Incent to Share

Photo by Eric Ziegler

Your company doesn’t share information.

There are silos in your organization.

Each silo is not interested in helping the other silos.

Enterprise Social tools are integrated into business tools

Enterprise Social tools are still not being used.

Why is it not working?

Culture culture culture.

Technology is not what wins the battle, change and culture, that’s what’s needed .

Find the incentives for people to share.

from Eric Ziegler’s blog

Classifying a Community

Photo by Eric Ziegler

Defining categories of communities can be done in many many different ways: e.g.  by size (small, medium, large, humongous), types of people in the community (internal employees vs. external clients vs both), etc.

There are so many different types of communities that to be honest, it can scare away even the hardiest of requester for a new community. Last week I talked about the first step that must happen with requesting community managers, setting expectations.  Inside that post, I mentioned that some well intended requests come without knowing much about what a community could do for them.  So to help them understand what is available, I have often used the following examples to help the types of communities they could build

  1. Pushy Community – Not much of a community, but still there is the need for them in enterprises (hopefully rarely).   Success is defined as people reading the information)
  2. Interactive Pushy Community – This is the first real level of a community, where the push of information is accompanied with the ability to like, rate, and comment with the posts.  The community can’t post new messages, but they can interact with what is posted, allowing them to engage with the content and the content creators.  Success is defined as people read the information and interact and engage with the content. 
  3. Interactive Community – The community is built so that the community members interact with each other, collaborating on documents, asking questions, getting answers, and sharing information with each other.  Sometimes email is used to get the community re-engaged or to get the word out on the most important of information.  The success of the community is defined by people almost fully interacting and engaging in the community and occasionally relying on tools outside the community to interact with each other. 
  4. Collaborative Community – The community is built so that the community members interact solely using the collaborative tools available, collaborating  interacting, engaging with each other within the community. Success for this community is when the community members use the tools available to exclusively collaborate with each other and do not use external tools to collaborate.  (e.g. no email).
  5. Inter Collaborative Community – The community is built much the same way as the collaborative community, but instead of just collaborating within the community, the community members collaborate inside the community and with other communities and groups.  This community knows they are successful when each of the community members are always using collaborative tools in their day to day interactions.
You can classify communities how ever you would like.  In the above examples, I have laid out some examples of types of communities and how the communities would work, with the hope that when I describe these to an unknowing new community manager, they can pick a type and drive their community to success. 
How would you classify communities to a new community manager?  Would you use the same descriptions or would you describe them differently?  If you used the above example, would you add or subtract from the list?  For each of the above types of communities, what would you say make these communities successful? 

from Eric Ziegler’s blog

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

The Sound of Social Business

Caravaggio Le joueur de luth détail“Social”, in its social business meaning, has a lot to do with the way business is made, the way corporations are organized and interact with their internal and external stakeholders, the tools they use to generate value in the age of networks. Nothing to do with art, music – leave aside the well-worn concept of collective value arising from our combined differences, as what an orchestra does.

But the gap may not be as wide as it seems. A recent interaction with a contemporary music band had the surprising effect to make me reflect on social business. How comes?

For two years already, I’ve been a volunteer Chairman of the Board of Sphota, a company that describes itself as a “musical innovation collective” or “co-op”. Sphota is the legal structure for the Caravaggio music band.

Named after the Florentine painter, Caravaggio was born in 2004 from the desire to produce instrumental and electronic music of pop-rock inspiration. Music is written by Benjamin de la Fuente (a childhood friend of mine) and Samuel Sighicelli, both renowned contemporary composers. The rock side is inspired by alternative / progressive rock, combined with a strong rhythmic. Bruno Chevillon and Eric Echampard, both experienced jazz musicians, complete the group. They compose and play their music in concerts in France and abroad, they have published several records and are the authors of the recent Larrieu brothers’ movie soundtrack: “Love Perfect Crime”.

My daily routine revolves around a pretty different world from Caravaggio. I’ve been involved for more than 20 years in international business, dealing with business development projects in the communications and health arenas. I have spent the last decade in a large multinational corporation. My co-workers are mostly of a scientific background. I’m developing and implementing engagement strategies and social collaboration initiatives.

But in our recent Board meeting, listening to the band’s achievements and projects, exchanging with the members on their aspirations and difficulties, I realized how much our experiences had in common. It’s not mere empathy… There are actually common features between what Caravaggio does, and what social business is (or should be).

  1. Where does the unclassifiable belong? 

Going across borders makes it complex to define what you do, which makes it difficult for others to understand and accept.

My friends at Caravaggio incorporate electro, contemporary music, rock, and progressive jazz. They compose pieces and meticulously organize their performances, while leaving space to creative freedom and improvisation. They explore the borders. They enjoy a positive image in the specialized media, but articles show the reporters are struggling with the question: “How to define their music?”

Similarly, social business goes across traditional boundaries in the corporate world. It has to do with communications, information technology, marketing, human resources, commercial operations, customer service, social responsibility. All these functions should be activated and coordinated to re-invent corporations in the age of networks.

