Social Business : a Care Bears world ?

bisounoursWhen you read articles about enterprise 2.0, we always seem to live in a world where everyone is helping others, collaborate, remove power relations … As a famous singer sang :

what a wonderful world

Really ?

Of course, there are companies where enthusiasts people want to see social media and practises associated to integrate the business world. But there are also many cases where the launch of a 2.0 project start on much less clear bases or less well-intentioned. Here are some examples that bring us back to a more realistic world where relationships in the business are a bit rougher and less oriented Care Bears.

A little reminder first: the transformation of a business organization consist especially to produce performance and thus make money. It is not there to start conversations about this topic, as interesting as they are, especially about engagement and another way to work thanks to  collaborative tools and practices. But let’s go back to our main topic.

Intranet 2.0 and individual strategy

In a company related to training business where I intervened to set up an Intranet 2.0 and support teams to adopt this tool and uses inherent, the project manager was the opposite of the 2.0 culture (trust, autonomy, empowerment). She does not delegate, she wants to decide everything and uses the work of others to glorify herself with the C-suit.

Seeing that the project was carried at the highest level by the COO, she took the lead (especially she thought that it was a smooth project and she would just play the skiver superintendant). Needless to say that the word trust is missing from her vocabulary and she has put a spoke in the wheels of everyone. Beginning by the IT manager she has virtually ruled out from the project till the beginning (it makes things easier when you have to install on premise a collaborative platform).

Another example in a French industrial company. Two projects in-house implementation of collaborative platforms with in one hand the employees and on the other hand the partners. Both projects are not lead by the same management, then everyone has tried to pass the other one and kill it to show that his project was the most efficient instead of seeking for synergies and develop collaboration. This has turned into a war of the internal and external communication. Here we find the perfect application of game theory.

Takeover through communities of practice

Finally, in a company of the area of ​​banking / insurance, the motivation of the CHRO to build communities had nothing to do with collaboration at the beginning. Like many companies, even if there is a corporate HR department, each HR often report to the business unit leader. As a result, the corporate HR department more or less sidelined, decided to set up communities of practices for all the HR of the company. Then the HR department was able to by pass the hierarchy of the business units and to convey its messages to the various HR and strengthen the sense of belonging to the HR community. The primary motivation was finally a takeover of the troops and brought under control (although there were a benefits associated with the implementation of community of practice).

I could suggest other cases, and the last one I just described I’ve met the same issue in several French manufacturers. But of course, an example proves nothing. And especially in those three examples, the project has been a success, thanks of the engagement of some employee despite those obstacles, which is not always the case. I just wanted to show that projects 2.0 are not always those that believe, far away … So now social business is still the world of Care Bears ?