4 Keys to Enterprise 2.0 Success

By Ethan Yarbrough posted 09-28-2010 02:57


Simple wins. 

Oscar Berg explores this concept in his latest Enterprise 2.0 Community blog post “How to Design for Adoption”. Oscar makes the point that the introduction of Enterprise 2.0 tools always represents a change for the intended user so you should make that change as palatable as possible. One way to do that is to make the application effective at achieving their business goal in the simplest way possible.

Oscar quotes Albert Einstein to good effect in his post and that inspires me to share with you an obscure piece of history about another great historical figure with unruly white hair: Mark Twain. Many people don’t know that Mark Twain lost most of his fortune through bad investments. You can read all about it on Wikipedia, but here’s the part that pertains to our discussion:

Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he squandered much of it in bad investments, mostly in new inventions, particularly the Paige typesetting machine. It was a beautifully engineered mechanical marvel that amazed viewers when it worked, but was prone to breakdowns.

Twain spent the equivalent of millions of dollars on the Paige machine because he thought it would revolutionize the printing industry. But, as noted, it broke down too often so it didn’t sell well. And why did it break down? Because the machine had thousands of moving parts. With thousands of moving parts, the odds of breakdown go way up.

Simple wins. That’s a mantra to repeat when considering how to introduce Enterprise 2.0 tools into your organization.  And besides simplicity, here are 3 other things you need to make your Enterprise 2.0 efforts successful:

A purpose – Enterprise 2.0 won’t succeed if it’s a solution looking for a problem. For it to succeed, there has to be a real, defined and recognized problem to solve. And it’s not enough for people just to see that the new way is better than the old way, they have to experience that it is better. They have to feel it. The best way to make sure they feel the improvement is to involve the future users in the planning. Your employees will tell you where the problems are if you ask them and they are best equipped to tell you if the proposed solution is really an improvement.

A vision – "Think Big. Start Small. Act Fast." That’s what they always say at the Enterprise 2.0 conference about building Enterprise 2.0 solutions. But what does that mean? Well think about it in the context of another building project you might be more familiar with: a house. You don’t start building a house by building a bedroom on a bare piece of ground. You start a house by envisioning the finished building in its entirety. You draw a blue print that shows all the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the garage, the kitchen, etc. Then you lay the foundation, frame in the walls and in the end the bare ground has been transformed. It’s possible to build ad hoc, disconnected structures, but if you want them to deliver long-term usefulness and value, don’t start building pieces until you know what the whole thing is supposed to look like when it’s done.

A success metric – How do know if you’re succeeding if you don’t measure your progress from time to time? But what do you measure? Early on in the evolution of Enterprise 2.0, it was common to measure adoption as an indicator of success or failure. I think we’re more sophisticated now. Adoption will happen with a lot less effort on your part if your Enterprise 2.0 tool actually does something for people. That brings us back to the idea of purpose. If you get clear on why you’re building the tool and what it’s supposed to do, it’s pretty easy to figure out what to measure. Are you building a tool to improve the quality of business proposals? Then measure how many bids you win after the tool compared to before the tool. Are you building a social networking tool to increase employee engagement? Great. Baseline your employee satisfaction and engagement before you launch your tool and then measure it at regular intervals after the tool. If you see improvement, celebrate your Enterprise 2.0 prowess. Are you trying to shorten the time it takes employees to discover relevant documents and other knowledge content. OK. Determine the processes and number of steps they take before you give them the Enterprise 2.0 tool, design a better solution with their input and then see if they find what they need faster when you give them the new tool. You get the idea. Have a business purpose in mind and if you know what that purpose is, you’ll know what to measure.

That’s what’s on my mind for now. What have I left out?

#metrics #simplicity #ROI #design #EthanYarbrough #OscarBerg