Twitter chat Storify: What does it mean to lead, in a networked enterprise?

I published a Storify of the May 20 Twitter chat What does it mean to lead, in a networked enterprise? that includes discussion (and resources) focused on the following questions:

Q1: Imagine we are in a business/organization that truly embraces enterprise social networks as key to success. As leaders in this organization are there things we should pay more attention to? Trust? Safety (safe to ask questions, for example)?

Q2: Now think about “leaders” at multiple levels – individual, middle, and top level executives. Do we need to develop any NEW leadership capabilities? Or do certain leadership capabilities become more important?

Q3: How should we think about our own online presence/voice when we take on formal leadership roles? What changes? What doesn’t?

Q4: Any final thoughts about today’s topic? New insights? New Ideas from tonight’s chat?

May 20 Twitter Chat: What does it mean to lead, in a networked enterprise? #msloc430

Coffee pie HiveLet’s assume we are enthusiasts for the organizational vision – and change – associated with the potential of embracing enterprise social networking as core to our enterprise.

We get it. We get that it’s not just about the technology. That it’s about gaining real value from weak network ties, from serendipity, from diverse ideas and knowledge, from community and relationships. And we get that networks are both more adaptive and more resilient than hierarchies in the face of the complex world in which we live.

Let’s also assume that we all see ourselves as leaders of this change, and that we are working hard to further develop our capabilities as leaders. What, then, does it mean to:

  • Lead as an individual evangelist/change agent?
  • Lead from the middle – as a manager, team leader or other formal role where we have some control over resources and people’s activities?
  • Lead from the executive level?

At each of these levels, how do we lead? What new – or enhanced – capabilities do we need? What do we need to be aware of – in our role as leaders – that can make us more (or less) effective? How do we, as leaders, think about our online presence and identity – given the visibility we gain through enterprise social networking platforms?

Join me and 16 members of my graduate course (MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge) as we explore these questions in an hour-long Twitter chat beginning at 8 pm CT (U.S.) on Tuesday, May 20. Hashtag is #msloc430.

See results and insight from a previous chat on adoption strategies for enterprise social networking. I’ll post a similar summary here.

You can also see more about MSLOC 430 bloggers, Twitter chats and open discussions that have been a part of the MSLOC 430 class experience during the past couple of years.

 

Let the dinosaurs die and the lurkers lurk. Insights on seeding adoption of enterprise social networks.

MSLOC 430 tweet chat

Learning & Organizational Change graduate students in the thick of a class sponsored Twitter chat.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, my class of graduate students from the Master of Science in Learning & Organizational Change program at Northwestern University organized a Twitter chat to explore the following: What tactics have proved effective in seeding the adoption of social collaboration technology, considering the variety of organizational and work contexts out there?

The intent was to pursue something more than generalized “best practices” – which are often a fiction, or which have been filtered to such a watery form as to become almost meaningless (i.e., “engage leadership support”). The class was trying to get closer to tactics and strategies that have more flavor, that get closer to the tacit know-how of practitioners who have lived through the process of social technology adoption and have come out with some success.

This line of inquiry led us to organize the Twitter chat. To prompt the discussion we focused on three general questions:

  • What roles (formal or informal) are important in seeding adoption?
  • Are there specific activities that users could be nudged to do – that start the momentum?
  • What are the trade-offs of “going big” vs. focusing on energetic early adopters?

The Twitter chat was an explicit effort to “thin the walls” of the classroom (to borrow a phrase from my ed tech network) – make them a bit more permeable by connecting students and practitioners directly, using common social media tools like Twitter. The result was a wide-ranging give-and-take with almost 40 participants (13 in the class). A cohort of experts from Change Agents Worldwide joined in, as did a number of practitioners and thought leaders from our close and extended network. The discussion covered many angles in answering these questions. Participants also shared links to a variety of great resources and thought leadership – all of which is recapped in the Storify of the event.

