The “because I say so” argument is something that we are all familiar with, either as a child or as a parent. It’s the standard parental approach to getting a child to do something that may be too complicated to explain. You definitely don’t expect to hear this as an adult, and yet this is frequently the unspoken message that employees get when companies choose to implement social business programs. And much as a child tends to ignore the parent, we shouldn’t be surprised when employees don’t blindly buy in.
I’ve recently been working on social measurement and have noticed a common pattern which mimics this child/parent scenario. Companies mandate that employees should use social and collaboration tools, they deploy the tools, tell employees to use them, and then apply reporting as a way to measure adoption. From my perspective this is totally backwards. Instead of focusing on analytics for management reporting, our first priority should be on the application of analytics for employee empowerment & productivity, which if we get right will solve our adoption challenge.
Now don’t get me wrong, organizational analysis is really important, I just believe we need to spread some of the love :-) If you solve the challenge of individual analysis this naturally aggregates up into organizational reporting, however if you start with the top-down measurements they rarely translate into individual value. [ See my recent blog post on Personal & Organizational Dashboards, Enterprise Social Network Analytics vs. Scoring; why one works and the other doesn’t ]
Measuring Social ROI is the big driver behind top-down reporting, so I wanted to share a bottom-up scenario which is all about social ROI. One of the greatest benefits of a transparent, collaborative, social business is knowledge redistribution, which is a great example of where the “because I say so” argument doesn’t work. Employees need to be rewarded for this transferral of power if they are to move some of their “personal differentiation” into “corporate differentiation”, it’s not enough to say “its their job”. The reality is that the employees that are less generous with knowledge sharing tend to be more richly rewarded, often because of the personal power they have held onto. This situation has to change if social business is ever going to work, and social measurement is one of the ways to quantify the quality of knowledge sharing, particularly when you blend it with business data (Is it time to bin the Enterprise Social Network?). And this is where the personal or individual analytics is so important.
If companies want employees to effectively redistribute their knowledge, they need to ensure that those employees are richly rewarded. However not all sharing is created equal, and some shared knowledge is more valuable than others. Let’s look at this from the perspective of The Knowledge Economy, with social measurement providing a mechanism to allow employees most effectively monetize their skills & knowledge. We need a mechanism (Personal Dashboard?) that allows employees maximize their value by helping them identify the knowledge (or network) they have that may be valuable, to whom, and when. Maybe they have a nugget of information or a contact that could help close a sales deal, they don’t just know it. By helping employees to understand their own value and guiding them on how to most effectively act on it, it maximizes their contribution and ensures that they get rewarded appropriately. To achieve this we need to be measure personal contribution, but most importantly we need a mechanism to reward it. Some folks call it social performance reviews, I call it good business.
The true value of social analytics is all about the individual, look after employee analysis and the organizational reporting will look after itself.