Why Your Change Effort Requires A Dose of Spiritualism

Jesus. Steve Jobs. Nelson Mandela. Inna Shevchenko. What do they have in common?

Yes, they are all the world’s most radical change leaders! They went all out to advocate and implement change that is bigger than themselves. The first three names in the above are household names. But who the heck is Inna Shevchenko? In case you haven’t heard of her, she is one of the leaders of Femen, the world’s most radical feminist movement. And during her interview with the Atlantic, she talked about her devotion to her cause.

“I don’t need a boyfriend. I don’t need human warmth. At this stage of my life, I’m devoting myself to my activism, and that’s that.”

Inna Shevchenko

What a bizarre statement! Who doesn’t need human warmth? Aren’t all of us social beings? What was she thinking?

Inside the mind of Radical Change Leader: Spirituality

In fact, all radical change leaders eerily serene when forsaking their personal relationships and devoting their life to realise their seemingly impossible idea. Both Steve Jobs and Nelson Mandela neglected their family, while Jesus denied his own family – as described in Matthew.

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12: 46 – 50

I think the lesson that you and I (and the rest of common folks) can learn is not so much about prioritising work over life to achieve success, but is about adding steel into our feeble mind or having resilience when leading change initiative.

Change is hard. Leading change effort can be depressing. Over many years of leading the most difficult change initiatives (i.e. KM efforts), I have never seen smooth-sailing change initiatives. I question myself many times on my ability to lead the change initiatives, on whether the change is heading towards the right direction, and on whether I should deem the change as a lost cause. I bet, just like I do, you have those crazy moments too.

This is where you and I can learn from the world’s most radical change leaders. I think, and I have mentioned this earlier this year, all change leaders should embrace spiritualism. I’m not encouraging you to be a religious zealot, but to be spiritual without being religious. Being spiritual will strengthen your determination and grant you wisdom to retreat when necessary. And being spiritual will bring you joy and sense of meaning especially when the whole world seems to go against you.

Spirituality-laced Change Management Is Not New. Embrace It! 

Am I out of my mind to suggest infusing spirituality into change management? Not at all. I’m not the first who propose this idea. Peter Senge in his bestselling book – the Fifth Discipline mentioned about personal mastery (see the following illustration for Learning Organisation’s Three-Legged Stool framework). That’s the “spirituality” that I’m referring to! I certainly don’t mean Deepak Chopra type of spirituality.


Spirituality to me is about having personal mastery. In brief, Peter Senge defined personal mastery as follows:

Personal mastery is a discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.

Further explanation of personal mastery definition can be found here.

Have you ever encounter unreasonable people who just can’t appreciate the reality or who don’t have any aspiration? This is where Peter Senge’s insight on personal mastery (i.e. spirituality) comes in. Senge is right to say that personal mastery is one of the five disciplines of Learning Organisation (i.e. transformational change). He is right because pre-requisite to change initiative is maturity. Mature leaders (who have mastered personal mastery) are required to sustain and grow the change effort into a successful one.

Spirituality/personal mastery can nurture people to be a mature leader, a change-ready leader. Embrace it and use it to transform yourself and your organisation.

Have you embraced spirituality? Why? Or Why Not?  

The Two Halves of KM And Why I Partially Agree with Don Tapscott’s View on KM

I stumbled upon Don Tapscott’s article on KM in Mckinsey website. In his interview with Mckinsey, Tapscott reiterated his views that he described in his book: Wikinomics about how social collaboration can boost productivity at work by reducing the need to meet face-to-face.

I liked the way Don Tapscott articulated clearly on the value of KM to the organisation, which is improving productivity though collaborative tools such as wikis, shared calendar, document library, etc. But I think he is being bias towards his own work, which is about promoting the use of collaborative tools at work. He didn’t put enough emphasis on the importance of having quality conversation during face-to-face meeting. He may not see how KM can improve the quality of conversation.

What’s so important about the quality of conversation? Low quality conversation is also a productivity killer! You are probably have experienced being stuck in an unproductive face-to-face meeting where the participants are locked in their respective views and they are unable to decide on the best approach to reach a common goal. In this kind of meeting, you and other participants did not collaborate and did not learn. To put it simple, you and the other participants aren’t practicing KM.

What would happen, if you go ahead and implement the social collaboration tools in the organisation that doesn’t have the habit of high quality conversation, is that you’d only gain few believers (i.e. early adopters) and – even with CEO’s blessing – the practice of using collaborative tools will not spread beyond the small band of believers.

Furthermore, you will not be able to bring the practice of social collaboration to its pinnacle of excellence: Information Findability though best practice Information Architecture and Staff Engagement through active discussion forums, wikis, and blogs. The reason is simple: what the staff practice on face-to-face platform will be “projected” onto social collaboration platform.

Here are some illustrations of behavior projection from face-to-face platform to social collaboration platform:

  • No habit of meeting project deadlines? Then forget about using collaborative tools (e.g. shared calendar) because people don’t see the need for using the tools.
  • No habit of presenting ideas in coherent manner? Then forget about information architecture because their mindset is fixed on “doing information download and leaving it to the audience to interpret”. People will not embrace the idea of organising information and especially the practice of tagging for future findability. People would just stick to their habit of uploading documents and then forgetting where the documents are stored.
  • No respect/trust on others’ ability? Then forget about collaborative tools because they would rather create something new from scratch than build upon others’ work – even if that means they would be unproductive. And people will not seek others’ knowledge in the social collaboration platform because people don’t trust that their colleagues can produce anything that is useful.

I hope I have convinced you that you can’t advocate and successfully inculcate the habit of using collaborative tools if you haven’t inculcate the habit of having good quality conversation. And that you can’t get others to cooperate and to collectively use the collaborative tools unless you cultivate the culture of openness where people are willing to discuss and test new ideas.

You probably have heard the above argument before and are agreeing that cultivating knowledge sharing culture is important. But I’m encouraging you to pay more attention than just cultivating the right culture. I’m talking about having a coherent KM approach. I’m encouraging you to synchronise both parts of KM when implementing KM.

Understand that both parts are meant to reinforce one another. Attempt to implement one without the other, and I can guarantee that you would, at best, achieve partial and limited success. I can guarantee that you would fail most of the times. Link both parts of KM and communicate the interrelation between the two. You will see KM comes to life and becomes part of the organisation’s DNA.  

Good luck! Any thoughts?

The Serpent-Dove Mandela: What KMers Can Learn from Nelson Mandela

Mandela's death at 95

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10:16

On 5th Dec 2013, Nelson Mandela belonged to the ages. And so said president Obama in his moving speech at Mandela memorial. Indeed, Nelson Mandela was the most inspiring leader on earth with his enduring message of compassion and forgiveness. Mandela’s messages connected so deeply with many of us because we all need to deal with difficult virtues of compassion and forgiveness. Mandela would be dearly missed. RIP Nelson Mandela.

During his lifetime, Mandela never fail to remind people that he is “not a saint”. And I believe that he isn’t. There is more nuances in Mandela’s story than just using sports (Rugby) as a means to spark change movement, i.e. reconciliation and healing to the nation. As you and I know, it takes more than just good intention and sincere heart to bring about change.

More than just being a naive nice guy, Nelson Mandela is being a Serpent-Dove-like person. What do I mean by that? Simple. Mandela is a shrewd change leader. He understands political settings of the system that he wants to change and he cleverly uses Halo effect to win over people to his side. So he is wise like a serpent and yet pure like a dove. All leaders of change initiative and KMers need to learn from his style of leadership to be successful.

