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 All classical, outdated and unsuitable answers in our social age.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.

Decrease of Interest in Enterprise Social Software Signals a Shift from Tool to Behavior

Recent news stories say fewer customers are buying and vendors are less interested in enterprise social software today. Why?

Data from the recent report The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization 2014 tell the story: Early Adopters have bought. They are now focused on learning to work in new ways. The Majority are in “wait and see” mode.

The Quick Read: Industry reports say that fewer customers are buying enterprise social software and that venture capitalists are less interested in ESN startups than in past years. Some people are surprised; others may conclude it is because social collaboration (or “social business” as some may call it) is dying.

I disagree with this analysis. Data shows that social collaboration is increasing in organizations, specifically in Early Adopters who have made their purchases and are now tackling the tough challenge of how to change the way they work. On the other hand, the Majority of companies are in “wait and see” mode, some playing with pilots, but most observing what others are doing.

The risk the Majority are taking is that when they decide to move, they will have a lot of catching up to do. Going collaborative, however you do it, is a long journey and threatens traditional roles and ways of working in Lorganizations. The business-value tipping point comes when business and business support functions get involved. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Early Adopters today.
(Data from 2013 Q3 from 314 organizations worldwide: The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization.)

Let’s start with two recent news stories….

“Customers aren’t as interested in social software for the enterprise as it seemed a few years ago.” Continue reading Decrease of Interest in Enterprise Social Software Signals a Shift from Tool to Behavior

New e-Book from Change Agents Worldwide

We’re pleased to release this collection of essays from a variety of our Change Agents who are changing the world of work. Whether they’re independent (Solo Change Agents) or working as part of a large organization (Enterprise Change Agents), 21 of our network members have provided their unique wisdom on what organizations can do to increase productivity, engagement, and provide richer workforce experiences in order to foster greater innovation and growth.

You can now download the e-Book for free.  Simply request a free copy and it will be immediately available to you.  


If you’d like to read the book on your Amazon Kindle, you can order it here for $1.99.

This is our first published piece.  We learned a lot in the process, and we have plans to write more books.  Stay tuned for announcements on future works and events from our Change Agents.  An easy way to do that is to sign up to receive our newsletter which will be coming out regularly starting this Friday.

 

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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 simonterry.tumblr.com

What Does A Friend Look Like In The Age Of Social?

Or, How John Hagel, David Armano, Hugh MacLeod and Harold Jarche Kickstarted Me.

Here’s how it began.

2011 Back story: In my MarComms job, I had two projects front of mind – launching an Enterprise Social Network (we were the first company in the world to completely replace our intranet with Yammer) and developing a bunch of infographics on business performance (turning heavy PowerPoint slides into something more digestible). Independently, I was mentoring some young communicators who were trying to work out their pitch and career paths.

I spent a lot of time thinking about these topics; with plenty of online research. I was working out how to not just understand these topics, but put them into practice. I was on twitter rather passively, following a fist full of thought leaders – among them meme capturer / destroyer Hugh MacLeod, (Center of the) Edge thinker John Hagel and the social / design maven David Armano.

I also helped edit some resumes; and ended up updating mine (I was called to account for having a very out of date one) but was disappointed in the outcome – it did not capture the essence and depth of what I felt I could offer.

Then, one day, the three topics coalesced around a single idea: develop a social (shareable) infographic resume, for myself, as an intellectual exercise in creating content that people want to talk about and share, that allows them to know me better / deeper, and that drives my own career trajectory (I was not looking for a new job, but I did want to own my career path more keenly.)

So, I sketched up some ‘3-D’ ideas.

JA-on-my-mindThen I sent to a friendly designer and, why, there it was – a look along my journey; even a look inside my brain. Wherein, snippets of Armano/MacLeod/Hagel genius.

Next, I shared it, as you do. I put it on Slideshare and tweeted Armano a thanks. He, in turn, kindly tweeted:

Next thing I know it was trending on Slideshare home page and had several thousands hits.

That process lead to the development of the personal branding BrandBoards product. But there’s more.

Soon after, I was invited by Yammer to attend a Customer Advisory Board meeting in San Francisco, and to present on the social journey we had been on using yammer-as-intranet. I met many corporate social technology mavens there, real thought leaders and active practitioners. Who was on as keynote before me? None other than John Hagel. Neat. It was a most inspiring event, and one name came up a few times as someone to follow and study: Harold Jarche.

No-one has since guided my own social journey more than Jarche. Deep, patient, profound, inviting, his writing and approach to net work is something I have appropriated for myself (the approach, not the writing!)

Flying back to Vancouver from that event, I was both lifted and highly focused. I needed to show up differently at work, to stake a claim for a new way of working, to work out loud.

And touching down in YVR, I saw some tweets about Armano being in town the next day and hosting a Q&A. Synchronicity. I went along, had a chat about ESNs and social business. Things were moving.

I have been a fairly heavy poster / participant in the Yammer Customer Network over time, especially in the ‘thought leadership’ category. Therein I cultivated relationships with many strong, vibrant social leaders.

That lead, via Ernst Décsey, to an invite to a new, progressive group of social business (or whatever we are calling it today) leaders who were developing a new model of working around change, social, network theory.

Rather fraudulently, I joined Change Agents Worldwide (CAWW) crew here, and suddenly I was (virtual) face-to-face with people whose content and ideas I had used and pushed inside my own organization: the amazing graphics of Joachim Stroh; working out loud with Bryce Williams; sharing wirearchically with Jon Husband; and then, (network theory crush!) The Jarche himself!

How wonderful.

Now, why did I write all this? Oh yes, to talk about friendship, and trust.

CAWW friends in NYC
CAWW friends in NYC

The social journey for me has been an immense undertaking as I uncouple the vestiges of my (the?) old ways of thinking and embrace the opposites of what I have known to be normal:

  • from local to global
  • from private to public
  • from head-down to horizon-seeking
  • from control to choice
  • from saved to shared.

In this process, on this journey, I have made new friends, quick friends, high trust friends, guiding friends, virtual friends. I am sure neither John Hagel nor David Armano remember who I am [Update: Armano told me he did remember me. Nice.], but they are still friends, because they have given freely and I have received gratefully, and amplified their gifts to others. From them and others, I have learned to ask “How can I help?”  to strangers with no distinct quid pro quo other than, we are all in this together.

There is a Peter Matthiessen quote I use all too often.

“Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. … Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn.

The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise.

After that day, we become seekers.”

I return to it regularly for two reasons. As a parent to two young kids I get to see through their clear eye every day. Also, it helps me reflect on how in the last few years I, too, have become a seeker again. Much of that is down to social, virtual friends who have let me into their trust.

gapingvoid1And what of Hugh MacLeod? Well, I have yet to meet him so, for now, one of his limited edition prints above the toilet will have to suffice.

Still full of (shit) ideas,

This blog post first appeared on the ←This Much We Know.→ blog.

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.”

Enjoy!

 

 

Download the infographic here:

 

GRUNDFOS Holding A/S: a Social Success

Grundfos_-_Bjerringbro

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.

Values:

“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.