Problem and Process rather than Incentives for E2.0 Tools

February 15, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Over on Quora, Ben Lopatin @bennylope has a best-answer to a question on the best ways to incentivize people to use E2.0 knowledge management and collaboration. He starts by shunning external incentives (as I do in Need for Incentives, and other Innovation Myths) and works through a few key principles which I've seen work time and time again:

  • Focus on the problem for which the tools are to be employed. Most people don't care about enterprise wikis, they care about being able to do their jobs,
  • Provide people with a working demonstration of an existing business process.
  • Actively help people figure out how their processes, tasks, etc, can be accomplished with the new tools
  • Get people up the ladder using the new tools... if you want to achieve pan-organization adoption you need leadership to show that they're using it, too
  • Be careful about overestimating how easy the tools are for everyone. And not just the interfaces, but changes in underlying concepts.

I wish I had an Blog1326: Emergineering! badge to put on this answer because it captures the essence of understanding the problem and underlying process, figuring out how to address it in a way that enhances productivity, and finally getting the organization around the new approach. That's just what's needed for folks to figure out how to turn "social software" into "social productivity software" and really start using these tools for more than very basic and fleeting conversation.

I'd also hand out the badge to Catherine Shinners @catshinners for amplifying the benefits of social process transformation.

In her notes from the E2.0 Innovate conference, she wrote:

There are specific benefits of a social business process:

  • immediacy - better access to the information
  • serendipity - enabling discovery of new information
  • transparency - supporting honest and ethical behavior through openness

A business process does not become social simply because it's in a social network. Hughes called out the different types of social business processes

  • unstructured processes – the opened ended “hey I've got a question does anyone know the answer” or easy invitational “why don't we?” kind of interactions
  • semi-structured – direct queries to engage a constituency or cohort in a group conversation or comment about artifacts i.e., “please review or provide feedback”
  • structured – business process workflow kinds of structure “approve my expenses - request time off”

Beyond simple productivity gains of moving process from email and the water cooler to E2.0 platforms, or flexibility achieved by moving them from structured but hard to manage custom systems, this outline offers a clear sense for why a social platform is not only more ethical, its more effective because its observable and encourages team participation.

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