I think collaboration and transparency are the two most tossed about words in business today. The latter strikes fear at every level. In the beginning of 2013, I said that I thought this would be the year for collaboration. Having made that statement I want to look at how we’ve done so far. You might be wondering why I added transparency to the check in. After all, collaboration is different from transparency isn’t it?
So I did a search on how we are doing with collaboration for 2013 and the results were lack-luster. One article dubbed, Too much collaboration is hurting worker productivity” (http://qz.com/98295/too-much-collaboration-is-hurting-worker-productivity/), basically said that collaboration was sacrificing the solitary worker’s productivity. Sadly, the search mainly addressed the opportunity of collaboration or, the difficulty of it, and so on.
My theory is that collaboration seems like something we just ought to be able to do given the right technology—akin to once we get the tools we’ll just do it. Pardon my laughter but like all things in the digital /social realm—its only 15% technology everything else is about people.
Business has taught and rewarded competition. You may be scoffing but every sales person will tell you its, “what have you done for me lately.” Single-mindedness of focus is knitted into the fabric of the employee from the most minor of roles to the most important. The very nature of roles and responsibilities delineate and separate us. At the end of the year your payout is my payless. Get the picture?
I bring up transparency because it is critical to the success of collaboration. Think collaboration happens because you enable us to—no way. You can even bring it into my goals and how I am paid and I will tell you it won’t happen. You see—we as humans are creatures of habit. What is habit? It is what we have learned. We learned it because it works. It’s a habit because we have settle into the folds of its comfort.
Transparency says tear it all off and bear it all. No hidden agendas. No sandbagging. I have gone into many a company that says we are a decision by consensus culture. Do you think they will have an advantage in collaboration? It will be hardest for the consensus company because they have been taught to subjugate themselves to the mass –to no take a visible stand. In a way consensus is another word for a company that has asked their people to have no accountability. Transparency says I am totally accountable and here I bear all to you and together we will do better than I would alone.
Collaboration needs to be relearned. Let the learning begin. It’s not too late—its only August.
Social Media sites are sprouting up everywhere. I am being contacted to review business applications daily on sites hoping to become the next Yelp for business. Why not—its big business right now.
ESN (business-side social networks) are gaining ground and finding their way into all levels of business. These networks bring the hope of financial gains with engagement and greater collaboration. But an ESN alone will not do it. Unlike any other software application Social applications in a business setting depend on the right employees engaging and using them effectively.
The medium of Social Media will begin to slump in usage as it hits the inevitable saturation point among users. Users will find the benefits of visibility may be outweighed by the threats of identity breech. No doubt Social Mediums will find their place in marketing.
One value that has come from Social exchanges is that we are more aware of the realty of any brand’s promise. We all recognize the occasional naysayer always complaining. Social sites have trained us to identify and filter out town criers and cheerleaders. We look for subtle reoccurring issues. These reoccurring trickles form your brand. There is the occasional kamikaze move companies inflict upon themselves--Jeep’s refusal to recall their fiery gas tanks comes to mind. For most companies it’s the need to be aware of reoccurring derailments of promises made but not kept, or poor quality of products, and slips in service that are the killers of brand.
Along come Social Listening applications such as: Radian6, UberVu, Sysomos, Synthesio, and Visible Technologies to name a few. These applications promise to deliver value to your organization. However, they do not deliver value by themselves. There has to be--right engagement and follow-up.
Listening is only half the picture. The other half is what you are going to do with the information you hear. Today most companies have placed Social application ownership with marketing. However, it is rarely ever marketing that benefits from this information. Marketing rarely has the cross-organizational empowerment to ensure that real benefit, real value, and real change happens. Companies need to begin with making a commitment to the Social that embraces the entire organization.
The key is to decipher the message and route it to who can make use of it and is empowered to make changes to rectify it or at least escalate it. One social post can carry nuggets of valuable feed back to Customer Support, Product Development, and Fulfillment. Each department can gain applicable insight into opportunities to deliver greater value.
The key is getting the truth of the message to the employees that can make change happen quickly and effectively. The key is real-time engagement that says we hear you and we value what you are telling us so much that we are making this change because of it. The value is in the customer who is retained and won over. The value is in the customer who freely shares accolades of a company stepping up that wins more buyers. The win is in the customer--now an advocate recruited to weigh in on road mapping product enhancements that earmarks the next innovation for your industry. It’s about the customer that always chooses your company because he values the relationship you’ve built and the quality he relies on.
The value is in how the company iterates based on that feedback and improves. The value is in the company that has vision because of learning and now senses the market and fills the need well before others can. The value is in what happens after listening.
