Social Business Failure #4: Make This Your Project

Scenario: you are the only one who understands why social technologies internal to your organization would be a good move for your company.  You have either come from another company which used it or you can see the value from other projects you have worked on.  Yet no one believes you.  Sure they may think it might be good, but they don’t believe it is that important.

But, you press forward, doing your best to show the value through use cases of other companies.  You even set up some capabilities internally using a free tool and try to get others to use it.  It starts to take hold a little.  Still, you set up meetings with the right people, give some good presentations and then suddenly, the clouds open up and the light shines down: You are given permission to officially explore the use.

To move forward, you talk to as many other managers as you can about what issues they are having, trying to determine how social business may help them.  You tell them your plan and they are skeptical, but on the outset most are willing to listen.  Some think what you are trying to do is stupid.

As you talk with employees, they somewhat get it, but not fully.  Yet their heart is behind you.  Deep inside they know that it will be good and want to see you succeed.

It finally gets to the point that you can stand up a pilot instance of some social software.  You lead out on how it should be set up and organized.  You pick out the use cases where you can pilot it and you get everyone on board to try it out.  You do all the “advertising” or “evangelism” and you are calling the shots.  It makes sense because you are the only one who really understands this.  Others are looking to you to move this forward.

What is the problem here?  It can be summed up in one word: YOU.  YOU is used too often.  There isn’t enough THEY.

The above story is my story the first time I tried to help a company.  Although I would not have called myself an expert, I knew more than anyone there about social business by far.  So, it made sense that I would lead everything and try to do it all.  And because of that I almost failed.  I ran into many roadblocks which seemed too large to overcome.

It wasn’t until I realized that all this social stuff was not about ME, but about WE.  I couldn’t do this alone.  I had pull others into this and make this THEIR project.  When I did this, everything turned around.  It was not about me and my leadership and vision – this was about them.  To go about it as a ME project was to go against the very nature of social business itself.

But I also recognized that it was an easy trap to fall into because of my passion and knowledge around the subject.

Questions to answer:

  • How might we make it a THEY project?
  • What roles can others take?
  • How do we get involvement and feedback from others?

(See Social Business Failure #3: Ignoring others who have done this before.)