Are you ready to do this? Prepare to transform your Enterprise and its culture [#e2conf]

This session is presented by Simon Scallion (Social Media Lifeguard, CSC) and Kevin Jones (Social Strategist and consultant to NASA). The session focuses on 6 key considerations of social business transformation.  You can find the session slides at  Username: workshop; Password: boston2011.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Understanding your culture. How are your people already collaborating? Be aware that some of this collaboration may be happening under the radar (without management sanction) outside the firewall.  Where in the organization is most of the interest in collaboration and social business? What accepted norms (traditions) do you see that you will have to break through.
  • Easing the Transition. Identify which issues the workforce is most passionate about? Perhaps start by looking at the most active email distribution list — can you recruit the members of that group and move their conversation onto a social business platform?  Also, take a look at the topics that incite the most engagement.  Could those conversations “benefit from a dash of social”?
  • Preparing for Cultural Shift. Understand at the beginning that this process involves a great deal of hard work — lots of pushing, prodding, encouraging. You cannot force people into compliance and engagement. You need to help them discover and engage.  The process also requires a lot of education.  As you help individuals learn, encourage them to “learn out loud” so that others can learn from their experience. Don’t forget middle management.  They can be a significant bottleneck/constraint, especially if they focus on the disruptive nature of  social business rather than the productivity gains.
  • Overcoming Objections. If people think these are toys  or leisure tools (e.g., Facebook), they assume they don’t have enough time to engage in what is perceived as play. There is also a significant fear that the new tools encourage lowered standards of online behavior.  However, inappropriate conduct can take place just as easily via email, the telephone or face-to-face encounters.  Therefore, a company needs to be clear about its expectations of conduct regardless of the medium. The other big objection is fear of information overload.  However, properly deployed, the networks can help filter and reduce the flow of information.
  • Winning Over Naysayers and Critics. Don’t underestimate the huge value of success stories and storytelling.  Focus on helping people identify the stories that communicate the value of social business and then become an expert in distributing those stories throughout the organization.
  • A New Way of Working — Working Out Loud. Working in a way that helps others observe our actions and thinking, we improve transparency and efficiency.  Start with established collaborative groups and then help them accept and adopt this new way of working. The key to this new way of working is by setting a personal example.  Members of the social business leadership team need to work out loud themselves. (This can be uncomfortable, but the truth is that social business advocates are in the business of discomforting the comfortable.)
  • Breakout Session: Focus on one of two scenarios — (1) Your CIO okays integrating FAcebook and Twitter into your tool. When it is implemented, it is well-received.  However, the head of HR is concerned that these social platforms will cause employees to waste time. How do you convince HR otherwise?  (2) To test your new social business implementation, a department head mandates that everyone in the department blog weekly.  However, there is very poor participation.  This convinces the department head that social  in business doesn’t work.
  • Recommendations from Breakout Session re: Scenario 1:
    • Make sure you have a champion at the level of the critic so they can have a peer-to-peer conversation.
    • Look for success stories — particularly in the HR department.
    • Explain how you have already mitigated the risks.
    • Do some surveys to obtain data on what’s really happening — that will help address more ephemeral concerns.
    • Identify the benefits.
    • Take this opportunity to create a governance structure. The HR director should have been involved in governance conversations earlier.
  • Recommendations from Breakout Session re: Scenario 2:
    • Use martial arts concepts (use the weight of the objection against the objector). Help the critic understand how this scenario actually is a success — what does it really prove?
    • Manage expectations. Success shouldn’t be identified as 100% immediate participation. Consider who is participating and what we can learn from their participation.  This is a better measure of success. Consider if there are other ways to recruit new participants.  Do they need support, different tools, etc?
    • Consider if the incentives are properly aligned? What’s in it for them?
    • Do people have “social anxiety”? Are they really afraid of the technology, or are they afraid of the possible repercussions of participation?

2 thoughts on “Are you ready to do this? Prepare to transform your Enterprise and its culture [#e2conf]

  1. I’m happy to speak to the dopey head of HR any time you like!  Fortunately there’s a rapidly reducing number of them like that.

    My concern, if I was still an HRD, would be that business is changing much too rapidly for incremental change like this.  I’d want to know how 2.0 tools can significantly shift an organisation’s culture in a particular way that I want.  I don’t see enough of that here…

    1. Jon –

      Clearly there still is a great deal of work to be done. However, I was encouraged to hear that some of the biggest critics of social tools in the workplace are beginning to see the potential of those tools for good.

      – Mary

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