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Do this ONE Thing Before Starting any Enterprise Social Project

Before adopting any kind of social enterprise tool, you have to take control of your organization's culture.

At a quick glance, Enterprise 2.0 software can seem like a quick fix to a lot of problems. Its promise is so enticing that we are led to believe that introducing a social platform can magically make everything better. But there is one thing that such platforms cannot fix -- your culture.

This is what most companies fail to realize. A great enterprise social platform can do a lot, but in the end it is just a tool. It cannot, on its own, fix your internal challenges. Turning on a platform will not change your culture.

At its heart, culture is “how we do things around here”. With good leadership it can be shifted over time, but you can’t just decide to turn on a new one.

More and more research is uncovering the low internal adoption of enterprise social technology. One study by Dachis Group last year revealed that an impressive 60% of companies had deployed enterprise social technology, but that only 10-20% of the employees actually used the tools. Another study by Forrester Research revealed that despite significant investment in enterprise social technologies, adoption levels are only at 12% within the overall workforce. For technology that promised to help us collaborate and improve our culture, these numbers are frustrating.

At an Enterprise 2.0 panel discussion at last year’s CRM Evolution 2012 conference Peter Coffee, Vice President and Head of Platform Research for salesforce.com said “It [E 2.0 social software] is not a technology you acquire; it’s a set of behaviors you adopt. You then look to see what technologies will allow you to adopt those behaviors at enterprise scale.”

He’s right – turning on a platform will not cause collaboration to break out. But that imposed a bit of a “catch 22”. You can’t adopt the platform because you are not collaborative enough, but you need a platform to help you collaborate. Where to begin?

Before taking on any internal social enterprise tool, you must first take ownership for your organization’s culture. What values and behaviours does it reflect today, and how do you want to shift this over time? Then find a platform that can take you on this journey. Starting by articulating who you are today. And then by showcasing your new values, celebrating successes and creating opportunities for collaboration, take you new places.

Internal social tools can be amazing, but the best technology in the world cannot replace leadership. It’s time to get out there and rock your culture, so you can become the organization you dream to be.

Read more by
Kelly Batke

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