8 Replies Latest reply on Jun 1, 2011 10:32 AM by disaacs

    Getting More Executives Using Communities

      Hi,

      I have seen the graphics that imply adoption of social networking is related to age.  Recently I saw this blog post by Steve Borsch which looks what motivates senior executives and why some are not interested in social networks.

       

      http://www.minnpost.com/minnov8/2009/01/06/5602/why_executives_dont_get_social_media

       

      Senior executives already have a network and connections.  They are focused and motatived to "get things done".  Too much of the description, discussion, and hype talk about connecting and collaborating.  Senior executives will support communities when tehy see that it is a better tool for communicating (current email broadcast are not communication).  To get more executives participating in a community, they need to see it as a better way to get things done.

       

      What are your thoughts?

       

      Mike

        • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities

          I agree that executive buy-in is critical to the success of these systems within companies, and it must be made clear how these tools enhance and extend the knowledge and skills within the organisation, to get things done.

           

          This situation reminded me of an experience with Lotus Notes, early in its adoption cycle.

           

          Trying to find an application to win over executives,  IT applied impeccable logic and decided that Lotus Notes had virtual discussions, executives had lots of meetings therefore executives could use the discussion application to conduct their meetings, saving time and money.

           

          Of course, no executive would swap a meeting for a discussion thread. An executive’s strengths were in people skills, reading body language, non-verbal communication, assessing the person, their character, and their ability to fully grasp and implement a plan.

           

          This perspective was lost to IT, which saw information more distinctly from its context.

           

          It’s not that those executives were opposed to using technology.

           

          If IT understood these underlying requirements and an application to help schedule, plan, and prepare for meetings was implemented, it would have been far more successful.

           

          Steve Borsch’s article reminds us that different users have different personal as well as professional requirements from applications and the real challenge of communities is balancing these implicit requirements while fulfilling the communities’ purpose.

          • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities
            wallyrogers

            Great observations Joseph,

             

            One thing I've found that many executives do get: The value of project visibilty, an at risk dashboard, the abilty to do this across organizations/geography and the fact that all of the collaboration and online thinking that went into the project is now retained.  They may not want to use it much personally but they understand the value of this.

             

            On the idea of using collaboration for Project Visibility, the Gartner Research VP for collaboration wrote to me this month (emphasis added),

            "Your comments about the project management aspect are a trend we’ve been hearing from many users. They see project management not so much as PERT charts and resource planning, but keeping the project team on the same page, with light task management (lighter than workflow systems) and document management. We haven’t published enough about this phenomenon; we will do more. "

             

            The abilty to improve projects through collaboration AND visibility speaks to the bottom line and delivery.  Executives will support that!

            • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities

              I think executives hang out on LinkedIn more than Facebook for the very reasons you described.  Their focus is more on getting things done - business things, business connections.

               

              Their time is also very valuable.  Let's say an executive makes $100 an hour (low for many execs) - that translates into an expensive blog post if they take a few hours to put something together and post it online.

               

              They might also tend to be a little more old school and might not see the connection between time spent on communities or other social media (twitter, facebook, etc) and business value. In fact, that's what I think is key - getting execs to see the link between the personal relationships we build online and the business value that results from those connections.

               

              I think it'll help if we can show them that value.

               

              Maybe that means starting to build a list of those interactions to illustrate to the company how those personal interactions in an online community have built a trust foundation that results in business value, and then blogging about that internally to your company.

               

              Of course, you'd never want to come right out and tell them they're old school

              • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities

                Hi,

                Looking at motivation, connecting with others so they can share and mentor is not high for executives.  They already can do that.  The motivational factor for them is "get it done" and not "talk about it".  The one thing all community mangers and owners need to thing about is "why are the people coming here?"  Too often, as with web sites, they focus on why they want the people to visit.

                 

                Executive support is also not the same as executives visiting the community. One problem common to executives is getting the message out to everyone, making sure they understand it, and having the act on it.  We recently showed clearly how the old "trickle down" method to move the message from the CEO down to all the employees does not work.  The community provided a value tool for people to ask questions and offer suggestions.

                 

                As you pointed out, the ROI for an executive to cruise around the community is generally not high enough.  What we need is someone lower down the chain to monitor the conversation and bring in the executives when they are needed.

                Mike

                • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities
                  As you pointed out, the ROI for an executive to cruise around the community is generally not high enough.  What we need is someone lower down the chain to monitor the conversation and bring in the executives when they are needed.

                   

                  I really like that, Mike.  I think that's a great idea.

                   

                  Another thing we've done at Jive to help involve execs in our internal community (we call it Brewspace - "good things brewing") is to set up a space called "Ask the Bartenders".  Employees are allowed to post questions about anything they're curious about, and it gives execs a chance to keep the company aligned and informed, while staying connected with the company at large.

                   

                  The side benefit of it is that execs have to use the tool in order to get the answers out... and every time one of your execs replies to a question in a space like that is one step you've taken them away from their email inboxes and closer to your community.

                  • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities

                    Hi,

                    We already did that.  We call ours Speak Out.  We track the comments and forward to groups, including executives, that we thing should answer or comment.  From the start, the views and comments on that community far exceed all the others.  We also highlight to senior management when executives provide comments.

                    Mike

                    • Re: Getting More Executives Using Communities

                      I concur; it is not as important to convince executives to use an enterprise social networking site as it is to get them to understand why their organization should be using it.  Project team performance is one such area where tangible and measurable results can be seen.  Another executive-friendly area where enterprise networking and collaboration has a positive benefit is in improving innovation.  For years, executives have identified the need for their organizations to be more innovative and creative.  The path many have gone down is to look to design schools for new hires, with the assumption that this is where they can find creative people.  The sad fact is that most companies have a great deal of talented and creative people working for them, but that those people don't generally have a means by which they can submit ideas, launch projects, find others with similar interests, and gain visibility to initiatives within the organization for which they have an interest, knowledge, and passion but that fall outside their pay grade or department.  An enterprise social network can provide an innovation infrastructure to foster and develop innovation and talent from within.