How can you and I evoke Mandela’s “magic” to bring about change in our life and work? Like Mandela, we should master these two critical skills:

1. Reigning over destructive emotions. 

…when he learned he and de Klerk had received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly in 1993, he was quietly outraged, confessing the extent of his distress only to his closest friends…Mandela mask, always so tightly worn, did actually slip once, and in public…

John Carlin’s note on Mandela’s humanity

Destructive emotions such as anger, impatience, or arrogance kills relationship. And because building relationship is so critical in winning people over to commit to any change initiative, destructive emotions can eventually cause failure in change effort.

It’s not easy and, just like Mandela did, anyone would struggle to reign over destructive emotions – especially when you disagree or are disappointed with people, or when your best ideas aren’t accepted / implemented.

Bear in mind that the survival of the change initiative depends on your ability to show restraint and self-control. No one wants to work with chronically angry people. Unless that someone is Steve Jobs. But then again you aren’t Steve Jobs. And I’m not Steve Jobs too. So let’s not think that we can get our ways by being angry. Nothing last can happen through intimidation or coercion.

Perhaps the best personal benefit on being able to reign over destructive emotion is that it would create halo effect. You would occupy the moral high ground and have credibility to influence people’s behaviors.

2. Seeing the social dynamics of the situation.

Scold, flatter, demand, cajole — when you occupy the moral high ground, your tactical options are practically limitless. Mandela’s genius was knowing how and when to deploy them all.

Paul Taylor’s observation on Mandela’s political acumen

It would not have been wise to have emerged from jail bristling with ill will towards the white minority who had kept all power to themselves

John Carlin’s observation on Mandela’s social dynamic

Nelson Mandela is fully aware of who he needs to work with to achieve his vision: a united South Africa. More importantly, he knows how to “move” them like a chess piece.

Mandela understood that de Klerk was ready to negotiate not because de Klerk was a nice guy but because de Klerk knew that Apartheid is no longer sustainable because of the international sanctions and growing isolation from the international community. (In his autobiography, Mandela mentioned that PW Botha – de Klerk’s predecessor – is not the right man to negotiate with.)

And, to me, the uncanny ability to get people to act is what made Mandela great. Almost everyone know how to identify the stakeholders in change initiative, but only great leaders know how to influence the right people to do the necessary at the right moment.





Mixed KM: Why KMers Should Follow Mixed Martial Artists


Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.

– Bruce Lee –

I’ve never been a purist in KM. I’m a nonconformist when comes to KM. So I’m always baffled when talking to purists in KM. They told me that I shouldn’t change After Action Review (AAR) format, or that I shouldn’t challenge the common view that KM initiative should capture all knowledge in the organisation (I think not all knowledge should be captured while the purists suggested otherwise).

Little wonder that I often clashed with the purists (who are often my colleagues or fellow KMers in the KM community) in implementing KM in the organisation. Not that I disagree with the grand vision of KM on capturing, distributing/transferring, and reusing knowledge throughout the organisation. I disagree with the purists on strategies and tactics of implementing KM in the organisation and on means to achieve KM mastery.

Adapting KM to the Organisational Culture

In implementing KM in the organisation, KMers should follow Bruce Lee’s (a famous mixed martial artist) advise: “Be like water”. Why? Because different organisation has different informational needs and different organisational resources. There is no one-size-fit-all KM model for organisations. The best way to implement KM in any organisation is to adapt the KM strategy/tactic to the available resources and to real pain points in the organisation.

Adapt is a big word. Purists understand ‘adapt’ in the context of KM maturity model (see APQC’s KM Maturity Model). They advocate rolling out KM in phases, starting from growing organisational awareness in KM. My view on ‘adapt’ is slightly different. The KM Maturity Model is a fine model to follow if the organisation is open to learning and trying “new things”. What if the organisational culture isn’t open? KM Maturity Model will flunk!

So ‘adapt’ has to transcend beyond staged implementation of KM. I view ‘adapt’ literally. It is about taking out components of KM that fit the organisational culture and discarding the rest. This could mean changing AAR from four generic question to pointed questions about the subject matter. Or this could mean doing scaled-down KM with bare minimum, low cost technology such as Google apps (without technology, there is no KM). 

