If you remember, a couple of months back, I briefly talked about a recent business trip that I did to Germany to come and visit a customer for a couple of days where we would have a bunch of events, and plenty more conversations, to talk about Enterprise 2.0, Social Software Adoption, online Communities and Knowledge Management 2.0, amongst several other topics. Probably nothing out of the ordinary, to be honest, compared to what most of you folks out there, who may also be social software evangelists and ambassadors, may be involved with on a daily basis. What was rather extraordinary though was that, throughout those couple of days I spent in Ludwigshafen, I finally met some really good friends while talking about everything but social tools and how, at a rather rampant pace, a bunch of new social behaviours, within the business context of a large enterprise, are changing the corporate culture of BASF (with Connect.BASF) to make it much more collaborative and empowering to share their knowledge across to keep accelerating their various different innovation strategies. Who wouldn’t feel inspired with that, right? … I surely did!
That’s why today, after a few weeks have gone by (Time enough for me to digest further on what I got exposed to throughout those couple of days), I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks some of the highlights from those workshops and presentations I participated in, as well as some of the conversations we had throughout the visit. As a starting point, I was invited by CheeChin Liew, then followed by Cordelia Kroos and Horst-Dieter Lange, all of whom were wonderful hosts to an unforgettable visit… And I will explain why shortly.
Like I have mentioned above, the premise of the couple of days in LU was essentially to get together, and exchange our experiences, know-how, lessons learned, good practices and whatever other stories on what social software adoption within the firewall is supposed to be all about for such large companies as both BASF and IBM. Needless to say that those conversations were all rather engaging and very enlightening, more than anything else, because I probably learned just as much as we all did! Yes, I know, you can never, or should never!, stop learning from what other folks are doing in this Enterprise 2.0 space, because there is always a great chance that you would learn something else new during that time that you didn’t realise about before!
And I did! As a starting point, we hardly ever talked about social tools, but more about changes of behaviour, of already existing habits, of how corporate cultures are being affected, like a storm, by all of this social networking stuff, of the challenges we all keep facing with our adoption efforts, etc. etc. It’s amazing how, in most cases, we may all be working for different companies, different industries, different business areas, yet our challenges all seem to be down to the same dead-end: the corporate culture AND how to change it to make it more 2.0 savvy!
Thus there were a number of highlights that were rather interesting and insightful and that I thought I would spend a few minutes on and see how much you could also probably relate to BASF’s experiences with their own adoption of social networking tools. Perhaps, like I said, we are all getting closer to one another more than we originally thought… How about these?:
It’s never been about the tools, but more about the so-called “state of mind” or mindset (Enterprise 2.0): That’s just so accurate! To me, it was rather refreshing to eventually meet up with CheeChin, Cordelia and Horst Dieter’s teams and discover that they, too, felt, the biggest challenge is not technology, nor the processes, but more how you, as a business, can empower your knowledge workforce to become smarter at what they do while not trying to get them to work harder. It’s all about accelerating your knowledge workers’ productivity and efficiency, which, in return, will result in helping accelerate the execution of the specific business processes in place. So to them, like a good bunch of folks out there, social computing walks hand in hand along with executing effectively business processes, which is probably way beyond the limitation of just looking into another set of social tools hoping magic will happen. Well, it may not. Focus on the people and I can guarantee you it will be coming around!
Executive sponsorship / leadership AND involvement still is key: One of the other major highlights from my visit was the fact that while delivering a couple of presentations on the topic of Social Software Adoption and Evangelism, in general, even executives made time out of their tremendously busy schedules to chime in AND participate from the events, as well as the conversations. Their involvement, throughout the whole process of adoption of these new 2.0 social behaviours, within a business context, has been phenomenal and judging by the growth of their internal Enterprise 2.0 initiative (As my good friend Luis Benitez describes nicely over at this blog post) their success is more than guaranteed! They not only have got their executive buy-in, but they are willing to walk the talk, and that’s as good as it gets, in my opinion. Don’t you think?
It is an effort from everyone that should never be underestimated!: Plenty of folks keep saying that Enterprise 2.0 is a movement that should be driven by one specific group, whether it is Communications, Marketing, HR, Sales, IT / Infrastructure, even Knowledge Management. The truth is that is not entirely correct. It’s an effort to be made by everyone in the organisation, regardless of the business unit! And this is something that, to me, was also a big ah-ha moment, when throughout the couple of days we spent together I presented to various different groups, within Communications / Marketing, IT, KM and they were all on the same wavelength… Ready to commit and engage on making things work, not just within their own business unit, but across the enterprise, which is probably as good as it gets as well, because the level of penetration from your own enablement and awareness campaign is probably going to be much more effective if you reach out to multiple groups and you get them involved to help you drive those adoption efforts from the very first moment. And the way CheeChin, Cordelia and Horst-Dieter are coordinating their adoption efforts within, and beyond!, their teams is just rather commendable, to say the least. Get them all involved and you will be much better off right from the start!
