Make It Work: One Key to Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

By Ethan Yarbrough posted 10-26-2010 01:46


For all the success of individual technologies, the array of technology in a person’s life can be daunting. Increasingly, individuals choose products and services that are highly-personalized, focused on the end-to-end experience delivered by that technology. Products must deliver a seamless experience, one in which all the technology in your life ‘just works’ and can work together, on your behalf, under your control. – Ray Ozzie, The Internet Services Disruption Memo, October 28, 2005

Change happens when people want to change.

People only want to change when they see a benefit for themselves in changing.

That’s the formula for success in Enterprise 2.0 adoption.

Implementing Enterprise 2.0 means creating tools and processes to replace tools and processes people are already using. You want them to change. From what they’ve been doing to what you want them to do now.

So how do you make them see the benefit in changing?

You give them tools that meet them in the flow of their work and help them do that work better. You give them tools that “just work”. The solution should be intuitive, it should be simple and it should just work better than the alternative people have been using.

The “just work” standard.

It’s interesting to note that not everyone agrees that this is the key to adoption. I was looking over the list of sessions for the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA(November 8-11, 2010) and I came across the Community Development and Management session track. The description of this track makes it clear that adoption and how to achieve it will be a focus of the conversation. Here’s the first paragraph of the description:

Got social software? Now what? Sure there are people dabbling in it and some power users who seem to be very excited. But how do you get more people to change how they work when you can't force people to communicate using these new tools? The answer is community management.

Now I’ll go on record right now and say that I don’t fully agree with that last statement: “the answer is community management”.  I’ll also go on record that I’m going to the conference and will attend some of the sessions in this track. If I come out of those sessions believing differently, I’ll tell you about it here.

But for now, I have to wonder how much a community manager can impact change.  I think they can shine the light on the tools and on how those tools can make employees more successful. But they can’t turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. They can’t make people adopt something that doesn’t work for them. If they try to do that they’re going to undermine trust. Because if usefulness is a key to adoption then a key to rejection is management trying to convince employees to use something that doesn’t really work just because management wants them to.

Community managers can’t make people want what people do not want.

Design, I say, is the real key to adoption. Design something that just works. Design something that makes people want to change.

What do you think?

#enterprise2.0conference #RayOzzie #communitymanager #Adoption