Enterprise Soulless Networks?

What is happening with Enterprise Social Networks? We seem to be nowhere futher harnessing their value than we were in 2010. Check out this article from the Economist back then. It reads like an ad for Facebook at Work today!

Mark Britz piqued my interest yesterday with a tweet:

I replied:

I took our conversation and turned it into a post:

Social. It used to be so simple. It was simply connecting, sharing, helping each other. But somewhere along the way, technology has taken over. Technology has become the lazy answer to problems that organizations refuse to fully understand. And, as the technolgy is sold on utopian promises to solve those problems, vendors are creating more and more ways to "nudge" employees in the right direction.

Case in point - Enterprise Social Networks. It's simple really.

People aren't collaborating? You Don't Have a Collaborative Culture. People aren't sharing? They don't want to. People aren’t liking? There’s nothing to like!

And hey, instead of fixing this, let's create user interfaces that nudge or even bludgeon people with the tech. Let's have stickers for most likes! We'll force people to like with bots next! That will engage people (although not the people who actually get value from an ESN).

You see, an #ESN is a tool that requires a culture where everyone is a treated like an adult. Where people can try and fail with support. Where people can ask for help. Where leaders are fallible every day and share their experience of being so.

What we're talking about is a social workplace where collaboration, some self-forming teams, intrapreneurship and a relatively loose structure are standard.

If you don't have this, then your ESN really will be a Facebook for Work. Superficial, full of content marketing (mostly from corp comms and marketing), and lacking useful interaction.

Honestly, if your executives don’t see how the future of their company depends on dialogue, conversation, transparency, openness and self-direction...you can only hope the generations change in charge before the company has a Kodak moment (of the wrong kind).

By the way - the people who are actually using your #ESN “in the right way”. Let them and don’t get in their way. If you have 30% of your company engaged and getting value from the tool, it doesn't matter if the other 70% don’t use it. Don’t force them! Don't create campaigns, don't add more tech, don't make the tool become more work than their work.

I'm agnostic when it comes to which is a better ESN. Social tools do the same thing - they help connect people more quickly over distances and other barriers. Please bear that in mind when I pick on a vendor here. This is what I'm talking about - the end of simplicity at Jive.

Is the focus on tech creating Enterprise Soulless Networks?