Social tools are tools before being social

Obviously many people are wondering how to make scocial tools within the enterprise. Knowing that the use of these tools highly depends on what people want to do with them and that the only existing reference is the web 2.0, we get randomly assembled projects.

On its side, the enterprise is afraid of giving up control and don’t want people to mistake their workspace with a reacreation yard. On his side, the employee doesn’t want to expose himself too much and remains very reserved, all the more so since those tools can only be used for social purposes, since un-redesigned process force people to still use “old” tools.

Hence this edifying conclusion from Tom Davenport :

Perhaps the underlying issue is that collaboration for business purposes is real work. It needs to be managed like any other project or process. Having a technology to facilitate the collaboration makes it easier, but it’s still work. Social networks for social purposes, on the other hand, are fun. […] It’s when we don’t have a clear understanding of what’s work, and what’s fun, that we get into trouble.

Quite interesting…

Let’s be clear : thats the big difference between enterprise 2.0, social software and web 2.0. On the web people decide on their own devices and follow their own purposes. They are the only one who decide what to do…and why. Within a company, and till someone proves the opposite, people are here to work. Of course, some tools provide them with a different user experience, by their very use or by the new kind of interactions with others they make possible. But we have to remind that they are only side effets which will emerge from use. and if we want tools to be used, they have to be business related.

So, instead of making tools available and waiting to see what may happen (being afraid of irrelevant use…), since people don’t dare to be “only” social and have to do with rules which prevent them to do with new tools what they used to do with some non appropriate tools, some questions have to be beforehand.

1°) Ask what are the goals, in business terms

2°) Check what it implies in terms of rules, day to day practices : it’s a about methods of working, tacit rules

3°) Align the use of the tools to these rules. This will also help to make the difference between what’s essential and what’s nice to have.

4°) Possibly set new rules in order to make adoption easier in the beginning. It may be very simple things, for example make some flows move from emails to social tools. And make managers set an example.

And here’s what not to do :

Start from the idea it’s only about exploring emergind trends, start with a few pilots (the problem is not there…but it comes in the very next steps). Then mistake goals and means and say you’re testing tools instead of exploring new way of working. At this time people say ” I don’t have time, it makes no sens for me in my day to day job…and I’m here to work,I’ll wait for the tes’s results”…And as we don’t have to bother the organization for a pilot…we don’t ask people to change the way they work till the test is successful.

That what happenns when tools are seen as a goal by themselves and not as a support for a new way of working. (Who said tool-centric approach is relevant ?? 🙂 )

So, as an answer to the primary question : social tools within the enterprise are tools (that’s to say business related) before being social. The social side only happens is they’re used, so if they’re business-aligned and the day to day interaction framework redesigned.

I also higly recommend to you this post from John Husband about enterprise and management 2.0. Although I totally agree with Hamel’s “future of management”, I don’t think that management 2.0 has to look like web 2.0, and this for the same reason as I explained before. Web 2.0 is a result, management is a way to make things happen, so management 2.0 doesn’t have to look like 2.0, but has to make it possible for people to interact in their day to day job the same way they do on the web. And once it will be done, I’m sure we won’t have to think anymore about tool’s adoption.

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Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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