July 13, 2011 3 Comments
The following article is also published through pharmaphorum and is the fourth in a series about Enterprise 2.0.
‘We want to start using Twitter professionally, but how do we do that?’ ‘I want to start a Facebook group, can you help me?’ Regularly I receive these requests. First thing I ask is ‘Why would you want to do this?’ And then it becomes silent.
It is very tempting to start using these new and innovative communication tools, but realise that they are just tools. Tools that need a purpose and a plan for using them. Tools that have a new dynamism and are not without risk. But tools that should not be ignored but investigated and tried to get familiar with. As said earlier, using new and social media is not without risk. That’s why you need to start internally. This fourth episode of this series focuses on defining the basis for developing your social business. Where are you on your journey towards Enterprise 2.0?
- Know your organisation
Before using social collaboration tools within your organisation you need to really understand your organisation first. Who are you and why are you doing the things the way you do? What are your core values, your mission and vision and, more importantly, are you really living up to them? What is the attitude of the workforce towards the organisation? How strong is the connection between colleagues, departments and divisions. How ‘social’ are your staff?
The 7I network model, recently developed by Marco Derksen and Rachelle van der Linden, is a helpful tool for a good insight in your organisation. Although the model primarily was designed to understand where you are in the transformation to an external network-organisation (which certainly should be part of the goal for an Enterprise 2.0 company) the model is also very useful for the internal transformation towards social collaboration. It focuses on 7 critical aspects:
- Identity – why are you here?
If you do not know why you are doing things, you will never become successful in them. Many organisations know what they do and how they do it, but there are only a few that really know why they do it. Those are the true innovators, the visionaries and the market leaders. Simon Sinek calls this ‘The Golden Circle’ (click here for his inspiring TED talk).
- Internal organisation – are you able to empower?
An E2.0 organisation is open, transparent and authentic. Management-style is more facilitative than directive. Are you able to loosen control and empower your people? How do you reward and motivate them? How loyal is your workforce and how can they manage empowerment?
- Insight and knowledge – do you know each-other?
Many organisations are built in silos. How much insight is there in the competencies and activities of the various departments over the different silos? Do you know who knows what? And how broad within the organisation is the corporate strategy understood?
- Innovation – dare you go ‘out of the box’?
Innovation is not exclusive to the R&D divisions of companies. Anyone, any team, any department and any company can innovate. But can you? Are you able to do things differently? Do you dare thinking outside-in? And are you able to share those ideas with others to make them even better?
- Inspiring network
In order to collaborate you need a network. A network that inspires and improves ideas. Where experts across disciplines know how to find each-other. How does your internal network look like?
Collaboration leads to better performance. But only if interaction is authentic, open and honest. You need a high level of trust between colleagues and in the organisation. Feedback may go all directions. Is this possible in your company?
If your culture allows social collaboration, you need to match this with the proper technology. For that it is important to know what technology and what tools you currently use. Are they open or closed? Are they easy accessible and user-friendly? Does it allow collaboration? How is your IT department organised and what is their attitude towards the current changes in the industry? Take another look at the graph from the previous episode, representing the development of the intranet, this time indicating where the majority of companies are. Do you know where you are?
- Strategic fit
As said before, in order to understand the dynamism of social computing you need to experiment with it. Dare to connect, share information, collaborate, comment, review, rate and socialise. But when doing it, give it business value by finding a fit with the current strategic direction of the organisation.In general, four types of business strategies can be identified: strategies that aim on growth, innovation, cost reduction and transformation (source: Dachis Group).The project that you choose as pilot or experiment should clearly fit within this strategy.It will motivate people using the new platform as it is in line with their objectives and helps them fulfill their tasks efficiently. More important, it will increase the chances for support and approval from (senior) management. It will justify the investment, as it adds business value to the social experiment.
That said, don’t let ROI define the success of your project. Social collaboration cannot directly be translated into hard data. Yes, sales can increase as a result of Enterprise 2.0, but it’s only part of the success. Most of the benefits will be seen in the mid and long term and are not that straightforward and easily measurable. Benefits such as sharing of knowledge and experiences, fostering innovation, improving motivation and loyalty of employees and crowd-sourcing to name a few. Some can be measurable and calculated, others are more subjective. It is as one community manager explained to me once: ‘how much do you love your mother? And how much do you love your mother more than I love mine?’ This illustrates the difficulty many managers have with this new era. For decades, figures have ruled business. Top line, reduced costs, increased market share. But those cold figures say nothing about the real performance of people, nor if they’ve performed the best they can, with satisfaction, with the best motivation. And at the same time, these are the core elements of the long term success of an organisation and the result of human interaction. Ever heard a relation therapist say: after my counselling, your marriage will improve with 22.4%…
Look closely to yourself in the mirror, know who you are as an organisation, find the strategic fit and realise that the road ahead is bumpy but one that leads to successful collaboration and you’re ready for social business.