The fundamental engine for a successful enterprise-wide Social Learning initiative is the need to make available, tools that will allow employees to easily share information, know-how, and knowledge with others. But just because you implemented Yammer or any other similar tool in your company doesn’t guarantee adoption. Just like any other software implementation, Social Learning implementation requires a well thought-out strategy for educating users about the framework, provide training, monitor usage and impact on an ongoing basis, and plan for the future based on what went right or wrong with the implementation. It all seems straight forward, but it will be useful to understand certain hidden barriers to a successful enterprise social learning initiative.
People are just lazy: The time and effort needed to create content or capture your thoughts into content so that it is presentable to everybody else within the company is something that requires additional work on an already over-burdened employee. You will find that in most of the companies that have an internal blog, only a few brave souls contribute and the vast majority of us are happy reading what others are saying.
Afraid of negative consequences: People don’t want to get fired or look like an idiot in front of the world. Our insecurities about what we think we know and we don’t know will keep us from sharing. From a management stand-point, the negative consequences of letting people share their thoughts freely is unnerving especially in a hierarchical set-up.
Politics: A politicized work environment is guaranteed to nuke any social learning initiative. People are more interested in keeping information or knowledge close to their chest lest the rival group gets one up on them.
Drinking your own Kool-Aid: While we love organizations with strong cultures, the very purpose of social learning is to provide an opportunity for your organization’s culture to evolve and keep pace with times. Keeping the “conversations” restricted and in line with the “approved” view from the top defeats the very purpose of implementing a social learning platform. I am not implying that there shouldn’t be any guidelines at all.
Clash of the Generations: Baby boomers still constitute a significant percentage of executive management that takes the decisions on social learning. Baby boomers are themselves new to the concept because of the simple reason that they did not have social media tools when they grew up unlike their Gen Y counterpart that are flooding the workforce. The preacher himself needs to be baptised first!