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Jacob Morgan
Jacob Morgan
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The Collaborative Organization: Control The Center

In this excerpt from The Collaborative Organization, Jacob Morgan explains how to organize for Enterprise 2.0 collaboration.

Try asking them the following questions:

-- What is it about this initiative that you are against?

-- Do you believe employee collaboration is important?

-- Do you see any areas of improvement around collaboration and communication that you think we can turn into opportunities?

-- What would make you feel more comfortable with moving in the direction of collaboration?

-- If you were leading this organization, what would you do to help foster collaboration?

Asking these questions will allow you to understand where an employee who shows this resistance is coming from and why. This isn't about steamrolling employees, so make sure to pay attention to feedback.

Of course, not every organization is going to have the type of collaboration team described above. In fact, I have found that no two organizations have the exact same team or the same number of people participating to make these initiatives successful.

In your company, where does the push for Enterprise 2.0 come from?

The Next Question to Ask Is How to Get These People Involved in the Initiative

Getting employees involved doesn't need to be complicated. In fact, it starts by just asking them.

I have found that discussions about deploying these solutions are not uncommon within organizations. In fact, it's quite the opposite; they are common. The way to start is by looking at who else in the organization is having these conversations and discussions. I'd be surprised if there weren't teams at your company that haven't already deployed their own emergent collaboration technologies, such as wikis, microblogs, blogs, or other easily deployed platforms. After all, there are many free and low-cost alternatives that take a minimal amount of time to get up and running. Figure 5.2 shows that in 23% of all organizations the push for Enterprise 2.0 comes from the bottom up, which means that it's likely these tools are already being used in teams, groups, and departments. Keep in mind that these discussions aren't typically about emergent collaboration as a topic but instead are about business problems that employees are faced with. Emergent collaboration then becomes a potential solution to existing business problems.

You might encourage some of your colleagues to share their stories and experiences with you so that you can document them and share them with management. Surveys, as mentioned a few times in this book, are also effective ways to identify the collaboration problems employees are experiencing.

Many executives and employees do not like to address the elephant in the room. Because of this, many people in the organization are aware that a problem with collaboration exists but choose not to address it. This will work for only so long, and eventually it has to be addressed.

Is it more effective to have the push for Enterprise 2.0 come from the top down or from the bottom up? In the Chess Media Group survey we found that the greatest push for Enterprise 2.0 came from both the top down and the bottom up with a clear and driven purpose.

We can also see that "both and accidental" is the second largest type of push for Enterprise 2.0. This means that in 55% of all deployments the push came from the bottom and from the top. What does this tell us? Clearly, this is something that is being considered by most employees at an organization, and so the first step is to not be scared of having that conversation. If we include the "top down" numbers as well, senior management is involved in the push for Enterprise 2.0 in 72% of all deployments.

There is no template or cookie-cutter approach to getting people involved, but you should remember that based on the Chess Media Group survey, the chances of other executives and employees already having had these discussions is very high. Here are some things organizations have done to get support for these initiatives:

-- Conducting employee surveys that clearly show that collaboration and/or communication is an area that employees would like to see improved.

-- Developing and presenting a set of business use cases that other employees can relate to. This can be quite simple: Go out and deploy something for a small team and then show the value of what was done.

-- Highlighting case studies and examples of what other companies are doing. If you can find competitors or vertically relevant companies, that's even better.

-- Communicating the value of this for the employees. For example, you can go to an executive and say, "Remember how you keep mentioning that the executive team doesn't have enough insight into the ground level of our organization? Well, I think I found a way to fix this problem."

"How do we get people involved?" is a tricky question to provide a definitive answer to because it's a bit like asking, "How do I make friends?" Sure, there are some things you can do, such as not being rude and being open-minded. However, friendship happens when people click, and that is much more of a personality and personal connection factor than it is a "what can I do" factor. Although the things mentioned above can help get people involved, it is also going to depend on things such as timing, whether the people you are approaching like you and trust you, and whether you can connect and communicate with those people.

"What’s in it for me?" is an important question to address for those who might potentially be involved. Unfortunately, in many companies it is rare for employees to play an integral role in something that has the potential to change the culture and the way the business operates radically. This serves as a new and exciting opportunity for employees to challenge themselves and become part of something that can change the direction of the entire company. Most of the employees at companies whom I have interviewed were excited to be a part of something new while learning new skills. Employees who are passionate about emergent collaboration and believe in connecting employees together are the best people to have on this team.

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