Alrik's Blog

A blog about Enterprise 2.0 and it's facets.

Managers and Social Software June 29, 2010

Filed under: Social Software — alrikd @ 23:59
Tags: , , ,

The German weekly newsmagazine Wirtschaftswoche just published an article about managers and their behavior in decision-making within enterprises. The author subsume that most managers overestimate themselves, ignore critic and orient oneself on wrong rules of the thumb.
But managers who recognizes this behavior can change the environment for decision-making processes around them. Collective Intelligence may one answer.

Status Quo of decision-making

Kahneman a Nobel prize winner and professor at the honorable Princeton university words it as follows; most decision makers rely on their intuition because they think, they can fully appraise the situation.
Let’s show an example. What would your boss do, if the blond and very lovely executive secretary made a proposal about the new office equipment, or the cleaner does? Most of them would take the proposal of the secretary more seriously, than the cleaners. But that is fatal! Most Managers rely more on their gut instincts than on the hard facts.
The same behaviors appear at ad-hoc decision processes. Most of the managers think, they are very effective due to their big experience base. But this is not entirely right. Ad-hoc decisions are useful, if situations are repetitive and occurring without significant changes. By way of example policemen face such situations all day long and they get constantly feedback. Almost each possible situation is well-trained beforehand and reviewed after the shift.
But now let’s face the situation of a manager. The market entrance of a new product is not the same, like it was in the company before and even feedback processes are (mainly) missing. Most decisions are too complex and the intuition doesn’t work them too.

Five invisible pitfalls

Based on the thoughts of the article mentioned above, the author of Wirtschaftswoche has identified five critical pitfalls.


Most decision makers value their place too positively; e.g. most smokers think that they don’t get cancer beside strong statistical facts. Managers act in the same way; projects last longer than planned, the costs increase faster than calculated and often the results are much worse than thought before.

inflated ego

Individuals are tending to an overestimation of their own and an underestimation of the competitors skill-set. Hence they take risks without a solid numerical and economical foundation.

herd instinct

Individuals tend to adopt the behavior of their fellow-men. Especially in meetings employees try to reach a consensus with their colleagues, even if there are better solutions or critical issues to mention. They try to keep the inner balance of the group beside their own opinions.


Like mentioned above managers are no computers with strict logical decision routines. They are emphatic and feel sympathy or antipathy with one of their subordinates or managers. Likewise some are more focused on reaching specific goals of their department than follow the visions of the company.


We aren’t able to value information without strong personal influences. Per definition information are only a set of characters combined with a syntax. We rate them with our own mind scheme and information we had before. If the other information support our created opinion, we add them to our thought framework and decide that they are very useful. If they don’t fit, we deny them mostly without strict logical reasons. Hence we are prejudiced in our thoughts and experiences we made, when we get an other response to make a decision.

It is obvious, managers need help in decision-making processes. The gut instinct isn’t enough and even the experience base sometimes doesn’t help, but who may help. EXPERTS and their network!

How experts share knowledge

In the blog post of Tobias Mitter some answers are given. The ideal environment for decisions are open and fully connected workforces, if you combine it with an effective and efficient Knowledge and Information Management, hurrah you have done a big step to an Enterprise 2.0 and optimal support for your managers.
But a realistic view on your company will show that your experts often keep their knowledge private, sometimes even when they got asked directly. Empiric studies have identified reasons why experts keep knowledge private:

  • they fear of loss of status within the company

  • the drain of knowledge from the worker to the organization, if it isn’t needed anymore they get fired

  • fear of criticism

  • lack of appreciation from managers and colleagues

  • lack of time

  • no benefits for the single person

  • restrictive and indoctrinated communication patterns

No technical issues are mentioned nor the absence of willingness by the employees. This is very important because it shows that the employees want to share knowledge and interact. Maybe the already existing communication channels, like email, Chat and meetings, are not enough?!

Create a knowledge sharing-friendly environment

Your workforce need an environment where knowledge sharing isn’t an other task in the time line of the day, they need to understand that it is they key value of each organization. The information flow is increasingly important, especially for your decision makers. They need a critical and open-minded workforce and no fellow runners.
If the base is working efficiently, produces the right information at the right moment then you’ll have well supported managers. It is quiet similar to the working processes of assembly lines, but the goods are not made from iron or synthetic material, your input are information delivered just-in-time and even better just-in-sequence (it means: at the right time, at the right place and in the right oder).
Managers again have to understand that their gut instincts are not enough to decide on market entrances or purchasing options. They have to use their workforce, the information and the knowledge of the organization.

How Social Software can help?!

Social Software can help to connect experts within your company. Ease the search for information, experts and stakeholders. They are also suitable to increase the awareness.

  • informal awareness – are the kinds of things people normally know about each other, when they work together

  • social awareness – information you receive about a person in a conversational context (is the person paying attention, does he/she feel well or the level of interest), maintained by feedback-channels (verbal or non-verbal)

  • group-structural awareness – information about people’s roles and responsibilities and their status

  • workspace awareness – information about the interaction of employees with the workspace and its included artifacts (documents). Who is working when with whom and which documents.

