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In part one of the six-part series on social business strategy, I discuss the importance of getting senior leadership buy-in early in the process.
There’s a grim number that haunts executives, directors and managers - 70% of business change initiatives fail. That’s an alarmingly high rate of failure but it’s a number that keeps showing up in research spanning the last 20 years. And the main reason for this failure seems to be that strategies haven’t been completely thought-through or don’t have the support they need. According to Forbes Insights, one out of five of these failures can be tied to lack of commitment from key stakeholders.
How much support do you need for your social business initiative? According to change management expert John Kotter, three out of four senior leaders need to be convinced that change is necessary before a major cultural transformation can succeed.
Step 1: Getting Support for Your Social Business
The first step is getting your senior leadership to recognize that there’s a problem. It shouldn’t take too long to come up with a list of pain points related to the way people interact inside your organization. Are people spending too much time in meetings or slogging through email? Are your turnover stats too high and your employee engagement numbers too low? These pain points are all signs that a major cultural makeover could improve the way you do business.
The important thing to understand at this point is that you don’t need 100% buy-in from senior leadership at the start. But they do need to acknowledge that change is necessary and that there’s a sense of urgency.
Several ways to communicate this urgency are:
1. Demonstrate need - staying with the status quo comes with too high a cost
2. Show how the initiative meets business goals
3. Present your solution with several options so that the team can weigh-in and take ownership
4. Be prepared with all of the facts including costs and timetables
5. Show examples of other organizations that have been successful
6. Get a commitment from key leaders to participate in conversation channels after launch
If one of your goals is to create transformational change you will definitely need someone from upper management in your corner flexing muscle and smoothing the road. Even if your roll-out is more modest, such as upgrading an intranet portal, it is important to have someone in upper management to act as the business owner and person who is ultimately accountable for the project.
Sponsorship within the organization is especially important for social business initiatives because the work will cross organizational boundaries and you’ll need someone who can smooth over turf issues and reassure people who are suspicious about change.
Step 3: Once You Have Buy In, Make Sure You Keep It
It’s crucial to keep your stakeholders informed at every milestone. Look for ways to make social business the hero of your story as you proceed. Did you collaborate online as you developed your strategy? Highlight the number of meeting-hours you saved or the number of email conversations that were avoided. Provide leadership with access to your conversations so that they can understand the value of transparency and searchability.
When your leadership can see that there is a problem and that you have the tools to fix it, you can be assured that you’ve got a solid way forward to launch your social business.
Want to know more? Read the White Paper on the Six Strategies for a Successful Social Business that will guide in building and implementing your strategy.
When RBC launched the Blue Water Project in 2007, there was a small but significant online social engagement component. Employees would gather online at the “Blue Water Cooler” and discuss the importance of preserving freshwater resources. It started as a way to educate and inform employees about the bank’s commitment to preserving freshwater. It turned into a thriving community of people eager to roll up their sleeves and build something new in their real world neighborhoods.
There’s a growing debate over whether or not online participation has the same impact as offline participation. Proponents of “clicktivism” argue that the simple act of “liking” or “favoriting” a page or blog post supporting an important cause can have ripple effects that create change. Clicking a button online is a simple, non-threatening way to make a statement. On the other hand, opponents argue, these online communities of interest create a culture of passive rubber-necking. People walk away with the feeling that they’ve done something substantial when in fact they’ve done nothing more than skim through an article and click a link.
RBC discovered early on that there is a cure for passive “slacktivism” that critics say the internet is breeding - simply ask people to get involved. The bank started with a few easy asks of its employees. Would they mind giving up part of their lunch hours to put on a blue t-shirt and participate in creating a “human wave” to help publicize the Blue Water Project?
The answer was a resounding “yes.” Not only did employees want to spread the word about the importance of preserving freshwater, they wanted to get involved. RBC’s Blue Water Cooler became an online clearinghouse where employees could share their enthusiasm for the initiative and ask how they could do more.
When RBC decided to go beyond providing monetary support to effective water preservation projects their employees were with them every step of the way. Blue Water Project “Blue Water Makeovers” were highly local projects that could be accomplished in a day or two and would provide lasting results.
RBC asked TemboSocial to help create “Makeover Central”, an online space where participants could organize, follow and get involved with Blue Water makeovers. Online participation was matched by an equally impressive offline wave of support - close to 24,000 RBC employees have gotten their hands dirty by participating in a Blue Water Community Makeover.
What RBC discovered is that employees were eager to put in the extra discretionary effort in their communities - but also on the job. They also discovered that social business tools are a fantastic way to spread the word, plan, prepare and organize an event. And when the project is complete, a social business platform is an excellent way to celebrate the results.
Check out the RBC Blue Water Project Tracker to see how RBC is making a difference in your community.
If you’d like to know more about how RBC makes use of social media to support business initiatives, download the case study How RBC created a global Blue Water Day community.
It was a true pleasure to interview Daniel Marotta, Community Manager at Penn Foster Education. Daniel caught my eye in the Jive Community because he's been a member since June of 2008 and he has quite a lot of connections. But, most importantly, he's got a great sense of humor which shines when he shares how he works in the correspondence below:
Leigh: Where do you work?
