You need a collaboration champion
Regular readers of this blog will recognize this refrain: if you want to maximize your collaboration solution (regardless of whether that solution is SocialBridge), you need someone to take ownership, not just through the buying cycle or through the implementation, but on a daily basis. If it’s not someone in senior management, it needs to be someone with easy access to senior management – and someone who’s empowered to push the bosses to lead by example. We said it plainly in the headline, but it bears repeating: you need a collaboration champion. We see the impact all the time, and we are not alone.
In User Adoption Strategies, collaboration expert Michael Sampson repeatedly underscores the importance of champions and evangelists. These people, Sampson writes, will drive adoption in a way that is tailored to your specific use case, and provide extra training and assistance.
In his Eight tips on successful adoption of collaboration solutions, digital technology strategist James Gardner constantly returns to the theme of leadership: “Lead by example at every opportunity. The early days of a system’s life are some of the most precarious. Old habits die hard, and employees will need constant reminding to move them in the right direction. You can be the difference here.”
Almost everyone who makes an effort to improve collaboration in their company is doing so with good intentions. But, well, we know what they say about good intentions. As SocialBridge customer Carl Frappaolo noted in his “Building a Collaborative Culture” presentation: “If you build it, they will ignore it.” That was the case at one of my previous companies, where a Basecamp experiment almost immediately turned into a ghost town; no one ever communicated the benefit, and the project manager rode off into the sunset as soon as the solution went live. It wasn’t a superfluous solution, either; in hindsight, it’s clear to me that we could have really, really used a better system for collaboration.
But if you’re the boss, can’t you just say “Collaborate or heads will roll!” and be done with it? Well, sure, you can try. As Gardner notes, after all, people are prone to jump when the CEO shouts “Jump!” This seldom leads to optimal adoption, though. “My recommendation is never to force anything because that inevitably ends up causing a lot of tension and friction in the workplace,” writes Jacob Morgan in The Collaborative Organization, noting that he’s seen mixed results in organizations that try the strong-arm approach.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll be taking a few deeper looks at the transformational impact that the right collaboration champion can have on your company.