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


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Yesterday 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


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