Learning Closely-Related Disciplines to Master KM

Another minor point of contention between the KM purists and I is the books that KMers should read to master the discipline of KM. Many purists insist that KMers should read, refer, and gain insight from traditional KM books such as the Amazon KM book list compiled by Carla O’Dell. Most of those books’ content is on KM concepts. The trouble is reading and internalising KM concepts don’t make you a better KMer.

Concept is just that, concept. You can’t turn a concept into a reality without learning other closely-related concepts, without learning strategy, and without learning leadership and communication. In other words, to gain mastery in KM, don’t be afraid to learn other closely-related disciplines such as entrepreneurship, strategy, and communication.

All great martial artists know that to improve their skills and their art, they need to cross-train on other fighting systems (Bruce Lee advocated this many times). Likewise in KM, learning other closely-related disciplines will not dilute your KM mastery. On the contrary, doing so would enable you to innovate in KM efforts because you would be able to strip KM to its bare essentials and expand your understanding on KM. So don’t fret about doing it!

Here are three recent business books to get you started:

1. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

2. Good Strategy / Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

3. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder

Two Real Reasons Why KM Initiatives Failed


Like many other KMers, I hear a lot about why KM initiatives failed. Among the most popular reasons for KM failure, three reasons stood out: (i) lack of senior management support; (ii) weak change management efforts; (iii) weak alignment between KM and corporate goals.

So to ensure the success of KM in their organisation, KMers should do the following best practices:

  1. win senior management support by telling them about the advent of knowledge economy,
  2. ramp up their change management efforts by producing nice collaterals (posters, newsletter, etc)
  3. somehow (often in vain) try to align KM with corporate goals such as shorter learning curve, protecting intellectual capital, retaining organisational tacit knowledge – which is a competitive advantage to the organisation

I wonder how effective the above best practices are. I’ve tried them all and thus far I only have mixed successes in my five-years endeavor in KM. You probably think that I ought to “do better” and “never surrender” in the three KM efforts listed above. I beg to differ. It’s not a matter of competency or perseverance. I think trying better and harder wouldn’t help. There is a deeper underlying issue on why getting KM off the ground is so god darn difficult!

So why so many KM initiatives failed? What’s the root-cause? No one seems to be able to offer satisfying answers to the question. I too don’t have a good answer to the question until I’ve read Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy/Bad Strategy book and Atul Gawande’s New Yorker article: Slow Ideas. Now I’ve finally understood the root-cause of KM failure.

The root-cause of KM failure is not so much about senior management support, or about better change management, or about aligning KM with corporate goal. But it is about lack of focus in KM initiative and about the invisibility of organisational pain point that KM is trying to address.

1. Lack of Focus in KM Initiative (Vagueness in KM Initiative)
A typical KM initiative suffers from an identity crisis.”KM initiative should be interwoven into the fabric of the organisation” – the thinking goes to rationalise the identity crisis.

So according to this thinking, KM must be practiced by everybody in all aspect of their work. And KM technology should include CRM system, intranet, HR database and system, e-Learning platform, and practically every other IT system (since all IT systems contain data – which, according to DIKW model, can be converted into knowledge).

Therein lays the problem. While I admire the brave and bold thinking, I have doubt on how such philosophy can be realised because it simply doesn’t have any focus. Without a focus you can’t have a robust coherent KM strategy. And without strategy you can’t implement KM.

To be successful, KM initiative needs to have a focus in its purpose/vision. Using vague, motherhood language is not going to impress anyone and is definitely not going to sell any KM initiative. People, especially C-level executives, need to understand what is the specific problem that KM initiative is trying to solve.

So how could you call CRM / HR / intranet issues (and other seemingly KM-related issues) as KM issues when the owner of the problem-area doesn’t define it as KM? You can’t. And most likely the C-level executives don’t see the issues as KM issues too. That means there won’t be resources allocated for KM. And KM initiatives will be buried under other organisational initiatives and will soon be put in the back burner.

