I’m at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Yesterday I attended a session on people, culture and behavior as a part of the HR track. The session was led by Jon Ingham (executive consultant) and Margaret Schweer, a VP at nGenera Insight. These are the key points from the session.

Social Capital is About Culture

An organizations capabilities can be broken down to various types of capital that it possesses:

  • Human capital
  • Organizational Capital
  • Social Capital

When most people talk about culture what they are really referring to is social capital. Social capital can best be expressed in many ways but the four most common ways that social capital is expressed are around:

  • Social Learning
  • Social Innovation
  • Social Collaboration
  • Social Speed

Knowledge management, engagement, retention and a few others are also important but they are not as large as the four mentioned above.

Social Capital Influences E2.0 Activities

Enterprise 2.0 is really about understanding activities and outcomes, and then the business impact of those outcomes. However, social capital should influence and affect these activities. It’s also very important for organizations to focus on the organizational value of Enterprise 2.0 activities but most importantly to focus on the social outcomes of people, culture and behavior.

Enterprise Collaboration is Not About Technology

Collaboration is not a baseball game, just because you build or deploy something doesn’t mean that people will come and use it. Technology should never be the primary driver for successful collaboration with an organization. You can build a lot of capability into a technology solution but in order to really see success you must put this into the context of an existing workflow that employees are used to, they should be “familiar” with it. If they are not familiar with it then it becomes difficult to get employees to adopt new solutions.

There are three elements that are the most important for successful collaboration within an organization. These are:

1. Is it easy to use? (peter rabbit simple)

This means:

  • That the platform is intuitive
  • Allows for single sign-on
  • Provides for integration with mobile technology solutions
  • Provides powerful search and filtering capabilities
  • Is a versatile solution that will allow you the flexibility to adapt as you go.

2. Does it help me do my job better?

  • Value based on saving time
  • Incentives that align with knowledge sharing and platform use

3. Organizational culture should be:

  • Highly engaged
  • Built upon trust based relationships
  • Should allow for the prevalence of networking opportunities
  • Should be led by Leaders with both task and relationship skills
  • Should employ executives who model collaboration and “walk the talk” so to speak
  • Provide for clearly defined individual roles and responsibilities with the organization

It’s important to remember that trust is essential for collaboration. For most people trust develops through relationships and does take some time to manifest.

But Technology Is Important

Some of the key areas where organizations need to make a significant investment are in:

  • Physical architecture
  • Technology
  • Process design
  • Forums-sponsored events

TSA is an example of a company that was able to deploy collaboration strategies internally. Management developed a collaborative process and platform to solicit and discuss ideas from 43,000 employees. They started with simple issues as discussion starts and advanced to tackle more complex issues over time as the employees become more “ready”.

HR Practices that are Collaborative

There are three HR practices that encompass collaboration and all three should be paid attention to.

  1. Selection of people: Who do you let in to the collaboration process?
  2. Training: Do you onboard in a way that supports collaboration? This is obviously very important for all new employees. It is a great starting point to move towards a collaborative culture.
  3. Promote: Are you careful who you promote?

Zappos is a great example to look at here. They have a four week training period that immerses you in the corporate culture and strategy of Zappos, including the organization’s obsession with customers. After the first week of training at Zappos the employee is offered 2 thousand dollars on the spot provided they quit. This acts as a test to attract people to Zappos that truly love the brand and the mission of the company.

Best Buy is another good example. There are no fixed schedules or mandatory meetings and employees are judged based on performance not hours.

Finally, Mozilla is a very interesting community that is a model for successful collaboration. Think about some of the key elements that make Mozilla so successful.

  • It’s all about community
  • They think in terms of a hybrid way of working
  • They Think globally
  • Mozilla will shut up and listen which is something that too few organizations do.
  • Just ask because few do
  • Nurture renegades and don’t be afraid of them.