Friday, April 16, 2010

How an organization can learn from internal social media

An organization can learn a great deal about how it performs and how it can improve its business simply by listening to its employees. Internal social media such as blogs, micro-blogging and social networking provides every employee with a voice and the possibility to reach out to anyone within the organization. From management's point of view, internal social media provides an unpreceeded possibility for them to listen to and learn from employees. Here's a simple description of what's needed to use these possibilities. 

Establish the platform
  1. Provide employees with a platform that makes it fun and easy for them to find, connect, communicate, interact and share things with each other regardless of their location, organization, or position. 
  2. Provide clear policies and guidelines that define the game plan, defining both freedom and responsibilities - what do you want them to do, what do you not want them to do? 
  3. Encourage employees to use the platform, using whatever works to encourage adoption. Be creative, and do it the way employees want it.
Start learning
  1. Listen - Continuously listen to employee-to-employee conversations on blogs, micro-blogs etc to learn about employees’ concerns, fears, ideas, and so on  - what you listen to and how you listen depends on your purpose and area of interest
  2. Analyze - Identify, assemble and analyze information that might need to be acted on
  3. Act - Decide how to act (or not act) on the information you have aquired, and act
  4. Communicate - Communicate the decisions and actions to employees, what you are doing, when and why
  5. Learn - Learn how decisions and actions are received by employees from the feedback and conversations, and use this information to improve decisions and actions


  1. Great post as always, thank you!

    It really reminded me of the suggestion submiting system in Kaizen, where any employee, regardless of rank or position, is encouraged to suggest ideas he thinks may improve the process.

    I'm sure Social Media may simplify the whole TEIAN system a lot. I wonder if rewarding -the Kaizen way- employees who publish great ideas in their blogs wouldn't be a good way to encourage participation?

  2. Thanks Lamia.

    Very good point. Technologies that allow employees to share their ideas and observations can add great value to philosophy / practices such as Kaizen and Lean. It is all about transparency and sharing, being able share, discover and act upon information from every corner of an enterprise. In Lean and Kaizen, where it is essential to spot and eliminate waste it is not possible unless the employees are involved in these activities and share their findings. With internal social media, employees get a way to share what they find with anyone, and management get a way to make the entire workforce engaged in these activities. I definitely think that the way social media can make the ideas and observations of any employee visible, findable, traceable (to the contributor) and possible to be publicly recognized can and will, in most contexts, encourage participation.