I used to think any company could benefit from collaboration, and the sooner the better. That was before a project with everything going for it -- budget, executive support -- went sideways, and I came to an important realization: readiness is vital. If your organization isn’t ready for E2.0, don’t push it.

There’s no foolproof yardstick for measuring readiness. Attitudes, behavior and corporate culture offer some reliable clues, though, and over the years we’ve learned what to look for. If red flags pop up during our early conversations with prospects, we suggest they take a step back rather than invest prematurely in an initiative that may not succeed.

Also by Scott Ryser: Six Counterintuitive Truths About Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

Do any of the following situations sound familiar? If so, E2.0 may not be right for your firm just yet.

There are No Consequences for Failing

It’s amazing how many high-profile projects have no written business goals or project deadlines. Organizations serious about making collaboration work always define success in tangible terms, and success is directly aligned with corporate strategy: market share gains, top-line revenue from new-product introductions, and so forth.

The corporate consequences of falling short are equally clear. Goals and deadlines are realistic, quantifiable and public. (Incidentally, research shows that incremental deadlines are much more effective than a single dramatic finish line.)

Nobody’s Responsible

There’s an old saying, “When it’s everybody’s job, it’s nobody’s job.” E2.0 deployments are a team effort, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for clear-cut final authority -- and accountability.

The System Isn’t Part of Everyday Work

Launching a collaboration system off to the side puts a real crimp in adoption. The technology has to be incorporated into daily work from the very beginning or users will simply ignore it. If you’re not willing or able to port one or two essential workflow processes to the new platform immediately, your project is at a major disadvantage.

The Compensation Structure Doesn’t Support Collaboration

It’s probably more accurate to say, “The comp structure discourages collaboration.” Sometimes this is subtle, so you have to look closely at the way people are paid in your organization. Recognition programs and pay structures that reward individuals without regard for team, departmental or company performance will squelch knowledge sharing quietly and permanently.

You’re Launching E2.0 Because Everybody Else Is

Organizations that get swept up in the latest management theory often have multiple intra- and interdepartmental projects in play without realizing it. This is deadly for E2.0 There’s an inverse correlation between the number of change initiatives an organization undertakes and the success of those initiatives.

There are plenty of experts who disagree, but my advice is not to introduce E2.0 if your people are assimilating a major transition -- acquisition, merger, Six Sigma, TQM, you name it -- that has happened within the past 18 months.

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