Here’s a simple yet powerful trick for driving social computing technology adoption: kill your internal email for everybody in your organization.

We do it here at NewsGator and it works. Friday is our no email day. Although we are very social already, the point of #SocialFriday is to eliminate all email unless it is external or truly confidential. This helps us break a habit that has been drilled into knowledge workers for the last few decades. Even though we’re power users of our own stuff, as we should be, certain departments tend to participate in social computing more actively than others just like any organization. #SocialFriday forces the issue -- as well as the transparency, efficiency and productivity benefits that come with it.

#SocialFriday works because it affirms our enterprise social network, Social Sites 2010, as the “one place” we go to for our internal communications and collaboration. Many organizations introduce social business solutions but are too timid to go all the way. In practice, if not by fiat, email remains the official channel for their important information. This slows social business adoption and its desperately needed benefits. Imagine if we’d never let email be an official medium… we’d have to dial the phone for all official business!

How Friday Became a Day for No Internal Email

The genesis of #SocialFriday was a customer visit. One of NewsGator’s project managers and I were onsite working with a customer project team. As an exercise, we walked through the team leader’s email inbox to see how much was truly confidential and how much of the content would have benefited the larger community.

The finding: Nine out of 10 emails didn’t need to be there.

Some of the discussions in his email should have taken place in an online community where they would benefit others. Other discussions were irrelevant to him and should have taken place in an online community that he probably would not choose to follow on his own. Another portion of his email consisted of lengthy, digressive threads that had branched out into typical, never ending email trees that had long lost their relevance to the majority of recipients, and even he had lost track of which branch to respond to. His inbox was a classic case of email overload, a problem replicated across millions of inboxes at millions of organizations every day.