If you poison the well of your employee base by failing over and over again to make their lives easier, you may never be able to help change your company into the company it needs to be to survive, let alone grow, in the new economy.
Many IT departments have lost credibility, and it's not all their fault. Business managers are just as guilty of grabbing technology "solutions" and assuming they will get used.
I'm not looking to point blame here. I'm a reformed classic IT guy who went to technology first before everything else, and failed, like so many do when they pick the solution before identifying the problems and opportunities. It's painful, annoying, costly, and time-consuming--and it's embarrassing for everyone involved. Who wants to fail?
Time To Break That Cycle
It hit me at the E2 Social conference in June that we're finally at a point in the Enterprise 2.0/social business movement that there are plenty of success stories, and far more failure stories.
Those companies that have been waiting it out to see if this "social thing" is real are now getting comfortable that they are ready for the movement that's been underway for six to 10 years. They've seen that the economic changes that hit in 2008 aren't going away, and they need to take advantage of Enterprise 2.0 tools and processes to respond faster to market shocks and increased competition, all with fewer people to do the work.
So if you're sick of failing initiatives, you must do something different, and the solution isn't to rely on social software to fix what's broken or missing in your organization. On paper, it may seem that your fellow employees are interchangeable cogs, with a predictable set of costs and outputs, and that they're essentially the same when it comes to managing them. People are people, who respond to carrots and sticks and the normal corporate machinery, right? No, no, no ...
You absolutely must understand why the early adopters, the people who will jump on anything that's new and shiny and make things up as they go along, are entirely different from the people who want everything thoroughly documented, explained, and handed to them. And then there are all of the people in between.
There's nothing wrong with any of these people. They just have very different drivers. And that's both the challenge and the opportunity.
People don't hate change. That's a corporate myth we need to eradicate. People don't like change that's forced on them, change they don't understand and connect with.
As soon as you can find the hook that makes the change you want and align it with a change that they see as a benefit, you can amass an army of people who will go out of their way to help others understand why this change is good for them too. And you won't believe how fast that change takes place and how long it lasts.