But social business professionals know well, they walk a thin line between territorial behaviors and benevolent censorship. People in charge of each above-mentioned field are generally very suspicious about initiatives that encroach upon their territories while arising from a larger perspective. Cross-silo collaboration remains painful and difficult. Few companies have been visionary, or bold enough to handle the transformation at a top management level – anyway, I’m not convinced top-down is the only way to go social.

To solve the absence of identification, companies generally hook the “social business” or its engagement component to one of the existing silos, be it IT, Marketing, or Communications. By doing so, they sharply downsize its organizational and business impact. But at least, people are reassured: “now we understand what social business is” – it’s IT, or marketing, or comms.

  2. Innovation is not mainstream. Social business isn’t either.

Although I wish Caravaggio to become world celebrities and sell millions of records, I doubt they are the next Lady Gaga. Because their music is complex, unusual and demanding, it doesn’t target the mainstream listener. This is another similarity I find with social business: it’s not everywhere.

The enthusiasts may think it is, as they keep reading articles and books that trumpet the triumph of social business (see The Golden Age of Management is Now by @stevedenning) and engage into social media with other enthusiasts (like I do). But it’s an illusion. Within corporations, they is still a looooong way to go before people are convinced they have to go social, and even more before they change behaviors, policies and organizations.

This was the subject of a fascinating conversation I was part of recently, with famous social business thought leaders Dan Pontefract (@dpontefract) and Luis Suarez (@elsua). “Is social business gaining ground?” was the question. Are we on a curve of progress, or will social remain a niche forever? There was a silence… I was anxious for the answer… Then Luis said: “Things are changing. They’re not changing as much nor as fast as we would hope within companies, but in they do in the society as a whole. Society no longer accepts organizations to behave as they used to in the past”.

What social business evangelists have not yet managed to achieve, external pressure by social demand may bring forward.

  3.      Non-standard projects don’t fit into bureaucratic boxes. 

There was a long discussion in our Board meeting about how Caravaggio could access various types of public funding, aimed at supporting artistic creation. Despite budget cuts, France still offers many of these, which are great for the diversity and vitality of the cultural fabric.  Such funding is of paramount importance for Caravaggio, until the band broadly expands its audience – which may not happen. But funding means rules, processes, tick-boxing and bureaucrats. While they’re not fundamentally bad (as a citizen, I like the idea that the State doesn’t spend my money without a minimum of control and guidelines), they’re hardly adapted to non-standard projects.

Too bad, Caravaggio is a special case in the contemporary music landscape as well as jazz or rock. Its music grounds itself on several aesthetics without fitting in any of them completely. The band plays its own musical compositions but is also open to cooperation with other musicians, creating a team which size varies according to the projects. It’s a music band but its performances are much more than mere concerts. Enough to frustrate a bureaucrat: standard projects are so much more comfortable.

This is another point of convergence with social business. Companies’ procedures exist to standardize initiatives to the maximum, in order to ensure control, replication, and to limit risks. Dave Gray (@davegray) explains well in “The Connected Company”, the concomitant rise of the connected customer and the service economy create complexity that the “divided company” (standardized and rigid) cannot address. What are needed today are not more procedures, but more agility, flexibility and connectedness. But most companies’ bureaucrats are not aware – or don’t want to see – and make it a tough obstacle course for social business projects. Try to launch, say, an issue-centric, cross-social media, cross-stakeholder project as an alliance with several partners (very “non-standard”!), from within a company that is used to managing alone some product-centric, traditional media projects targeting siloed stakeholders (“standard”). Although few existing procedures are adapted to your project, the organization will still require you to fit in, and blame you if you don’t. Social business advocates, you’d better be brave and enduring.

  4.      Social requires hybrid skills – thus diverse people.

We’re in the era of hybrids, and this trend will only grow. I’ve been appalled for many years at how much companies were favoring a certain archetype and a narrow set of skills versus the diversity of profiles. Depending on the industry, telecom engineers, PhDs in pharmacy or medicine, etc. trust all leadership positions. People with similar or broader industry knowledge but other background are blocked from a certain hierarchical position, leaving the space for leadership teams that are very uniform.

Social business is just incompatible with uniformity. The stakeholders’ requests and expectations are so diverse that it’s illusory to think they can be handled through homogeneous teams. Various perspectives must be heard and understood, for companies to thrive in the age of social business. If your team is mainly composed of people with a scientific background, ​it may be time to have them read a little Chekov– and invite other types of people to join.

There are yet other convergences at stake with social business. This is where modern individualism (“I speak in my name”, “I’m empowered trough social media”) meets the collective dimension (“I’m a member of a community”, “we collaborate”). This is where reflection meets action, as you don’t advocate for social collaboration without socially collaborating yourself.

I love it that my friends of Caravaggio explore convergences in their music. Their purpose is not a style zapping game between contemporary, jazz and rock music, nor the simple pleasure of finding common references, but a substantial work about transitions from one universe to another, and about hybrids that can then be encountered. Their variable configuration, their attention to each member’s solo work on top of the band’s illustrate well the diversity and flexibility that are at stake in social business. I only wish they had women in the band 🙂 but they have 2 in their Board, which is not too bad.

What do you think, social business fellows? Have you been inspired by experiences from very different fields? I would be happy to hear about them.

Caravaggio band Caravaggio video at Moers festival 2013Caravaggio Facebook page