Home Blog Uncategorized Adopting social media networks internally: An exercise in change management

Adopting social media networks internally: An exercise in change management


438475400_a2961e41461If there’s one thing we know will never change, it’s this simple fact: To succeed, organizations must embrace a culture of change.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means fostering an environment where the status quo is not tolerated.

It means challenging “what we’ve always done” on a regular basis.

And it means rewarding those who exhibit these behaviors.

Basically, if you’re not changing you’re standing still. And we all know what that means in this economic environment.

But, making this mindset shift, well, that’s easier said than done.

So, it should come as no surprise that when organizations start adopting social networking tools internally—whether its to drive innovation, foster collaboration or build stronger communities—it’s often met with serious resistance.

Why? Because typically companies are using social media tools to tackle a significantly larger issue: culture change.

Think about it. At Best Buy several years ago, they knew they needed better ways to harness the innovation and collaborative spirit of their 155,000 employees across the world. Enter Blue Shirt Nation (hat tip: Gary Koelling and Steve Bendt).

At Fairview (full disclosure: my current employer), we recently introduced a social tool across the organization as a way to drive innovation and collaboration. The real need? We need to change the way we deliver care, for less cost. And we need to do it much faster than we’ve done it in the past. That’s HUGE culture change-type stuff.

Often, the resistance organizations run into when implementing social tools is more about the reluctance to change than the hesitation to join an internal social network. For example, at Fairview one of the biggest hurdles we’ve faced with staff is getting them to think differently in terms of how they find information on a social network. Mostly, they’re used to sifting through hierarchal folders in a logical manner. As you may know, social platforms don’t work that way. It’s more about search and tagging than it is about intuitive navigation. We need them to think in terms of Google, not a structured file folder format.

That’s a big change for most folks. Not because it’s about navigating a social network. But, because it represents a big change in the way they think about accessing information and doing their jobs. That’s culture change.

What can organizations do to address these changes? Here are a few simple to-dos to keep in mind: 

  • Build success…slowly. Instead of rolling out our tool to all 24,000 Fairview employees, we chose a more organic approach. Roll it out to those we thought may be our “early adopters.” Too soon to tell if this has worked, but the early results are promising.
  • Recognition is key. Your early adopters are instrumental to your success when launching a social network internally. So, you need to make sure they are publicly recognized for taking risks. Others will see that management is rewarding that behavior—and follow suit.
  • Take baby steps. You’re not going to convince all 20,000 employees at your company to join the social network overnight. It takes time. A long time, in some cases. Let adoption build organically. But foster and nurture that adoption behind the scenes. Take it slow. Build early success. And don’t bite off more than you can chew. A series of early and small success will prove much more valuable (and probable) than one big one.

What other key steps can organizations do to spur culture change as they implement social tools internally? 



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