Practical Advice for 2010 on 2.0 Adoption

As a year-end wrap-up, I asked a few of The 2.0 Adoption Council members to contribute some random words of advice on succeeding with 2.0 adoption.

Happy New Year from Alex McKnight, Bert SandieBob Singletary, Claire Flanagan, Dennis Pearce, Erik Britt-Webb, Greg Lowe, Greg Matthews, Jim Worth, Kevin Crossman, Kevin Jones, Mary Maida, Megan Murray, Rawn Shah, and Roy Wilsker. We all wish you tremendous success with your own 2.0 adoption in 2010!


  • There are leading edge companies who are and have done some advanced work in collaboration and social networking – talk to them!
  • Do your homework first… Don’t deploy ‘E2.0’ tech just because others are. Find out what the business need (yes this does mean talking to them) and then make sure you target that. Other uses will come out the woodwork later on their own.
  • Work on your requirements but focus on business needs rather than technical details. It may be impossible to find an off-the-shelf product that meets every specific technical requirement and you may spend millions customizing a platform for those specs. Meanwhile the business might well have been happy with getting 95% of their specs in an off-the-shelf product.
  • Provide a solution that meets the business needs – determine your companies/clients requirements, do not just start with some cool technology that worked at some other company
  • Trust is the currency of anything social. If there isn’t trust, there isn’t E2.0. HOWEVER, find where the trust is already and build upon that. You will have the greatest success there
  • Practice your elevator speech for executives: this isn’t about new-fangled technologies and trends, but about solving fundamental corporate issues – how to make employees more productive and innovative.
  • Be strategic in building your network of champions. Involve core groups early and help them begin to shift their messaging and engagement to your platform. Teach them to lead by example. –HR, Marketing & Comms, Legal, etc.
  • If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
  • If they do come, they won’t necessarily use it the way you intended.
  • Communicate openly to your organization the lessons learned and the journey you’re on as your organization learns new ways to work socially.
  • Expand your perspective, enage key subject matter experts early.


  • Within your own enterprise, there are likely multiple or many people with expertise in the same or similar areas. Don’t try to limit e20 to have designated people per expertise area. Allow anyone to name themselves so; the real experts over time are the ones whose ideas people actually apply, not just read.


  • There’s no substitute for having your business leaders actively and visibly use their e20 systems. Leaders should be accessible.
  • Establish Sponsorship. Learn to talk ‘executive’. Know how to translate the jargon into something that ties back to your company’s business strategy and goals.
  • Don’t try to explain 2.0 to executives. They will either not get it or will panic. Try to “sneak” them into a 2.0 tool, preferably one that is gaining momentum in a business process.
  • Use e2.0 tools to show leaders how the work is really happening in their organization (deep down, they really believe that the org chart tells the whole story). Try and get them to understand that if they begin to organize and structure work to take advantage of the way it’s really happening, they’re going to unlock new levels of efficiency they never knew existed.


