In the social business arena, many strategists and practitioners have learned to dance very well. Usually they do their best moves when asked, “What’s the ROI of Social Business?” From industry experts, to vendors, to practitioners you hear lots of soft benefits from people when asked this question. Often, you hear some broad sweeping general statement such as Find experts faster or Improve innovation. I’ve written in previous posts that these terms are mostly jargon that must be demystified to be understood.
Another approach to estimating ROI is to look at the social media tool in use and suggest the value is people are logging on and participating. Another area of confusion is the topic of “engagement“. This term has been used for years to describe workers who are “fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work.” But somewhere along the way it’s been repurposed to mean “contributor” by the social business crowd. These definitions are completely different and can cause great confusions inside of companies.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen some incredible successes implementing social business solutions both personally and from my peers. As I look for my next opportunity to drive social business inside of organizations, I wanted to build and share a list of principles that I believe are critical for the success of any social business strategy.
Focus on other’s success, not your own - This isn’t about you. Your key objective should be to make the people who can benefit from social successful. You can do this by offering possible solutions to their business challenges without being preachy. Establish a good reputation inside the company as a person who will help you be successful. One way to facilitate this would be to share your goals & objectives publicly so that others can see what your motivations are. (see: http://greg2dot0.com/2012/06/21/transparent_goals/) Continue reading →
As we look at enterprise social networking and the benefits it enables, it’s clear that the companies perform better when people collaborate. Yet as individuals, collaboration is not necessarily how we’re judged and rewarded. This usually has to do with our objectives which tend to be very focused on being individual contributors. Even executives’ objectives tend to be focused toward organizational performance, and sometimes these objectives can only be achieved at the company’s or other executive’s expense.
When dealing with new people inside a large company, it is common to question why people are acting the way they are and be suspicious of motives. This is often because people don’t understand what your role is inside the company and as a result, that lack of understanding and trust can make getting things done challenging.
Microsoft is no stranger to enterprise. It’s been doing it for over 30 years. But what is a challenge, is Microsoft is a technology company that interfaces primarily with IT. This is the group that traditionally believes their job ends at deployment. Social Business on the other hand is a space where deployment is the easy part. Getting business people to leverage the technology to do things differently is really hard. The limited success of Microsoft Dynamics is one example of what happens when Microsoft tries to interface directly with the business.
In many companies, the relationship between the business and IT is strained at best, but even in companies where the relationship is good, it’s unclear that IT has the expertise or capability to drive social adoption within a company. This is for many reasons:
When we talk about innovation, we’re really talking about doing things differently to achieve better outcomes. Dictionary.com defines innovate as “to introduce something new; make changes in anything established.” This sounds great and it makes it clear why leadership wants their companies to innovate better, but it’s never as easy as it sounds. There are many challenges and personal behaviors that need to be addressed to be truly innovative and be successful at having your employees innovate better.
During my last post Improving collaboration, breaking down silos, and innovating better. What does that all mean?, I shared what “improving collaboration” probably means to most people in the context of making business better. Today, I’m going to delve into the world of silos. What are they, what does it mean when someone tells you they want to “Break down silos” and finally how to challenge the person to understand what they really mean when referencing this jargon.
What is a silo?
According to dictionary.com, a silo is “a structure, typically cylindrical, in which fodder or forage is kept”. In the business context, a silo generally represents a wall or boundary put up by an organization to keep them focused on accomplishing their goals and keeping outsiders from interfering with progress. Sometimes these are also called “stovepipes”. Some might even go on to add that it’s an organizational construct designed to protect and serve the hierarchy. The bottom line is that silos are a method for ensuring focus around specific business deliverables.
I’ve been in the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business space for almost 5 years now, and have been both on the customer and vendor side of the table. What most people are guilty of, is really not knowing what the heck they want to do. I was guilty of it too. I thought Improving Collaboration and Breaking down silos were great business problems to solve. It was until recently that I started focusing around the business value of Enterprise Social that it hit me. Most people talk in jargon and have very little insight into what the underlying business problems are that they are trying to solve. Don’t get me wrong, they know their business problems, but in most cases haven’t connected the dots between problem and solution. Why? Because it takes a lot of analysis and thought to develop that understanding and most of us lack the time to do it.
Over my next few posts I will examine this jargon and help people understand each of these, very vague, clearly misunderstood, terms used around social collaboration inside of companies and help people help their organizations to get past the jargon to provide real business impacts.