I’ve tried to synthesize some of the themes and interesting points below. But the full transcript is a gift that goes far beyond my recap.

Roles. Community manager roles (for “lift off”), champions, savvy social network tool users, and the support of leadership roles (for funding if nothing else) were noted. But more interesting were the informal “momentum builder” roles that emerge from people who are willing to experiment – the first followers.

The tweet from Bryce Williams drew an immediate reaction and, for me, pointed to a theme about the traits required in both the formal and informal roles: Part rebel, part trusted peer. Someone with social skills that bridge the online environment and the context of the workplace in which they are embedded.

The  Harold Jarche “let dinosaurs die a natural death” comment also drew commentary. I’ve heard this kind of thinking in the context of enterprise social networking from others as well – and have probably said it in class a few times. The more I reflect on it, the more I sense the push-back when people hear this is rooted in the knee-jerk approach to implementing change – i.e., that we control it from the top down or some central point outward and we must cascade our communications, activities etc. to make sure all are “changed.” That’s a delusion at best. Of course it is keenly important to pay attention to the edges – who lives at the margins, that we should be engaging? – but that’s a different issue than trying to convert the nonconvertible.

Activities. Much of the dialogue was around simple nudges. Get people to ask questions. And others to answer. Solve simple problems. Fill out profiles and share photos. Make the initial engagement authentic – rather than trying to force interaction.

There was also a good bit of dialogue around the theme of “lurkers’ being a positive role. “Lurking” – or just reading in an online community without responding – is actually seen as a very engaged activity; it is the heart of online social learning.

“Go big” vs. focus on energetic adopters. I commented during the chat that it seemed to be a blowout – no one thought “going big” was a good idea. But upon reading the full chat again, there are some nuances to the issue. You certainly have to think big. Or it may be a matter of timing – when to go big vs. “if.” But the chat did bring up a wide range of downsides that make going-big either wrong-headed at worst or risky at best.

In the end, the chat clearly pointed to the challenges of “implementing” – which all of its top-down, hierarchical implications – a change in work patterns and technology use that deliver value by being emergent and organic. Like all of the practitioners who participated in the chat, the key seems to be in understanding emergence and embracing it. Let the lurkers lurk. And the dinosaurs drift into history.

For more on the full chat experience, see two MSLOC 430 student blog posts reflecting on both the experience and the content of the chat:

Stanley FongEntering a brave new (knowledge) world | simpler ideas for a better life

Aditya Singh ChauhanEngagement Space: What drives engagement on Social Networking platforms?

Thanks to Aditya, as well, for the photo in this post.

How do you seed adoption of Enterprise 2.0/social business? #msloc430 Twitter Chat Feb. 27 8 pm CT

Coffee pie HiveThe course I am teaching this quarter (and next) for the Masters Program in Learning and Organizational Change at Northwestern University uses Enterprise 2.0/social business as a way to understand the role that technology plays in sharing and creating knowledge within organizations.

As we look at a variety of organizational cultures, business challenges and domains of work practice (e.g., marketing and sales, engineering, management functions, etc.) we find ourselves continuously scanning the work of thought leaders, bloggers and experienced practitioners to find clues to the following:

What tactics have proved effective in seeding the adoption of social collaboration technology, considering the variety of organizational and work contexts out there?

This is a slightly different approach than pursuing generalized “best practices” – which are often a fiction, or which have been filtered to such a watery form as to become almost meaningless (i.e., “engage leadership support”). We’re trying to get closer to tactics and strategies that have more flavor, that get closer to the tacit know-how of practitioners who have lived through the process of social technology adoption and have come out with some success.

Do you have stories to share in this area? Experiences? Insights? Recommended resources (bloggers, white papers, research, Twitter)? Share them with us. Comment here, or connect with us via the course Twitter hashtag: #msloc430.

And join us for an hour-long Twitter chat exploring this topic on Thursday, Feb. 27 from 8-9 PM Central Time (US). Hashtag: #msloc430