Adoption & Effective Use

Good on Employees for Not Mingling

With the middle of winter hitting down under aligned with the arrival of school holidays, I took a week of vacation with my family. Just before heading off on vacation Juan Carlos Perez published Many employees won’t mingle with enterprise social software on PC World (with hat tip to Stuart McIntyre for the quick find).

The promise of a successful ESN deployment is appealing to businesses: implement a Facebook- and Twitter-like system for your workplace, with employee profiles, activity streams, document sharing, groups, discussion forums and microblogging, and watch employee collaboration bloom.

IT and business managers envision staffers using the ESN suite for brainstorming ideas, answering each other’s questions, discovering colleagues with valuable expertise, co-editing marketing materials, sharing sales leads and collaborating on a new product design.

ESN software is also often billed as the cure for moribund intranets that employees rarely visit, and for stagnant extranets that fail to attract customers and partners.

Implemented properly, ESN can be beneficial, analysts say.

I wrote a book on this topic (in 2011) – Collaboration Roadmap: You’ve Got the Technology—Now What? – so the opportunities, ideas, and concerns raised in the article are near field to my work.

A couple of additional thoughts to those that you’ll find in the book:

1. Good on employees who are asked to “mingle” for saying “no.” Mingling is not a business outcome, and while it can in some cases provide a linkage between a problem seeker and problem solver, mingling without the supporting human practices and disciplines is a waste of time.

2. If we did have employees “mingling” on enterprise social networks, the article would be written from the opposite way: Too much mingling going on, employees are wasting their time, we have work to do.

3. This dual dynamic drives all of us who are involved in social business, collaboration tools, and new ways of working … irrespective of specific toolset … to prove the value within a given firm. Where’s the value?

4. In terms of how the article deals with GE Colab, my only comment is that the global director of digital strategy makes reference to quantitative usage metrics (page views, number of comments, time per visit), rather than any specific business outcomes per se. I’m sure that information is available somewhere, but it isn’t in the article.