Dealing with the real problem in social business adoption - the people

Social business is more than a technology decision. Many eager early adopters face challenges in adoption past the initial core team. As we move from eager early adopters to ubiquitous usage, an examination of some organizations who have failed...

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Social business is more than a technology decision. Many eager early adopters face challenges in adoption past the initial core team. As we move from eager early adopters to ubiquitous usage, an examination of some organizations who have failed at internal social business reveals five common barriers to adoption:


  1. Poorly defined incentives. In the rush to convince everyone to work with each other, most organizations fail to design meaningful incentives for adoption. The reality - most folks collaborate only when they need to, not when they are told to.
  2. Increase in actual effort. For many in the workforce, collaboration often means more work, not less work. Connectedness results in more interactions, some less meaningful than others. Increase in effort often shifts the status quo resulting in internal resistance.
  3. Lack of choice in user experience. Time and time, people want to use the tool they are most comfortable with. For example, activity streams make sense for some folks who are used to high frequency, always on, information flows. However, those accustomed to using email as a task list and structured approach to filing information will find discomfort with activity streams.
  4. Indifference to change. Inertia to do nothing often outweighs the calls for change. The workforce often prefers to do things the way they always have been. The workforce has seen many changes and at this point face change fatigue.
  5. Failure to communicate the urgency. Business model shifts are not easy to communicate to the workforce. Veteran employees often develop coping mechanisms that define the new change as a reincarnation of the old change without understanding the nuance or urgency.

Overcoming Barriers Of Adoption Require A Mix of New and Classical Change Management Techniques

Despite compelling benefits to achieve better collaboration among teams, improved engagement among the workforce, and faster speed of internal communication, adoption efforts require careful design. As with any organizational change, it’s the people, stupid! The five barriers can be countered with the following five strategies (see Figure 1.):

  1. Adopt gamification strategies. Listen for both the monetary and non-monetary incentives. Design a hierarchy and weighting of incentives to effort. Use gamification techniques to improve adoption and internal engagement.
  2. Apply design thinking to transform. Use design thinking scenarios to ideate future state processes. Remove friction points and redundant processes so that interaction is natural. Stamp areas where extra effort emerges.
  3. Deliver options based on use case. Identify cohorts and preferences in communication and cultural styles. Apply the 9Cs of engagement to deliver the right user experience strategy. Provide multiple interface choices as well as educate on new user experience metaphors.
  4. Align to self -interest. Show the workforce where and how the benefits apply to the individual. Highlight the overall group advantages. Providing the connection between individual and group benefits often plays a powerful lever in effecting change.
  5. Define the business model shift. For quant jocks, apply a financial business model. For poets, highlight the narrative in the shift and communicate the overall transformation at hand.
Figure 1. Overcoming the Barriers of Social Business Adoption

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The Bottom Line: Apply Change Management And Design Thinking To Improve Social Business Adoption

While technology plays a key role in improving social business, core change management principles still must be applied to ensure organizational transformation. Technology alone will not solve the issue. A combination of design thinking techniques applied to change management will ensure more successful adoption rates. Planning for change management will require as much time as the technical implementation. Consequently, successful social business efforts incorporate both technology and change management work streams in concert with each other.
Your POV.
Ready to fight change management and adoption head on? Have a story on how you’ve achieved engagement? Add your comments to the blog or send us a comment at R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org or R (at) ConstellationRG (dot) com

Posted by R "Ray" Wang

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