2. Invisibility of Organisational Pain Point that KM is Trying to Address
Even if KMers managed to inject a worthy cause to their floundering KM initiative such as organisational learning or internal communication excellence, KMers still facing uphill battle because the specific problem that they are trying to address is not visible to the organisation.


Just like what Atul Gawande highlighted in the story about Anesthesia and Listerism (Anesthesia gained faster adoption than Listerism), KM suffers from the lack of immediate tangible output from its initiatives. Yes organisational learning is important. And yes internal communication is important. But these organisational pain points are hidden in plain view.

Yes, you can highlight immediate success stories in KM by showing “low-hanging fruits” (low-impact tangible results) such as improving information findability. Alas the stories will remain good-to-have stories in the ears of C-level executives. It’s unlikely that the senior management would make KM a priority after hearing such low-impact stories.

Therein lays the problem. Chances are the senior management will lose patience with KM long before KM initiatives begin to show strategic impact to the organisation. KM is a long term organisational-wide strategic endeavor (about 7 – 10 years) and unfortunately organisational KPIs, even the “strategic” ones, are much shorter than that.

And before you blame the senior management for their lack of support or for their “short-term” thinking, you should consider whether it is realistic to expect people to have an unwavering support on a corporate initiative that lasts 7 – 10 years. I don’t think it is realistic unless the corporate initiative is about organisational transformation

2013 Resolution For KMers: Conquering Emotion

Our gift may take us someplace. Our character will keep us there. – Joel Osteen –

Ready or not, the year 2013 and the year of Snake (Chinese Lunar New Year) is here. How should we, the KMers, prepare ourselves to practice KM and offer KM solutions to our “customers” for the rest of the year?

Without trying to be religious, I think we should pay more attention to conquering our emotion. (Hear Joel Osteen’s sermon for some sound advices on why we should exercise self-control on our emotion). Now I don’t want to sound like a pastor about this matter, so I’ll only talk about the relationship between emotion and KM.

Mastering emotion is important for every serious KMers because of the following three reasons:

First, uncontrollable emotions is disastrous as it can impair our ability to make quality decision. In KM lingo: no matter how much knowledge that we capture or distribute, we would not be able to reuse it if we can’t control our emotion. Dan Ariely, the author of best seller book: Predictably Irrational, ran an experiment that indicates that emotion can indeed cloud our judgment.

Second, mastering personal emotion is the foundation to employee engagement, which will eventually leads to knowledge sharing culture in the organisation. As Peter Senge mentioned in his best selling book: The Fifth Discipline, personal mastery (i.e. ability to control personal emotion, grow self-efficacy, and find life’s purpose) comes before shared vision and team learning. With personal mastery, people are engaged in their work and understand that knowledge capture/sharing helps to internalise their knowledge.

Third, controlling personal emotion is necessary for dialogue to happen. (Read David Bohm’s definition on dialogue for clearer understanding on what dialogue really is). Without personal mastery, people may not have the will / motivation to listen on the other person’s perspective. So they may blame others for what happened during After Action Review (AAR) or Retrospect sessions –  despite being told to focus on the action, not about the person carrying the act. When dialogue fails, knowledge can’t be captured.

I hope I have convinced you on the virtue of controlling your emotion and thus enhancing your EQ. On this note, Daniel Goleman’s classic bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, is well worth the time to be re-read.


The Rock That A Social Business Is Build Upon


Perhaps you have been reading this blog for quite some time, and you can’t quite figure out what’s this blog is about. I probably talk about too many things that I confuse you, dear reader. Fret not, the day of reckoning is here. I’m going to share the ties that bind the vast topic that  I have been talking for the past four years. The one thing that unites topics in this blog.

First thing first, you are probably wondering about what do these terms have in common: social media, social intranet, social business/organisation, social collaboration, knowledge management (KM), and gamification?

Well, the answer is (drum-roll please) people! 

