3 Ways To Turn Enterprise 2.0 Laggards Into Fans

Try these experiments to learn why early adopters differ from the people who want collaboration tech thoroughly documented and explained.
Your Mission

If you have stalled on the path to Enterprise 2.0 or haven't yet begun, run three short experiments (interviews) and see what you uncover. You're going to want to talk with five to 10 people at least, individually, in each experiment, to get enough information to draw conclusions.

-- Experiment No. 1:

Find the people in your organization who are already in love with Enterprise 2.0, social business, or whatever term has some positive association for them. Ask them explicitly what it is that gets them most fired up about what they can do (or want to do) in this space, with these technologies. Capture any downsides they're seeing, but you're really looking for their passion. Ideally, record these statements in audio or video. As a fallback, write down the exact words they use; don't just summarize.

-- Experiment No. 2:

Have this group of E2.0 evangelists point out the people they've energized (by mentoring, coaching, or cajoling) into at least being interested in this movement, and repeat the above questions to that second group of people. Capture their feedback, including what they're still uncertain about, whether it's technology, changed expectations, or how they're compensated for their contributions. Maybe they're just afraid of looking stupid. Consider making the responses anonymous to get people to open up.

--Experiment No. 3:

Last but most important, find the people everyone knows absolutely despise everything about this Enterprise 2.0/social business movement, and ask them what they despise the most.

Seriously, you want specifics. And you should expect to hear things like: "this company isn't capable of collaborating" and "every 'collaboration' initiative we've ever tried has failed." Don't let these people just vent about why it can't work or hasn't worked--ask what should be done differently to be successful.

Can they imagine scenarios where their work would be easier to do if they could find an expert, tap people in another area, or find a project that's similar to theirs? Or are there processes and paperwork that they dread doing that could be done in a more collaborative way? For this group, I would recommend anonymizing their responses so that their statements can't be held against them, but remember who they are so you can go back to them later, once you've found ways to address their concerns.

Just like disgruntled customers, these folks aren't bitter enemies for life. If you correct a failure based on their feedback, the naysayers and cranks in organizations can become your strongest allies. But you shouldn't expect them to do the work of turning things around. It's up to you to help them see that you are on their side and have heard their concerns. It's a vastly underused technique.

However you approach E2.0, if you don't get going, you won't get any results. If nothing else, try these experiments and find out where you have some allies and potential allies to unfreeze your organization. There's work to be done!

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)