“Our site is gamified we have leader boards, points, rewards, and badges.”
Not necessarily! Gamification is more about the game design than including certain tools in your application. I am reminded of a bank that asked me to review their website for use of Social Media. At first glace the site looked like it was optimized for Social. I saw the props of note-- like a rating system (stars) to register readers reviews of posts. However, there was no way of eliminating duplicate ratings by users or being able to track who reviewed what content. In short this was a façade and nothing more.
If you are going to gamify make sure you know why you are gamifying and what you want from the players in the game. That will give you your measurement guides. But more importantly it will determine when you are engaging them and what training, support, rewards, and end goals they must meet. In other words, if you want to gamify then design a game not just use game elements for use sake.
Look at the totality of your players. If you review who your players are their needs or skills may reveal distinct groups for game purposes. Those needs may translate (for the purpose of the end goal not the game) into different roles, tasks, or tracks critical to game design. Perhaps certain users’ needs are so diverse that separate games are the best solution.
Do you want the game to be intrinsically or extrinsically motivating? Do you want to give certain users an advantage? Are you creating a complex behavior change? Complex behavior changes may require multi-level gaming or separate games which may lend itself to a road-map for retiring / launching games.
Games may stop working because users get tired of the game or they lose interest. This bears further investigation into reasons for the loss of interest--are rewards backfiring. Identify when a game is no longer viable and don’t be afraid to retire or replace it.
The tools of gamification while eye-catching must have integration and purpose. Purpose must communicate meaningful information to the players and administrators.
Remember--too many tools can confuse players. Confused player mean poor game design (unless you’re going for confusion and disorientation--in which case, please stay tuned for my blog on ethics of gaming).
When in doubt Keep It Simple! Happy gaming!
Employees are learning to be social in business. Collaboration is critical to achieving ROI for enterprise social networks. Right now innovative technology is out-pacing business user engagement. The general working population is in the midst of one of the most technically demanding learning curves since the desktop computer. Business users have to be taught how to collaborate virtually and engage in social business settings. The transition requires un-learning old behavior and replacing it with new behavior.
Gamification can help bridge the transition process. Here are six key steps to gamifying your enterprise social network:
1. Know your user strategy. A “get-acquainted” strategy is not the same as a “collaboration” strategy. It’s critical that before you start gamifying your network you understand where your users are and what participation you want from them. Trying to get all types of participation to happen at once can be too confusing. Great games are clear and concise. Don’t confuse the end with the means.
2. Meet users where they are. The needs of the executive users, top-down, are different from managers, which in turn are different from the needs of the general user population. Great business games acknowledge the needs or role of the user while at the same time advance the desired goals of each group collectively and individually.
3. Keep the association between behavior and reward clear. Gamification is identifying and rewarding the right behavior to drive strategy. Rewarding “liking” content with points when your goal is to surface subject-mater-experts may not produce the results you want.
4. Help users learn the right behavior. Training and coaching are great tools in gamifcation. But excessive anything, even coaching pop-ups, may defeat your purpose. Help users and listen to their feedback to ensure what you are offering is on target.
5. Planned obsolescence is key. Remember if you are going to retire a game make sure you are not penalizing your players-keep contribution separate from rewards.
6. Measure and tweak. Know where you are to ensure that you are getting where you want to go--remember to baseline your starting point and measure success to your end-goal.
Definition of COLLABORATE
1: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
2: to cooperate with or willingly assist…
3: to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected.
If 2012 was the year that social became an enterprise word. Then 2013 is the year that the enterprise strives to collaborate. Collaboration tools will abound this year. The roadblocks to cooperation will fall by the wayside as digital enterprise tools cross the great divides of departments and multi-orgs. We have seen Enterprise Social Networks make solid footholds in 2012 and companies make initial investments in social analytics and listening systems to enable workable connections access to our once secular enterprise eco-systems. As roadblocks to cooperative work environments fall away collaboration will come into focus.
Companies’ worldwide will be “able” to collaborate making the real question for most organizations in 2013, “are we collaborating?” Is your company reaping the value of its Social investments or put plainly is your company maximizing its newfound collaboration potential?
Making a behavior technologically possible does not mean that it will actually be happening. The answer for most organizations asking themselves the Collaboration question will undoubtedly be, "not yet." Old behaviors are hard to break. It’s a challenge to ask an organization as a whole to work differently—to rely on each other, to rely on partners, on suppliers, on critics, on advocates. Reliance requires trust. I may be wrong but very few of us look at our paycheck and see it as a measure of how much trust we were able to build upon.
