I often talk with friends who experience every day at work the problems I write about here and, once, they end by asking “what’s this thing you write about…enterprise 2.0 ? I ear about it sometimes but I can’t understand what it’s really about…but if it could help me solving my problems it would be nice. Can you explain me what it is ? How can I make it ?”
It happened so many times that my speech is really running well, so I found it useful to share it with you.
NB : I wrote this note in september…but I find it more relevant than ever.
Preamble : you know, it’s something that’s still under construction. Nothing is established, defintive. It’s only my opinion and my experience at a given moment. What’s important is that you understand what all that means to you, in your own situation.
1Â°) Think about enterprise before thinking 2.0 and don’t get the wrong project.
Don’t forget your purpose is to make your people more efficient. Wonder how they should work, operate, what’s neccessary to make these ways of doing business possible (Hr, organization, management, tools) and provide them with. This breakdown reasonning (I want this so it supposes that….which supposes that…) is essential : it will help you making the right decisions and to stay aligned on you goals. If you start from consequences and try to climb up to the goal you may never be successful, to start a nice project that will bring nothing. Most of all, never start saying “I want my team to use such or such tool”, it’s not the purpose. The purpose is to improve the way they work, which may imply the use of new tools. The project is team’s efficiency, not the tool or new business practices that are only means.
2Â°) Take away your team’s sense of responsability
When we look at the power of networks, we often dream of results which look like fireworks. And it may happen. But, doing new and sometimes extraordinary things with new tools is not that easy for people who’ve learned for decaces that exposing themselves may be very dangerous in the corporate world. So begin to make them use the new tools for day to day and basic things, in order they only have the impression of doing their usual job without giving anything from them, exposing themselves, without jeopardizing themselves. Nothing new but a more practical, that makes things easier and sometimes nicer. You make a new tool step into their day to day job for a basic use but, most of all, you make them master new fundamentals and discover a new paradigm. Ensure they’ll be numerous in order they don’t feel being special people experimenting something new. Once it will be a part of their day to day life, then you may look for fireworks. And those who are the more easy with thsese new things may have already started.
But keep in mind the purpose is not to bring five champions to something new (even if thoses champions are needed in terms of leadership) but to make everyone comfortable with the tools in order they can follow the champions without any fear.
3Â°) Don’t make them feel schizophrenic
We’re talking about exchanges, information sharing, interactions in a business context. Thinking that someone will use a medium to exchange will 20 people and another to send the same message to 500 others is a nonsense. At a given moment the laws of gravity do their job and the twenty people you have taken into the adventure will step back and re-start using only the same tools as the 500. The dynamics we’re talking about need a critical mass of users and information. If nearly every people you interact with don’t use the same communication tools as you, you’ll start using theirs. It’s obvisous and logical. Employees can’t have to choose between one tool or the other depending on who they want to exchange witch. If you follow a group logical, rely on the only groups or community you are sure they really exist : those of people who need to exchange everyday to do they job.
4Â°) Learn music theory before trying to jam
It’s in some ways the conclusion of the two previous points. The final purpose is, of course, to take the most of people’s ability, to make them able to deliver their full potential, to take benefit of their innovation and initiative potential. That’s what I call practices 2.0. But moving, in one step, from a practices 1.0/ tools 1.0 situation to a practices 2.0 / tools 2.0 one is nearly impossible. Knowing that practices 2.0 / tools 1.0 is not possible the only possible transition step is usages 1.0 / tools 2.0. It’s about making people use new tools to do what they were used to do with old ones before getting bolder.
Before jaming on stage, Miles Davis or the Rolling Stones began by mastering music theory, didn’t they ? It’s like learning to swin : first the “small” pool where your feet can still touch the ground before the ocean and its big waves.
5Â°) Search for value into work and nowhere else.
Of course you won’t evade the ROI debate, the need for demonstrating benefits. But it’s about business and the contrary would be worrying. The only fact you create and strenghten ties between people, especilally when your teams are scattered, and develop a sense of membership may sound very satisfying for you as a manager. You know that it has a real value. But anticipating a future non-disinvolvement, non resignations is not enough for people who want real and actual numbers, not potential and future ones.
Put your mind at ease, when you’ll get your critical mass of users you’ll be able to demonstrate some things.Â The only fact some collective emails are turned into discussions on appropriate platforms will allow you to demonstrate how information is more easily accessible for the whole organization (time saved), that there’s no need to spend hours asking people who knows who/what, and that managers are not anymore the organization bottlenecks when it’s time to spread and share information. And, last but not least, you’ll manage to capitalize a part of the 80% informal knowledge that only went through emails before and were impossible to be caught by the organization. Something in what KM or IT depts have failed for years. For a basic use that’s not so bad.
