While attending a session (Enterprise 2.0 – The corporate side of Web 2.0) this morning, I loved what the speaker (David Gootzit) had to say about Enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. He likened a successful adoption of these technologies to the classic real estate moniker "Location, Location, Location". If there was a theme, it would be that a clear purpose is the universal theme to successful implementations. Here are some key things I took away:
The "Let's put the technology out there and see what happens approach"
In Gartner's research, over 90% of "put it out there" implementations, the ones that start off as, "let's just give users some tools and see how they start to use them, then well adopt a strategy", fail. I've got to say, this is pretty in line with not only what I've found has happened at Habañero every time we put something out and think that everyone will just start using it. That, and our common effort to rescue our customer's unwieldy "tests" of new software further validate this concept. The core message is that social computing technologies are not successful because the tools are cool or are enabling something new, but rather, they are successful because someone has a vision, driven by a clear purpose of how a community is to be impacted BY the technology. So how do you inspire a community to rally behind a purpose? There's a few ways.
You can't make a business case for social software, but you can use social software for a business case
There is no ROI in wikis, blogs, better, quicker, faster, stronger collaborate-and-share technologies. The ROI is in how they are intended to impact the business. How will the changes to the community experience make you more money? Make your products better? Make people care? Reduce risk? This business case, David notes, is driven by a purpose. But realization doesn't happen right away. Most of the time, the types of shifts companies are looking to create happen over long periods of time, with evolving community needs. For this, he suggests creating a Purpose Roadmap.
Never test or prototype with the user community you intend to impact
I found this comment funny. We break this rule all the time and then have to deal with the aftermath. The basic rule here, is you have one try (MAYBE two if you're lucky) to truly get engagement from a user community. If you fail to hit it on the head, offer a compelling user experience, or simply get it wrong, you're toast. TEST with people who know how to be good test subjects….not with your community. A good reminder.
Never break John Gall's law
I don't like Murphy's law ("If anything can go wrong, it will"). It's so pessimistic. That said, I love John Gall's Law (called Gall's Law). It states:
"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system."
Applied to social computing, this basically means, don't boil the ocean with the first attempt. In fact start very, very, very, very small. I'm reminded of our larger consulting engagements that deliver some large, super featured portal or collaboration technology and then struggle with adoption. I love this law, and hope we live it more. God it's tempting to want to add more stuff.
Your tools should stretch a culture, not alter it
To Gall's point, making a "hoarding culture" a "sharing culture"' or a "technophobic culture" an "adoptive culture" is not something that happens over night. Again, it takes years. Find a way to include things in the purpose roadmap that provide incremental and small differences to the community you're impacting. Something we run into all the time: our customers want to make people "retain and share knowledge" because they are not doing it now. Now that I look at it, that's a pretty lofty (and likely impractical) change. I love this roadmap concept.
Purpose, Purpose, Purpose
I think this point is pretty clear now. I'm bet this content is trademarked by Gartner, but I don't think it'll hurt to list what David calls the Magnificent Seven for driving a good purpose for enabling effective Web 2.0 social tools within the enterprise context. They are:
Magnet (what's in it for users)
Aligned (what's in it for the business)
Properly scoped (small, small, small)
Promotes evolution (needs will change, so will the vision, that's the nature of community)
Low risk (choose low risk over high rewards)
Measureable (in business value terms)
Now that I've completely stolen everything David said (with editorial), I suppose I say:
"I make no money from this blog."