As social toolsl remove constraints, businesses should remove the rules that came with the constraints

By Bertrand Duperrin posted 10-15-2010 08:24


I'd like to share a few thoughts that made me get interested in social software years ago and are still relevant today for businesses that, although convinced of the potential of enterprise social platforms are not comfortable with the value proposition.

Organizations have always been investing a lot to develop their human capital in order to hire the best, train them, develop them, retain them...Most of them, even if recognizing the benefits of these programs, have the impression that they don't manage to make the most of their investiment. Understand : they need to invest a lot to get few added value at the end. For having experienced it myself many times in the past, lot of time and money is invested in team-buiding, in teaching employees to  "work better together", in developing such or such beavior or leadership item...and, at then end, few things change once people at back in their usual

One of the most cited reasons  is the lack of appropriate tools. How many times did I hear "everything was right at the training session, something really happened between us...but back in the office with only phone and email to communicate it's impossible to implement what we learned".

So, as many others, I saw the raising of social platforms as the perfect solution. Tools that not only support work activities but also behaviors. The perfect game changer in th workplace. Sadly, few things changed. Or not enough compared to our expectations.

Why ? Working with tools that have built-in constraints made people, even unconciously, adopt work routines accordingly. As for organizations, they built workflows, procedures, control routines in the same purpose in order to organize work  in a world where many actions, interactions, activities were not possible.

Today, as social platforms are removing many constraints, both routines and procedures remain. So there's no surprise if things does not change as fast as expected and few extra value is delivered by human capital through operations.

Lesson learned : when one sets rules to accomodate a constraint, one should remove the rule once the constraint disappears.

Lesson learned #2 : what limits the benefits of social platforms in the workplace is what was done to accomodate the limits of non-social platforms.

Conclusion : changing rules and procedures is at least as important than implementing new software. Adoption and community management will increase the use of the platform and increase the social and human capital, removing obsolete rules will turn this social capital into tangible value.

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