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Why (and how) should a company go to Social Media ?

I recently had the opportunity, together with my friend and colleague Willem Gabilly, to present IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines.  You can access here to the english version of the slides I presented. If you are interested in the French version of those slides, please go here. If you would be interested in the video recorded out my the session, it is available here

Get Social. What is in for me ?

During the last couple of months, I had several opportunities to talk about “Social Software” and “IBM Connections” to customers. In this period I found myself insisting on a specific concept which I tried to develop customer after customer.

The concept is, imho, very simple. Social Software in the Enterprise is about consolidating the intellectual capital (IC) of the company. IC does not comprise only what is stored in ECM; most of the IC is “transient” in the sense that it is shared among people, it goes hidden into a drawer, it gets forgotten into “C:”…
I think that the consolidation of IC is one of the major gains that Social Software can bring into the picture. Something that goes beyond churn, drawers, hard-drives. And, I think, that this may be one of the possible selection criteria that a company may use to validate the choice of a product: “does product XYZ help me to successfully consolidate the IC of my company?

What I tried to do was to reformulate that same concept for different profiles in the enterprise in order to try to address the question “What is in for me?” at different levels. This because we frequently get objections of the type:

  • “I do not have enough time to do it…”
  • “my people are here to work, not to talk…”
  • “Seems interesting… but what is the ROI of this?”

I have shared a previous post on this point, where I acknowledge the ideas I have found in a very nice article about being able to set the right priorities. I want to share my approach with you.

For Executives: What is in for me ?

Executives should care most about the consolidation of IC:

  • People join a company and leave it.
  • New opportunity arise where it is important to quickly deploy skilled resources.
    How to nurture skills? How to ensure that experiences become part of the background?
  • Each company needs to develop its differentiators in order to chase new market opportunities.
    Corporate culture is what makes the difference, it is the ground on which talents can flourish… How to build a corporate culture based on living experiences?

So, for executives the “What is in for me?” may translate into : how is it possible to consolidate IC and develop my corporate culture in an incremental way? What if people in the company would be able to contribute, each one of them with her own experience, a little glass of water to fill the ocean?

For Managers: What is in for me ?

A Manager has all the interest if her team would be a model in consolidating the corporate IC! Why shouldn’t she encourage people in her team to focus on what really matters for the company and, slowly but steadily, contribute to the culture?

I mean; of course it is fundamental that each person in the team fully concentrates on the priorities and on the schedule. Here we are not defending any anarchical idea whereby people develop long term personal  interests instead of doing their work: here we are saying that instead of leaving good ideas, great discussions, living experiences fall on a stony ground, it may be wiser to have them falling on good earth so that seeds could develop into flowers and trees.

A manager should be proud to drive her team to meet the goals of her company.

For Employees : What is in for me ?

And how does this translate for an employee?
Well, in the current work environment, where we are all deployed on different projects, we are doing several tasks at the same time and where it is more difficult to build strong relationships based on proximity and on long term planning, the possibility to be “the seed which brings a flower” is a career opportunity. It is source of recognition.

And, why not, it is also a possibility of developing interests that go beyond the small perimeter of the projects on which people are deployed (and that are not always chosen by employees….)

When you choose a Social Software platform for your company, make sure that you choose a platform that allows People (Executives, Managers, Employees) to properly build together a company culture by consolidating the corporate IC! Do not choose a platform which only allows people to collaborate or to partially share some information. Choose a platform that puts People at the centre of the experience. As my friend Louis Richardson says: “do not change your business in something different but make your business social!”

My people do not have time to do it….

Many times when I talk to customers (and many times also when I talk inside IBM Sad smile ) about Social Software and the importance of it, I get replies such as “I will not have the time to play with this stuff” or ‘(from management) “my people do not have time to do this stuff”.

I myself sometimes find it hard to get the time ad the attention. I feel caught into a spiral of activities and what in the morning seemed to be a great day, full of long-awaiting tasks that I will finally be able to do…. in the evening turned to be a stressful day, in which I worked head-down 12 hours without accomplishing any of the things that I planned in the morning.

Sounds familiar?

I read last week an interesting article : “How to be productive and still get 8 hours sleep”. It has nothing to do with Social Software but a couple of things caught my attention:

  1. Set a Value for your time
  2. Determine your priorities
  3. Do a time audit

In effect, what I start to realize when  talk about the transformation that is required in organizations and individuals in order to become a Social Business, is that it is all a matter of answering the question “What is in for me?”. If I would strongly believe that my job is important for my personal evolution and is important for the good of my company (which pays me my salary), contributing to the value of my company becomes my priority (during my work hours at least). There are many things to do, for sure. And we all do many of them during each hour we spend at work.

But is the value associated with each of the things we do aligned with my (and my company’s) top priority ?

Am I sure that, once I do an audit of my 12 hours, I could add the time associated to each minute to the value that I expect from my work (and that my company expects from my work) ?

A new way of getting to Twitter and Social Networks

On my new iPad, I installed Flipboard and Zite !

What a change.

On Flipboard, for instance. I have my Twitter channel…. But it is NOT like reading tweets on Tweetdeck. It is like really harvesting the intelligence twitted by people and consuming it in the most appropriate format.

Same with Zite and its “Sections”.

Great tools.

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