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Ten tips for enterprise collaboration strategy success

An enterprise collaboration strategy isn't for the fainthearted. Here are some rules of the road, from an expert with a track record of success.

Successful enterprise social collaboration isn't based on luck. It's based on time-honored, tested best practices. Dawn Lacallade, the director of social strategy and content programming at LiveWorld in San Jose, Calif., offers several rules of the road that underpin a successful enterprise collaboration strategy.

Dawn LacalladeDawn Lacallade

1. Understand the business need. Enterprise collaboration efforts differ based on their end goal: Is the company targeting process improvements, product innovation, staff retention? Efforts may take on a different character based on the end goal.

2. Establish business buy-in up-front and often. Have leaders model the behavior. Lacallade gave an example of having executives create regular blog posts on subjects such as "Five things to do to get promoted" and to roll out one behavior a week to demonstrate them, in addition to blogging about them. And, of course, prove the return on investment.

Don't get seduced by a sexy platform that doesn't accomplish what you need it to.

Dawn Lacallade,
director of social strategy and content programming, LiveWorld Inc.

3. Plan up front and create a governance model as well as policies around enterprise social networking. Efforts will fail without clear policies and best practices regarding enterprise collaboration. And use the initiative as an opportunity to organize, categorize and govern your collaboration estate so it doesn't become a far-flung, sprawling failure of several blog sites and collaboration spaces with few to no participants.

Also use policies to help identify how people discuss certain issues, such as intellectual property that is a competitive differentiator.

4. Establish access rights and permissions to create the right kind of collaboration. Use identity access rights and controls to determine who can access certain documents and information.

5. Select your technology based on your business processes. "Don't get seduced by a sexy platform that doesn't accomplish what you need it to," Lacallade said. Build your workflows and processes into the technology, not the other way around.

6. Devote resources to the care and feeding of your efforts. Make sure that you allocate staff and financial resources to a collaboration effort so that you can sift through the information that rises to the surface and act upon it -- as well as provide feedback to employees.

7. Invite the devil's advocate into the room. Let the eternal skeptic pick holes in your assumptions and choices to come up with the best enterprise collaboration plan.

8. Set expectations up front. Give workers a sense of the time frame for feedback -- and the time frame for making adjustments to products and processes based on their crowdsourcing.

9. Accept good and bad ideas. Don't create stigma surrounding "bad" ideas. "If you quash ideas that are a waste of time and there's any sort of stigma associated with bad ideas," Lacallade said, "you'll miss the great idea."

10. Apply the right scale to social collaboration initiatives. "Don't set up 100 collaboration spaces that are all empty with no one participating," said Lacallade. Start small and scale up as appropriate.

For more on social collaboration success, see our Change Agent profile of a collaboration evangelist.

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