Collaborative technologies, like Jive Software, IBM Connections and Newsgator, have come amidst the fanfare of a new and better era of corporate performance. They herald the emergence of a unique class of organisation: a brave new world where social technologies permeate all business functions to drive collaboration, learning and innovation.
But for every success story documenting how these technologies have generated a tidal wave of excellence across the organisation, there are also tales of disappointment and woe.
Frustrated internal comms managers puzzle over their impotent efforts, wondering why these new technologies haven’t spawned the slick ‘networked enterprise’ they’ve heard so much about.
Why, now that the sparkly social technologies of promise have been implemented, are the productivity statistics not peaking? Why aren’t employees seizing the opportunity to connect and share? They’ve had the training, damn it! And there are clear ‘how to’ guides on the intranet AND posters on the all toilet doors. So why the hell isn’t this stuff working?
The answer, more often than not, is culture. A simple little word that represents a deep-rooted, complex medley of attitudes, behaviours and values that flood the veins of every organisation.
If earnest corporate values are divorced from the reality of how employees behave, ambition really means Machiavellian politics and feedback is synonymous with criticism, even the most advanced collaborative technology is doomed to fail.
Neglecting to consider or, even worse, ignoring corporate cultures in which cooperation and sharing is not the norm, is a huge mistake when implementing collaborative technologies internally.
These technologies exist to facilitate, not fix. They bring company culture into sharp relief. Whether that’s through outstanding results and world-class performance in highly networked companies, or eerily quiet online workspaces that generate disappointing outputs in those that are less used to cooperation and sharing.
The lesson for internal comms is to focus on people and behaviours before technologies. Work with change management to start influencing broken working practices and guide the leadership team in exemplifying the change you’re looking for.
Shiny new collaborative technologies won’t fix your business, but engaged employees will.
I’ll be exploring some of the ways organisations can encourage positive cultural change, so if you’ve got any helpful tips or examples, please post below :)
Image courtesy of Marcin Wichery.