Watch your local Pee-wee football team’s practice sometime and you’ll see a lot of dropped passes, missed tackles, and a whole host of other mistakes. But…what would happen if you put that team on Heinz Field and gave them all the same amenities as the Pittsburgh Steelers? Yep, they still wouldn’t be able to complete a pass, kick a field goal or break a James Harrison tackle. Clearly, just because they were put on a better field and given the latest equipment doesn’t mean they will suddenly learn to play football.
Similarly, simply adding the latest Enterprise 2.0 platform behind your firewall doesn’t mean your employees will suddenly learn to collaborate with one another. Collaboration doesn’t just magically happen because you went out and bought the latest Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business software. It happens because they have a reason to collaborate. It happens when they are rewarded for sharing information. It happens when they like working with the people around them.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen dozens of failed wikis, blogs, microblog platforms, forums, and idea management deployments, and I’m sure I’ll see many more. This is frustrating on a couple of different levels for me. First, since I suffer from HOLI (“Hatred of Losing Information“), I hate seeing the missed collaboration opportunities that result from these poorly implemented solutions. Secondly, I know that because of these failures, these organizations will most likely write off social media behind the firewall as some sort of snake oil.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of all of these failures is the reliability with which their failure can be predicted. If you’re implementing some sort of social media behind your organizational firewall, and you’re doing any of the following, I can tell you right now that you probably won’t be successful:
- The same IT department who installed your email system, your ERP system, or your databases is responsible for leading the implementation of your wiki, blog, microblogging platform, etc.
- You don’t have anyone talking about user adoption and community management on the team from the very start
- You don’t have a plan for funding this initiative beyond this year
- You’re measuring success by the number of “users” you can claim
- You’re talking about giving away iPads and candy bars to get people to use it
- There are numerous conversations among senior leadership about how to mitigate the risks of your employees using the tools “as a dating service,” to “goof around,” to complain about everything, or editing things they don’t know anything about.
- You’re more concerned with the available features instead of making it fast, reliable, and accessible
- The team responsible for the platform doesn’t even use it
Instead of trying to give the players the latest and greatest stadium and equipment, start focusing on improving their passing and tackling skills. Maybe you could have them run some pass patterns instead of installing a state-of-the art locker room?
- Do my employees have a reason to collaborate with people outside of their immediate team?
- Is collaborative behavior rewarded during the performance assessment process? Are they punished for hoarding information?
- Does leadership model collaborative behavior?
- Are colleagues encouraged to spend time with each other outside of work hours (softball teams, happy hours, etc.)?
- Are there multiple levels of approvals needed before anyone can share anything?
- Do your employees trust each other? Do they trust management?
If you’re interested in learning more about why your Enterprise 2.0 implementations are failing and what you can do to help them succeed, take a look at the webinar that I just did for UBM TechWeb. The “It’s Not the Field, It’s the Players” webinar will be archived here, and the slides are now available below.
[UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE PRESENTATION BELOW]