Simon Terry

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Integrate at Goals, not at Process

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How do you integrate open network conversations into closed linear processes? Integrate social conversations by integrating at the purposes and strategic goals. No organisation wants its collaboration constrained by processes or systems.

Organisations, vendors and analysts are touting the advantages of integration of enterprise social networking into legacy processes in organisations. Enterprise social networking needs to be come a part of the everyday work in organisations as it is another set of tools to foster conversations and collaborations that create value. Without connection to the daily work of individual employees, enterprise social conversations won’t deliver the value we need. However, far too many of our existing work processes aren’t set up to accommodate creative, agile and productive social conversations. Patterns of allowed conversation in a process based integration rarely changes that.

Don’t Integrate through the Current Process

Existing legacy processing systems are designed for efficiency. They constrain choice. They automate steps and narrow discretions. The goal is to simplify tasks, remove errors and ensure repeatable activities can be achieved with the minimum in investment in human talent.

These systems achieve significant efficiency gains with a cost of human potential, agility and effectiveness. However, they are not designed for conversation about work. One only has to reflect on everyday poor customer experiences to see that these systems gain efficiency by handling poorly the exceptional, unusual case or situations requiring a response to change. Conversations, change and collaboration do not fit the industrial model of work that these process systems are designed to fulfil. They are not designed to leverage the potential of talented knowledge working employees connected in networks.

Collaboration is not a layer that can be integrated into existing fixed processes designed for efficiency. Collaboration offers the opportunity to enable people to change and improve the process and the work. Collaboration creates choices with a view to increasing agility, improving effectiveness and realising human potential.

A conversation that must integrate into a process system will become a conversation about the constraints of the system at some point.

Integrate by Creating a Purpose-oriented Conversation

Offer people autonomy, purpose and an opportunity to develop mastery and you will offer them an ability to fulfil their potential. If you want to integrate social conversations into your work, integrate the conversations at this level. The key to reinforcing human potential is to offer people a way to discuss how their work aligns and creates value for the purpose and goals of the organisation, not its processes.

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An employee who is challenged to integrate his or her work at the level of the goals of the organisation has an opportunity to stop, change or transform the process. That employee can respond to the situation before them, use their discretion and use the talents of their colleagues. The employee can look to deliver greater value than the current process allows. That liberty reinforces their accountability and validates the organisations confidence in the potential of the employee. A key barrier to engagement in many organisations is that an employee can struggle to find the connection between their work and the goals of the organisation. Goal-oriented conversations can play a critical role to surface that connection.

Another advantage of reinforcing a connection at the level of enterprise-wide purpose and goals is that it acts as a reminder that collaboration is an enterprise-wide experience in work. Collaboration is not constrained to the customer management systems or work process systems. A collaborative ecosystem and the social conversations that support it should reach throughout the organisation to achieve its goals and purpose.

Leverage human potential to help realise goals

Telling people what to do and shaping how they might be allowed to have a discussion seems easy and seems efficient. However, it comes at a significant cost of human potential. Leadership in networks demands more of employees, leaders and their organisations. To maximise the opportunities for networked ways of working, allow people the opportunity to find integration of their social conversations at the level of the organisations purposes and strategic goals, not constrained by its processes.

If you would like to create greater value in your enterprise social network or discuss how the Value Maturity Model applies to assist your organisation to create strategic value through enterprise social networking and other forms of collaboration, please get in contact. I am available through @simongterry or Linkedin or www.simonterry.com


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