The collaborative organization : a strategical guide for your social network project

Summary : another book on enterprise social networks ? Yes but this one avoids many traps and commonplaces. “The Collaborative organization” is a very practical and documented guide on the whys and hows of your implementation strategy. No overpromise, a lucid look and relevant analysis. A book any project manager should have.

I’m often mistrustful when I start reading a new book on enteprise social networks. Often selling technological bliss, maniac angelism, religious positivsm and making readers see everything through the paradigm of communities supposed to solve any problem in the organization, they often left us wanting more.

So I started reading The Collaborative Organization: A Strategic Guide to Solving Your Internal Business Challenges Using Emerging Social and Collaborative Tools, by Jacob Morgan, with apprehension. And I turned the last page satisfied and relieved because any question a business trying to implement a social networking platform could ask is dealt with in the book.

First because it’s rather a book on the problems businesses need to solve and how social technologies can help than a book on social networking or social business. That’s not the same thing. Jacob’s approach is a practical one and I appreciate. The goal is not to make you love social business and social networks but make them purposeful.

So it starts with assessing the current situation. As a matter of fact who doesn’t see the problems is unlikely to want to solve them or solve them in a relevant fashion.

Then it talks, a little, about technology. Not too much and well. Enough to understand that despite of what many still say, not all tools cover all needs and that one should clearly know his stakes before choosing one. Enough to understand that tools are only there to serve work practices and that if one don’t understand why such or such practice is good from an organization standpoint, there a few chances any tool will be of any help. Readers will also appreciate the tone of the author : no high level socio-economical theory but facts, questions and the need to find the right answer.

Then comes the how. Jacob does not fall into the trap of saying that it will be easy and that he has the answer to any question. On the other and he exhaustively covers nearly all potential concerns and questions businesses may have. He explains the whys and hows, share well narrated and clearly understandable examples and tries to give the reader enough insight to make his own decision instead of stating a kind of law or absolute principle. Many of his case studies are deep with long interviews with the stakeholders. Communication, change management, KPIs, Governance, ROI…nothing’s left undealt.

It ends with a very realistic bonus chapter from Andrew McAfee on the extent of the coming changes that do not avoid the concerns it raises and how hard it is to anticipate it all.

In one sentence : it’s a clear, practical, pragmatic and easy-to-read book. It perfectly matches the concerns of any project manager trying to make his way and find his own answers. A book that brings the right answers to the questions practitioners have.

Exactly what readers expect.