October 3, 2011

Encouraging Social Maturity

In a high-level but realistic post today called The Microblogging Maturity Model, Bryan Menell of the Dachis Group describes stages through which organizations evolve as they adopt microblogging culture and value. Cast in the old format of norming, storming, etc, the post delineates four stages that could apply to any social situation, which could be described this way:

  1. Cautious introduction: you’re one of the first to arrive at the party, nobody else is there and you look around to get a lay of the land.
  2. Social niceties: the first few people arrive and, very politely, you introduce yourself and others do the same.
  3. Breaking the ice: conversations ensue, positions are taken and challenged
  4. Substantive exchanges: real work gets done.

How much work can be conducted in your microblogging app depends on which platform you’ve chosen. For most, the fourth stage of substantive exchanges amounts to useful conversations and decisions to initiate or refine work done elsewhere. On Convofy, as described in another post, the fourth stage of “substantive exchanges” can be much more substantive, since real work can actually occur in the same environment that is catalyzing and supporting the conversations.

But if you’re responsible for driving the adoption of a social platform, the challenge is in figuring out how to push your organization through these stages of maturity. Your colleagues need to see value in an environment if they are to invest any time there, and if they arrive at the party and are greeted merely by social niceties (stage 2), they will more than likely politely excuse themselves and move on to more pressing matters.

Email Stunting Maturity?

Source: Scott Campbell (www.pyramidcar.com)

A pragmatic approach is to co-opt your colleagues’ use of email whenever possible. For decades, email has been the default system for communication and collaboration, a reductionist and lowest-common-denominator approach that is often inefficient and unfocused. The value of social platforms is that they add context, focus and immediacy to communications and, in the case of Convofy, provide a platform for real collaboration.

So, how to nudge your colleagues away from their obsessive focus on email? Here are a few simple steps.

  • It begins by making use of a feature common to many social platforms, including Convofy, which is the existence of a unique email addresses for each group, which enables members to submit new content to the group directly from email.Once you have set up your social collaboration environment, and defined group membership (which will generally mirror real-world groups and email distribution lists), start copying email messages sent to the group to the group’s address on the social platform.
  • A second, related step, is to actually add the group’s social platform’s email address to the email distribution list. This means that whenever anyone in the group sends a message to, for example, the Information Architects mailing list, the message will also appear in the social app. This way, the social platform will gradually become a knowledge repository for your group – they may already have the content in their email, but there is value in archiving it on a platform that is searchable, provides context, and supports ongoing conversations.
  • Step 3: any time you need to share a file with your team, upload it to your social platform only, and merely notify your teammates via email, perhaps sharing a link to the file on the social platform, which will make it easier for them to navigate to the content.

Over time your colleagues will grow increasingly comfortable and comfortable with exchanging ideas, files, links, images and more directly and immediately on the social platform, and will slowly diminish their over-reliance on email.

Organizations that have successfully adopted a social platform for their communication and collaboration requirements have found that email usage drops precipitously. At Scrybe, email usage has dropped as much as 90%, because Convofy is so much more effective for quick, effective communication, which can scale to substantive exchanges and collaboration.

Good luck with the process of improving your organization’s maturity in the area of communication and collaboration: the cause is noble and the benefits will be reaped in improvements to efficiency, productivity, innovation and engagement.

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