Pardon me if the answer seems so obvious. I know. I have ranted about how the KMers shouldn’t just emphasise on people just for the sake of talking about it. Putting people at the centre of all the big terms mentioned above requires action. Action makes the biggest difference.

But how should you act? What can you do to make people at the centre of your action? I have been mulling about this question for some time, and finally I had an epiphany recently. No it’s not about technology. And social technology, or user experience (UX) doesn’t quite answer the big question.

Chris Brogan has been talking about “human business” for a long time. And it finally cross my thick skull that Chris is right. It’s all about nurturing human relationship! That’s the whole point of having social media, social intranet, social business/organisation, knowledge management, and gamification.

The commonality between my opinion and Chris’ ends here, however. The “human business” (i.e. social business) that I’m referring to, is beyond than just social media or having a great conversation with people.

The social business that I’m referring here, is about creating and maintaining the whole ecosystem to support relationships within an organisation.

Social Business = Ecosystem within an organisation that supports relationship with yourself and relationship with others.

There are two kinds of relationship that needs to be nurtured and supported for every employee in every organisation:

  1. Relationship with yourself. (Also known as personal mastery or emotional intelligence).
  2. Relationship with others. (Also known as social intelligence).

Why do bosses need to care about the two relationships? Because helping people to nurture and manage the two relationships can impact business bottom-line big time.

Zappos helps their people to manage the two relationship by getting the new hires to think about themselves (i.e. whether they really want to work in Zappos), and inculcating great company culture such that people can have a great working relationship with one another.

A healthy relationship with yourself will lead to a happier (and a more productive) you. You will be motivated and engaged in your work. And you will have a more resilient mindset – which would boost your capability to bounce back from setbacks at work and in personal life.

While a healthy relationship with others will also lead to (surprise!) a happier you and those who work with you. Naturally, the level of trust would increase and people feel comfortable sharing their knowledge, or providing constructive feedback, via social technologies, i.e. social media and social intranet.

Building the two relationships is critical for the success of social business. Resilient employees (people who have achieved personal mastery) can build healthy relationship with other employees, customers, and partners. This could lead to co-creation on problem-solving, innovation, and productivity.

Managing relationships is the rock that social business is build upon.

So if you are thinking to transform your business to be a social business, think about how you can help people to have a healthy relationship with themselves and others. Reflect on this, will you?

Wishing all reader Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013!

The Real Value of Having An Intranet Team


At the end of my talk, titled When Social Media Meets Social Intranet, in November 2012 at Max Atria at Expo in Singapore, a gentleman asked me about how to ensure that the investment in social technology (i.e. social media and social intranet) worth the effort.

He told me that his organisation has invested in Yammer. However, after some initial enthusiasms, few people are using it now. So he was particularly interested on how to get people in the organisation to use Yammer.

This is a very common problem for social intranet. When there is a new technology in the organisation, everyone would want to use it – just like a new toy. However, after some time, people may perceive that there is little value in using it. After all, what’s the use of “yammering” your thoughts or ideas? You have better things to do.

The issue here is, of course, an expectation to get instant rewards from the use of social technology (i.e. Yammer). To bust such an unrealistic expectation, remind people to regularly share thoughts / ideas via social technology. And get someone (or a team) to do the nudging, promoting, and curating valuable insights and to profile the person who owns the idea.

When valuable ideas are curated and shared, people can immediately see the value of using social technology because they can straightaway harvest the “gems” of knowledge and skip the unnecessary stuff – often caused by over-sharing.

In other words, communities within Yammer or the social technology need to be cultivated and valuable knowledge needs to be highlighted. Only in rare exception, communities within an organisation, can grow by themselves through self-policing and self-managing – without any intervention by the management.

Organisations have to do away with “build it and they would come” mentality. Thus, organisations can’t just implement yammer, and expect people to just use it. Implementing social technologies requires time, effort, and patience – just like rolling out any corporate-wide initiative.