  • Don’t overlook defining your project requirements, in writing. This will be the criteria to which you will judge the project.
  • Don’t try to explain 2.0 to executives. They will either not get it or will panic. Try to “sneak” them into a 2.0 tool, preferably one that is gaining momentum in a business process.
  • Steer away from language that alludes to teenagers in Facebook, MySpace, etc. Many executives have teenagers at home who completely abuse those online environments. Why would they want their employees using them?!
  • Focus on making peoples’ jobs easier, not adoption. If you do that, you’ll get adoption.
  • Pay more attention to your corporate culture and your users than industry “experts”.
  • Politics – Manage your in-house critics (preferably through dialogue and involvement) This is significantly less risky if you have already identified the business need and have business support.
  • Think of the types of tasks the people do in their job role, and how they might use social software to do some of them. If you apply e20 in the flow of their normal tasks and behavior, e20 becomes much more relevant and impactful, and more likely to be adopted.
  • It’s okay to position the tool depending on the exec sponsor in question. Our Jive instance was a “collaboration tool” to one exec who had collaboration pain points and it was a “social networking” tool to someone who wanted to enhance employee connections.
  • Be careful about turning off features you think people won’t use or that you think are unimportant. You never know which feature becomes the “killer app” for your solution and it might not be the one you’re expecting. (yes, this contradicts the advice below)
  • Start small (i.e. do not turn on all of the features of day 1 for users as it may overwhelm) and move fast (i.e. ask you users each month/quarter what is working and what is not and modify the solution accordingly)
  • Pilot the site but don’t limit the audience or number of participants. If the pilot goes “viral” that’s a good sign you’re heading in the right direction.
    • Provide training and reference material
    • Provide outstanding and responsive support
    • Do some test content-migrations
      • Measure performance at the start of the pilot and also at the end. Has anything changed?
      • Have a visible, HR/Legal approved Terms of Use document available to calm any execs who fear this will be used for non-business purposes
    • Survey your users
      • Measure satisfaction with the pilot system
      • Ask for open-ended feedback (both good and bad)
      • Ask users to compare to internal or external tools they are familiar with
      • These numbers may be very compelling to present to management when you ask to move from pilot to production.
    • Be clear it is a pilot
    • Be clear when the pilot ends
    • Be clear what happens when the pilot ends
    • Treat the pilot as if this was a production implementation
      • Prepopulate with relevant content
    • Get some VIPs or thought-leaders to blog or otherwise use and evangelise the tool
  • Pilot the solution – find a pilot group internally who has a real business problem to solve (i.e. collaboration across multiple locations)
  • Enable the people and the content will happen.
  • E2.0 is not a new system or program you add to your old. It becomes part of your old – it is not separate, it is integrated into it. Don’t try to make a ‘another thing,’ make it part of ‘the thing.’
  • All objections are old ones reincarnate. How did they deal with the situation before? Deal with it the same way now.
  • There is nothing new about this. Take a splash of old fashioned communities, a dash of learning, a cup of trust, a spoonful of “let’s try this…” and a willing heart, and it will work.
  • Enjoy and publicly celebrate early successes, but set reasonable expectations – implementing Enterprise 2.0 is a exercise in changing corporate culture:
    • It will take time
    • It will take ongoing effort
    • It will take perseverance and managerial courage
  • Stay focused on the most enthusiastic and effective users – they’re your key to success. Help them continue to be successful.
  • Know your culture(s) and their challenges.
  • Never underestimate the power of one-on-one coaching for strategic users and teams.
  • Listen to your users feedback. Be ready to change, and perceptive enough to hear the difference between resistance and a real need for a shift in your approach.
  • The way they do use it won’t necessarily be worse than the way you intended, but it might not be better either. In any case, there should be someone in the organization responsible for figuring out which it is and what to do about it, if anything.
  • If they’re using it, but not in the best way, it’s better to nudge than to dictate where possible.
  • Emergence can be a good thing but it doesn’t always equal Efficiency (just look at evolutionary features like the human eye or spine as examples). The early adopters in a collaboration environment are like the early settlers who got to decide how the roads were laid out — you could end up with either Washington DC or Boston. Not saying that one is better than the other, but those who follow later will probably end up living with whatever is already there (anyone remember “The Calf Path“?) so a little up-front thought might be useful before deploying.
  • Help make your community leaders successful; give them attention and be ready with any questions they have. Keep the leaders connected and engaged with each other.
  • Accept issues will surface
  • Enterprises move slowly. Keep the end goal in mind. Know when you can move more quickly and when you can delay pieces of your project. Try piloting your project and defer larger integration projects if you can.
  • Engage advocates early. Show them. Train them. Let them be your global champion team.
  • Plan for adoption. Don’t start with an empty space. Think about use cases and communities that will take off in your enterprise. Seed your community with useful content and conversations. Leverage your advocates to help with this work.
  • Set up virtual ‘break rooms’. Don’t underestimate the value these type of spaces have in building strong bonds and relationships across your company.
  • Be flexible. Adapt as needed.


  • Analytics will be key as more and more Business cases require good statistics. Vendors will start to realize this in 2010 and work on improving their built in reporting
  • Define some base metrics that give you a HINT that there’s value. If you spend all of your time looking for value, chances are you are missing the point.
  • There is no single metric but different varieties that you use for different purposes, just as e20 can be applied in many different ways. Whatever the case, to executives, you still want to have one or two key metrics that you collect and report regularly and consistently over time. How do you know if it is a useful metric? At the minimum it should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely
  • Measuring contribution actions (of any kind: blog posts, comments, wiki edits, etc.) that is often attributable to individuals can be useful to find the top knowledge contributors. The real gem is trying to understand how and who consumes that knowledge. That’s how you know how the wealth (of knowledge) is being shared around and benefiting others in the enterprise.
  • The ROI for 2.0 tools is going to be defined – at least in part – by correlating network engagement with employee engagement (e.g., Gallup Q12) and consumer engagement.