Social Software can increase each of them. Awareness is the starting point for excellent processes and well-reasoned decisions. They lead to a high motivated workforce, a high alignment to the enterprise strategies and a higher knowledge. Employees are much more engaged and they connect among each other to a vital Social Network, which is able to support information. The social network of the company is also able to filter internal and external information for the decision-making processes. The fear of the information flood is mainly baseless. A stable and vital network of experts, information/knowledge and open-minded managers can set up a well prepared company for the competition.But how managers are utilizing Social Software so far?

Managers and Social Software utilization

A study from Deutsche Telekom, the defacto.x and Selbst-Gmbh explored the usage of Social Media.
80 % of the managers are already engaged in Social Media channels like Xing, Twitter LinkedIn an others. Every third is communicating actively with Social Software and every fourth is publishing decisions or knowledge in blogs and wiki.
In most companies Enterprise 2.0 is more and more recognized and organized as a project more than a whole strategy! A lot of managers fear about a loss of control about their communication and data privacy protection. The loss of unique knowledge is the third big fear. But one-third has already established guidelines for the use of Social Software. Stephan Grabmeier, leading author of the study, summarizes the results: “The Web 2.0 Culture change needs to be exemplified primarily by executives. Collective Intelligence, communication without hierarchy and Open Innovation are far more than only buzzwords.”

Managers need the support of the workforce and start to find tools and methods for efficient collaboration and knowledge sharing to support their decisions and motivation of their employees.


Social Media Strategy (Map) – First attempt June 11, 2010

Filed under: Social Software — alrikd @ 08:49
Tags: , , , ,

Today I have read a Blog post from the Basic Thinking Blog and the post was dedicated to the investor/public relation managers which are unable to acquire additional budgets from their managers. 60% answered that they definitely do not get any funds and nearly 13% probably get a budget. Those are scary facts for each Social Media strategist or Social Media manager.

The main fact is that only a few people actually knew what Social Media could improve within your enterprise, if you implement it well. Otherwise it is a good way to distract people and spend money without any sense. Furthermore a Social Media strategy should not be focused on external implementations and marketing use cases only. The whole picture is important. Hence I have developed a strategy map, based on my post with some goals, what you can achieve with a fully harmonized Social Software strategy and how the goals are linked together. This map is not the end of strategy development, but it is a nice starter for your thoughts and negotiations with your manager. This map is mainly based on the internal usage.
BUT, if you understand the thoughts behind and you have time to reflect this map for a while, it can be helpful. I agree that it is colorful and maybe confusing at the first sight, but isn’t it also in your company?! I only created the links between the the learning and growth perspective and the internal business processes due to a lack of information what goals you and you company want to reach. Is it a competitive price, the best quality or the fastest customer support of the competition, maybe all of these goals?

Social Software Strategy Map

If I have accidentally dropped some goals or something else is missing, please let me know. And how are you visualizing your way to a Enterprise 2.0 ready company?


It’s all about strategy

Filed under: Social Software — alrikd @ 08:45
Tags: , , , ,

Many blogs and posts are related with the topic of the Return On Investment of Enterprise 2.0, Wikis and Enterprise Microblogging as well. 
Some of them conclude that it is not necessary to measure the impacts and costs of social software. Arguments are mainly:

  • Do you measure the ROI of EMail?
  • The users will adopt Social Software anyway, why should I measure the ROI?
  • The intangibles are too difficult to measure, you can’t get an exact result expressed neither in numbers or Dollars
  • The process of measuring ROI is also very expensive and not worth to perform due to the low investment
  • and so on.

I think this is a misrouted way. Many managers challenge their Social Software leaders with questions like “Which costs are related with the implementation?” and “Which advantages are rising up with those tools?” The question is not easy to answer, I agree. But to answer it like in the cartoon beneath isn’t the right way.

With the rising maturity of Social Software the ROI question will pop up more often in meetings and discussions. The main question question is not, which advantages or costs do occur. The first step should be an analyses of the shortcomings within the Enterprise and possible strategies to correct them. A tool without an underlying strategy is still a piece of quite useless code and hardware components.

Kaplan and Norton established a good way to analyze possible strategies and their value links within the enterprise. The so called Strategy Map is subdivided in four sections. For each subdivision, the company should be able to establish a strategy to decrease own weaknesses and increase own strengths. This is the start of my thoughts.

Strategy Map Kaplan/Norton

  • The financial perspective is seperated in the growth and the productivitiy strategy.
  • The customer perspective helps you to define major goals of your products or services and could be seen as your external excellence strategy (e.g. quality, price, brand, trustworthiness…)
  • In the internal process perspective you define your internal excellence (e.g. your innovation process or the operations management processes and customer management processes)
  • The last perspective is dedicated to the employees and named with Learning and Growth This part is crucial because it focusses on your most valueable resources, your employees. In knowledge intense iundustries there is an urgent need to motivate and align them with your strategy. The training and knowledge is important as well.

This map help you analyzing possible shortcomings and establishing strategies to eliminate them as well. 

