Summary: Change and change management stay the trending topics when it comes to social business. Despite the relevance and importance for substantial and sustainable results it can become a roadblock and slow down initiatives. What has been a fight over IT budgets has now become a fundamental discussion around leadership and management. I want to provide three angles to the subject in order to make it more tangible – for drivers and follower of a social business initiative.

Christmas and New Year have been a lazy time. For two weeks I have turned into a spectator and went to “read only” mode. While “connect social business to actual work” seems to become a pretty hot topic in the field, change and change management have stayed on top of the list of elaborated topics.

I suppose we all agree that substantial change in how information and knowledge work will contribute value will be dependent on the foundation in corporate culture. Mandate and style of management have to change – eventually. However, if you make corporate change the condition for the successful socialisation of information work you will be trying to swallow an elephant in one go… What has been built and established for years will not be teared down by or because of social intranets and networks.

It’s essential to find the starting point for social initiatives that initiates change through self motivation of the users and that contributes value that is relevant to executives. Networking effects and user volume is attractive to them in the first two presentations – in the long round quantitative results will move into focus.

In this post I want to provide three simple illustrations that shall support the ones driving or planning an initiative in distinguishing that particular starting point. They are supposed to support

  • prioritisation
  • adoption
  • measurability
  • behavioural change

My goals is to simplify the challenges by putting the protagonists – the actual users – in the centre. If user acceptance (hopefully) is the key indicator for success, the three angles should be valid. I sincerely hope the will be of use.

#1 There is no I in team – but there is a ME if you look hard enough

The ME in team

Let’s assume (or better hope) the initiative is not called “the internal social network”, “our Facebook” or “company LinkedIn”. Finding the right starting point is basically easy. The more support the initiative will provide to the individuals in achieving their personal goals the more likely it is that adoption will not require severe change management. Remove the obstacles from people’s daily work and you will make a lot of friends.

This of course doesn’t apply if all actions and operations are measured collaboratively and individual achievements come second… If you work in such a company please (pretty please with whipped cream on top) get in touch with me.

#2 Motivation to get away from bad experience is stronger than the one for striving towards the bright future

changeNo2

Corresponding to #1 this image represents how motivation works. People tend to be driven by things that are clear to them. If you look at initiatives from that angle you should state clearly what will be improved, left behind or eliminated. Because it will be something people have experienced. If it has been a burden on them they will be thankful and supportive. Vision, mission and future scenarios are necessary – otherwise you cannot work with the end in mind. However, it will be much harder to motivate the majority of people by painting the bright future. It’s simply too blurry, it’s not tangible – it’s simply nothing people can judge for sure.

The more specific known barriers, road blocks, frictions and shortfalls are named the more hands will be on deck to remove them and create the joint new way of working.

#3 Collaboration really rocks when it delivers a win/win/win

changeNo3This one is simple. Yes, exchanging knowledge and nurturing expertise is something good. Networking with people alike is desirable. Even more desirable if WE (the US in team) are able to achieve what we are measured by as a team with minimum efforts and (ideally) a lot of fun. The easier it is to get rid of the daily work (*wink) the more motivation the individual (and teams) will have to deliver beyond the job description and drive new initiatives and business development.

Eventually it will be a win/win/win – for the individual, the group and the company.

What stays the same is the perspective on change management of illustration #1: the easier it is to understand (and feel) the added value and the relief from known obstacles the less change management is required to drive adoption.

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