Communities are still *the* major drivers of social software within any enterprise!: I will never tire of repeating this particular one message: whether folks realise about it, whether they would want to acknowledge or ignore / neglect it, if you would want to accelerate the adoption rate of social software within your business, you will be plenty more successful having a community building program, than not having it. Why? Because communities live and thrive on multiple complex interactions for their daily routines of collaborating and sharing their knowledge across and, in most cases, traditional tools like email are no longer cutting the chase of keeping up with the fast pace of how information and knowledge flows inside, and outside!, of a community. So having the right community building techniques to foster interactions and the right community tooling surely is going to help your business adopt, and adapt, to these social software tools, and behaviours!, much easier than whatever you could have imagined. And BASF has got a great story to share in this regard which I touch base briefly below on a recent presentation CheeChin did at one of those special events that surely marks a before and an after. But read on to the next entry point, before I spoil the fun!
You don’t have to give up on the past, but augment it with the future!: This is something that I have been postulating myself for years and that, some times, creates some interesting reactions, specially from those revolutionaries who feel that Enterprise 2.0 doesn’t relate to anything at all from what was previously done. Well, rather the opposite! If you build your 2.0 adoption strategy around what is available from the past, you are preparing the way for your knowledge workers to make a much easier transition into new ways of knowledge sharing and collaboration, moving beyond into the next natural wave of social business interactions. This was a rather interesting discussion throughout the specific workshop we did on Knowledge Management 2.0, where we were contemplating how Social Networking has never tried to substitute and replace all of the efforts and hard work that have been put together with traditional Knowledge Management, for instance. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s always been about augmenting what was already available out there, to make it better, smarter, more efficient, more effective and productive at the same time, so that relatively easy tasks like finding the right experts or the right piece of information / knowledge would not take hours, but a matter of minutes. So if you can build further up and benefit, tremendously, from what you already have, why neglect it and abandon it, when you can make the most out of it and inspire a new wave of open, public and transparent collaboration and knowledge sharing interactions? Don’t you think that would be too much of a missed opportunity? … I think so!
And, finally, talking about openness and transparency, how about going public with it AND share your 2.0 experience? Well, that’s exactly what the folks at BASF have done already. Want to learn more? Go out there and share your story with others, so they can help you enhance it and make it more unique. Go out there and find out for yourself how we are all benefiting tremendously from these conversations taking place, out in the open, on social software adoption, where good practices, lessons learned, extensive know-how and experiences, get shared across so nicely it’s difficult to stop, or give up on them altogether! That’s probably what happened to CheeChin himself when, just recently, he was invited to go and speak at the NLLUG event in Amsterdam about their experiences implementing and adopting social software within the enterprise to help them drive innovation into the next level!
The immediate result of that is that you folks can benefit from that as well, because, as a result of CheeChin’s wonderful presentation at NLLUG, he then went ahead and shared it across at the BASF Slideshare space under the title “Our Online Network connect.BASF“. Don’t worry, you won’t have to go too far away; I will go ahead and embed it over here in this blog post, so you can flip through the charts easily and stop at some of the most interesting ones, like #7, #8, #9, and, of course, #14 (On Communities), as well as the couple of success stories shared across as well (Yes, I, too, love, and heart good, success stories! Yay!). Worth while going through for sure! So here you go:
Not bad at all, don’t you think? Well, I have got another one for you. A tremendously powerful and touching story, where people shine at their best; where technology and tools become an enabler, what they should be all along; where innovation can take the most of unexpected paths to make a huge difference between getting the job done and going the extra mile altogether along with it! This is one of those stories you would need to make time for it, because it will be not only rather inspiring on its own, but it would also help you identify one of the key premises behind Enterprise 2.0, right from the start: the opportunity to successfully connect people to people AND make a difference as a result of such serendipitous encounters. Thus go ahead and read through 3M‘s John Woodworth‘s “How social networks can answer a question faster than Google“, whose title itself is rather thought provoking on its own, with regards to the power of the network(s) vs. traditional search engines like our good old friend Google Search. Who would have thought about that, right?
Disclaimer: Yes, both BASF and 3M are customers to IBM. Hopefully, this post will highlight though how we all may not be that far apart from each other after all, regardless of the industry, vendor and whatever else, with regards to the adoption and embracing of social networking for business, as others seem to keep claiming time and time again. Time to move on, don’t you think?
Technorati Tags: Adoption, Collaboration, Communities, Enterprise 2.0, Germany, Innovation, Knowledge Sharing, Leadership, Learning, Luis Benitez, Social Computing, Social Fabric, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Networks, Social Software, Social Software Drivers, Social Web, Social Workplace, Ludwigshafen, BASF, Connect.BASF, CheeChin Liew, Cordelia Kroos, Horst-Dieter Lange, Social Software Adoption, 3M, John Woodworth, Community Building, Executive Sponsorship, Executive Buy-in, Connecting People