By Sebastian Thielke Aug 25, 2014

Translation of the Original Article By Sebastian Thielke

If you look at a company and its stakeholders, participants and onlookers, then you quickly realize that you do not have to do it with the homogeneous uniform beings of wishful thinking. No, you have a web of characters, behaviors and quirks before you, which is its own little cultural corridor in our perception. Exactly this corridor provides those responsible during the change a variety of propulsion but also obstacles.

The three disadvantages - Enthusiasm, Social Media Experience and High Affinity

At the latest at the last point of these three, the majority certainly want to frown and say: But it is precisely these points we need. How else can enthusiasm arise, how are the people to rely on proven experience and doesn’t high affection give us the interest and curiosity? All correct, but there are also thought traps and behavior impasses that arise with these three disadvantages.

1. Burning Enthusiasm…

One example represents the obstacle Enthusiasm well. Imagine the following situation: A company that over several years has paid strict attention to a hierarchical structure in communication, cooperation and coexistence, eventually arrives at a point where the generational change is imminent. Many veteran employees have grown up in the traditional structures. But the “Young” endorse a departure. The executive floors are starting to sound the first melodies of Redesign and new technologies. It is heard from the most diverse corners – internally and externally – that the new things will change a lot, break up the dusty structures, and sweep them away like a storm. Of course, you would like to capture this spirit and apply it to everything. The transformation gets a huge boost. But then often and very quickly disillusion sets in: the technology doesn’t work as expected, it is supposed to be much quicker, but why does it not work?

… or scorched earth

Enthusiasm quickly turns to resignation or even takes the complete opposite direction: The good old structures were still the best, no one needs this new stuff and we used to get it done in a much simpler way. Technology and change skeptics are gaining ground and can support their thesis. And then the burning flame of change collapses and everything remains the same. Well, except for the fact that the enthusiasts are now the critical Disappointed who wanted the Change quickly, since they have burned for it, and now are burnt.

Timid rationality

Yes, enthusiasm can be a good driving force, but it can also burn everything and let strategies perish. Enthusiasm is a fire, but when you kindle the fire and you cannot feed it fast enough, then it eats itself up and with it all invested resources, strategies and tactics. What do I do now with such an imminent fire of enthusiasm?

Experience shows that rationality is the correct dose in the handling, the communication and the enthusiasts. It is important to show what change, practices and methods can bring about. But it is equally important that these findings take place in a familiar working environment and especially in the familiar workflows. However, if these findings arrive, they may be regarded and shown as flaming successes. However, it is important to always stay at the bottom of enthusiasm. It must be shown that the change takes time; the benefits are not always immediately visible and primarily are part of a larger change.

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2. Social Media experience as a head start…

What better could there be for us drivers of the transformation than people that are familiar with the tools of Enterprise 2.0 and the networked company, and utilize these personally and live those philosophies? Honestly – all others are better users and a more pleasant target group. Why?

Well, this conclusion is quite simple, really. Of course, Social Media have become a part of everyday life and naturally, they shape the transformation of companies towards Social Business. But they find a different type of application. They are a familiar instrument especially in the private domain of the users. The sharing of images, emotions, impressions and ideas works excellently in public Social Media and has an appeal. However, these substantive behavioral and usage scenarios cannot be transferred to the world of work or only to a small extent.

… or the familiar tools in unfamiliar surroundings

The private Social Media professional will very quickly notice that certain mechanisms work only slightly or not at all within the company network and especially within the cultural corridors of the company. Privately one moves in an open and public space in which social media are an accepted part of communication and interaction. This acceptance and, indeed, the communicative behavior must first be justified within the company. Consequently, of course, the feedback and recognition mechanisms of public social media are not as easy to achieve and to attach (much higher range and scope) within the enterprise and the applications.

And then, the frustration kicks in. This network somehow doesn’t seem to work for me; when I write a blog, at least 10 people always respond and here nothing happened. You will also encounter resistance in terms of adaptation and enablement of already experienced social media users. The users are shaped by their experience of the social media and have at least similar expectations of the tools that are designed to improve the company and the job. It is often being neglected that here actually the two worlds collide. Public Social Media operate differently from the Social Software applications and usage scenarios in the enterprise. It is always difficult to free people from their habitual thinking patterns and then also from thought patterns that are being perceived as new and revolutionary. The applications and principles of Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business are not Facebook and Pinterest in the company. They are platforms for collaboration and process improvement.

Utilize those in the know

Today it can be assumed that the mass of experts and experienced in dealing with Social Media is rather small. Nevertheless, they are also a critical mass in both respects - as a user group and as critics. How do you now compensate this disadvantage? Actually, here only helps the capture as ambassadors and multipliers. It is important to identify these knowers, to make their skills visible and to show them clearly that the philosophy of Social Media certainly applies within the company, but that the approach is different. If this knowledge arrives at the experienced social media users, they are a valuable guarantee for the successful implementation.

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3. High degree of enthusiasm…

So, nothing more can really happen here, right? Yes, unfortunately. Because the enthusiasm and high affinity to specific technologies and innovations may be regarded as highly enhanced form of enthusiasm and the knowers. I could be accused of splitting hairs here, but this kind of disadvantage or obstacle should also be considered, because it involves an unknown and mainly underestimated negative behavior - the unfavorable opponent.

Even with the affine for a topic you always speak first of a euphoria and a thematic enthusiasm. These users deal at great length with the issue and make it a passion to know every detail. They become part of the subject, and finally know it inside and out. And this is actually good, because there have to be those detail lovers. Well, focus on just one topic bears the danger of one-sidedness. If you have developed enthusiasm for something, you will see more of the benefits, or better, the ideal that you have created yourself.

… or Break with the idealistic worldview

And then it happens unexpectedly. The keen supporter of the technological transformation recognizes that his imagination world collides with the application world in the company. Slowly but surely, his perception falters and he begins to see the transformation rather as an attack against himself and his perception. This change must be stopped of course, because only the right way can bring the benefits. And then he was born, the resister, who was once an advocate of the new. He came about because the ideal does not reflect reality. At worst, he will convince many others of his idea and demonstrate that the change and the new is the wrong way.

Realism and participation

So another a serious case, which works against the change. Experience shows even here, that having especially open communications and clear presentations of possibilities but also boundaries are enormously important for understanding and cognition. If you timely extend your hand to the technology enthusiasts and talk with them about the subject, making it clear to them that it is not the ideal image of the technology that accounts for the success, but the successful application in the field of cooperation and work, then those fans will be talking for change.

Much negative ... but soon comes the Positive

With this first part, I wanted to show and make thoughtful, that the obvious positive supporters can be well overestimated. There may be a small dark cloud over us, but I promise that I will disperse this cloud in the next post and turn the negatively perceived pitfalls into winners and advocates for the change towards Enterprise 2.0. Promised.


About the author

Sebastian Thielke Consultant Digital Transformation
Social Business and Enterprise 2.0 - Strategy Development, Enablement, Communications and Value added with the main focus on: People form the company.

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