Successful Social Business Pilot Projects: Benefits of Starting Small

In a previous post I looked at how the ‘people and process’ part matters before all in what we call social business (WIIFM, speaking the same language, common intended benefits, etc.) . These two P’s are not new but repeatedly get overlooked, especially when technological and societal evolutions are still in the hype faze. History has a tendency to repeat itself. This post makes the case for social business pilot projects.

Regardless of the exact definition of social business, we’re talking business and thus inevitably people, processes and purpose, your third P if you so desire and like P’s. Social business pilot projects and smaller test cases are not only great ways to break through the clutter of the hype but also help making purpose and benefits tangible and understandable for those involved. They also result in know-how and lessons that can be used by the whole business for future projects.

Advantages of a social business pilot project

So, I am big fan of a fourth P when it boils down to social business: Pilots. One of the great benefits of social business pilot projects is that you can conduct them using the very processes, social psychology skills, agile team formation rules and lateral/vertical collaboration mechanisms powering them.

Especially in cross-departmental and even international smaller projects, focused on one specific goal and involving external collaborators, they learn a lot about the collaboration, optimization and culture challenges in the enterprise.

On top of management issues, disconnected systems challenges, diverging priorities within the business and socio-psychological factors, they nearly almost show how everything you do in social business projects succeeds or fails with people, the will to participate (your fifth P), proper management/coaching and employees.

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Without a clear employee buy-in and involvement and explanation from the start failure looms. Obviously, the same applies for other key stakeholders, depending on the scope of the project or pilot. Referring to my previous post, the underestimation of the human dimension is one of the reasons why firms predict a rather slow and gloomy picture for social business. It doesn’t have to be your picture.

Note that the implementation of new types of collaborative processes and technologies that require/support these processes, is often a good opportunity to take another look at the “efficiency”, to use that word, of your organization overall. This is also the case if you want to start implementing analytics or ROI processes, for instance: there is a lot that will surface. Grab the opportunity and learn from it.

Social business pilot projects

Social business pilot projects

So, pick that pilot. Never mention the word social business when doing it. Just start with a relevant project that benefits everyone involved. And involve everyone that needs to be involved in a human way.

Comments: 1

  • Great piece J-P, the only thing I’d throw out there is that you also have to be VERY careful with pilots in regards to cultural elements. Otherwise you can end up creating a ‘have and have-nots’ with distinct cultures that are then difficult to transfer across one another in a larger rollout. Doable of course, but a lot of folks don’t intuitively understand that when they engage in a pilot.

    Matt Ridings
    CEO, SideraWorks

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