At the beginning of the year, on January 2 in fact, I wrote about reciprocity. My hopes were that we’d begin using the behavior of reciprocity both within the walls of our organizations as well as being members of society at large. It’s my personal belief that we’ve taken some positive steps forward in society (think you, as a person) but within the construct of organizations (or work life) we’re not where we should be. A joint effort of Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business resulted in a wonderful report recently published entitled, “Digital Transformation: A Road-Map for Billion-Dollar Organizations”. One key line struck me:
Whether using new or traditional technologies, the key to digital transformation is re-envisioning and driving change in how the company operates. That’s a management and people challenge, not just a technology one.
And there’s the rub. In 2011, I don’t believe organizations have fully comprehended what ingredients are necessary to ensure an organization (management and people) is in fact going to become more productive. Why do I land on productive, and not collaborative, or engaged, or learned, or reciprocal, or connected? Being more productive is the end game. What an organization does with its employees and their blocks of available time to perform in the workplace is the quintessential Rubik’s Cube puzzle. Today, towards the end of 2011, it still feels scrambled and unsolved. The mistakes I see happening far too often (and more than any list of successful examples) are when organizations manually pop the pieces off the cube and forcibly push them into place to ‘solve the puzzle’. Contrived? You bet. I also believe we continue to employ “if you build it they will come” attitudes in the organization. Dropping Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything tools into the company theater is not going to guarantee your employees/leaders are collaborating and it’s certainly not going to drive reciprocity. Enterprise 2.0 or Social Anything, if we’re not careful, could simply turn into the next ERP. And we all know how that’s going, don’t we? Laurie Buczek writesthe big failure of social business is a lack of integration of social tools into the collaborative workflow.” Whilst I don’t disagree that integration into the workflow isn’t a huge opportunity, to me, we need to stop the press and acknowledge that it’s the behavior of people that has to change in parallel with the deployment of any Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything technology. And quite frankly, I think many organizations are failing at this very concept. According to Bluewolf Consulting, 60% of organizations don’t yet support ‘social’ inside the company. The better question to ask, however, is what type of productivity gains, employee engagement improvements and customer satisfaction increases have occurred with the 40% of the organizations that have deployed ‘social’ inside their company. The ROI of Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything is not how much did it cost to deploy the technology; it’s what gains have we seen in productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction as a result of new collaborative behaviours that are aided and propelled by Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything technologies. And there’s the rub, part two. Through my travels, interactions, conversations and social threads in 2011, there are three interesting camps that have formed:
  • Technologists
  • HR / Learning Professionals
  • Vendors
The technologists are happy discussing Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything features, gizmo’s and futuristic trends … but they forget about the behaviours that are needed to actually make the software more effective in the first place. They forget adoption occurs only when people behave in a way that allows collaboration to manifest across an organization. The HR / Learning Professionals are having massive difficulty adjusting to a world with Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything technologies, but they can’t get in front of it in time to actually establish the behaviours for an organization … even if they knew what behaviours to depict in the first place. The vendors aren’t helping either. Their focus is on the technology and not the collaborative behaviours that need to be employed at a company in parallel. As a consequence, to me, many are simply selling an ERP destined to fail. The ‘social’ ERP. Snake Oil. As McKinsey & Company points out in their 5th annual Business and Web 2.0 Survey, adoption rates of Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything is on the rise, but they confess that “benefits remain consistent over time.” Why? And why do they further assert:
Many believe that if organizational barriers to the use of social technologies diminish, they could form the core of entirely new business processes that may radically improve performance.
The organizational barrier of Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything is the requisite behaviour change that is necessary within the organization itself, within the people that work there. But all is not completely lost. Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald of Gartner recently penned the book, “The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Customers and Employees”. The beauty of their book is they focus on the behaviour of building community and collaborative practices. Paul Adler, Charles Heckscher, and Laurence Prusak in the July-August 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review wrote a brilliant piece entitled, “Building a Collaborative Enterprise”. They opined:
Collaborative communities seek a basis for trust and organizational cohesion that is more robust than self-interest, more flexible than tradition, and less ephemeral than the emotional, charismatic appeal of a Steve Jobs, a Larry Page, or a Mark Zuckerberg
They continue:
Collaborative communities share a distinctive set of values, which we call an ethic of contribution. It accords the highest value to people who look beyond their specific roles and advance the common purpose.
Which now brings me full circle to my original thesis. 2011 has not seen the level of reciprocity as I had hoped. Enterprise 2.0 / Social Anything technologies continue to be the lead news story, with the more important tenet of collaborative behaviours shoved to the back page. As a result, there continues to be systemic challenges to increasing productivity, engagement and customer satisfaction. But, if we focus on those behaviours, if we seek out the right model for leaders and employees to share, consume and contribute that is more common sense than non-sensical, we’ll have both reciprocity and productivity in 2012. Then again, if all else fails, you could always touch a teddy bear. (seriously)


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