With all of the buzz about folks bringing Web 2.0 technologies with them to the office because they find them so easy and intuitive to use, it's easy to assume that workers will welcome new collaboration tools with open minds and eagerness to try them.
Yet that likely won't be true of all employees. It's important to get business supporters on board and overcome any cultural resistance before implementing a new tool, said Lee Romero, an IT manager who helped introduce wikis at Novell. Romero told us in an interview last year:
... It does introduce change to the culture in the company. If you don't have [the business side] interested in advocating it [and] the expectation that there is a user base in place who would implement it, you may find that no one uses it. I can't expect that a significant mindset change in the company comes about because IT implements a tool. It has to be something more than that. If the company has a history of openness, a relatively small company [perhaps], that aspect is not as much of a big deal.
Perhaps no organization faced a bigger cultural barrier in adding new tools than the CIA."Collaboration" is a dirty word because agents refer to spies as "collaborators," explains one of the men who helped introduce a Wikipedia-like system called Intellipedia to the agency. Computerworld quotes another man involved in the project:
We were called traitors, [and were told] we were going to get people killed.
Yet despite early resistance, the tool has gained favor among CIA analysts since it helps remove the layers of bureaucracy they typically must traverse to share information. The CIA has added additional Web 2.o functionality, including blogs, RSS feeds, video and tagging and photo-sharing capabilities. Information gathered via Intellipedia is used in briefings for other government agencies.
Among the suggestions offered to encourage adoption, reports Computerworld: Start with a small project, but one that will attract contributors. Intellipedia began with a list of common government acronymns.
Novell's Romero stresses the importance of running a pilot of some kind and of offering user training. He said:
Make sure you are not just giving people a tool to use and saying, "Go use it." Set them up to use it successfully. You need to lead people to use it slowly over time.
Debunking the idea that only younger folks will use Web 2.0 tools, the oldest contributor to the CIA's Intellipedia is 69 years old. Still, these kinds of tools are most likely to appeal initially to younger workers.
Wachovia, which is becoming something of a poster child for Web 2.0 technologies by implementing an ambitious slate of tools anchored by Microsoft's Sharepoint Server, is adding the tools in part to appeal to attract younger employees, says Wachovia's e-business director.
After the first year on the job, he tells InformationWeek, they "fall off the table" because of limited opportunities to contribute their input. The financial services company assigns tech-savvy younger staffers to senior employees, to help them learn the benefits of collaborative networks.
Wachovia began with a pilot involving 1,000 employees in December, added another 9,000 workers in February and planned to make the tools available to all 120,000 employees late last month, according to InformationWeek. So far, wikis are among the most popular tools, including one devoted to defining the numerous acronyms used at Wachovia. (Would companies be better off avoiding the acronyms in the first place?)
Soaring fuel costs helped Wachovia tackle another sticky issue, assigning dollar value to the tools. Managers from multiple departments kicked in a percentage of their travel budgets to partially fund the initiative, which is expected to cut travel costs.
Eventually, Wachovia plans to open its Web 2.0 network to customers and business partners, according to the article.