Got the tools, but now what?

July 7, 2009 — Leave a comment

Going back over a post by Todd Defren , I was reminded of a post I put out earlier this year.  Why?  Because I think they both speak to the same fundamental shift that e2.0 brings about: a flatter organization with more empowered employees.  As social media tools (presumptively) break down hierarchies and barriers to information, individual employees will be presented with more decision making power (and more decisions).  How will they react?  Are employees ready to make decisions normally left for or deferred to their supervisors?

Let me offer a real-world example (scrubbed, of course, so as not to give away the secret recipe ;)).

Here’s the setup:  You’re part of an organization that is tasked to choose between two software tools that would accomplish Capability X (could be a portal product, could be a document management system, could be a project management suite, etc…).  Now, let’s say one of the tools (A) gets piloted across your organization, maybe has a few thousand users and a lot (a lot) of political support.  The other tool (B) has less fan fare, but hits more of your requirements, has strong support from your core business, is cheaper and is, architecturally, a better fit for your company.

You are a member of the team responsible for evaluating Tool B.  As part of your evaluation efforts (competitive intelligence, really), you create a survey of Tool A pilot users.  Results to follow.

As time goes on, the pilot of Tool A continues to gain users and acceptance at high levels of the organization.  However, the more you explore Tool A and Tool B side-by-side, the more you’re convinced that Tool B is the right choice.  No matter, though.  Tool A, after a few months of piloting and mounting political support, is given the nod as the ‘winner’ and is slated for implementation.

Before you go to production the results of your survey come in and they are demonstrative; the pilot users of Tool A not only find it clunky and confusing, but they fail to see the value in a full implementation of this particular tool.  Through their comments they recommend the organization look at other options, wasn’t another tool being evaluated internally?

You’re impressed with the results of the survey and think that they need to be seen.  Your company has blog and wiki capabilities and it would be easy for you to share the results of the survey across the company.  You think it’s the right thing to do, but then you remember all of the political support Tool A has.  Would posting the results put your job at risk? your reputation? what about those of your supervisor(s)?

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If you go back to Todd’s post, 3rd to last paragraph, all of his questions are valid, we’re not quite sure where we’re going to end up but we seem to have a pretty good idea of the different paths ahead of us (although, I would hazard a guess that many companies implementing e2.0 technologies don’t have a full understanding of the deep cultural impacts these tools have the potential to achieve).   The impact these tools have on our corporate culture will result from the decisions employees make in the situations similar to what is described above.  And those decisions will be impacted by your current corporate culture.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these tools will change the culture…they won’t, they will only reflect it.

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