In most US companies’ trust is not yet synonymous with work. Yet, trust is a key component to collaboration. Can each of your employees trust that co-workers, consumers, board members, shareholders, critics, and advocates offer value despite their disparate positions? While most companies will whole heartily agree that core to their work ethic is that the effective value of any effort (Sales, Delivery, Service, and so on) can be tangibly enhanced when people collaborate together--work together towards a common outcome.
Social has opened the way to a new business paradigm. But opening a paradigm is not the same as ensuring its success in your organization. Social depends on engagement for success. Collaboration is at the core of effective engagement. Collaboration makes you an equal partner with critics and advocates alike. Collaboration means you are getting and making the most of the each Eco-systems you are part of.
How is your company doing? Are your Social tools delivering as you expected? Where do you want to be in 2013? Are you ready to do what is possible? Can you identify your organizational roadblocks?
If you answered those questions affirmatively then collaboration is in reach for your company. Luckily collaboration behavior can be changed quickly provided there is a focused and supported effort from the top of an organization. Key social tools like gamification will ensure behaviors that have strategic support, like collaboration, can become the new norm in virtually any organization. Step up and make collaboration the top commitment for your company in 2013.
"What do you think about this article? I am appalled, to be honest!"
That was the title of the post that hooked me. I had to click the link and read about what was so "appalling." But what I found was just a decent article looking at the confusing and often difficult to assess area of Social Measurement. Yes, it did have to do with a score used by a particular company of the same name. I am purposefully leaving that name out of this blog asI am not writing bout the company nor about the quality of their measurement. I am not even judging what this poster was doing. I am writing as a user of social; the impact of emotional draw; and the request for me to weigh in (socially engage).
This engagement has simply become a great jumping off point for me to ponder how we are using Social Reputation Measurements?
As I stated IMHO there was nothing "appalling" in the article. It was after all no greater or more impactful than any other article on Social Measurement. What I did find interesting was how successful this quote was in getting me to engage (click, read, comment, and respond). I was not alone in my reaction. In fact 79 people had done the same. If I were measuring activity alone in a defined network I might erroneously see a high impact score and associate a high social contribution. However, looking deeper at context though I did click, read, engage, and even respond to her, her value as an important person in my social network actually deminshed greatly.
I read the other comments and many were as baffled as I was by the post header and its connection to the article. I wonder how many others have stepped back and looked at this as a study in getting closer to true a measurement of Social Value.
Social value must by definition be a value gained via repeated engagement with a specific Social group. I am looking at a Social value as an aggregation of reputation. Reputation is driven by the ability of that individual to gain a higher status as a key engager who influences a constant social network overtime. Using antics such as emotional pulls or requests to engage users to join-in, buy-in or participate may have a single moment of impact but overtime and if other members find consensus in the negative value of that individual will as an aggregate erode reputation. I will be less likely to fall for another antic from this poster as her reputation is diminished. Aggregate reputation and ability to influence a common social behavior is key.
Conversely, Social Value of a network is not negatively impacted by the individual contributors antics. In fact, transparency of an antic and its call-out may actually boost the Social Value of a network. I may conclude that the value of a group has increased as I now given the consensus of engagement. Greater Social Value of a social network may be do to a greater sense of kinship with a group once I see them as more like-minded to myself.
What is Social Value is a complex and delicate matter to measure let alone assess. The numbers while exact are less valuable than the interpretation. Interpretation, however, is dependent on context and context is more likely to be subjective. For now the only solid conclusion appears to be that the delicacies of social measurement are manyfold.
The other night I went to a great presentation sponsored by SAP highlighting the work of Barbara Annis's new book, Same Words, Different Language. In her book, she identifies women as more naturally collaborative and men as more naturally competitive.
Years ago, while studying Organizational Change, I was drawn to study gender differences in the workplace. Fast forward to today and my interests have shifted to Social Gaming in the workplace. Specifically, Social gaming that trains behavior in internal/external B2B Social Networks and then applies this to behavior to enhance business collaboration. Barbara's discussion led me to investigate gender differences in Social Gaming and how those differences apply to game design in work settings.
Flurry did an interesting study in the area of Gender Differences in Gaming. The full discussion can be found here http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/study-mobile-social-games-attract-young-college-educated-women/. Essentially the study found that women are active gamers as well as men.
The question for me, designing games for B2B social engagements is how to create games that drive more collaboration. The key ingredients of collaborative games are ones that encourage cross participation, identify complimentary capabilities, strengthen relationships, are scalable, and fun! My experience has taught me that Collaborative games in the Social workplace need to utilize day-to-day tools empowered through social collaboration. I find the best games emphasize currently used tasks and strategic capabilities.
