Be prepared


“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.

You Can’t Add a Collaboration Layer

Human to Human

Collaboration is human-to-human interaction. We are rich, creative and diverse, given the chance. You can’t add a collaboration layer to your existing processes.

Collaboration is not something that helps with the work. Collaboration is not something you integrate into your existing systems. Collaboration requires a fundamental rethink of the way work gets done. Collaboration is not a layer because it changes the whole system. Great collaboration goes the whole way through.

The phrase ‘collaboration layer’ is common. The idea of a collaboration layer most likely has its origins in information technology architecture. Collaboration systems are often represented as a different layer of the system stack, similarly to the user interface. As a result vendors and others talking to an IT audience will often promote the need to add a collaboration layer to existing processes. After all adding a collaboration layer sounds relatively painless – all the benefits of collaboration without the change.

As the application of the phrase shifts from systems architecture to the business conversation on how work gets done, something gets lots in translation. Success in the application of social collaboration systems does not come from integrating one more piece of technology into the stack. Collaboration is not an integration challenge. Collaboration is not about machine-to-machine or even machine-to-human interaction. Collaboration is human-to-human.

Collaboration can’t just be layered in on top of everything else. Collaboration requires a rethink of the entire process to foster the best of human interactions. Networks are required for collaboration. However, great communication requires more than a network. Great collaboration requires a community. The highest value collaboration goes beyond a community and builds a change movement.

To bring community to life you need to do more than add a layer of machine-to-human and human-to-human communication over the top of your Taylorist processes. The goal of social collaboration is not to make dumb workers better informed. The goal is to leverage their collective knowledge, intelligence and creativity. Allowing workers to share purpose, connect and create new and better ways of working together comes from giving them the opportunity to connect deeply and to rethink the processes and entire systems that they use to do their work. The best innovations in social collaboration are when entire traditional processes disappear because a newly engaged workforce finds a better way.

People will not stay long in a conversation where machines send them status updates. There is much less value in collaboration, little community and no change if the process is the process and can’t be rethought. This is one of the reasons so many enterprise social networks struggle. Without the prospect of creating a sense of community and the ability to change things, what is the point of participating?

If you want the benefits of rich collaboration, growing community and powerful change driven by your people, then you will need to move beyond a collaboration layer on existing processes. Letting your people use collaboration to change the whole system for the better has to be possible. Collaborative humans will demand it.

Simon Terry  @simongterry

This piece was cross-posted from

WIIFM on Working Socially?

Let’s be honest: change bites!  Most people do not like change.  Change brings uncertainty, a loss of security and control, a fleeting feeling of helplessness, and even panic.  Helping large organizations embrace disruptive change is a tall order.  What’s needed are roadmaps, play books, guidance, intelligence, patience, and a little inspiration.  But, change can be positive.  And, guess what?  If done correctly, it can be painless and enjoyable especially when you’re working with social software.

To that end, Change Agents Worldwide offers a variety of services to help companies make this transition.  We do it in a unique, network-based, new economy model.  Today, we’re announcing our first group project.  We partnered to help Salesforce’s Chatter team explain the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) of working socially on an enterprise social network.  So many of us are used to the benefits of working socially, but it’s still a foreign concept to much of the working world.  Part of our charter is to enlighten employees on the benefits of working in a new way.  Adoption is still an issue for most social collaboration vendors, and as Change Agents, we want to fix that.  We are experts in this, and we believe an understanding of social networks is core to the future of business.

Take a look at the creative tools we helped create for the Chatter team under the tutelage of the fabulous Maria Ogneva.  Maria is one of the most knowledgeable social collaboration professionals in the business.  We worked very closely with Maria and our amazing creative and brilliant friends at The Tremendousness Collective to create this animated video and accompanying infographic.  Also, a hat tip to our Change Agent Bryce Williams who coined, “Work out Loud.”




