How to Ensure Your Enterprise Social Effort Succeeds (Part 2)

28 Feb How to Ensure Your Enterprise Social Effort Succeeds (Part 2)

This post was inspired by Michael Idinopulos and his writing on why Companies Aren’t Communities.

Why Enterprise Social Collaboration Efforts Fail.

I’ve researched many failed enterprise social efforts. The formula is quite simple and almost always the same. If the focus is on the tools being used, the effort generally fails. If the focus is on people and process, the effort generally succeeds. I firmly believe that any enterprise social implementation should begin by looking across a business at which business processes can and should be improved by changing the process to leverage enterprise social capabilities. I also believe that training people on tools puts the emphasis on the wrong things (e.g., which buttons to click), but that training people on new socially-enabled ways of working is paramount.

How to Ensure Your Enterprise Social Success.

The key to ensuring your enterprise social effort is a success is asking the right questions up front.

 

Four Questions to Ask:

  1. What business problems do you have that could be solved by collaborating better internally?
  2. What business processes are involved in the cited problems?
  3. How could you change the way management and employees execute those processes to address the cited business problems?
  4. How will you educate and train management and employees on this new way of working?

1. What business problems do you have that could be solved by collaborating better internally?
One of the main differences between companies and communities is that companies generally exist, to some extent, to make a profit. Time and resources are limited and need to be allocated accordingly. If your enterprise social effort is not firmly grounded in a solving a widely known and agreed-to problem, there is a high probability that your effort will not get the funding or support it needs to succeed.

2. What business processes are involved in the cited business problems?
Enterprise social efforts should focus on things that are specific and measurable. I’ve found this generally requires focusing your efforts at the business process level. Focusing at this level will allow you to communicate your intent and effect in concrete terms, as well as enables you to quantify and communicate your impact.

3. How could you change the way management and employees execute these processes to address the cited business problems?
Enterprise social collaboration is not always the answer. That is why it is so important to take a people and business process driven approach. Selecting the wrong problem or process to focus on will sink your credibility as well as your enterprise social effort. I recommend performing critical, unbiased business analysis on any business problem or process before making it the foundation of your enterprise social effort.

4. How will we educate and train management and employees on this new way of working?
Anyone can learn to perform an action with a new tool. It is a simple matter of knowing what buttons to push in what sequence. It is much more difficult, however, to provide several users the same concise understanding of a problem and a framework for analyzing and solving that problem. As practitioners working to enable change in our companies through the use of socially-enabled processes, we are in the business of teaching people how to fish. Giving out fillets, while immediately gratifying, is not a viable long-term solution.

When to Claim Success.
You will know you have succeeded with your enterprise social collaboration effort when employees independently start to think through processes, issues and challenges in context of what is possible in a socially-enabled enterprise. Social business is a way of thinking. At some point, you will start to see unsolicited evidence of this thinking in management and employee-to-employee conversation and interaction. When you do, smile broadly. You have arrived.

Andy Jankowski

Andy is a Social Business researcher, advisor and keynote speaker. During the last 19 years he has served as a trusted advisor for several leading organizations including Andersen, Ernst & Young, JP Morgan Chase and Oracle. He is a career long student of enterprise communication and collaboration. He has both written for, and been written about, in Forbes and The Huffington Post. Andy is a frequent conference speaker and an avid road cyclist. He enjoys connecting people and dots.

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