I write “social network” or “community” to use the most generic term but my words are about all the so-called “2.0” projects that may take place within companies. Companies have been knowing that in such projects communties, groups must have a purpose, a defined goal. Thank you for not smiling at such a statement of the obvious because it was very far from being obvious to many people in the fist times. By goal, I mean :
– something that makes sense for the enterprise (at least to get things started…in the future, employees may push local project on their own even if it’s not a top level concern)
– something that makes sense for employees, according to their assigned objectives, their available time, their job description, the way they are appraised….
This may seem evident but it’s better to say it once again…juts in case some still neglect it.
Despite of that, some projects still don’t keep their promises. Sometimes they don’t even start. One of the most frequent cause is that the focus whas put on the tool regardless to concrete things : what is the community expected to produce ? What are the expected outcomes ?
This is really important for two reasons. First because people need to know what’s expected from their work, what they should aim at, in what the result of their work should materialize (yes…we’re talking about work…don’t forget it). Second, because that’s the condition that will make all the social interactions/conversations. Second, because it’s the only way to make sure the business will be able to harness the value of these interactions/conversations. Don’t be surprised ifÂ enterprises don’t (re)use the incredible amount of employees generated information for its own benefits if nobody is aware that this information exists and has to be reused. Don’t be surprised if nobody participates if nobody exactly knows what they’re expected to to, what they should produce. It’s realy a key notion, most of all in the begining when it the proof of concept has to be done, when businesses try to see what works and what doesn’t, a time when some directivity is sometimes needed.
If the people in charge of innovation don’t know there’s a space full of ideas on the intranet (and if the members of this space does not know what they are here for or of it makes no sense for them), if the people looking for information or solutions don’t know there is a dedicated space (or if its members don’t know they are here not only to discuss but to find and formalize solutions) we can be sure that absolutely nothing will happen.
These outputs can take many forms : reports of meetings, project statues,bookmarks, idÃ©es, best practices, problem subsmission and solving….the list is infinite. But everyone has to know what the result of one’s activity has to look like. Without that all the social spaces will be either dead or alive without any tangible benefit.
Having tools that are used is one thing, but being able to answer questions like “what did we draw from the social activity, what did we do that would not have been possible before”. To this question some will be able to answer “we improved customer service, lowered the time of response”, “we managed to accumulate our people’s informal knowledge, ouer engineers’ or sales people’s best practices”. Some won’t be able to demonstrate anyhting because they never wondered about outcomes, productions, so they never formalized nor communicate it. “We shared informations with the staff [hoping someone would read it]”Â also works for a good old intranet. No added value here. The next budget review may be quite hard for these last people.
Being unable to express clear expected outcomes only mean that a project is made…in order to make a project, regardless to its consequences and business value.
As every kind of project, an e2.0 project must have goals. And it also needs formalized, clear and concrete expected outomes. If not, social interactions will never bring any value. Or won’t happen.