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Seven Habits of a Highly Collaborative Social Organization #SWCONF

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at and participating on a panel at the Social Workplace Conference in London, England. One of the last sessions of the day was where the panelists discussed and decided on the “Seven Habits of a Highly Collaborative Social Organization.” Participating in this conversation with me was David Christopher, Social Media Business Leader, Oracle EMEA; Lee Bryant, Co-founder, Headshift; and Benjamin Ellis, Social Technologist & Founder, SocialOptic.

I, unfortunately, was not able to personally take note of the seven habits that the panel discussion came up with; however, Jenni Wheller, Internal Communications Manager, SSP UK, wrote her observations and takeaways. Below is an excerpt from her blog post.

Original source:

  1. Employee behaviour and organisation culture
    Changing the culture and behaviours was a big take away from the day. There were several comments made about using tools to engage people and change a culture and it became clear that the culture needed to be there in the first place before the tool – the tool simply facilitates the conversation. As the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. It is easy to go back to old habits when something is different and whilst forcing someone onto a social tool is wrong, you have to take the time to let people adapt to change. It is not going to happen in a few months – you can expect to wait 3 years for the change in culture and the business needs to understand this. Users of social media at work should not be seen as time wasters… they are working together to better the business
  2. Prepare to fail
    Organisations are never happy to admit they have failed, and likewise people don’t like to stand up and say they got something wrong. With social media, we have to accept some element of failure is likely. Most projects like this fail because people stop believing but you have to stick with it. The social tools are only part of the change in culture and changing something that has been the same for over 50 years is going to take time and you may fail along the way
  3. P.O.S.T
    A well used theory but one that needs to remain top of mind: People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology. So often a business will choose a tool before looking at the people and the reasons why first.
  4. Use social when it is appropriate
    Social technologies allow the break down of barriers like geography but it is not right for all companies. The fastest way to collaborate is to talk face to face in a room with flip chart, so if that is how you operate, don’t feel pressurised to change. There are some tools that are right for an organisation and the way we form relationships is key in understanding why Facebook is not the right tool for business.
  5. Make it human
    For so long technology has been about the tool, the system and the change it can bring. Now it is all about humanising the experience. Social software depends on the community. A team is not a community and most organisations have an audience which isn’t the same as a community
  6. Network for the greater good – break down the hierarchy
    Organisational design will play a great role in the use of social tools in the business. Our traditional models of business don’t fit with the way we operate today and having IT in the command and control centre that they are now is not sustainable. There was a great view that in the future we won’t have Microsoft installed on our computers, instead we will choose our computer and what enterprise applications we want to use. Social tools need to be integrated with the system tools inside a business.
  7. Understand what social is
    There was a nice test to see if your tool was social and I put this as the final habit as, after today, I’m convinced we confuse conversation with social. So check: Is it about people rather than data? Is it learnt rather than taught and is it going to make a difference? If so it’s a social tool.


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