Daniel: I've been a Jive customer and community manager for 8+ years working across a half dozen industries. Currently, I work at Penn Foster Education. We are an online education provider headquartered out of Scranton, PA. We started out as a correspondence school helping coal miners receive on-the-job training. When the Internet came to be, we evolved our curriculum to take advantage of modern technologies. This year marks 125 years in the distance learning space.
Leigh: How would you describe your current job?
Daniel: I am the community manager here at Penn Foster. I execute on the overall strategy of our Student Community; which is to give our students a destination to meet their instructors and classmates, and provide them with resources to help them progress through their coursework. You can see how important a virtual campus can be to our students when compared to traditional brick and mortar institutions. I also dabble in our social media strategy.
Leigh: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkType (Archived)s? If so, what was your WorkType?
Daniel: I am familiar with Jive WorkTypes. According to the quiz, I'm a Planner / Explorer. Is that accurate? Well...yes, yes it is.
Leigh: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?
Daniel: It's fairly dead-on in how I approach my work on Jive. Every request for a new space or how content is served up or organized goes through a vigorous planning process on my end. I want to make sure it's user-friendly and scale-able. From there, I look (or explore) for ways to optimize the experience.
Leigh: Did your team have a chance to take the WorkType Finder quiz? Have you all talked about your results?
Daniel: After we got back from JiveWorld, the whole team took the WorkType quiz. Our results were all over the place; which I think is a benefit. We all have our own role within the team and complement each other well.
Leigh: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld this year?
Daniel: My favorite part of JiveWorld last year was seeing Adam Sadowsky of Syyn Labs demonstrate his Rube Goldberg Machines and the collaboration with OK Go; not to mention actually seeing and hearing OK Go perform on stage. Very cool.
Community & Social Team at 2014 JiveWorld's end-of-the-conference party in Las Vegas
Leigh: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?
Daniel: Penn Foster has both actually; an internal and external community. Our internal community is used to traffic marketing and creative requests. Collaboration is an important part of this process. Our external community, the Student Community, is how I describe it above; for students to meet and interact with their classmates and instructors, provide them the resources they need to be successful students, and give them a platform to form study groups and find study buddies.
Leigh: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?
Daniel: I live two lives as far as my computer situation. My work life is on a PC. My personal life is on a Mac.
Leigh: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?
Daniel: My mobile device is an extension of my personal life. You'll see me with my iPhone or iPad
Leigh: Do you have a favorite editing tool?
Daniel: I'm the idea guy. So when it comes to being creative, I let the designers and producers lead the way.
Leigh: Who’s your developer hero?
Daniel: I can't say that I have a developer hero. What about the guys on HBO's Silicon Valley? Can Richard and his Pied Piper team be my developer heroes?
Leigh: I'm with you on this one!
Leigh: Pick one word that best describes how you work.
Daniel: Reckless! I'm kidding, it's actually the opposite; carefully.
Leigh: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?
Daniel: There's no one tool I can't live without, but I do enjoy demo'ing mobile apps. No specific category or genre. I just like to see what's happening across mobile.
Leigh: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?
Daniel: My favorite non-computer gadget? Hmmm...is my AppleTV considered non-computer? I don't know, this is a tough one. I do have a drone. I haven't mastered its flight but I'm practicing.
Leigh: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Daniel: I use Wunderlist to stay organized. It's a great tool that shows a birds-eye view of personal to-do's and across a team so you know what your colleagues are working on.
Leigh: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?
Daniel: My workspace has a minimalist look; two monitors, wireless keyboard, mouse, and headset. The most important thing? My mini desk fan.
My work-space, sorry for potato.
Leigh: What do you listen to while you work?
Daniel: Due to the openness of our work space, I listen to a lot of co-workers chomping on food and their personal calls. BUT, if you mean what music I listen to, then it's my iTunes playlists and Pandora; a little bit of everything.
Leigh: What's your best time-saving trick?
DanieI: have two friends that are doctors. They are absolutely the best when it comes to time management. Sometimes Doc (Emmett is his real name), will pick me up in his Delorean and we will go for a spin. When I'm in that car, it's like time stands still. My other doctor friend is kind of a space shot. I don't know if he's coming or going. But when we hang out, times seems to not matter.
Leigh: Everyone should have time-saving friends like this!
The DeLorean with Penn Foster mug for scale
Leigh: How do you balance work and life?
Daniel: There's always work that needs to get done, right? But there's always a chance of burnout. So, I give myself specific "time to unplug" deadlines each day. Peppering in vacation days during long stretches between holidays also helps.
Leigh: What's your sleep routine like?
Daniel: My coffee addiction doesn't allow me to have sleep.
Leigh: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Daniel: You would think that since I am a community manager, I would be an extrovert. But in actuality, I would classify myself as an introvert. Sometime I just can't wait to spend quality time on my couch.
Leigh: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?
Daniel: "Don't eat any Chinese food today or you'll be very sick." -my fortune cookie
Thank you so much, Daniel, for sharing how you work with us. Keep us updated on your drone piloting!