From its not-so-humble beginnings, introducing social concepts to the enterprise has been met simultaneously with disdain and excitement.  Vendors have led the charge in creating market awareness for the consumption of social software platforms and their related consulting and technical services.  And even though some still doubt whether a real market exists for social software, and I sometimes agree, social collaboration is no longer a radical, revolutionary idea.  It may be time to redirect the conversation away from vendors under pressure and give it back to the people who will benefit most from the change: the rank and file who slog to work every day.

The pace of real adoption and engagement has been slow.  Case studies that held so much early promise have become mired in the latent bureaucratic morass that is corporate life.  Justification for social collaboration initiatives today revolves around the same incentives that have served enterprise software well for decades – higher productivity, faster profits, reduced expenses.  In the maturation of the sector, we’ve lost the early human capital fervor that fueled this category (circa 2006).  The spirit of deep and profound change and the opportunity to significantly rewrite the rules of modern work has dissipated with the increased pressure to tie social adoption to concrete, short-term business outcomes.  But this emphasis on Excel-based decision-making misses the point on social inside the enterprise.  After all, it is about something larger, something transformational.

I think it’s time for the “mass of men leading quiet lives of desperation” (Thoreau) inside the corporate labyrinth, shackled to the economic incentives and rewards that rule them, to take back up the mantle for change.  The key will be the same challenge as it’s always been to change ingrained behaviors: why bother?

Here’s why: if the philosophy of social with its associated new social behaviors are adopted within an enterprise, the propensity for a richer (better quality employee experience), more loyal, more engaged workforce will make work endlessly more interesting and immensely enjoyable.  This emotional bond to work where rewards come in the form of a variety of intrinsic motivators (including but not exclusive to financial rewards) will deliver innovation, improved business processes, and fresh ideas.  This “stickiness” to the job will ultimately benefit shareholders (too).  The problem with enterprise social is the Catch-22 associated with instigating this change.

cross-posted from Quora.

 

 

Most companies are bracing for the socialization of the enterprise. Some with fear and trepidation; some with enthusiasm and high expectations. Regardless of where you are in the timeline, what’s clear is the need for hands-on instruction with the folks who will need to be thinking and working a new way– a way that may be alien and outside of their comfort zone.

SoCo Partners offers customized “evangelism” workshops at your office location. It’s imperative to introduce these new concepts to employees in a way that encourages adoption and applies them to every day business processes they already know. With many decades of experience in large enterprises, our approach bridges the past to the future.

We are currently scheduling workshops. We will be happy to discuss a unique training and orientation seminar that will gently introduce your employees to prevailing successful socio-collaborative philosophies and methods.  To find out more, simply send us an inquiry to susan (at) socopartners (dot) com.

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cross posted from ITSinsider:

Picture 18Interest in the 2.0 Adoption Council has been fantastic. Over forty members have filled our ranks. Each of our members has an extremely demanding day job. Educating, motivating, cajoling, rationalizing, bargaining, organizing, tracking, recruiting, and learning are all part of the job skill requirements. The “Internal Evangelist” (IE) has to carefully balance the needs of the business with an incredible responsibility to drive change in the organization with tools and practices that are outside of the comfort zone of most large enterprise employees, not to mention the pockets of organizational resistance predisposed to preserving Enterprise 1.0.

For this reason, I have decided to award an “Internal Evangelist of the Year.” One member of the 2.0 Adoption Council will be selected to exemplify the tenacity, courage, and sheer energy it takes to inspire a large enterprise to embrace the principles and practices of Enterprise 2.0. The award will be announced at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

“…the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!”

Please feel free to nominate someone who you believe is deserving of this award. If they’re not a member of the Council already, I will be happy to extend an invite. Refer the individual to me on my LinkedIn profile. We’re still screening candidates via LinkedIn.

Within 24 hours, the 2.0 Adoption Council has amassed an impressive showing of large enterprises who are wrestling with adoption issues for 2.0 tools and practices.

NoNABorAllstate

Join the 2.0 Adoption Council!

This post is cross-posted from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference blog:
It was fantastic to meet so many customers this year struggling with the issue of adoption in their enterprise. The following is a post I published today on my ITSinsider blog. I hope you will join this community of your peers so we can share the burden and the joy of bring 2.0-style democratization and collaboration benefits to your company.

Cross-posted from ITSinsider

3663034859_5127cdbd16_o Yes, the baby was born in ’06, started crawling in ’07, and now is running around like a maniac with boundless energy in ’09. The Enterprise 2.0 movement is now a healthy child, growing stronger and more willful every day (just a cabinet door away from getting into trouble…) I returned from the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week rejuvenated, as I’d hoped to.

