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Social Media and Change Adoption

Nisrine Kaderbhay's blog post "Why are Businesses Afraid of Social Media?" argues for the market-facing value of social media as a way to build community with customers and prospects.  Another aspect of the social media debate is the use of social networking tools within the organization. 

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Nisrine Kaderbhay's blog post "Why are Businesses Afraid of Social Media?" argues for the market-facing value of social media as a way to build community with customers and prospects.  Another aspect of the social media debate is the use of social networking tools within the organization. 

According to a recent study by ABI Research, the demand for enterprise social and mobile collaboration will rise dramatically in coming years - reaching a predicted investment of $3.5 billion worldwide by 2016. Integration Developer News quotes the following excerpt from the ADI report: "The primary goal of the social enterprise is to achieve an integrated, coherent, and flexible functioning and development of organizations, making them more agile and capable of facing a highly dynamic business environment.  Many organizations have gone beyond the initial experimentation stage to implement these tools in earnest in order to resolve specific business issues."

For those of us concerned with managing the human and organizational impact of transformational change, this is important news.  The increased volume and speed of change in companies is causing anxiety and confusion across workforces.  Anyone experienced with ERP implementations and other complex transformations knows our clients struggle continuously to ensure adoption of new technology, processes, and roles across the organization.  We needn't belabor the well-known statistics showing that change adoption (or lack thereof) is the #1 factor in the failure of technical implementations.   How can we use social media to address this perennial issue?

Successful change requires three essential conditions:

  1. People know what is expected of them in the new environment.
  2. People have the skills and tools to do what is expected.
  3. People are held accountable for adopting new behaviors.

The above conditions cannot be realized so long as we treat the organization as a mere aggregation of individuals.  There is nothing like the onslaught of change to isolate the individual, and isolation virtually guarantees that the individual:

  1. Misunderstands what is expected.
  2. Fails to learn the necessary skills and tools.
  3. Flees accountability.

Need we mention that isolation also engenders fear?  There is nothing like fear to sabotage change.

If isolation is the enemy of successful change, community is its greatest ally.  Community rescues the individual from fearful isolation and provides the essential social context in which change is more easily adopted.  Productivity-focused social collaboration tools can help build communities that embrace change.  Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Register everyone impacted by the change in an enterprise social network, e.g., Saba People Cloud.
  • Identify change agents and assign them to a community of interest within the social network.
  • Assign individual goals - focused on change adoption - within the change agent community of interest.
  • Create additional stakeholder groups within the social network.  Encourage members of those groups to "follow" the identified change agents, particularly those agents whose activities (visible to their "followers") are of interest to affected stakeholders.
  • Launch, feed, and monitor discussion forums pertaining to change program topics.  Monitoring is important to maintain a positive and constructive attitude to change, yet controversy should not be feared.  Assign a skilled facilitator to manage "hot button" topics and steer the conversation in the right direction.

The above are just a few ideas pertaining to organizational change management.  Enterprise social networking tools can also be used to facilitate informal learning and tacit knowledge sharing, so essential to filling the gaps that are often left by formal classroom training and e-learning.

Have you used enterprise social networking tools to enable change adoption in your organization?  Please leave a comment!  We'd love to hear your story.

 

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