Top Question to Ask Before Implementing a Social Network

By Lila Elliott Test Account posted Sep 10, 2009 05:09 PM

NTEN is doing a "Call for Questions" to ask organizations to submit the top question to ask themselves before implementing a social network. (by the way, this "call for questions" is a great way to get community users involved!).

Here's what I want to ante up: "How Scared Are We of Organizational Change?"

I posit that social networks inevitably bring change in organizational behavior and structure and few organizations have critically undergone self-analysis to identify how well prepared they are for the journey they have undertaken. Social networks bring foundation-shaking organizational change for several reasons, namely:

1) Social networks are cross-cutting across the organization and are the ultimate in silo-busting initiatives
2) Social networks are fundamentally built on the principles of transparency, authenticity and trust---principles that many organizations espouse but don't actually evidence
3) Social networks expose all the posers, the finger-pointers, the buzzkills and the people who are amateurs at working to move the organization forward and innovate, but are pros at maintaining status quo and sticking with "what's always worked'
4) Underlying social networks is this positive feeling of connectedness---of being one individual that fits into a greater good and that you can increase the goodness by participating in the community.  If you share such an outlook, social networking is exciting and feels natural to you; if you secretly believe that people are selfish and small and nothing good comes from giving back because people can't act out of anything but self-interest, then social networking seems like a lot of fluff and unrealisitic, idealistic chit-chat that is a waste of time and resources.

Being able to critically ask yourself and your organization, as the collective, this question is one of the keys to whether social networking will ever feel "natural". What we find is that it often depends on the leadership--what I like to call the mode, mood and mantra typically come from top leaders (ED and Board) and if they hold misaligned views with the underlying principles of social networking, then rough weather is probably in the forecast. Best to think about change management and aligning to new ways of doing business to ease these types of people in because social networking is not going away no matter how much the Old Guard balks and rebuffs/rebukes the changes.