Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
One of the virtues that an organization can have when applying the right Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is it can make different people share knowledge and different points of view on an idea in a single space.
Two members of an organization may have never shared ideas about something they are both working on in the organization, i.e. due to physical circumstances, for example, because the employees are located in different work centers with an extensive geographical distance between them, or due to time limits, as time zones mean that their working days never coincide.
In this scenario, employees in the same organization who could share knowledge with a personal and professional benefit for the company may never come into contact or exchange ideas.
This is one of the key points where an Enterprise Social Network implemented in an organization plays a fundamental role, as the lineal sum of people with determined knowledge (talent) can mean exponential growth in talent in the organization.
When we decide to implement an ESN in our organizations, one of its key objectives must be to act as a virtual collaboration space in which different professionals who work on a product can share their experiences and ideas, which will benefit not only professionals in the same area who are working on that product in other work centers, but also other professionals who work on that product from other areas.
It seems to be more complex than it really is, so let’s take an example where we can see how growth can be exponential for the organization.
Taking an organization with work centers in different parts of the planet, such as Europe, North America and Asia. They sell a range of products, and in this example, let’s focus on the product A. We design an ESN that creates a contact area with different professionals from different departments, for example, heads of different areas.
When the head of design in Asia of that product A enters to share his experience on end users who acquire the product, the heads of design in Europe and North America acquire knowledge that enables them to work on the product to make possible modifications that could benefit their end clients. However, if in that meeting place, the heads of marketing also participate, they can see what the strong points for convincing the end client in each part of the world (support marketing) in order for them to purchase product A. What’s more, if the heads of Finance also participate, they can see how to apply the different product prices according to the possible competitors in each part of the world.
With this simple example, we can see how the talent of one of the members in the organization shared in an open collaborative space not only causes lineal growth, but also exponential growth in the talent, which will reverberate on global improvement in the organization at different scales and as a whole. And that is something that is difficult to achieve with a traditional organization system where, with luck, the different departments meet at an annual convention in order to share ideas.
The ESN implemented needs to have four indispensible points in order for it to be a true source of collective knowledge:
- Open: i.e. all members of the organization, regardless of their work area but with the same hierarchical responsibility level, can access at any time to contribute an idea, knowledge… something that may be of interest to any other department and any part of the organization.
- Collaborative: it must be the meeting point for debate or sharing contents, not a social network. In other words, implementing a network means its participants must comply with some basic rules of behavior.
- Timeless: Any member can access it when they want to share something and it is clearly defined for other members so that when they decide to access, they know where the issue can go and this way know how to share, debate or extend the knowledge already left there by other members of the organization.
- Hierarchical: the ESN implemented opens different meeting points in which different employees can participate based on their different levels of responsibility within the organization.
How do I focus my approach if I’m responsible for implementing an ESN in my organization?
Firstly, analyze the activities and departments making up your organization. Then, analyze the hierarchical level of your staff. Finally, establish criteria that enable you to create different meeting points in the organization, both in terms of parallel and transversal competences. i.e.
- Meeting points for sharing knowledge for those responsible for finance, marketing, etc. in different work centers (parallel competences).
- Meeting points for sharing knowledge for the same hierarchical levels in one work center in the organization (intra-center transversal competences).
- Meeting points for sharing knowledge for the same hierarchical levels in different work centers (inter-center transversal competences).
Each member who participates in the ESN is responsible for sharing their knowledge in one or more centers implemented according to whom it may be of interest.
Obviously, this means training participants first, but undoubtedly, once the system and the ESN are implemented, the growth of talent within the organization will be exponential and not lineal like in organizations 1.0.
Jose Luis del Campo Villares (@JoseLdelCampo) is a faciliator, trainer and coach. He cares about people and their lives within organizations; for that reason, he is a social media consultant and CEO of Socialmedia Network.