Download the infographic here:


Setting Expectations


Photo by Sarah Ziegler

A friend and I were recently talking about adoption. Specifically we were talking about the adoption of tools that help build enterprise communities. One idea we discussed that I haven’t read that much about is:

        Setting expectations.

While I know this idea is not new, I have not heard much about the use of setting expectations for Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business or adopting enterprise social networks. For example, as a people manager, if you have read it once, you have read a million times. To help guide your employees to ensure they know what to do, you need to set expectations with your employees. If you don’t the manager is at a higher risk of not getting the best performance out of each employee.  This is an oldie but goody. But why don’t we use this same idea in the enterprise for adopting enterprise social tools?

I find that for some people, they just want to create a community because their peer has one (the me too syndrome).  Others have good intentions but don’t know where to even start to build a vibrant community. In both situations, neither have defined what expectations they have for their community. In both situations, instead of just allowing them to create the community and have it fail, the requester needs to clearly understand their goals so they can use the technology to meet their goals.

So, step 1: get the requester to define their hopes and dreams for the community they want to build.  Have them define how do they see the community working. Have them, articulate what their goals are for the community.  Work with them to design how the community will work. The key to the success, is to get them to set their own expectations for the community and then have them work to have their community meet that expectation.

While setting expectations are great for the community, one of the keys to ensuring the community is as vibrant as desired, the community manager must communicate what expectations they have for the community to the community. In addition, as the community grows, the community manager must influence the community to meet those expectations, while being willing to reset their expectations and adapt to how the community grows.

Setting expectations are crucial, being influential and flexible is equally important.  But then again, isn’t that the recipe for success in almost all situations?

from Eric Ziegler’s blog

How to start a change movement

Change movements fascinate me.  People coming together to create change that is beyond the power of one individual, is how all of our greatest social accomplishments have been made.  I have started a few myself, both successfully and unsuccessfully.  I have studied lots of others hunting for ideas that can be reused.

I have learned that there is no perfect formula. However, these things help movements to success:

Purpose:  Defining why the movement exists matters most.  This is the reason people will give up their time and effort to be involved.  Failure to agree on common purpose will result in factions, disruption and failure later

Engaged champions: A few engaged champions is worth thousands of passive members.  Find your champions and treasure them.  Finding them is usually as simple as letting them approach you.  The ones you want will have a bias to act.  You are often better cutting the freeriders and focusing only on the engaged users in the early stages.  Exclusivity, a strong sense of the other and deep personal relationships helps build energy and resilience in the movement.

A small secretariat: A movement usually needs some group accountable for shaping and maintaining direction.  A small secretariat of the most engaged champions can play that role.  The secretariates does not need to be hierarchical but they do need to play a role as custodian of the purpose and a node for actions across the network.

Cellular structureNetworks are more resilient & more engaging than hierarchies.  Small group structures engage people and build personal connections within the network. The groups also provide local support, back-up for missed communication and solve issues locally where required.  Action by small groups requires less coordination.

Stories: Successful movements have rich storytelling traditions. Myths, tales and anecdotes help share their messages and make purpose tangible to the community and others. Stories share abstract ideas in tangible ways making them more human and personal.

Continuous communication: Driving change is only one element in people’s lives.  You cannot overcommunicate.  Share stories, successes and challenges.  Make sure there is a vibrant connection across your network.

Sense of community:  Great movements build strong senses of community.  That is usually evident in the support and sharing that occurs within the community beyond its core purpose.

Symbols of change: To understand the movements vision, you need defining symbols that people can understand and relate to their own world. A few common values can be part of a powerful symbol of the change.  The more human, personal and individual the symbols are the easier they are to live and share.

Consistent action & confrontation: Action builds movements.  Action inevitably involves confrontation with opponents.  A regular cycle of action and confrontation is required to keep engagement of the movement.  Action and confrontaction creates new stories to share and can bring the movement’s symbols and purpose to life for a wider audience. Progress may be slow but action must be continuous.

Reflection & adaptation: Successful movements adapt to changing circumstances, responses and to the needs of the system in which they operate.  Processes to foster reflection and development of new adaptations matter to enable this.

