26 June 2009

Encouraging CEOs to make the leap of faith

Key decision makers seem to be slowly awakening to the concept, if not the power of intangible business assets like social networks. However, they are still struggling in my view to work out how to integrate that into their current business frameworks where solid ROIs and clear, preplanned revenue paths exist before an investment of either time or money is made.

Craig Hepburn, fresh from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston this week has just posted his thoughts about how this education is where a lot of our effort should be placed on the coming year. I agree.

Wikinomics goes a little way to share some of the case studies out there in CxO language. It also implies in many of them the critical message that many of these outcomes were not a stated goal at the beginning of the project, but emerged from the initiative.

In many ways, faith and creativity are required to execute a successful SM initiative. Not the blind faith of wishful thinking, but faith based on reason and an understanding of the possibilities of human interaction. In the end, any solution applied in a complex environment takes an element of faith that it will succeed. The trick is to engineer your projects such that they are designed to adapt to the successful outcomes and attenuate the negative outcomes as they arise, as David Snowden's Safe-Fail concept explains.

Evangelising social media and other KM tools doesn't mean building hype around a product or even a certain solution category. Most CEOs can smell a snake-oil salesman at 100 paces anyway. Neither is it so much about reducing uncertainty and having people ignore the complexity. A flexible/social tool like a wiki may fail at one solution but in the process be used by the same people to solve 3 other problems.

Evangelism is focused on increasing people's faith. Giving them a reason to believe that making the jump into Enterprise 2.0 will provide solid business benefits even when all of them cannot be known at the outset.

Image thanks from gamebump.com

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