When we want a project to be sucessful we can, basically, define some key success factors. They are not the only ones but, if they’re missing n they are many chances the project fails. I’ll mainly speak about projects aiming at making people more efficient.
First, such a project has to ensue from enterprise’s needs. It may seem trivial but forgetting that may cause many disappointments. But it has also to be identified as such. If things comes from the very enterprise’s interest, change may make sense (may…not will…). It don’t say that’s enough but it’s easier to legitimate when the message comes from above rather than a manager tries to embody it while top management (who decided it) seem not to care at all. To avoid this so common situation, communication is key. It already allow to avoid the “boss’ fad syndrom”. It’s a phenomenon you can experience in companies where the boss tries many ideas because of a good reactivity to novelty but never leads a project to its end. So people don’t get involved anymore because they think it’s useless, that what’s the big thing today will be forgotten tomorrow. It’s also a proof that the, sometimes adventurous, nature of digital natives must also be funneled in order not to make flexibility and agility turn into chaos.
Second, the project must make sense in employee’s day to day job, that’s to say it allows us to do things more efficiently. In practical terms, it means that means it makes their job easier and allows them to make more with as much effort, or the same with less efforts. Of course when a process is compulsory, people follow it (in general), and when a tool is compulsory it’s used. Even without sense. But with many interrogations about conscentiousness and motivation.
Third comes the “bonus need” : the need of fulfill in one’s job. When achieved, this need provides high level business results because people who takes a real personal benefit from their job are more likely to give their best. Thus we have to admit that the “bonus” word is well deserved because only few projects impact this need. It’s not common to see anyone fulfilling by following a process or using a tool.
Perharps it’s what is special in “enterprise 2.0” projects : they can be an added success lever because they impact this need. But it’s important to be cautious : this must not be a primary goal : without any link with day to day business needs, involvement will not be there. On the other hand, a business driven project relying on social media can make it. If have a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it’s clear that the two upper levels can be reached thanks to social tools use, within a community, within the enterprise, for business purposes.
People can get esteem and cultivate sense of membership by being involved in social business activities, where everyone can help the others, and increase one’s standing by being relevant.
But be careful : it’ not a magic recipe nor anything that come from blissful optimism. A business need have to pre-exist and I think it does. Taking the most of informal networks is a strategic goal. Does tool makes things easier ? Yes, but, honnestly, in only a part of their day to day needs. But in an always increasing part !