Gathering: Human beings are tribal.  We like to gather.  Whether it is gatherings of the cells or gatherings of the whole movement, the people involved need to come together and feel part of the tribe from time to time.  Gatherings are where the informal story sharing occurs.  It is where trust and connection is built, knowledge is exchanged and new innovations are started.

This list is a starting point on my studies and experience.  What are your ideas?  What have a left out?  What of the above is wrong?

Simon Terry @simongterry

GRUNDFOS Holding A/S: a Social Success


Grundfos is a global leader in advanced pump solutions and a trendsetter in water technology.   (source: LinkedIn).  This privately held leading manufacturer recognized that social was the catalyst to embed its values throughout the company and provide innovative solutions for its clients.


“We sum up our values with the words: BE responsible>THINK ahead>INNOVATE. It is our responsibility, our foresight and our focus on creating ground-breaking solutions and ideas that have made us one of the world’s leading pump manufacturers.”  Source: (LinkedIn)

Change Agent Martin Risgaard presented this story at the Microsoft Next (CIO Conference) in Aarhus and Copenhagen this week. His story described how Grundfos launched an enterprise social network on Yammer and how this network grew from less than 10 people to almost 6000 in less than 18 months. Uncontrolled, viral growth is not that uncommon when it comes to social tools within the enterprise, but stories on how this is harnessed and made productive are fewer and far between. Martin’s presentation focuses on some of the main lessons that Grundfos has learned during this initial period that can serve as inspiration for others.

A More Sensible, Sophisticated Look at Adoption

Wherever we look, organizations are still challenged with adoption of new technologies, social platforms in particular.  In our first white paper, Joachim Stroh, expands on a the traditional understanding of technology  adoption by introducing two new constructs: adaptation and exaptation.

Adaptation: making people aware of increasingly volatile and disruptive business environments,  i.e., unless concrete measures are taken to adapt, the very survival of the business unit or organization could be at stake.

Exaptation: allows people to tinker with the new product, technology, or process to incite new and unexpected uses.

Take a look at this refreshing new approach to an age-old challenge.  Let us know what would work for you.  Download the white paper here.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Can Social be Top-Down?

Can social be top down

Adoption is the pain point of social enterprise. While adoption rates linger at staggering low levels, critical success factors are endlessly identified, dissected and commented.

Among those is the “top management support”, often seen as the key to success. But is it really? Is it true that, to succeed, social initiatives must have a high level champion, possibly the CEO? Can a company become social if it hasn’t got its Michael Dell, a Chief Social Officer, or at least highly convinced top executives?

Exemplified success stories support this view. And it is true that top management can provide precious resources for social adoption:

A vision. Foreseeing what a company will become in 10 years from now can’t ignore social, which top executives (should) know. What’s even better is when they embody this vision, and act accordingly – at least by using and promoting social tools. Being a social leader is another story.

An example for others to follow. When brought into new tools or new interaction modes, many employees want to know whether the Management is serious about it before jumping in.

The organizational impact capacity to make things change. Only top level executives have that power to make a difference quickly since they decide on the organization, budgets and priorities. If they put their institutional power at the service of social adoption, there’s little doubt it gives it a better chance to happen.

However, I believe it is not the magic solution to having a company embrace social. Finding and convincing top-level champions may even be detrimental to social projects because of the time and energy they require.

Often, this top-down approach is just not effective and does not generate the expected positive outcomes on social adoption.


Geared for competition, not collaboration. The top executives of today have grown in environments where competition, not cooperation, was the key to moving up the corporate ladder. Hardly enthusiastic about the “collaboration imperative”, they value the social status attached to their title and react strongly when hit by internal competition. They take a critical look on social, which challenges the way they operate. Information leakage, negative opinions made public and disorder are major risks they’re not willing to run.