The strategy is defined top-down, that is to say you define the financial goals which your company wanted to reach and connect necessary visions and mission in the subdivisions beneath. This value links will help you to find a fully integrated strategy with well defined goals. The value links are connectors of the separate perspectives. e.g. a well trained workforce is connected with excellent production processes, which increases the quality of the products and leads to a higher market share and improved cost structure.  

I think the statement is clear. No value without a strategy. A short Guide to a Return on Investment of Social Software:

  1. Think about your weaknesses within your Enterprise, identify them and write them down
  2. Define strategies which will tackle the weaknesses (e.g. weak communication, less innovations or decreasing process velocity)
  3. Establish measurable goals which you wanted to reach (e.g. increasing communication, transparency of decisions or 20% faster project duration), note: not all of them will be easy to measure but you can use interviews and surveys as well, but always keep it simple!
  4. After you know what you want to reach, the choice of the tool is not easy, but you can choose between classes of tools, like Wikis, Blogs, Microblogs and so on, use google and you will find all of them and plenty more for communities, communication, information sharing…
  5. the next steps are crucial, don’t drop the tools like candy to your employees with the words “Here’s a Wiki, use it or die”, communicate what goals you want to achieve with that Wiki and why. Communication is essential in the ROI creation process.
  6. monitor the activities within the software, is it accepted as you wanted and as quick as you thought, is it used how you wanted and if not, why?!
  7. Now it is time to see what benefits you have reached
  8. Measure your goals after 3-6-12 months, implementing Social Software is not mainly about cuttings costs or generating more revenue, it’s more about your employees, a vital innovation culture or cross-org collaboration.

Now it is up to you. Which strategies do you have implemented with Social Software and how do you measure it?


Social Software ROI model

Filed under: Social Software — alrikd @ 08:41
Tags: , , , , ,

Once upon a time… I had begun my diploma thesis with the title “Return on Investment of Social Software – Enterprise Microblogging within enterprises”.
It focuses on three topics

  1. First of all the classical methods of profitability analysis should be analyzed and investigated for the usage of Social Software
  2. Second new methods should be found, this was quiet hard
  3. last but not least, a case study should be developed for the proof of concept

But one after the other.
New questions appear within companies.

  • How do I secure the future viability / competitiveness my company?
  • How can I quickly and accurately respond to ever-shorter market cycles?
  • How do I improve my ability to innovate and secure / improve my position?
  • How can I improve the productivity of my staff through collaboration and communication?
  • What can current trends, such as “Enterprise 2.0” or “Social Software” do for my company and what it means when I’m idle in these areas?

The model is inspired by three main approaches of profitability analysis. The first approach is the so called Total Economic Impact or TEI model.
TEI model Forrester

  • Costs will be accessed via the Total Cost of ownership framework
  • benefits are mainly measured with qualitative and quantitative Interviews and surveys
  • Flexibility is the most nebulous dimension in the framework, it is used to describe future perspectives, which can be reached with this investment.
  • Risks are considered for all three dimensions mentioned before.

The next apporach is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI from Carpenter.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI
This pyramid lit Enterprise 2.0 and Social Software with less framework related thoughts and is mainly based on the measureability of benefits and their impact to the company.

The last thoughts are first mentioned by Rischler and Bächle (the source is only available in German). In their Enterprise 2.0 study they identified 3 main categories of benefit and risk categories, organisation, individual and technology.

The new conceptual approach is combining those three theories and should be understood as a guidance to identify and determine benefits, risks and costs within the enterprise with Social Software related projects.
ROI model fr Social Software
This model is not the final approach for ROI determination of Social Software, but still a already further. What do you think about this dimensions and the hierarchy of the benefits?!


Return on Investment of Enterprise Microblogging

Hello Community,

this blog is created with the intention to create a lively and peppery discussion about the Return on Investment of Enterprise Microblogging.
Quantifiable indicators are still rare for communication processes and CIO’s and other IT-professionals are still asking the same questions about new IT-investments.

“Is there any additional value for my IT environment” ; “What is the benefit for my users”; “Which complexity do I have to cover” and so on. But the main question for managers is always some kind of Revenue, Total Cost of Ownership or even the Return on Investment of the new technique. But presently there isn’t a really suasive concept.
Some people tried to decrypt the code of the revenue of an active community and widespread communication between users.

  1. One of the first attempts was written by Alan Warms, Joseph Cothrel and Tom Underberg. Return On Participation, the principle how communities create an value added for both the sponsor and the participant.
    Return on Participation
  2. A Swedish research group tried to access the topic from another path, the tried to define and measure the non-material assets of a company and possible interactions between them to grow the company value. Thus Return On Communication is an important input for our discussion and should be read attentively.
    Return On Communication
  3. Last but not least, a research group of some IBM facilities wrote a paper about Return On Contribution where they made the first steps to a metric for the benefits of Social Software.
    Return On Contribution

So what are the next steps to an efficient Social Software benefit measurement?!

  1. Discussion
  2. Contribution
  3. Sharing out
  4. Creating… of something new and well defined!!

Now it is up to you folks…

The outcome is also a small support for my pending diploma thesis at Communardo and their leading Enterprise Microblogging solution Communote. Hopefully i started a well formed, efficient and exciting discussion about Social Media… Once again.