Friday, December 7, 2012

Social Media in Organizations: Nature vs Nurture

In conjunction with my elevator speech for PO&M class *ehem*, it was a nice coincidence that I chose a topic exploring the launch/implementation of a new intranet platform for the Singapore public service—Cube.

The Cube was inspired by similar endeavors such as GovLoop here in the states and  Australia’s Victorian Public Service Hub where more than just a common database, the latest social media and social networking Web2.0 technology/tools will be employed on this common platform to revolutionize the way public servants interact across all ministries and departments in the Singapore public service.

What was particularly interesting to me was the perceived challenge the Cube team (tasked with developing and promoting Cube) felt they had to overcome to ensure its optimal utilization by public servants. A local intranet expert that is also on the Cube team pointed to the challenge of changing mindsets among public servants, where they were originally referred to as “performance engines”, focused on hierarchy, confidentiality and following the rules. For the Cube to succeed, “…an ‘innovation engine’ is required—emphasizing a questioning culture, empathy, and spirit of sharing and openness.

While it is a well-known fact that successful social media campaigns or online communities take time to form, how about internally for an organization? Should the Marketing, PR or IT departments be responsible for any SM effort within the organization? Or in the case of the Cube – an entire department/team created for the sole purpose of its development and implementation, which by no means seem like a temporary or short-term undertaking.

Another article talks about how Web2.0 should be a ground-up effort rather than top-down one which the Singaporean government seems to be attempting. Although he makes some valid points about how discussions in digital space should be spontaneous and cannot be taught or trained into happening, I would actually disagree. In my humble opinion, implementing new technologies, or any new initiative for that matter, that requires the full participation of all employees in the organization is akin to change management—systematic effort and programs should be in place to inform, educate and train on the objectives and methods for greater receptivity and take-up by staff. Employees may not be taught “what” to say, but rather, they need to learn “why” and “how” they should speak up on the Cube.

So what’s your verdict—SM in organizations: Nature or Nurture?

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