John Kotter, an expert in organizational culture, suggests that you need buy-in from 75% of senior leadership to ensure that you can drive the change necessary to roll out a social platform successfully. This begs the question, “how do I get this kind of commitment from senior executives?”

 

Kotter believes that senior leaders must be convinced there is a problem before they will line up behind a solution. He suggests scrapping the traditional PowerPoint analysis in favor of vivid storytelling as a way to help your audience experience the problem firsthand.

 

Start with a Customer Journey

 

If Kotter is right, then you need to have a very clear understanding of the problems you can solve with your social business rollout. If your social platform is viewed simply as a tool for improved communication or something that works spectacularly well at XYZ Corp, you probably haven’t done enough to build a case for why the platform is worth the effort here and now.

 

One of the best ways to discover organizational problems - the sort that can be countered by a strong social business program - is to view the company through the eyes of a customer. Sit down with the Customer Service team and discover where encounter roadblocks. Find out where information siloes are, how lack of collaboration is hurting the customer experience, where the pain points are in general.

 

Once you know what it feels like to be a customer make sure that you have a clear understanding how your social platform can be a benefit to the customer experience. Perhaps your social platform will improve cross-functional relationships between teams making it easier for vital information to flow through the organization. This makes it easier to get an answer - and a resolution - to a customer with a problem.

 

Next, Make it Real

 

To make your case compelling don’t lead with statistics. Tell a compelling story, then follow with the numbers. Supposing that your social business initiative is aimed at breaking down barriers to communication and collaboration inside the organization. What do those obstacles mean to the customer? Perhaps you can find a recording of a customer who is frustrated at not being able to get the answer she wants. Use this message to paint a stark picture of the customer experience.

 

You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers

 

When you’re looking to get buy-in from the boardroom you don’t necessarily need to have every answer - at least not in the early stages. You might not be able to explain in detail how a completely new social platform can meet every need the company has. What you really need is to have everyone convinced there is a serious problem and that this problem is worth the time and effort it takes to find a solution. Beyond this you need to be able to sell the solution as a reasonable first course of action. As the roll-out progresses you will eventually have to come up with the answers senior leaders need, but for starters the most important thing is get leaders to agree that there is a problem.

 

Steven