Building a social workplace? It’s all about business change

swconf logoYesterday saw the second Social Workplace Conference hosted by Crexia take place in London. With a bigger turn out than November we had some great discussions and saw some great case studies about what works and what doesn’t in the world of social tools in the workplace. Here are some of my highlights…..

The biggest thing to think about has to be business change and culture shift. The tools are one part of getting the conversation going but so often we focus on the technology before anything else:

The 6 pitfalls we often fall into when embarking on a social project

  1. Avoid creating silos of info
  2. Technology must not be only focus
  3. Viral adoption strategy is not enough
  4. Not the cheap option
  5. Avoid too much too soon
  6. You don’t need to replace email completely

Social tools simply allow dialogue across the business. Let’s not over complicate what they help us achieve

So if better collaboration = better business what blockers should be consider as we start the journey?

  • knowledge is power
  • habits are hard to break
  • lack of time
  • what’s in it for me?
  • collaboration tool fatigue

Social tools need to enable spontaneous collaboration. People need to want to be in the conversation. If you put people in communities they won’t engage with them so unless you’re changing how you communicate and how your business operates the project is going to be an uphill struggle.

68% of IT projects fail or are challenged.We heard about some key reasons why IT and social collaboration projects fail:

  1. No business case
  2. Allocation of resource is misplaced
  3. We don’t ask people what they want. Centre decides on the need and delivers something they think people want
  4. Wrong product for your scenario
  5. Incorrect budget: People only really budget for the software, not the added extras and resource to tailor the product to your needs
  6. Business process aren’t mapped
  7. Training (how to use the tool) and education (why we are building the tool). Two different things but often forgotten.
  8. The roll out. Big band will give you a big blow up
  9. Stakeholders want different things from the tool. Define these and measure success by them

The last panel of the day looked at the 7 habits of an open and socially collaborative business. After a lot of discussion around the tools they have introduced the panel talked about several habits companies needed to adopt. These are my favourite 7:

  1. Take the risk and be prepared to fail
  2. Have the desire to be open and share knowledge
  3. Give people permission to get involved and be part of conversations
  4. Don’t add a tool unless you remove another one
  5. Educate and train people – nurture their collaborative skills
  6. Respect and trust. The on-line office space is no different to the actual office space in terms of etiquette
  7. You need support from senior leaders to get the tool and senior leader activity on the tool

And as the day drew to a close, drinks were shared between the delegates and i reflected on what has once again been a great day with some real food for thought. As i tweeted all day there were some great quotes from the presenters – here are my favourites:

  • ROI should stand for return on involvement when looking at social tools in the workplace
  • “A social workplace is a professional environment that enables employees to become social individuals” – Rita Chambers, Sodexo
  • The project is not the implementation with technology, the project is business change
  • Never waste a good crisis. It’s a great time to make a change

Thanks again for the team for a great event. To see the full Twitter feed check out #swconf

Building a social workplace – what is reality?

When I attended the social workplace conference in November there were a lot of conversations about how you embed social platforms into organisations. I blogged about the event and they are hosting another event tomorrow which I am really looking forward to attending.

What’s interesting is that the agenda this year seems to focus more on overcoming challenges than the excitement of building a new tool. As with any event, the conversations change over time and when I attend the Melcrum SCM conferences each year there is always a feeling that internal communicators are moving closer to becoming the partners to the business that we should be.

The agenda for the conference on 24th May looks set to start many conversations and with some panel discussions covering the management of social projects, why these sometimes fail and how you engage internal stakeholders. I’m hoping for some real tips on how you embed these tools and how, as an internal communicator, you really can let go of old habits.

Follow the #swconf hashtag for updates throughout the day!

Letting go

Having worked in internal communications for over 5 years it’s difficult to know how to adapt to the changing landscape of social tools. I’m a huge advocate of social media and applying that internally but can you ever really let go of controlled communication?

I write this as a colleague sent a mass email to people about an operational issue that will occur during a large sporting event later this year. He was being helpful, giving them information they needed. But I can’t help but tense because this communication should have gone on our intranet for everyone, and we have a comms plan for the event that we should follow. Am I being unreasonable? Am i too used to everything being joined up before going out to the masses? And how on earth do I get passed this?

I like structure and process and a comms plan, so does all that go out the window when you introduce and integrate social tools in a business? He could have posted this on our intranet, but even then would that be ok if the comms plan has timescales and other channels included for messages?

I genuinely don’t have the answer but it’s made me realise how easy it is to pay lip service to social tools in internal communications and how the reality of change is actually quite daunting!  Here’s hoping for some discussion on this at the Social Workplace Conference in May!