Today everyone has a technology tool or solution. You are either the recipient of a social business strategic imperative or you are driving the so called “change.” No one knows yet how they will measure the success – is it clicks, likes or some secret ROI model? And it is one of the most interesting times in business as there are more conversations taking place about tools and technologies than people and adoption. There is confusion around business value.
One of the reasons we are having so many challenges around adoption and integration is the lack of shared goals and the inability to integrate technology into workflows. Did anyone really need an Instant Messaging strategy or was it simply adopted because it was a valuable way to communicate? We adopt technology when we understand how it can help us and how it fits into our lives. We resist technology when we think of it as a nuisance. How many executives feel that they have no time for another “place to go,” which is how many describe Twitter and LinkedIn, for example?
I have worked with executives who have told me “I don’t have time to go on Twitter. I don’t want to blog” and “whatever I take on as a new tool has to replace something else that I am doing.” Talk to any busy executive who is still trying to grasp social media and you will find they are struggling. And the younger generation has been surrounded by these tools and may live on them but my interaction with youth and Gen Yers has been that while they have access, they are not always savvy on how to use them to enable their work.
Introducing the telephone into the workplace had the same hesitation and skepticism around productivity and risk. Management was concerned that people would spend too much time talking on the phone instead of working.
And the bottom line is that it is not about technology. It’s about people, culture and leadership (vs. management).
But at the same time, the world is not slowing down. We are getting faster access to information as events happen and the challenges we face will most definitely increase. In this world, simplicity, agility and relationships become more important driving forces.
We need to fight off buzzwords like “social media gurus,” and “collaboration” and find out what that they actually mean, how they can enable our business strategy. Will they help us sell more? Will they position us as a market leader? Will they help create faster response times that will increase customer satisfaction and in turn drive more sales? Will they allow us to recruit and retain the very best talent? Those are the questions we should consider asking.
How did we overcomplicate business so much that we have internal groups fighting each other instead of the competition outside of the corporate walls? Does every one of the employees who works in your organization know how their job enables the overall business? If your answer is no, then what communication does an employee get to be effective in his/her job? Isn’t that the definition of communication?
Management may be ready to deploy collaboration tools to help employees share knowledge and increase productivity but have they asked what is the business value and how does it integrate in how we work at the outset? We need to ask ourselves whether executives are resisting social business only because they see it as a significant time sink and something employees only use for fun or have they not be properly educated on its potential value?
The bottom line is not to just add another tool but to understand how that tool can move the business forward. And to ask what may get in the way of its implementation? Is it …
- Organizational culture?
- Perceptions of social technologies?
- Skills and capabilities to adopt new way of working?
- Leadership not walking the talk (leading by example)?
- Siloed organizational structure?
- Lack of investment of time and resources?
To do this effectively you must take the time to assess your challenges and opportunities. That is what we are doing at The Community Roundtable with our new Social Executive Study. We will be researching 5 types of executives through interviews and surveys and will aggregate that data to provide insight into how organizations can rethink business. Interested in more information or being part of the study? Please let us know.