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Social Collaboration is about Structured Outcomes, not “Happy Accidents”

Social Collaboration is about Structured Outcomes, not “Happy Accidents”

Far too often the focus of Social Collaboration evangelism is about the wonderful things that could happen when an organisation deploys an Enterprise Social Network (ESN); instead of what will happen. Decision makers are far more likely to respond to such a discussion than the “just deploy it and magic will happen” message that consistently floats around the industry.

At Mumba Cloud we advocate very strongly that an ESN deployment is most successful when the tools are designed in a workflow to facilitate a structured outcome, rather than deploying the network and waiting for employees to ‘accidentally’ find value. ‘Happy Accidents’ certainly do happen, but should be seen as an attractive and serendipitous bonus above and beyond targeted and deliberate payoffs that are planned, designed and managed. Anecdotal success is best portrayed in the classic Yammer adoption curve - furious viral adoption and then a drop off and eventual death. The fashionable hype around Social Networking sweeps everyone up in excitement at the attractive interface and “it's like Facebook for business” analogies; but Yammers churn rate demonstrates that this hype means very little in real business terms.

The social software industry has moved well beyond the “hope for the best” optimism of the early days as the collaboration tools have become more powerful and now allow us to build robust business cases with established best practices and proven methodologies.

For example, a classic “Happy Accident” scenario runs like this:

When Jane has been tasked to start a collaboration project around a new policy document, she posts a note on the activity stream when Jim, from another state, see’s her post at 11pm at night. Jim immediately replies that she should talk to Bob who is a specialist in the topic. Soon after Mary sees Jim’s post and likes and hashtags it and by 6am the next morning Mary, Bob, and Jane are happily collaborating on the new policy.

A "Structured Outcome" approach to this scenario would be:

Jane sets up a collaborative workspace whereby she uses an ideation tool to collect rich feedback including ideas, comments, files, videos, photos, links, votes, etc. Jane rapidly identifies and invites relevant parties to join the ideation process and she manages the flow of communication thereby ensuring it remains on track. Jane then collects the best ideas and presents them in a survey to the group to finalize the way forward. Following the survey outcome, the actual project kicks off within the project management workspace, with tasks and milestones assigned to relevant team members. Jane finalizes the policy while the ideation process, survey and the project management workflow are all integrated, documented and available for future exploration.

This is the power of social collaboration and this is how enterprise social tools deliver real business results.

If your enterprise social network doesn’t have the features necessary to achieve a structured outcome then simply put, you need to look at Mumba Cloud. The ‘Happy Accident’ mentality is enough to create hype and great promotional content, but not enough to achieve the kind of real results that transform business and culture.

Do you have any examples of structured outcomes vs happy accidents? Please share your thoughts below.

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