Posts Tagged ‘organizational change’

Many organizations around the world are demonstrating the business value of engaging in social media, from large multi-national corporations using social media for marketing activities, to small firms engaging their clients more directly, and governments seeking new ways to connect and interact with constituents.

socialmedia-businesscaseDespite the growing adoption rates of social media around the world, many organizations are still reticent, and fail to see the value of it. Governments in particular are struggling with the potential benefit of participating in social media in contrast to the potential for employee abuse. There are many examples of governments using social media while banning access for employees. There is also a perception that websites and tools like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs or wikis are intended strictly for personal use, are time-wasters and not only provide little to no value for an organization, but distract employees or take away from business operations.

Not everyone has the benefit of jumping into social media as an experiment or pilot activity, so here is a simplified framework for developing a business case for social media. This is intended to sketch out some of the key arguments for introducing social media in your organization, and to help you develop a sound business case to present to decision makers. The examples are very brief, while providing rationale, examples, and support to generate an understanding of the argument.

1. Rationale

Describe why the organization should use social media, and the goals and objectives that you’re trying to achieve.  Provide details of the problems, challenges, opportunities or shortcomings that will be addressed by using social media.

Ex: Our clients are complaining about us on blogs & twitter, and not contacting us directly. Goals – increase the satisfaction levels of our clients by establishing a more direct link with our clients and putting a human face on our corporation.

Define the specific details of what the initiative will achieve, change, or impact; and how success will be measured.

Ex: Success could be measured by reduced complaints on blogs & twitter; an increase in sales, or reduction in product returns or complaints.

2. Client-centric perspective

Provide an understanding of how people currently access the organization’s information and services; and how they want to access your information and services (ex: through a survey, or market research).

Get metrics & statistics on your website usage, and search terms used; any supporting general Internet usage statistics; and any statistics and information from competitors. Compare the way you do business online with other organizations (not just your competitors).

3. Risks

(a) Identify the risks associated with the initative, including what could go wrong, and a description of the worst-case scenario.

Ex: Lots of bad comments and reviews on your website.

(b) Identify the risks association with not undertaking the initiative, including what could happen if you don’t engage in social media.  Know your client, and get an understanding of the perception of your business if you do/don’t engage in social media.

The conversation is happening out there anyways – with or without you – the degree to which you engage is optional, but you should at least be aware of the conversation and monitoring it.

4. Business Intelligence

Define the type of functionality required to meet your goals and objectives; meet your client’s needs; and reduce the risks.  Research and describe possible solutions.  Include reviews, case studies, and comparisons.

  • What are others doing?
  • What are the industry best practices?
  • Who are your competitors, and what are they doing?
  • What is popular or trending?
  • What relevant technology advances are happening?

5. Stakeholders

Identify all the key stakeholders who need to be involved in the process of introducing social media to your organization, including:

  • Business clients
  • Communications
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Accessibility
  • Clients, etc

6. Investment

Provide a breakdown of the costs involved, including:

  • People
  • Money
  • IT infrastructure needs, etc.

7. Process, Roles & Responsibilities

Identify the steps that need to happen to introduce social media to your organization.

Developing, piloting, testing, soft launch, public launch, etc?

Identify roles and responsibilities for various aspects of the initiative.

Who will provide support (technical, training), monitoring, facilitating, engagement, etc?

Include a plan for how to monitor and evaluate the success of the initiative – related back to the goals and objectives.

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One of the biggest challenges faced by many organizations trying to introduce social media into the mix is changing some of the ingrained organizational culture practices, and a resistance to change. Changing organizational culture can be a long and challenging process, and involves a series of complex interrelated steps. This is not an attempt to overly simplify things, but more of a summary of some general issues and one approach that I came across about 6 years ago while working for the International Development Research Centre (IDRC): the idea of storytelling to spark change.

Some primary challenges face by a lot of organizations: Firstly an organization-centric approach to business excludes the perspective or the client, and puts up a wall between the organization and the public. But, the public is out there, and they’re talking about YOU, so that wall needs to come down! Second, the degree to which different parts of an organization collaborate (which is often not very much, or not very well), creates silos within an organization, and a reluctance to engage people outside the organization (if it doesn’t happen within an organization, it’s a challenge to get people doing it outside the walls). Embracing a more open, collaborative work ethic requires a shift in both support and incentive from various levels of management to acknowledge inter-unit contributions. Thirdly, related to the issue of collaboration, is the level of comfort to work transparently and openly. If there is a perceived risk of making statements that are visible to the entire organization, and a perceived (real or not) threat of negative consequences for speaking out within the organization, then participation will simply not happen very openly.

These are some large organizational obstacles to collaboration that I’ve observed and encountered over the years – not necessarily the most important or relevant to all organizations – but certainly things that are a serious hindrance to social media adoption.

One idea for cultivating organizational change…

storytellingA few years ago I attended a workshop in Washington D.C. led by Steve Denning, formerly of the World Bank, on Storytelling for Organizational Change. The main concept behind his idea is to use well crafted stories, of which people can take ownership, to instill and spread simple ideas for change around an organization. More powerful than a presentation or document, a story can help people to visualize the relevance of concepts for their own set of problems. It also helps people to easily package the story as their own, and spread the idea around the organization.

Steve’s book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, was published in the pre-web2.0 era. However, I think that the concepts are still very relevant, both in a face-to-face context for sparking org-change; but also as stories are told and shared in an online collaborative environment through various web 2.0 tools.

Storytelling could easily be used to both to spread positive stories about the successful use of web 2.0 tools and social media approaches to adding business value; and as a (web-based) tool or approach in itself – for example, success stories shared through a blog.

Has anyone out there ever used storytelling to spark changes within your organization?