This is why organisations need to have an intranet team – who would be tasked with cultivating communities and leading change management effort to ensure the adoption of social technology. An intranet team need to also curate knowledge, facilitate discussion, and organise face-to-face activities that could boost the use of social technology.

Those activities require a dedicated intranet team – especially if your organisation is a large enterprise. If your organisation is an SME (Small Medium Enterprise), you probably only need one person to do the job. Getting part-timers (or getting people to do double-hatting) would be a bad idea because their attention will be divided, or worse, the work of cultivating communities is pushed to the bottom of the priority list.


When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 3

Continued from When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 2

How Social Intranet Delivers Value
Social Intranet is an intranet where all employees can author content and connect easily. Alternatively, you can think of Social Intranet as an internal social media for organisations.

Like Social Media, Social Intranet can provide many values to the organisation. But, mainly, Social Intranet can provide two main values: (1) A Platform for Internal Collaboration; (2) A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change.

1. A Platform for Internal Collaboration
Internal Collaboration simply means making work “social.” For example, Vodafone, a telecommunication company, uses Social Intranet to boost productivity of their sales team. Before implementation of Social Intranet, the sales people used to handle difficult customers alone. But thanks to Social Intranet, the sales people can exchange tips and best practices on handling difficult customers.

2. A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change
Social Intranet can also be used to facilitate change. For example, Farm Bureau Bank (FBB) in the United States, uses Social Intranet to communicate top management vision via internal blogs and discussion forums.

Other than blogs and discussion forums, Social Intranet provides a platform to launch a mock “internal social media” campaign. Yammer, one of twitter-like features, can be part of Social Intranet, and this feature can be used to further break down information silos in the organisation because it is essentially a platform for personal branding – which means employees can build their personal brand as they share knowledge via Yammer.

Social Intranet is pretty much like Social Media. A good Social Intranet has features like social networking, tagging, video repository, blogs, ratings, and wikis.

If your organisation is interested in building a social intranet, I have three products to recommend: (1) Microsoft Sharepoint and Yammer; (2) Jive Software; and (3) Thought Farmer. And if your organisation is an SME and can’t afford to invest in a social intranet, your organisation may want to try a free, cloud-based social intranet named bitrix24.

How Social Business Delivers Value

To recap, Social Media offers two values: (1) An effective platform for PR 2.0; and (2) A Platform to Emotionally Connect with Customers. And Social Intranet offers these values: (1) A Platform for Internal Collaboration; and (2) A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change.

Consolidating values from Social Media and Social Intranet, we can immediately see values that Social Business can deliver: (1) Capability to deliver exceptional customer experience; (2) Collaborate better to improve productivity or to innovate; and (3) Be a more nimble organisation.

Two real-life examples illustrate the value of Social Business:
First, Samsung. By maintaining an active presence in Social Media and having a great Social Intranet, Samsung creates a service innovation called the smart care – which is a one-stop centre for servicing Samsung products.
Second, Xilinx who like Samsung, has an active presence in Social Media and a great Social Intranet. As a result, Xilinx raise engineers’ productivity by 25%.

Last slide. Three key take-away from this talk: (1) Organisations have to be in Social Media; (2) Social Media has to be supported by Social Intranet; and (3) Transform your organisation to be a Social Business to survive in today’s economy. Values are created, no longer through superior product or service, but through premium experience.

This blog post is part 3 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 2

Continued from When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 1

How Social Media Delivers Value
Social media can deliver many values to organisations. But the two main values are: (1) An effective platform for PR 2.0; (2) A platform to emotionally connect with the customers.

I’m sure you can agree with me that capability to effectively use social media is no longer a choice, because today’s customers are the most difficult customers ever! Today’s customers are citizen journalists – which means customers can voice out their displeasure through social media like blog posts, Facebook posts, or Twitter.