Shaped by old management theoriesWirearchy is not yet at the program of business schools, which still teach students how to become good leaders, i.e. the happy few at the forefront who lead the others thanks to their brilliant ideas, superior dedication to ROI, etc. But social requires a whole new theory of management, just as modern economics needs to move away from bases that are no longer adapted to today’s reality.

Not familiar with social tools. Very few top executives, especially in large companies, are digitally native. They belong to a generation that has had to learn all the digital tools, applications, social networks, etc. and for which each innovation is a pain that will require learning efforts. While efforts are paying off for an ever increasing share of the elder adults , reaching a high corporate position requires a lot of hard work which gives top executives little time or intellectual availability to get started with social.

So, what can you do if you don’t have, from the early start, a strong advocate for social among the executives team?

Well, just remember that social is at its best when it comes from the people themselves. Listen to what already exists. Identify your social connectors. Let the employees speak with each other, interact, form discussion groups. Stimulate the creation of communities, provide a minimal infrastructure and let them self-organize. Establish an open dialog and avoid control. Manage to put the most engaged participants under the spotlights.

Then go see the Management and show the depth and intensity of these interactions generated by the social communities. Social is then no longer an abstraction, but a concrete, simple and attractive reality. Tell the corporate leaders they are welcome to join the movement, and how interesting it would be for them and for the company.

The real flavor of social is bottom-up.

Thoughts?   –  @CelineSchill

The 1 v. 9 Rule

Gettysburg Battlefield Monument

Have you ever implemented a technology for an enterprise that had the chicken and egg syndrome? You know the type. You implement a valuable technology but no one is using the technology. As you analyze why this might happen, you realize that you need people to use the tool, but the value is not there until you have a large number of people using the tool. Which should come first? The people or the tool? How do you get people to change behavior, adopt a tool, adapt the way they work when you realize that to really have change, you need a large number of people to change almost all at once?

I have seen this situation more than once. You have a small set of people dispersed throughout the enterprise that is interested in the technology. You think you have won the battle because interest is high from these advocates. But if you peel away the edges, you would see that while they are excited and are some of the biggest advocates for the technology and while they each represent a team that could use the technology to great effectiveness and the technology has potential to realize get value within the team, there is an issue.

This is a big issue. The rest of the team is not aware of the value, they don’t see the need for the tool and they provide every excuse under the sun for why not to use the tool. I like to call this the 1 vs 9 rule. You have one person that is ready and eager to adopt, adapt, and use the technology but you have 9 people (2 through 10) that are not. More often than not, this is one of the biggest reasons a technology like this fails. It is not about the implementation of the technology, it is about the change management.

As the person in charge of the technology and responsible for enterprise adoption and change management related to the technology, what do you do? This is not a time to give up and fail. What techniques could you use to get #2 through #10 to adopt the tool along side of #1.

Here are some ideas.

  1. You are not alone: Seems simple enough but this is often the first step that people forget. You need to get the advocates, the 1’s, to help in driving the adoption of their team. One team at a time. While you are responsible for change management and adoption, you are not alone. The #1’s need to know what is expected of them and need to know that it will not be easy.
  2. Build a play book: Now that you have set the expectation you need to provide the techniques and tools that the #1s will use to get 2 through 10 engaged. Depending on the technology being implemented, these tips and techniques could include having them set expectations to the team, have them get their own advocates within the team, and have them remind (nag or ankle bite) the team periodically.
  3. Lower management: Work with the first line of management of that team. Get them to understand where the value is and then get them to help drive adoption within the team. Have them set expectations for their team, but don’t let them mandate, that type of technique could backfire. Do this in conjunction with the advocate of the technology. They can help sell the story.

The hope is that you can do this over and over again with each group until you have critical mass in the enterprise using the technology effectively. Think of the first group as the keystone, that the rest can use as an example or template of how to drive adoption in their teams.

While I write these words into this blog, I know that I have not done justice to all of the ideas others have used to drive adoption of 2 through 10. What techniques, tricks, and methods do you use to drive this type of adoption? What has worked for you?

(Cross post from