Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Switch for social media

I read the book Switch some time ago. Change management is definitely one of my favorite fields! Even though I am now not using the field as consciously as when I was guiding organisational change trajectories, I feel when I work on introducing social media I may apply it too and could improve. But maybe I already do it unconsciously based on my experiences.... Anyhow I also bought 'organisatiedynamica' by Thijs Homan and it's competing with social media for trainers by Jane Bozarth for my attention...

I want to use my blog to see if I can apply the lessons from Switch to the introduction of social media, whether for groups, organisations or networks. First a short intro of the ideas put forward in Switch. The book starts with a short story about moviegoers. Moviegoers were given wretched popcorn (I actually didn't know the word wretched but I assume it means that it is not nice to eat!). Some of them got a medium sized bucket popcorn, others a large one. The question was: will people with a large bucket eat more? And Yes! The people with a large bucket ate 53% more popcorn (21 extra hand-dips). Now suppose you want to stimulate people to eat healthier and less popcorn. Rather than changing the mindset, you could also give them smaller bowls. That's an easy solution to a difficult behaviour change. This was quite a revelation for me, doing a lot of work in the international development sector. Everything always end up complex, and I often think it could be more fun with a lighter approach. And here it is! The authors call it: shape the path, tweek the situation so that change is easier. But that's not the only thing to do.

The full three-part framework to follow is:
  1. Direct the rider. Provide crystal-clear direction about where to go (and where not to go)
  2. Motivate the elephant. Engage the emotional side
  3. Shape the path. Shape the situation to make change easy.
(The metaphor of the elephant, rider and path is explained in the book but very shortly our emotional side is an elephant and our rational side is the rider).

So what happens if we apply these ideas about change to introducing social media in organisations?

1. Direct the rider. Make it clear that you want (some) people to use social media and why.. What is your vision about using social media? Is it to increase internal communication and how will that help the organisation to achieve its mission? It is to connect to customers/stakeholders? Ofcourse it takes some time to know this yourself. So don't introduce it widely unless you have a vision yourself. Don't introduce a technology and insist on people using it without giving a clear rationale. And make sure you have some ways of measuring that your rationale is true. For instance, if you are hoping to get more donors through social media presence, keep track of the number of donors referred to you via social media.

2. Motivate the elephant. Try and find out what makes people interested. You may allow them to use the new technology for private purposes first. I have seen people learn about social networks and putting up a social network space for their family reunions and sports clubs. That's a great way to learn and become enthusiastic. So allow people to learn new technologies in connection to things that excite them. Invite people to experiment and allow them space to experiment. Experimenting is fun, having to use new tool because you have to is boring. Furthermore the fun of social media is in the social, so work with groups who can link up together.

3. Shape the path. Make it easy for people to use the media. Offer them a set of tools and shortcuts, work on their own computers. It is discouraging if you are starting a wiki not knowing what type of wiki to use. Make sure there is an accessible helpdesk. Help them for instance to set up an RSS dashboard. But also work on integrating social media in their routines (says the person who is now struggling with finding time to blog and to read blogs :). We are doing a 40-days coaching experiment whereby you have daily contact with one coach. That seems to work well! The idea behind the 40 days is that people can build up new routines in 40 days if they practice every day.

So you have other tips? Does this make sense?

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