Sharing a same sense of urgency, a coalition has developed and shared a vision of a more collaborative organisation. This has led to the first actions being taken. To encourage those who have begun to take action, convince those who are still not sure, and disarm the sceptics, it now becomes important to achieve the first initial successes (quick wins).
Some people believe that only long term results count and quick successes are just a diversion. But this is to ignore the psychological dimension and, in particular, the way time is perceived, which will not be the same for all involved participants. The process of changing collaborative working practices will take at least several years. This will come as no surprise to senior managers, for whom "long term" normally signifies from three to ten years. For many operational staff members, by contrast, short term signifies a week and long term signifies a maximum of a year. For these individuals, an absence of results is quickly viewed as an indication of failure, leading to disengagement.
To better understand the importance of the need for initial results, it is interesting to take inspiration from the kind of approach used in selling: in order to "sell" the idea of change to employees, testimonials from the first wave of "customers" are required, i.e. the first individuals to have benefited from the implementation of a collaborative, social solution.
The way the process of change occurs cannot be left to chance. Many managers are so convinced of the merits of their vision that they fail to even recognise the need to manage the first, initial successes, especially in cases where they have been able to generate high levels of commitment to the project and get individuals to take action. John Kotter underlines the significantly greater need for managers rather than leaders at this stage, as managers are the ones who will know how to organise the process of taking the action required to obtain the expected results.
This is precisely the kind of approach a collaborative, social solution makes possible. It can be put to use immediately to set up a pilot phase, during which it is recommended that up to 10% of target users should be brought into and involved in the process. This results in part of the process of adaptation being pushed back until after this pilot phase, which corresponds to an agile approach to project management and avoids subjecting individuals to a development process unnecessarily. Furthermore, it is advantageous to have personnel who will actively participate in developing later versions strongly involved at this stage. It also provides an opportunity to act on any constructive comments offered by those who view the project with a critical eye. And finally, it is absolutely essential that this pilot phase is rolled out across several different areas of activity liable to produce quick wins.
To be convincing, outcomes need to be both clear to see and conclusive, i.e. they must unambiguously be the result of the behavioural changes brought about. With the wide variety of uses to which it can be put, the new collaborative, social tool has many possibilities to offer, and these can be deduced through the application of vision. Choosing them involves applying criteria such as visibility, measurability, and above all the potential they offer in terms of getting different categories of people involved: what is needed are influencers, pragmatic individuals and those able to free up the amount of time required to make the project successful.
Here are some examples of the kinds of professional settings in which we have found a collaborative, social tool to be effective:
In general, the areas of activity to target are those likely to produce rapid successes, though this does not exclude the possibility of running longer term, more speculative projects in parallel.
Another type of setting/area of activity to consider is the kind of non-professional communities that, due to their informal character, serve to bring together individuals who share a passion for a particular subject.
Finally, it is practically essential to set up a space dedicated to managing the process of change, so that the vision of the collaborative, social project can be presented, dialogue can be encouraged, successes communicated, advice provided, and any required/expected documents and information made available.