Investing in social business

In my most recent blog posts, I have focused on the topic of goals and social intranet adoption, in general and for managers. Including a social dimension in personal goals is the key to adoption by the bulk of employees, the late adopters.

Why? Because for many, personal goals are the definition of what they are paid to do, Goals = Work. As long as goals have no social dimension, nothing about knowledge sharing, nothing about collaboration, about creation of intellectual capital, why would you do it. It’s not your job!

But, as I have pointed out before, using the social intranet doesn’t produce benefits that are easy to measure and attribute to actions by individuals, that are sure to benefit your own organizational unit or that can be predicted to occur within a specific time frame – the type of goals we have all been trained to set. These types of goals are rather production oriented, don’t you think? But working out loud, developing intellectual capital or sharing it generously are not about production. It is rather an investment. Something that may pay off, some day and maybe not for your unit.

So, the key to including social aspects into goal setting is to supplement the traditional goals:

You are supposed to produce for your unit for this quarter AND to invest in shared knowledge, relations and transparency for the benefit of the entire organization, some day.

Author: TheSocialSwede

Enabling People-Powered Businesses by developing leadership, motivation and collaboration for employee engagement. Now as independent, previously at IBM.

4 thoughts on “Investing in social business”

  1. I think that specific, actionable and measurable goals are critical help individuals to define, at a granular level, the series of behavioral changes they need to break their current work routines (and integrate social behaviors).

    By precisely mapping out the ‘how’, the cognitive load is reduced for the user at the moment they try to execute some of those behavioral changes.

    Being social reminds me of, for example, being physically active. You know that you should do it because it’s good for you, you’ll feel better, it will positively influence those around you, etc. But, it’s hard to quantify up front just how much better you will feel or how good for you it will be. You also may experience a sort of temporary “blackout” period – the first few weeks you’re tired, you don’t look any different, etc.

    With social, you have to expend a lot of energy at first, but the #socialblackout phase is awkward – no one comments on your posts, teammates are confused by your new way of working, etc. It feels like a lot more work but there’s no immediate gratification.

    If you plan when, where, and how you will be active – and likewise, social – you are more likely to follow-through. You are only executing, instead of planning AND executing, and you have a clear understanding why you are doing what you’re doing. Once you’ve been able to learn new (social) habits, having goals are still important, but may be slightly less critical.

    I also think it’s reasonable to think that some people are motivated by extrinsic reward (reward, avoid punishment), where as some are motivated by intrinsic reward (feels/know it’s good). Either way, goal setting helps clarify each person’s motivations for being social and the path of how to get there.

    Side note: excellent book on habit formation, for individuals and organizations, here:

  2. Kristen, Your analogy with physical activity is so perfect that there’s only one thing wrong with it; I would have wanted to come up with it myself. Second best, it’s here as a comment on my blog.

    I’d also like to expand on your point about people who are motivated by extrinsic or intrinsic awards. This is exactly why this topic of social goals is top of my mind currently. In many places we have managed to “convert” (at least to some extent) most of the folks who are intrinsically motivated. But now, when we’re trying to move beyond this early majority, we need to adapt our way of convincing to their way of thinking. And, it seems to me as if they are more extrinsically motivated.

    You might appreciate this presentation I’ve shared (make sure to read the speaker notes)

  3. Thanks for sharing your presentation slides – thought they were really interesting and I’ve got some thoughts which I’ll share soon. In the meantime, I wonder if you’re familiar with Platform Thinking? During my MBA, I took a class on Platforms (the loan OB/OP amongst a bunch of MS-MBA kids, haha), but it transformed the way I thought about Connections (and other platforms). This resource is excellent, and the author is a colleague of a friend and former professor of mine, Marshall Van Alstyne, an information economics and platforms expert. (

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