The number UNO issue on the minds of this year’s customer conference attendees was: HOW THE >>>> DO WE DO THIS??? Customers wanted to hear from other customers, not us (the so-called experts in Enterprise 2.0). The best sessions for me were definitely the unconference sessions where real practitioners could talk frankly about their challenges and share their successes.

Listening to customers during the conference, as well as culling the data that has been coming in from various surveys, I’ve decided the time is right to launch a community for “Internal 2.0 Evangelists.” As I’ve been a 2.0 Evangelist for the broader sector (and I thought my job was difficult), I realized the job of the internal evangelist is far, far more difficult. These folks toggle between fighting the good fight every day and then slipping uneasily into a sort of DMZ where they can peek out into the broader community for support and the rejuvenation they need to go on fighting another day. It’s often a thankless job with no clear roadmap for advancement, yet the majority of them do it because they believe in the principles of the 2.0 movement. I celebrate them!

So, that said, I’ve begun the 2.0 Adoption Council on LinkedIn. Once we reach a critical mass, we will be moving the Council to a more fluid socio-collaborative platform. If you are a customer of a large enterprise rolling out an enterprise 2.0 initiiative, you are invited to join the Council. Here is a LinkedIn invite I sent to some key customer contacts that explains the Council’s mission and goals:

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You can reach me on LinkedIn on my profile if we’re not already connected. Send me a note you want to join, and I’ll send you an invite. The Council is free; there are no strings attached. Andrew McAfee has joined the Council, as well as several prestigious global enterprises.

 

I had the privilege to speak to a number of Research Board members last week on how 2.0 is dramatically changing large organizations. In the course of preparing the presentation, it occurred to me that HR has a powerful early lead in initiating the conversation around the benefits of “socialworking” in the Enterprise.

The raw material of the post-industrial era is human capital, and never before has it been easier and less expensive to harvest the talent in an organization to introduce innovation and spark creativity.

The presentation is posted below. I would love to present this material to your organization. Contact me to arrange a private briefing.

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Happy you’ve arrived here at SoCo Partners. We are a team of passionate evangelists and consultants who have been tracking the progress in applying the philosophies of web 2.0 to the Enterprise and other large organizations.

Upcoming speaking events include:

The Research Board. A private briefing to top F200 executives on the current state of socio-collaborative engagement. (April, 2009)

Interactive Austin 2009. Panelist on “Lessons for the Enterprise from the Obama Campaign.” IA09 (April, 2009)

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference. The flagship conference framing issues and trends in the Enterprise 2.0 market. Moderator on “Twitter-like tools for the Enterprise” and “Help! Marcom doesn’t get social media.” (June, 2009)

 

A gift arrived for executive leadership with web 2.0 technology. This gift sometimes slips in the back door, under the radar of the IT department, but it is one that should be exposed and embraced. What gift? The gift of free form, emergent, collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs, and other enterprise 2.0 tools for large organizations. Top management needs to take a long, hard look at the asset value stockpiled in the bottom of the organization. Users can adopt these tools on their own and start sharing their street smarts about their jobs, their industry knowledge, the competitive market, even the business processes that run the company’s critical operations. Most of these tools are either free or so inexpensive, they can be charged to a credit card, so departments can forego formal budgetary approval for them. The result? Fast, open, connected access to the best thinking in the company—at every level.

For many decades now, executives have overused the tired maxim, “our greatest asset is our people.” If you believe that, then give your people a voice. Put a tool in their hands that will enable them to revolutionize their workplace. Encourage them to start blogging about their day job. Give all your employees the opportunity to collaborate on corporate-wide wikis for their projects and process improvements.  Experiment with a social networking platform like Facebook or Twitter which answers the question, “What are you doing?” The more your employees are connected to each other and the outside world, the easier the ideas will flow about how to add value to the company.

Unlocking the intellectual horsepower of your talent base is the competitive weapon of this new century. Your talent will make the difference as you navigate the tough economic climate that faces the global economy. The next generation coming into the workforce, as well as the digerati generation currently entrenched, naturally embraces and champions web 2.0 technology. Even though some of us are a few steps behind this new generation, we need to recognize web 2.0’s liberating potential and open our minds to the possibilities it will deliver for our employees, our customers, our suppliers, and our shareholders. The closer we’re connected, the less distant we are from the truth about our markets. We need to foster a corporate culture of collaboration and sharing, openness and honesty, truth and transparency—trusting our most valuable resource, our people, to turn our organizations upside down and sideways— shaking out the dead wood and letting the brilliance rise to the top.

It starts with you– leading by example.  Go bottom feeding to fortify your fiscal health.