by Geoff Livingston
To get social media adopted in a conservative organization — a.k.a. a highly regulated company or government body — one really needs to research the entity’s culture and laws closely (Little Known image by victorrjr). In many cases, the battle comes down to identifying incorrect preconceived notions about social media and then doing an in depth analysis of the many barriers and procedures that will prevent social media from adoption. One must find the lowest common denominator for these barriers and facilitate change.
Change management requires an in depth understanding of the many barriers facing organizations. While there are many general barriers, such as control, one can systematically explore departments that are known to cause problems.
In the past we’ve looked at corporate examples, but this time let’s take a government organization as an example:
- Elected leadership and management misconceptions
- Public affairs
- Department responsible for transactions w/ public (i.e. Driver’s License procedures)
- Legal barriers (Freedom of Information Act, etc.)
In all of these cases, a bare minimum level of what can be communicated via any social tool needs to be identified. Once you know the bottom, you can only move upwards.
The next question must be: Can we fit social within these parameters? Are there any forms of conversations that can occur publicly or behind a private wall that will meet these requirements, yet fulfill and enable the basic function of the organization in its relationships with stakeholders? This sometimes requires out of the box thinking. Instead of the first items on the shelf (Twitter and Facebook), perhaps a collaborative wiki is in order.
Sometimes the barriers are too great. As Brian Ellis likes to say, then management needs to make the decision: Do we want to win in the court of public opinion (with our stakeholders), or do we want to keep the rules in place? While rules are important, sometimes better relationships or collaboration is more important. If so, then procedures need to be modified to raise the bar of the lowest common denominator.