A Lesser Known Benefit of Enterprise Social Tools

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Naturally much of the talk, and vendor pitch, around organizational social tools is about the tangible value they can bring to the work being done; reducing emails, eliminating meetings, working out loud, collaboration, innovation, etc. What is not often noted however is how these tools can reveal the heart of the organization in the stories that are shared within.

Our enterprise social tool existed at my current employer before my arrival. It’s been growing in use and today most have adopted it for various purposes. Together we are focusing more on adaptation and working within it as well as stretching it’s capabilities beyond employees (more on that another time).

Early on, as I perused the conversations within, I came across one that our CEO began when an employee, who was there from the start, was leaving to embark on a new adventure. He reflected openly on the early days, painting a vivid picture of small office spaces and bleak surrounding that spoke to what every start-up probably physically looks like. It was written with a nostalgic emotion as it conjured images of a business struggling to survive, hope, partnerships and the profound belief in an idea. I found it refreshing to see an organizational leader opening up for all to see, sharing a story and just being real. As a new employee I was instantly able to feel like I was there in this simple exchange between founder and employee. It was the epitome of what these tools provide us; 1. transparency, where I could peer into the past and see how people were connected beyond work and 2. openness, where I and others could contribute to the story and even reawaken the conversation well after it had paused.

As an organization grows it risks social atrophy, where the space between us widens and the humanity is sucked out  – leaving a void which is usually filled with rigid hierarchy and the departmentalization of work. Social tools however can keep the arteries open and be a window into the past. They make visible the small flecks of culture found within each conversation, enabling new employees to learn who the organization really is beyond the titles and org chart. In essence, they can keep an organization small even as it grows bigger by helping all to never forget where they came from.

2 thoughts on “A Lesser Known Benefit of Enterprise Social Tools

  1. It is nice seeing the past frozen in time and social media can do just that. Importance of where an org came from does tend to get lost, or it gets skewed as time goes on as people try to keep it alive by words. Messages in social media and on the Internet keep these things alive and the links with the past.

    I often look back on some of the web sites I’ve owned over time and it’s fun to see those web sites frozen in time. I guess Facebook does that on the personal front with the bringing back posts from x years ago. Seeing stuff like that from an organizations leader would be nice and refreshing when things can sometimes get a bit stuffy in orgs, adds humanity back into the hierarchy.

    1. Yes Nick. Thanks again for reading and commenting. It can be powerful I think, especially when an organization starts from the beginning with social technologies inside. I think its a way to pull leaders back to center when growing. It helps to provide a reminder of “who we are” not just “what we are”. People over process as that’s what organizations really are – groups of people.

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