Social Tools adoption in Enterprise 2.0

by Yuval Ararat on 23/05/2011

In response to Step Two Designs blog post by James Robertson.
After replying to the post as follows i have a few additions to the culture change and the tools.

James i completely agree with you on the subject, as Marcella stated “Tools are tools” and that is what they are designed to do, Server us.
As i have noticed, during the long hours of IBF24, we have a will to push the organisation forward using the intranet but have forgot to experiment.
The culture today is build build build and the expectation of most of the organisations is to get results by what they envision will be the correct tool.
I disagree, pushing tools as experiments rather then de-facto new standard is a missing link in the chain. some organisations will generate value out a tool like yammer and some not. some need a good set of wikie’s and some can do like IKEA and only use it for the internal company jargon.
But how can you tell if a new technology will solve a problem that might not even exist?
I Like Richards idea of bottom-up social activity without top-down, if you give the people the ability to put social tools and let them push it a bit to see the traction they get, when they are adopted widely you need to integrate them to the fabric. this approach will be similar to the natural approach you have in business, from many startups only a few mature to big businesses.

Jams has responded with the following

@Yuval, truth be told, I get frustrated constant “pilots” of tools like Yammer, blogs and wikis. There’s a difference between true experimentation, and deployments that little-or-no chance of success. Harsh words I know! But there’s plenty of experience to draw on now about how to be successful at these things, so I’m saddened by organisations repeating the same mistakes over and over again…

The idea behing bottom up is less an experiment but more of a culture change driven from the employee’s rather then the governing the solution. the worst kind of governing is the one you describe, the constant pilot with no end in sight, this situation is inacceptable regardless of the amount of information available.
The culture of an organisation is usually set and alive, it will be a hard task to just suggest a new behaviour and make it the new culture, no prise in the world ever made that change happen.
The best solution is, in my opinion, to enable the employees to choose solutions and implement them in their department, set a time and goal to get this done and used and from there suggest it to the rest of the organisation if this was successful. if this never clicked you can trash it with minimal organisational noise and minimal implementation.
The selection should be guided by management as a controlling entity in the process and not as a deciding entity thus enabling the employees to choose and commit to the solution.
A solution choice should make sense, and by sense i mean be selected based on more the just features. a selection of a tool should be based on its implementations. lessons are important to explore but they also dont necessarily paint the right picture of the product as it has 2 sides to that tango.

On the other side of the trench (the far side) you will have the dropped solution.
When employee get dropped a social network or a social workspace and told “use this” you will get varying results with many projects going astray. so we know that this develops antagonism and under utilisation, unless the product meets the needs and culture of the company and it then turns to success.

To sum the whole thing up
You can’t change corporate culture using social tools but you can give tools aiding the corporate culture and business.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James Robertson May 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Hi Yuval, while I agree that usage should be driven “bottom-up” by staff needs, this is only a small part of the story.

We’re interested in social/collaboration tools because they can change how staff work, and how the organisation connects. By definition, they are new and unfamiliar to most staff, even those who use Facebook/Twitter externally.

So why don’t we do any training, support or change management when rolling out these tools?!?

I’m not saying we should “force” staff to use the tools, but neither am I saying we should stand back and “hope” that staff make good use of the tools. This has been tried in many organisations, and it doesn’t work. Which is the cause of my frustrated comment above!

What is needed are good tools, strong leadership (not control), and an excellent adoption strategy. Only when all three are in place do we see success with these tools…

Yuval Ararat May 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thanks for the response.
I get what you are driving to, the no training/support to any tool introduced into the organisation, not just social, is wrong in my opinion.
In the Social and Collaborative tools i see 2 mandatory trainings,
1. Training on how technically to use the tools even if we think they are intuitive.
2. Training on the social and collaborative activities and how they should be done both in and out of the organisation with no respect to the product.
Then you let the people do the 1+1=3 in their brains and feel enthusiastic about the new tools.
I agree with you in regards to the push and present theories as they are both top down, it will never work as the users are force fed and never get the point of the tools.
I am offering a third option, give the users the freedom to choose and implement.
The way to get that in my opinion is to educate and present, educate on the social/collaborative workplace and then present available options to implement or let the users present the options and let them try them in a short term.
After that “trial” decide if these tools are used and good fit to the organisation, how do they benefit and if they do how much.
From here it is a rollout with everything (Support/Online and Offline training etc.) of the solution and advocacy of it by the leaders.
Yeah i agree that leadership is lacking with the current implementations i encountered as they were not really into it, this will change when more CEO from the old gen get the message.
Will buy you coffee next time we are in sydney and we can chat.

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