Nearly everydody now admits that the only way to make a social software project succeed (and make people adopt the new tools) and be a source of value is to link it to the core of employee’s day to day job and life. What implies some attention as to be paid to a few trivial things as BPM, worflows, processes…
This does not mean that what exists has to thrown away. There are things that has to be made such a way, tasks that have to be made in a certain order, steps that has to be followed in order to make operations under control, for quality reasons, in order to avoid leaving in a world of approximation. Changing how things are done does not mean changing what is done.
The challenge of any enterprise 2.0 project is not to get rid of all these things but, on the contrary, to find its place inside. Studying the way everyone’s job is done does not mean it has be changed but facilitated. How ? By allowing people to rely on collective, social logics when it’s getting hard, if not impossible, to achieve a good work on their own? (Have a look here too).
So things are not (and above all in the begining) to rethink processes (most of all when they’re mission critical) but to widen their bandwith and increase the knowledge capital they use. That’s what enterprise 2.0 is all about.
Any employee, in such an approach, should know why, when, how and where (tools, social spaces) get the right information of the person who can have it. And how, when needed, to mobilize the right people to facilitate what’s no more than a problem solving process. But in order to be found, the information has to exist and be available. It implies that an employee, when he is not asking for something, should behave as a solution / information provider. Knowing why and how to feed the system all day long and how it articulates and finds its place in his daily work.
If we have a closer look, everything social follow this principle. Even crowdsourcing projects follow it : it’s nothing more than submitting a problem to an ecosystem, sometimes allowing anyone to join, sometimes scoring who can participate using rich profiles and reputation. For some people this way of doing things can be natural but for many others, and in many enterprises, it has to be well conceived, implemented and will surely not appear by magic in an hasty project launch. Of course, it has to be adpated, depending on you’re dealing with defined team with a well known shared goal or a wide and open group where people are asked to participate to something that’s not their job. In the facts, both exist at the same time and both logics have to be well understood.
So a kind of routine, a social routine, has to be built and implemented in people’s day to day job. Implementation, or maybe should I say integration, is key because things have to make sense and bring both personal and collective benefits regarding to people’s assigned objectives. Routine because it has to end up becoming natural and inconscious. Anything that does not match these conditions is counter-naturel, is felt as a constraint and will be forgotten as soon as possible or got round.
An approach that helps harnessing the power of informal networks and people’s capabilities to self-orgnanize when facing unexpected events does not rely on luck and letting do. It needs mainstays and a structuring framework that won’t appear by magic. Self-organization is a kind of organization. And a looser control on people does not mean that the system itself should not be under control.
A former coach of the French national soccer team (at the time we used to win titles) used to exhort the players to “go beyond their duty” in order to use their talent where and when they weren’t expected to. But it supposed they first did what they were expected to, and that thinks happened in a well defined framework. The comparison with business issues is very accurate.
PS : sometimes it could be the opportunity to dust some old processes, to get rid of some constraints. But this has to do be a permanent concern, regardless to any 2.0 project. It should…
PS 2 : this may need more work than you though or were told. But you knew that success, most of all collective success, never happens by luck….
PS 3 : most of the projects that fails, does not do so because of a bad tools, of a bad project management or lack of ressources but because an obvious lack of sense. Always keep it in mind.