If you are a regular reader of my blog, or even my book, you will know that I recommend an iterative approach to rolling out a social business project. By picking one area of your business and fully implementing IBM Connections to solve a specific business problem you:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew;
- Gain the experience needed to expand your efforts into more complex areas;
- Show progress early on for your business sponsor;
- Can celebrate success earlier.
I am often asked which department in an organisation should get the solution first. The perceived wisdom has been that the IT department is generally the LAST place you would want to start (mainly because everyone will have a view about technology you’re implementing
and not the business solution). In reality, as long as IT has a need which we can help with then there’s no reason not to start there.
Another question I get is which processes are best tackled with social business? Should we solve file sharing for the company? How about meeting management, standardisation of documents, etc. The truth is that it depends. I would not try to tackle anything for the whole company in one move. Pick off departments or areas of the business which have a clear and pressing need and help them. Once you’ve finished with that, move on to the next area.
One department’s problem might be the need to share files amongst themselves. Tackle that, get them happy and move on to the next department. The next one might need to make Standard Operating Procedures more accessible. Use a wiki to achieve that. Move on.
Breaking down your organisations’ problems into iterations will result in a long list of work for you do to. Once you get the first few of these iterations implemented and have a process which works for you, it’s important to consider how you are going to be able to scale the rollout so that the pace of change can increase.
The key to this is to find “early adopters”, “ambassadors”, “champions” or whatever else you want to call them. These are people, sourced from the departments where you are going, who clearly get what you are trying to do. They might self-select – i.e. come to you and ask to be involved, or might emerge from your earlier iterations. Whatever the case, in order to scale your implementation out you need to change your approach.
You need to go from being a hands-on practitioner to a coach of those who will do the job you’ve been doing up until now. You need to lead, enthuse, motivate, support and generally cheer for your team of people who you want to take your now finely-honed approach to rolling out an iteration of social business to the rest of the organisation.
It might seem obvious, but this is the time when your own use of IBM Connections becomes critical. All the lessons you’ve been passing on to people about status updates, being vocal and visible, etc., now really matter because your newly-found recruits will need your help.
Create an “ambassador” (or what ever term you’re using) commmunity. Focus it on using Forums, and drive Q&A through the forum. Make a commitment to timely responses. Be ruthless about having questions posed in the forum as this is the time where your tacit experience needs to be converted into explicit knowledge, i.e. something someone else can search for and find without asking you.
Make sure your ambassadors don’t bite off too much at the beginning either. They are now on the same learning path that you were and need to gain confidence in their approach too.