How many of you have heard of a gentleman by the name of Jeff Jarvis? He is a prominent tech blogger who in 2005, wrote a blog post titled: “Dell lies. Dell Sucks.” In the blog post, Jarvis ranted about how poor Dell customer service was, and the blog post attracted over 100 “Me Too” comments. Imagine a simple blog post gets multiplied 100 times.

The Need for Social Media Policy
The first step to ensure that social media delivers value, is to put social media policies in place. The right policies can help to protect the organisation’s reputation from misuse of the social media by the employee.

Let me give you two examples. First, Ashley Payne – a school teacher in the US – was sacked by the school because she posted a photo of herself drinking alcohol in her Facebook. Ashley Payne sued the school for unfair dismissal.

Second, in Singapore context, Straits Times was in hot water recently because a disgruntled employee tweeted profanity using their corporate Twitter account. Regardless of your opinion about the two cases, you don’t want a lawsuit filed against your organisation or your employees abuse the corporate social media account.

Creating social media policy is fast becoming a necessity for organisations. According to research, 47% of Facebook walls contain profanity, but should employers give a darn?

Yes! Absolutely. Because a simple social media policy is often sufficient to prevent the misuse of corporate social media account. Take for example: Ford who came out with a simple social media policy that says: “Play Nice, Be Honest.” But my favorite is Oracle’s social media policy that says: “Employees must establish that all opinions are their own and not Oracle’s, but at the same time, distinguish that they are indeed employees of Oracle.” It’s my favorite because it covers all angle, Singapore’s style.

Let’s return to how social media delivers value.

1. An Effective Platform for PR 2.0
Social media is an effective platform for PR 2.0. Facebook can be used to serve as the corporate magazine to update customers on the latest happenings in the organisation like what Zappos did on their corporate Facebook. Twitter can be used as a broadcasting tool to update customers on the latest products / promotions like what Starbucks did on their corporate Twitter. And Youtube can be used to serve as a repository for corporate videos to convince customers that the product/service is indeed the best out there, just like what Popeye Chicken did on their youtube account.

Furthermore, social media can be used as a means to showcase social proof. For example, Sony used Pinterest as a digital brochure that can showcase the number of likes that a product/service received. The number of likes is a social proof that some customers out there like the product/service.

2. A Platform to Emotionally Connect with the Customers
Social media can also be used as a platform to emotionally connect with the customers. What do I mean by connecting emotionally? A product/service is more than just what it is. A product/service means a tool to improve the standard of living of your customers, i.e. a way to make them happy. Connecting emotionally means highlighting the story behind a product/service, on how a product/service makes the customer happy.

Here are two stories to highlight this point: (1) University of Phoenix tells stories in Youtube about how online degrees improve the standard of living of their students; (2) Tom Shoes tells stories, using a corporate blog, about how the company helps disadvantaged children, in developing world, who have no shoes.

But no matter how well-crafted the social media policy is, and how good the creative content is, social media can still backfires as what McDonald and Nestle found out recently. McDonald’s Twitter campaign to collect positive stories backfires when it was swarmed by negative stories about McDonald’s product. While Nestle’s Facebook campaign backfires when a group of environmentalists posted modified logo of Nestle’s products. It got worse when Nestle staff tried to stop them from doing so.

So what can we do to prevent a social media campaign to turn against what it is intended to be?

Well, first things first, the organisation has to let go of control. There is no method or procedure that can 100% guarantee the success of a social media campaign. The next best thing your organisation can do is to use more of its internal knowledge (i.e. collective intelligence).

Let’s go back on McDonald and Nestle’s case. McDonald could have done better if they test their assumption internally, by conducting a mock internal campaign for example. While Nestle could have done better by testing the replies internally before posting them on their Facebook page. Nestle is so big – some of its staff could be environmentalists and could craft a better response.

So the use of Social Media has to be supported by Social Intranet, because Social Intranet provides a safe haven for testing ideas/assumptions within the organisation. But what is Social Intranet, really? Let’s discuss it in the next blog post.

This blog post is part 2 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post: