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?”
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!”