  • Don’t overlook your legal, data privacy, data protection and security teams. Engage them early. Listen to them. Work with them to understand their concerns and mitigate risks as needed.
  • In a regulated industry the lawyers have a strong interest in ensuring compliance and keeping the company protected. Once you realize the E20 evangelist and the attorney both want what’s best for the company, you are on your way to making headway. Here are some pointers for making headway:
  1. Accept issues will surface.
  2. Set up a standing team of attorneys and compliance specialists to be prepared to address them
  3. Categorize each issue, document the risk, and prepare possible mitigation scenarios
  4. Bring the risk assessment along with mitigation plans to senior management for acceptance / approval.
  5. Document all agreements / approvals.
  6. As new issues / objections come up, check to see if they have already been addressed. If so, deal with them in the same manner. If it is a new subtlety or a new issue, go back to the mitigation approach above and move on.
  • Overall, legal / privacy / Intellectual Property / Compliance issues can derail a successful E20 implementation before it can be launched. Something at the enterprise level will surely catch the eye of a conservative legal team, and their easiest answer is “no”. The approach above takes it head on and is the only way to ensure success in converting opponents into powerful advocates of E20.

Risk Management

  • Different job roles and cultures consider risks in different ways. Get input from people across different geographic cultures, job roles, ranks, and personalities. Balance out what risks are really important between the vocal majority (loudmouths) and others.

UPDATE 1/4/10

This post was pulled together from members who happened to be checking in over the holiday break.  Since that time, new members are pointing out that adoption is different for every company, and the advice will vary by company culture and organization structure.   Please view these suggestions as simply that, and do not construe these tips as universal for every company.  If you’re engaged in or considering a 2.0 rollout, we highly recommend you join the Council.  We’re certain you’ll find another organization that is similar in makeup to yours and will provide a great set of references to help you jump start your initiatives.

They’re Real, and They’re Spectacular

The 2.0 Adoption Council is off to a rockin’ start. We’re about 7 weeks into our new venture. I launched the Council on 6/26/09 on LinkedIn. We’ve sinced move our conversations to Socialcast (7/13/09) and the Jive SBS platform (7/15/09). We currently have about 50 members. During our weekly Council conference call last week, we discussed the size and scope of the Council. I mentioned that I’d like to get the Council to 100 members. I am in the process of considering various membership models, but my intention for this first 100 inaugural members is membership will always be free or very low-cost. I’m currently reading Chris Anderson’s “Free” and have taken away a number of great ideas from it already.

Anderson talks about the “is it worth it?” flag when making a decision. With free, “that flag never goes up and the decision is much easier.” In my opinion, having tracked Enterprise 2.0 for nearly three years now, the “market” is not about transactions, but about relationships. If you have a solid understanding of what drives the SocialWeb, you should appreciate why “Free” is the best pricing model for the Council startup.

Creating value in the Council is opt-in. The more members participate and share, network effects will amplify the value each member receives individually. We have the potential in this group to do much better than Jakob Nielson’s 90-9-1, considering each member only has to commit a fraction of their work week/personal time to participating in the Council. But considering all members are socialweb savvy, I expect contributions to grow steadily as more members draw greater utility from the conversations and connections.

Picture 10Take a look at the market leaders who comprise our Council. All of the members here have been personally vetted by me. Each is engaged in some facet of Enterprise 2.0, social media, or social computing. As far as I’m aware, nothing else like this exists on the planet. We got a nice endorsement from Andy McAfee this week too.

I took a quick snapshot of who the group is and what they’re currently budgeting for spend on Enterprise 2.0. About half of the members answered the survey already (in bold). The members come from all areas of the business: CIO/IT, Knowledge Management, CTO/Innovation, HR, and Marketing. In fact, it turns out that 64% of our surveyed members come from LOBs, not IT. Regarding spend, I found it extremely interesting that 36% of members are budgeted to spend $1 – $5M on their social computing strategy/execution. Another 40% are still in the planning stages, which I find to be very promising and a real boon to future spend coming from these market leaders.

I put up a simple web site this week at I’ll be adding more content there over time. We are also working on an external community similar to what Jerry and Robin have done with Social Media Today. Please let me know if you’d like to be an inaugural blogger there. The invitation is extended to all regular readers of ITSinsider and, effectively, the entire Enterprise 2.0 Community. Our Council members will be blogging there as well, so you will have the opportunity to comment on their content and interact with them directly.

Very exciting times we are living in… Enterprise 2.0 is, indeed, real and spectacular.