooperation, problem solving and even innovation requires something to be shared so trigger the dynamic. Moreover, people often don’t realize they can be helped : sometimes we believe we’re doing right while we’re doing wrong, we’re doing right while we could do better, differently.

While the first sentence could be interpreted several ways, this statement does not align with the title at all. Only after you get more than half way through the blog post do you start to see where the title becomes relevant. I believe this statement best summarizes the rest of the blog:

if people’s work’s worth being narrated, people should not always be the narrator. Their time is too precious to ask them to play the role of transponders.

So now I get it. People’s time are too important to waste on working out loud (#WOL). Bertrand continues and discusses the idea of having systems do the narrating by automatically creating activities in an activity stream – weekly reports, updates to profiles, etc. I understand where he is going, but I think this concept misses the importance of working out loud (#WOL).

What do I believe? The idea of working out loud is not about the automated interactions? There is some value, but the biggest value is sharing information in a way a system can never do. Sharing information includes asking questions or putting a thought out that could trigger a thought by someone else. Automatic system updates are too prescribed to cause an emotional reaction by the receiver and because of that, the value it just not as high.

I will say though, I do agree with his concept of having people jump out of their every day work systems to work out loud is not effective. To get people to be most effective, the system to work out loud needs to be integrated into the systems they work in every day.

Automatic system updates are the antithesis of what social networks are about. While an automatic update might provide value, they do not deliver come anywhere close to providing the same amount of value as working out loud.

cross-posted from Eric Ziegler’s blog 

The Insurgent Communicator

quote-the-future-is-already-here-it-s-just-not-very-evenly-distributed-william-gibson-231877

The future of communications is already here, but most corporate communications – specifically internal communications – are proof that William Gibson was correct. The way we communicate in society, from publishing to consuming information, has been reshaped dramatically over the past decade. But inside a corporate environment, you’d barely notice it.

The new communications covenant

In our personal lives we scroll through streams of updates and tweets at lightning speed, digesting news and information from the serious to the mundane. We gorge on videos in the hope that a one-minute video can communicate more to us in less time than reading. We slow down just long enough to interact with the content by liking, sharing, or adding a comment. These habits have become so ingrained that when we come across content that cannot be acted upon we almost feel betrayed, as if the covenant of the new media age has been broken.

Most of all, the content sources we view are customized to us – not by an entity that thinks it knows what we should receive, but by ourselves, either handpicked or based on our preferences, profile data, and personal network. While some may say this creates an echo chamber, the more one expands their network (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn) the greater the chance for serendipitous encounters with news/information beyond one’s usual horizon — more so than via any editorial driven publication.

Most internal communication professionals know this of course. So why do most corporations communicate to their staff using “web 1.0” methods or worse? Sure, some companies have implemented internal social networks where employees can customize their activity feeds, but when it comes to publishing and accessing “the official” news they often have simply recreated the old publishing model on a social platform, rather than re-imagine how the news can be created, published, and consumed. There are cultural and leadership factors in play here, but I want to focus on the less obvious reason, the communications staff.

Fear of change vs. opportunity

In story after story of companies implementing ESNs (Enterprise Social Networks) I’ve heard similar refrains: “Our comms people don’t want to use it” or “The communications team is actively resisting adoption efforts.” So even though they are well aware of the communication trends around them, which they’ve probably adopted in their personal lives, and even though they likely know that the future is here and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches them, they are resistant to the change. They only see the threat to the status quo and not the opportunity that comes with it.

They fear losing the control that comes with being THE source for their area of news in the company. They fear what might happen if (gulp!) their news isn’t as visible as before in a new social model or if the decision to receive their news is (double gulp!) left up to the employee! They fear the change that will come as the role of a professional communicator evolves, as it certainly will. They also fear possibly losing their job, seeing a diminished role for communicators in this future. But what they should fear most is being left behind.

Communications is the new front for organizational change

The opening quote also pertains to the larger world of business too. Companies are changing – or will be forced to change in the near future, some radically. The very idea of “the company” as we know it and the nature of what it means “to work” is being called into question by futurists, thought leaders, and enterprise change agents (some of whom are communicators), many of whom exist at the fringes of mainstream business but whose influence is slowly bleeding into the center. Radical change always starts from the edges in.

There is an opportunity here for communicators. Author and futurist Clay Shirky said, “When we change the way we communicate, we change society.” Apply this to your organization. The influence that communications – as a group, process, and medium – wields is immense.  The communications department should be on the vanguard of your organization’s evolution.

We know though that many won’t sign up for this path, even if the opportunities for the individual and the profession as a whole are spelled out in blinking lights. Such is the nature of change. This means however, more opportunities for those few communicators that do want to be change agents for their organization. It can be risky of course. The old command and control culture will fight back and if you ride too high in the saddle you will be picked off before you’ve had a chance to influence real change.

The insurgent advantage

That’s why a subtle approach will have a more lasting impact. Start by building a purposeful network in your company – you will need allies. If there is an ESN start “working out loud” to demonstrate the power of social communications, even on an individual level. Work with your internal stakeholders on new ways to publish their news – start small, but think big. If you can re-imagine the communications process for one small group, it could have implications companywide. Influence your allies to introduce the same changes in their groups.

Share your ideas with communications leadership, but don’t present them as some revolutionary way to change the face of communications at your company – that will expose you as an insurgent and the machine will fight back. Instead, find ways to couch them as enhancements to the current model, such as additional means to broaden the visibility of messages and increase readership. They will probably still reject them, but you’ll be planting the seeds of change, and as your network and influence grow through your underground efforts those ideas may resurface again from a different person in a different part of the organization, possibly from a place they can’t afford to ignore. Being a constant gardener for the future of the workplace is no less rebellious, but will pay off more than the efforts of someone whose overzealous passion for change can be misunderstood, thus marginalizing them.

It will take patience and drive but you’ll still be working against the system, from the inside, as a trusted colleague and employee looking to make your workplace better. Do you have what it takes to be an insurgent communicator?

Successful Networks Require a Cross-Disciplinary Team

It should come as no surprise that a one-dimensional approach to network “deployment” will yield lackluster results.  In the heyday of the Enterprise 2.0 movement, it was largely IT that introduced social networks to the workforce.  The mistake that many customers made in those early days was viewing social networks as a technology platform vs. an organizational catalyst for transformation.  Even if the initial use cases were solid, and vendors provided initial on-ramp training, the true power of a connected workforce would not emerge.  Social software is much more than the sum of its technical parts. In fact, you could argue the opposite is true. Organizations that took a multi-departmental approach to rolling out ESNs, have proven to be successful, are still growing, and have produced outsized returns to their organizations.

English: A diagram of a .
Diagram of a Social Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Learning to work in a connected, flat, transparent, and highly collaborative manner invariably surfaces tensions that require intra-organizational re-thinking.  They demand a new type of leadership.

Petty arguments that erupt over jurisdiction, approvals, roles, decision-making, authority, and budget allocation are exposed and rendered useless and highly unproductive when vibrant networks connect and share.  It’s one of the reasons why rigorous command and control, hierarchical models can’t survive in a healthy, transparent and functionally strong social network.

When we started assembling the members of Change Agents Worldwide, we knew we’d need a cross-disciplinary team that was equally adept at the mechanics and Zen of working in an open network, as well as experienced in the disciplines required to deliver true organizational change.  We’re also becoming more and more knowledgable about the science and practical application of Social Network Analysis (SNA). In mapping our own expertise,* you can see although we share many competencies, our social map demonstrates a visualization of the skills required to truly help large organizations take steps toward building a future workplace.

expertise
In this expertise map, a square signifies an area of expertise of one of our Change Agents. The larger the square, the larger the number of Change Agents (green dots) possess that expertise. A line between a circle and a square indicates a Change Agents possessing that expertise. Darker lines indicate greater degrees of expertise.

If your Enterprise Social Network has stalled, or you’re not seeing these outsized results, we can help you start extracting the value out of your existing investment.  If you truly want to experience what it feels like to be surrounded with this sort of expertise, we invite you to join us in our Green Room.  It’s free, and we will swarm you with ideas on how to approach your organizational issue.

 

*Special thanks to Change Agent Patti Anklam and Optimice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enterprise Social Networks – What you need to know

I reviewed Thursday’s upcoming webinar on ESNs hosted by Carrie Young and Harold Jarche.  This is really one of the better webinars I’ve seen in a long while that explains in-depth, with real case study examples, the essentials about how working in an enterprise network matters deeply to a company.

Don’t miss this one.  Really.

webinar 3

Register here.

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