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Internal social networks improve communication + collaboration when empowered to do so

I received an email from my friend at CIO Journal just as I boarded a United flight from Mexico City to San Francisco. He was on deadline and the topic was too good to miss. I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time studying and reporting on the social landscape as it pertained to internal engagement, communication and collaboration.

I frantically typed on my iPhone with my thumbs before the door closed. Time was.running.out. With the hit of the send button, the door closed, and I was relieved to know that I made the deadline.  Fast forward….the article recently ran in WSJ’s CIO Journal with a few of my thoughts. Since the topic is important to me and hopefully you as well, I wanted to share the response in its entirety. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the subject…

Here’s the setup (edited):

A company has rolled out a new social media platform to its employees in the hopes of improving its health and safety record by getting workers to talk about best practices and also to point out problems or things that need to be done differently.

Question 1:

Is it unusual for companies to introduce a social media platform to fix this type of problem (versus trying to foster more collaboration for business processes)?


Research shows that when a majority of the employee workforce is “disengaged,” it’s due to the reality that a lack of leadership or belief in overall corporate purpose or direction is prevalent. Social + gamification without uncovering and fixing employee relationships is simply gaming the system. However, social + gamification combined with an overhaul in process, management, and communication is how to bring about true change. Without investing in the culture, most initiatives are short lived and often minimizing the problem.

As my good friend and digital sociologist Stowe Boyd would say, “The tangible result of culture change is behavioral change.” The opposite is also true. This is why management needs to explore its DNA to give employees something to align with.

Question 2:

Is adoption of enterprise social media a challenge. particularly when there is distrust of management?


A recent Altimeter Group study published by Charlene Li found that businesses that employ enterprise social networks without a true vision for collaboration or how to improve relationships often fail to meet expectations. Also, without leadership adoption, it’s impossible to lead by example.

Hope this helps.

Join me as the story continues…#WTF

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13 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Internal social networks improve communication + collaboration when empowered to do so”

  1. Ryan Connors says:

    Mmmm reminds me of companies who decided they should “do social.” Why is it hard for some to tie goals to actions?

    • briansolis says:

      Indeed Ryan…or to tie desired behavior to leadership?

    • Ryan Connors says:

      Now you’ve gone too far Brian. Baby steps! I’ve still run into people recently who can’t understand the value of a website.

    • briansolis says:

      *slapping forehead* 🙂

    • Karin Sebelin says:

      Sorry I miss here the needed empathy in this article and in communication !

      Communication is about understanding people even when we do not agree with their attitude.

      How will we become better human beings when we attack others?

      Collaboration is about empathy and not about offending others.

      Empathy is the willingness to demonstrate people our interest, our attention, our understanding even when we are not ready for them. #empathy

    • Karin Sebelin says:

      We demand of others to adapt themselves instead that we ourselves change our own thinking and understanding.

      It all begins in us.

  2. nbyron says:

    New initiatives only work effectively when a clear vision is not only present but effectively communicated, and supported by process and leadership. @twitter-259790447:disqus asks why it’s so hard to tie goals to actions and certainly the lack of a well thought out strategy and implementation process, as well as a lack of ownership of the initiative is one explanation. The idea presented in this article is a good one as social media can help reduce the communication gap between management and entry level employees.

  3. Phoebe Shin Venkat says:

    Social for social’s sake is never a good thing. My experience with enterprise social networking (not a great term, but tolerable for now) has been — and currently — focuses on large corporations with tens of 1000s of team members. My entire company (not just execs) deserves to understand the drivers behind the launch. What are the challenges we face as a siloed corporation that can be helped by an ESN? What are the use cases that will get us turned back in all of the right directions? Beyond helping to solve business problems, I see our ESN as a way to, if I can borrow from @marciamarcia, help our workforce flex its social muscles. Better yet, how can we empower our team members to be better prepared in our connected, digital world? Customers deserve the best…last time I checked, my customers are my colleagues and they deserve a way to connect, collaborate and share feedback in a safe amd secure environment. Can you tell I’m passionate about this topic?! 😉

    • briansolis says:

      I can feel your passion! But then again….I know you and I know this is real. You’re on a mission and we’re benefiting from your experience!

  4. Sandra Unson says:

    “Social media” steals your privacy and sells your life to advertisers. Never use it, never input anything about yourself into it except false information. “ad metrics” are personal information rape by turning you into a tool.


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