Monday, September 14, 2009

More on the secret recipe to success for Enterprise 2.0

Since I came back from my summer vacation, a number of EHS managers/directors (by the way, EHS stands for Environmental, Health & Safety) have got in touch and asked for ideas to improve internal communication and staff engagement with regard to Safety issues. I am not an EHS expert, they came to me because they heard about the Intranet 2.0 tools we have experimented in ERM, and wanted to know how they can use them to re-energize their company's Safety program which is getting dull overtime.

In my mind, while Intranet 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 all these tools sound very exciting, I believe one thing has not changed.

If you are in charge of internal communication and want to use 'some kind of tools' to engage with all staff on Safety issues (or any other issues), you need to start with a genuine willingness to promote two-way communication. With that attitude, you can fully exploit the new Enterprise 2.0 tools to listen, to invite dissent voice, to debate, to reflect and to use the ideas shared to help staff to better understand an issue, and also to help you (the communicator/the leader/EHS Director) to understand the issue and your staff. Everyone who takes part learn something through the ideas exchange process. Great ideas are taken on board to inform decisions. It is much more than 'informing' staff and expect them to listen to you and act as you tell them to.

But be careful, with all good intentions and even with a willingness to listen to what staff have to say, the Enterprise 2.0 tools can result in merely more conversation (or perhaps 'noise') but not necessarily productive conversation. I think Enterprise 2.0 has to be carefully designed to facilitate great dialogue, otherwise it will result in online conversation dominated by the loudest voice, by the people-in-power, by the tech-savvy staff. How can we help all staff to have their voice heard, and help them to listen to and learn from one another? Should we leave this to chance?

It is very easy to unintentionally bring the bad face-to-face meeting design online. Think about the last time you attended a face-to-face meeting when a group of enthusiastic participants took turns to voice their comments (but not really listening to one another), and another group of staff were silent and too shy to voice their thoughts. Without good meeting design, communication and facilitation procedures, none of the participants felt they personally connect with the issues discussed, as a result leaving the 'talking-shop' meeting unsatisfied or feeling it was a total waste of time.

How can we avoid replicating this kind of experience online? It is down to the Enterprise 2.0 design. It has to be carefully thought out. If it is done nicely, the employees will have a great experience. I wonder how many of the Enterprise2.0 designers out there seriously think about facilitating great online conversation (beyond aiming at getting more people to contribute)?

Could the answer be the secret recipe to success for Enterprise 2.0?

1 comment:

cespa said...

See also Euan Semple's blog: