Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Internal social media – engaging your organization – a status check (Part 2 of 2)

Are organizations leveraging internal social media today?

According to media reports, internal social media is beginning to get traction: “As social networks increasingly dominate communications in private lives, businesses of all sizes — from tiny start-ups to midsize companies like Nikon to behemoths like Dell — are adopting them for the workplace.” (1)

Many organizations have started with document sharing technology like Microsoft’s SharePoint but few have created or sustained dynamic communities.   I think we will see this changing in 2012.  And those who figure out how to successfully leverage internal social media will have powerful advantages. 

As usual it will likely be the IT Department that sees the opportunity of the technology first.  “An evolutionary CIO must adopt a new style of governance and create a new approach to deploying social tools. Social activities are inherently human and unpredictable. The approach and style must synchronize to the realities of social technology and to the organization, both of which are evolving. This evolution determines how CIOs need to introduce social technologies compared to previous business initiatives.” (2)

What will it take to “do” this well?

Firstly, the internal social media solution must be tailored to the organization and its long term strategy.  Use of internal social media for Change Management to build commitment will follow this lead. 

Some of the considerations (beyond the business requirements, e.g. security and functionality) will be:

  • Current culture of the organization, e.g.  Is there an open, participatory, safe sharing environment?  Is there a critical mass of employees engaged? Are leaders prepared to engage in open, honest dialogue?
  • Establish clear parameters.  Some organizations are establishing Codes of Conduct to clarify appropriate use of the technology.
  • This is a change, treat it like one.  Establish a pilot site, build capability and roll out thoughtfully.

What’s next?

Innovations in Change Management are happening. Internal social media is a freight train (not a “bus”) that we all need to understand and leverage appropriately for our organizations and clients. It is emerging quickly. 

The vendors and products you might want to look out for will include:

I will be tracking and sharing back observations and research over 2012.


(1)    “Companies Are Erecting In-House Social Networks, New York Times, June 26 2011.

(2)    “The CIO’s role in social enterprise strategy”,  technologyforecast, PwC , Issue 3, 2011.

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4 Comments so far
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I can give you, and your readers, a few specifics- examples in our change world can be just as powerful as studies.

Chevron has Sharepoint landing sites for each change initiative. The one I set up has a blog, a forum an FAQ section and regular updates with an interactive comment option. They also have an external twitter-like portal (a treasure trove for change management in that you can watch stakeholder exchange in the moment).

Cisco use Wiki’s heavily. The exchange helps answer questions, build end state descriptions and create in the moment dialogue.

Instant messaging during a corporate day is ubiquitous. Now we know where the teenagers get the habit- their parents tap away just as frequently. Once my name is announced as an external asset my instant messaging box for that organization lights up- with very little initial effort on my part.

The instant messaging aspect is fascinating from a change standpoint in that it adds a layer of dialogue and perspective that you do not get from any other medium (water cooler talk maybe, but that is more reserved). I did a post on my blog about this (if it is OK to include my own link):

Now the next step for organizations and change is leveraging, as you put it in your title. Just like the Internet itself social media has value and can waste a lot of time. Figuring out the balance is important for business (and our personal lives too).

Comment by Garrett Gitchell

Another interesting perspective, and reference to business casing, here

Comment by Gail Severini ©

Another great resource:
Community Management Maturity Model

Comment by Gail Severini ©

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