When you’ll get more and more 2.0 practices you’ll experience what I describes into my “strategy maps series“. Those tools and practices don’t create any value by themselves but when they’re used in combination with the formal processes that rules work inot companies. So takes your good old indicators back and, if necessary, build new one inspired by Balanced Scorecard. Depending on you purpose, you would use what measures sales performance (turnover, growth, customer satisfaction, sales cycle lenght), number of ideas, lenght of the innovation cycle, benefits due to innovation (turnover, money saved). In brief, stay matter of fact and stick to your business. Knowing what you will measure will also help you to choose the right direction at the beginning. As time will pass you’ll be able to change your business processes in order to get an increased benefit.
Last thing : we’re talking about communication and exchanges, ensure that the generated information will be used at work, for business purposes. An information bubble is useless when people don’t use the information in their work. An innovation program may generate lots of ideas, it’s useless when those who decide to implement new things and launch new projects or products don’t have a single look at it. So don’t forget to insert those new tools and practices in existing processes, even set new processes if needed. But keep in mind that a formal link has to be build between 1.0 and 2.0 practices at work, if not the first will never take the second into account.
6Â°) Permanently show gains, even the smallest
Information is found faster, time is saved, less email overload, people can get information they wouldn’t have before. Things happen that would never have happen before. Ideas are found, customer service is improved, sales team efficiency increases….. All of that is very nice but nobody realizes that except you and th people who directly benefited by it. Don’t forget, every time such things happen, to let everybody know about it. “By doing things this way we succeeded in…. / we did ….. which may have not been possible before and we take such benefit from that”. An excellent way to make people feel concerned and want to participate.
7Â°) Be clear and matter-of-fact
For you, who have a macro vision of your team’s work, when you say “share ideas, use social tools instead of email, share your experience, your feeback, debrief your day to day job”, you clearly see what you mean and what the purpose is. For your teammates, who have been working the same way for years or decades, it’s really hard to catch it. Don’t forger they’ve been trained to retain information and it’s been decades they’ve been told they are the most important asset of the company…provided they do exactly what’s asked and shut up. Because they really fear doing something wrong they may not to anything at all.
Give them a daily-task oriented roadmap on the “if…then… / when…then…” model. “When I’ve solved a problem I explain how, when I’ve a problem I share it, when I can answer someone’s question I do it…..”. It’s clearer than “sharing information” and it leaves no room for doubt.
8Â°) Don’t behave as the Boss
Of course you’re their boss and they know it. No need for over-demonstrating you position, especially if you approach relies on the fact everybody can learn from anybody. So avoid to say “It’s like that, I’m the one who knows, what you say is bullshit…”. You can discuss, on an explainatory and deductive mode, it will help them to have the good attitude. But if they always fear your reactions, be sure no one will participate.
One more thing : no upper-cases. PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE SHOUTING AT THEM. It’s not because it’s writtent communication that you don’t have to be as respectful as in face to face meetings.
9Â°) Become a tunneler before trying to be a well-digger
Build new tunnels for existing information flows in order to move them to new platforms. And take advantage of he situation to build tunnels between people who didn’t have the means to talk together before but needed it. It’s the very nature of networking and that’s the starting point. Once you’ve identified new “talents”, leaders, or issues that were not discussed before and make sense for both the companies and the people, time will comme to digg those wells and launch new dynamics, open new groups of discussions and give some people new social responsabilities.
If you start digging wells before tunnels you will surely get a lot of isolated people, alone with their concerns. The opposite of your purpose, isn’t it ?
10Â°) Give luck a chance
No one can be 100% sure something will succeed even if everything is done in order to. If you see people trying to use new tools for unexpected purposes and if those purpose may be of any interest, don’t stick on you roadmap but follow them on a ground that obviously makes sense for them. Once they find something in it for them, it will be easier to involve them on other things.
11Â°) IRL above all
Prepare in real life what you want to happen online. Don’t expect, even a second, that people will develop online behaviors and a way of do starting things that doesn’t match any need or will in real life, the life of people working together in their office for business purposes. Tools are here to fill a need, to support what’s done IRL or what they would like to doÂ IRL but is impossible due to material causes, lack of time, distance…
So start to make things in order to new practices makes sense in real life, start with real people, in real conditions and move it online.
An online activity that no “real” basis is either nonexistent or living artificially and won’t last a long time