My ah-ha moment these past few days has been to create games that generate collaboration while using more cross-behavior learning. Hopefully this will also create cross-over where we enhance collaborative skills in more competitive gamers (men according to Barbara Annis) and enhance competitive skills in more collaborative gamers (women according to Barbara).
ROI in Social begins at the beginning there is just no way around that. Before you select the software and certainly before you turn it on. A great Social strategy and design must be at the core. There are 4 key points to include in the initial core discussion from which further strategy and design iterations evolve.
1. Answer why are we doing Social? (Needs & Reasons; each should have a desired goal as well as risks and is the basis for all KPIs)
2. How will this engage with /change our current business model or culture model?
(Begin to understand breath and depth of impact / transformation to the business)
3. Where are we today in relation to accomplishing that? (Identifying phases, easy gains, and defines needs)
4. Who does this impact? This identifies the extended team and core team--it ultimately outlines key departments, applications, and resources ((both hard and soft that should be added to the plan) customers and employees should be included in this—as well as anyone that Social may engage—Mapping impact /engage audience)
Usually the team discovers at this point there there is a Social Eco-System to address and engage. Internally this usually identifies cross-departmental impact that drives a collaboration effort. This collaboration effort should have at the core of its structure the Customer or potential customer. In addition, Social Eco-System leads to who needs empowerment and ability to engage and how. Out of this comes the HR, Legal, and Executive engagement that has to buy-in at the core or this plan for success to be on track.
Principal, Ready, Set, Go Social!
Social Enterprise is the push for 2012. But if your company is only doing a technology push be aware an implementation is much more than hitting the switch on Social. Social Enterprise is a collaboration play and the technology that enables it accounts for only about 15% of the needed effort. However, if Social is not done properly it can become 100% problem. A Social Enterprise is a sense and respond organization that is able to engage and respond to social data in ways that optimize your brand. Social puts the customer first.
Social messaging is immediate and as such the most impactful response is time sensative, targeted, and specific. In order to sense and respond in ways that are socially impactful to your brand a company must be able to determine who needs to respond and how to respond. Most companies believe the who" that I am referring to is the Social Community manager. In actuality it is rarely valuable for the community manager to respond. Proper delegation planning is key to success.
If you are going to go into Social determine why and how you plan to use it. Ensure that you have a collaborative workflow and matching service level criteria to support your goal. Gone are the days that a single department owns a product or a customer. Empower all potential responders to understand the social impact, determine your company's best position and utilize the data in ways that make sense across the organization.
A single customer review can and often includes information that is product satisfaction related and should go to product development, as well as, technical support. In addition, that same review may include fulfillment of service data that may need to be reviewed across multiple areas of the organization, as well as with partners who may be involved with fulfillment or retail point of purchase. In some cases that customer may also be an employee and the information may need to be shared or cleared with Human Resources and Public Relations.
Be thoughtful and plan collaboratively across your organization. If collaboration is not the norm for your company then support change efforts with communication, training (gamification), and rewards. Just turning on an social application without these factors limits the potential ROI of Social Enterprise. Clearly plan, design, seed, measure, and maintain. Make sure your ROI ties to your goals and that you are actually succeeding at what you want to accomplish.
Remember, what differentiates social from other innovations is that it has a life of its own. Investing in Social is a commitment to continual and ongoing care and feeding. Prepare to work within that Social stream and integrate the stream into the fiber of your organization. Taking these foundational steps insure your organization is poised for success.
The Social Enterprise is not about flipping a switch on an application in the cloud. In fact, that switch flipping is the most minor component in the launch process when it comes to any Social application.
In order to do Social Enterprise as a strategic and competitive advantage you must be collaboration ready. How can you tell if you are collaboration ready? Well one way is to answer a few questions:
Yes to any of these and you need to address some internal issues along with launching that Social application. Social applications promise to extend your reach. They promise to give you unprecedented access and speed to impact. But if you are not collaboration ready you could have at the very least a failed effort or a very costly virtual billboard at the very most you could sink your company’s reputation. Are you ready for that gamble? You don't have to take that risk if you are willing to ensure you are collaboration ready.
Noreen Poli is product manager and consultant at Ready, Set, Go Social! Her projects range from award winning methodologies to end-to-end mobile gamified applications. Her background in product management is enhanced by experience in user research, analytics, human behavior, and social giving her a unique skill-set custom made for this era of realtime analytics and personalized products.