“Another barrier is
a lack of executive
buy-in or participation.
It is very important
that your leadership
be invested in the
idea of collaboration
and understand the
work with organizations to understand
what it is they’re trying to achieve and
what is their ultimate business goal—
because there’s no point having a collaboration technology if you’re not
trying to achieve some sort of business
or organizational outcome.
Second, there’s a technology component. You need to integrate the social
collaboration tool into your existing
systems because this will remove friction for the user. You want to make
your systems as easy to use and engage
with as possible. Having to input an
extra login or go through some security process is a barrier to engagement
with the collaboration tool.
The third area is actually very critical—it’s around repositioning communications. If we want people to
change their behaviors, and we’ve
given them this wonderful tool to do
it, we need to educate them not necessarily on how to use the tool but about
why they should use it. What’s in it for
them? How is this going to help them
do their job?
CW: So what are the barriers to the
openness and the transparency, and
the barriers to the technology?
RD: We have very clear structures to
help organizations deal with this. I
think one is just the perception of
social tools. We’ve built Yammer from
the ground up to be for business, but
because it’s an enterprise social net-
work, often people will mistake that
for being like a consumer tool. They
think, Oh, this is not for work. My kids
use tools similar to this like Facebook
and just waste time on it. What we are
doing is taking that style of communi-
cation, which we know is very effec-
tive, and moving it into the context of
business. Another barrier is a lack of
executive buy-in or participation. It is
very important that your leadership be
invested in the idea of collaboration
and understand the benefits. They also
need to participate. And by that I don’t
mean that they should be on the social
collaboration tool all the time and
answering questions, but they should
be a visible presence, meaning they
should regularly post updates and be
prepared to engage with employees via
the tool from time to time.
CW: What type of organizational culture is most receptive to collaboration?
RD: You have to go back in history a
little bit and look at why organizations are structured the way they are.
You have to go back to the Industrial
Revolution, because that’s when we
first learned to mass-produce products and services. We needed very
scalable, repeatable, predictable processes to do that. This required a very
big layer in the organization—
effectively, management—to manage that
process and the communications.
And that makes a lot of sense if you
are going to do the same thing for 10,
20, 30 years. But what that does is it
prioritizes efficiency over innovation.
Because you just want to be doing
something in the most efficient way
possible, and that’s not necessarily the
most innovative way. And it’s not necessarily very reflective of how organizations work now, but we’re still left
with that structure.
To be successful in collaboration,
you must outline what you want to
use this tool for and what you want
to accomplish. I ask clients who say
they haven’t been successful in implementing a collaboration tool the following questions:
• Was it clearly communicated that
this was an officially sanctioned tool?