By Sebastian Thielke Sep 3, 2014

Translation of the Original Article by Sebastian Thielke


I have promised that I will chase away the gloomy clouds of negatives. So, I will reach back and start the hunt. If we look back on the last post, we note with dismay that we are certainly often derived by the obvious, if we want to advance the change in a company. These evidences are also great obstacles especially for the Change Management towards Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. Now, if the obvious is not always the right thing, then you could also draw the conclusion that the clearly negative aspects and drawbacks could also be benefits, right?

The three advantages – Ignorance, Rejection and Distance to Technology

Again, we are at a point where many would say: But we stand precisely against these resistances in the projects every day. People who do not want to learn, employees who lack the knowledge of application and theory and people who have been very successful mastering their daily work with pen and paper. Again, I would like to mention the approach: The obvious is not always the right thing and often we underestimate the hidden or unrecognized potential of such opposition.

We are moving in a world of change and disruption of previous, traditional mechanisms. Therefore, the perception of potential and opportunities will need to change. So, I'm going to show three examples that yet just hold positive potential for the transformation and restructuring for Enterprise 2.0.

1. Ignorance – We need to start from scratch …

It goes without saying that it is a challenge when one encounters ignorance and little knowledge about methods, technology and application. Especially in relation to the Enablement and the related courses, training and communication, we as change drivers are repeatedly facing great challenges. The large number of participants and trainees can trigger an excessive demand in some cases. Where can lie the dormant potential in this challenge, then?

Here, the experience in many processes and change projects that those participants with little or no knowledge, are much quicker to perceive and recognize the benefits and, indeed, the profits for themselves. But why is that? The keyword is here - Impartiality. There is no expectation. The people we face in this situation are people who in many cases have been never confronted with the concepts and ideas of Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. They have no idea of methods and theories of networked collaboration, communal Sharing or the wisdom of the many.

… or: The possibility to have Values, Advantages and Improvements developed

Exactly this "no clue" is just the greatest potential of impartiality. These users have no imprinted claim to application, method or idea. It is the first time they are confronted with this idea and the first time they address it. This situation is obviously quite volatile. What happens when I hurl our beloved words and word strings with the subject networking and network collaboration at these people at the first contact? Exactly, incomprehension, misunderstanding and rejection would result. Of course, I have to initiate the communication and delivery accordingly sensitive

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Communicate in a known world

The Transformation, the Enablement and the Values will have to be communicated accordingly - to the relevant target groups. I think this term is indeed obvious to many but it is then often ignored in the implementation and formulation because it might be too abstract.

It is important for the unknowing that the contents, references and complex issues are taken into a world that corresponds to their own daily operations and communications. If I would like to include for example an employee in Accounting in the transformation projects or in a communication about Enterprise 2.0, I will look at that person in their work environment and their daily work. Here the routines, the work processes, the challenges and accomplishments in their daily work are of particular interest to me. I listen to the words and the characteristic style of communication.

With this realization, I design my communication and look for examples from the work of an employee in accounting. Based on this example, I will explain how networking and the tools and applications in the Enterprise 2.0 transformation affect and may improve the daily work. And everything in the characteristic style of accounting and their working environment. In such a communication situation and thereafter, the insight, knowledge and above all, the need for change arise all by themselves. In any case, the essence of the user has to be touched. This is much easier with the Unknowing than with the Knowing and professionals.

2. Rejection – our worst enemy…

Yes, we would like to avoid this. It should be possible that everybody is for the transformation, the new and the improvements, right? In this regard, I am fundamentally convinced that we will never get all to go along or be able to win all for us. That would mean an absolute majority and in a heterogeneity of the corporate culture - impossible and unnecessary. But we need a majority that obviously recognizes, thinks and participates. Otherwise, we do not stand a chance. What about the rejecter, the adversary, the opponent? Are they really bad? Experience shows that the opposite is often the case. Resisters and rejecters don’t do this without reason. I don’t know of any instance where a transformation was sabotaged intentionally and without reason. There is always a reason. The good thing is that you can find out this reason in discussions. It often turns out then that the communication was not working properly, fears have arisen or misunderstanding gave rise in the rejection to that individual.

… or a convinced advocate

Therefore, the potential here lies in the dissolution of misunderstanding and fears, as well as addressing the problems of those affected. That seems to be a lot of effort for possibly a single person. Nevertheless, this effort is worthwhile in any case. If the reason for the rejection is clarified, the person realizes that she is being taken seriously and is positively supported, and then the rejection will turn to interest. This interest begins on a very positively prepared track, and with patience, it will turn into conviction.

The worst adversaries and presumed opponents used to be great advocates and ambassadors in many situations. The works council is still my favorite example. In many situations and change scenarios, the project team considers the council as an Adversary. The experiences in the company with this authority always seem to be negatively impacted. It is just a question of communication, timing and transparency if I prepare an adversary or an ideal advocate. The secret is simple: Information and Participation. I was able to experience work council members that first considered change grudgingly, were then integrated into the project and have finally come up with extremely useful tips and hints for the network in the company. This works council member in this case was also one of the first interesting and especially extensive application cases. He was able to evoke a high level of commitment and interest among employees.

Potential of criticism and rejection

We always perceive adversaries as negative points that want to disturb and destroy the Good. We rarely see the potential in the criticism and the rejection. This may be due to a lack of fault culture as well as to our strong conviction for remodeling. Nevertheless, we should always use these possibilities for our own revision. If someone rejects something, then there is something wrong in the communication - trite but true.

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3. Technology distance equals a lack of understanding…

The typical user we meet today has at least one smartphone, a tablet and an Ultrabook as a work tool. After all, we are moving in the world of knowledge workers. Wrong! We are moving mostly in a world that is dominated by the PC workplace, but has not yet reached the ideal mobility and flexibility. The reality is rather like this: An old and bulky laptop for work is more than adequate, the smartphone is private and cannot really be used in the company, because the infrastructure is missing and the farther I move away from a knowledge worker, the less likely is the PC workplace. This is natural.

However, this distance to technology has just the potential to consider how an intended change is applicable also to those distant groups. Is the idea for mobile devices the right way? What benefit has, for example, an Enterprise Social Network for the production worker and how can he optionally access it?

… or the further thinking of corporate networking

To me as a designer of change the technical challenge is the opportunity to explore alternatives and to find other ways to implement the transformation. My experience shows that such a network has great potential in production and that this potential is wanted. The transfer path is just different. Actually, it is quite simple. Give everyone a mobile device or enable access to the network through appropriate infrastructure and people will use it and above all use it efficiently.

Limited opportunities for unimagined approaches

In many cases, you do not venture out from the conception to the production floor. I think unfounded or for false fears. The technology distance of the users gives me an image for the planning, which reflects both the handling, the easy handling and understanding of the system. The transformation can be designed and adjusted accordingly, and I examine the possibility of the lowest prerequisite. It is the potential for all involved in the further development of the company.

Closing words

What I have listed in these blog posts, of course, is only a fraction of the reverse potentials. I would like to encourage that negative points are illuminated on possible potential and obvious advantages should once be in the light of the obstacles. We as drivers of change and companions of transformation are moving into a world of daily interruption and disturbance by familiar things. We should continually practice and try this ourselves in planning, strategy and conception. Break with the usual and challenge the Known.


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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