The more I talk to people who have introduced an internal social network like Yammer into their organisation, the more I feel they belong to the same tribe somehow. I’ve tried to list couple of common characteristics that these people seem to share.
Can you recognise yourself from the list?
The Five Traits of an Enterprise Social Advocate:
1. You think about how the network could help the organisation/your colleagues rather than how it could advance your career
“This would look good on my CV/appraisal” never crossed your mind when you started pushing Yammer or some other social collaboration tool.
2. Purpose is more important to you than process
“If the process no longer serves the purpose then the process should be changed!”
3. You are engaged in your work
You would never say “Hey, don’t ask me – I just work here”.
4. You are frequently frustrated at work
Inefficient hierarchies and endless email conversations irritate you.
5. Even though you frequently feel frustrated, you are patient in your change efforts
In fact, these are not just traits of Yammer champions and other social collaboration enthusiasts – they are traits of people whom many people call “intrapreneurs”, “corporate rebels” or “culturevists”. In other words they are actually part of a wider movement of motivated and driven employees who seem to be particularly allergic to office politics and bureaucracy that serves no purpose. They desperately “want to get stuff done”. On top of that they are less concerned than most about shooting themselves in the career foot by seeking to challenge old ways of working and seeking to circumvent established hierarchies.
Rebels at Work – a guide for internal change makers
Amongst the leaders of the corporate rebel/intrapreneur movement are Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina who have recently written a book called Rebels at Work. (These two ladies are definitely part of the tribe). The book is basically a guidebook for internal change makers who, despite not being very high up in the corporate hierarchy, have a strong vision on how things in the organisation could be improved. It’s not million miles away from the advice I give in my book Internal Social Networks the Smart Way, but instead of focusing on a specific tool (in my case internal social networks), it focuses on the generic principles of alliance and credibility building, and remaining sane when you are trying to change things from below.
My key takeaway: Empathise with your opponent
One of the key takeaways for me is the point they raise about understanding people who resist, or don’t understand, your ideas. Rather than hammering home your point you should seek to understand what the concerns of people who resist your initiative are. There might be very legitimate reasons behind their skepticism. For example: most organizations are run through processes – these processes form systems that help keep the revenue generating engine humming. If you come in and threaten to disrupt this system, the middle managers, whose job it is to keep the engine running, will try to stop you. This is why you have to frame your enterprise social network as an engine oil for the business machine – otherwise they might see it as sand in the gasoline tank. And in order to do that you need to empathise with your opponent – learn to see things from their angle.
Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina have done a good job in balancing between practical advice and pep talk – I think this book should sit on the bookshelf of all enterprise social champions (together with Switch: How to change things when change is hard and Made to Stick by the Heath brothers).
Carmen and Lois have kindly offered the e-book for free for Business Goes Social readers until 25th November 2014 (Kindle, mobi or good old fashioned PDF).
Download your copy. Enjoy!
After the link has expired you can purchase the book on Amazon.