Culture Change via a Social Network?

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In today’s competitive environment, organizations need to be innovative, efficient, retain great talent and continuously change and evolve.  One key to success for an organization is understanding how to effectively go through the change management process.  How can an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) help facilitate organizational change?  Here are some best practices around change management and how an ESN can help facilitate change.  

Setting the Vision

A key part of change is communicating the vision including why change and why now. Leadership needs to take the time to walk the organization through the business case for change and the urgency behind it.  According to Kotter, without taking the time to create this sense of urgency, leaders and employees will not have a call to action to get on board with any change initiative” . An ESN can help with this process.  For example:

  • It provides a communication vehicle for the vision including the ‘why change and why now’.
  • An ESN enables people to ask questions around the change and for both leaders and others in the organization to start to contribute to communicating the change.  If it’s a safe environment, employees should be comfortable asking the management team to provide further detail or color behind the change vision.    

leader and coach fish

Translate the Vision

Another part of  change management is understanding ‘what is in it for me.’  Until employees start to understand what the vision means to them, it’s difficult for them to get behind the change.  An ESN can help with this process:

  • Communities of Practice can take the vision, and start to collaborate and translate what this means to their purpose.  This helps an employee become more comfortable with the change and start to understand how it impacts what is important to him/her.
  • Groups can start to share ideas and collaborate on how the change vision translates to their organizational purpose.  It can start at a functional area level (e.g. EVP) and then drill down to an individual team.  
  • It’s when employees participate in the change discussion, that they will start to buy into the change vision.

Take a Pulse on the Change

Change management is not a set it and forget it process.  It requires continuous evaluation, pivoting and adjustment.  

  • Through an ESN, management and the change team can keep a pulse on the conversation and be able to refine the wording of the vision message based on real time feedback.
  • Through an ESN, the change management team can see questions people have, who has bought into the vision, and who are the skeptics.  An ESN provides a way for the change team to get a pulse across the entire organization on how the change is being absorbed.
  • Resistors can be identified through an ESN.  The change management team can then put together a plan for how to get the resistors on board with the change.  The ESN provides a vehicle to not only identify who are the resistors but why they are resisting.


First Follower

One of my favorite video’s for organizational change is “the first follower”.  It shows how a lone dancer along with the first follower can create a movement.  An ESN provides a platform for the lone dancer and the first follower.  It’s through an ESN that the one employee can take the risk and start to ask good questions.  And then when another person chimes in on the ESN, it’s suddenly safe to start to ask questions.  Once people start to participate in the movement, they become part of the change.

first follower.png

Stakeholder Analysis

Another key practice in change management is a stakeholder analysis.  An ESN can provide insight into who are the influencers in the organization and where are they on the change curve.  What an ESN can provide you is insight into those with informal power and influence.  These are the employees who may not be in a leadership position but whom many trust and listen too.  An ESN can help you identify these informal leaders based on ESN data such as postings, followers, comments and influence within the ESN.  You can then focus on getting these informal leaders on board with the change.

Celebrate Small Wins

To build momentum, it’s key to celebrate small wins.  As people start to embrace the change, adjust processes and/or mindsets, celebrating small successes helps build momentum in the process.  An ESN can be leveraged to celebrate small wins.

  • Leaders can share wins along with who participated in the wins for everyone to see.  An ESN can be leveraged to highlight the specific win, and provide detail on how it helped contribute to the change.
  • Others can then chime in and give virtual ‘high five’s to the groups or individuals.
  • An ESN can be used to find success in the change process. An ESN gives the change team broad insight into changes that are occurring as well as employees sentiment towards the change.  They can pull out from the ESN successes to highlight to the organization.

Questions to Consider

  • Would an ESN help with your organizational change process? What are the downsides and upsides to leveraging an ESN?
  • Is it ethical to find resistors to change through an ESN? Would this impact the overall change process?
  • To what extent do safety and trust impact how an ESN can be leveraged as part of the change process?
  • How can communities of practice help with the change process?