When discussing emergent collaboration solutions with clients or with organizations seeking to implement the best piece of advice that I (and I’m sure many others) can give is to focus on the value and not on the features or the technology of a platform.  This means that instead of telling employees  that they can post status updates, create their own rich profiles, or collaboratively edit a document tell them about the value that all of this brings to their lives.  Will it help employees save time with tasks that usually take a while to do?  Will it make life easier when it comes time to finding information that they need to get access to?  Will it help create a sense of community within an otherwise siloed and non-communicative organization?  Will they be able to spend more time with time with their families instead of working longer hours?  Will their dependence on email be reduced so that they can actually focus on getting work done and not on answering messages?

Whatever the value is, that is what you need to convey.  The technology and the features are just enablers that exist in order to make the lives of the employees and users easier.  Focusing on the cool things that a technology can do will not help with adoption but focusing on the value for the employees will.  Also, when focusing on the value don’t focus on the corporate value.  Meaning don’t tell employees how much money it’s going to say the company or how many new products and ideas and the company wants to create as a result of these new tools.  Focus on the value for the employees.  What do they get out of it?  What is in it for them?  Everything else comes in a distant second (if that).  Put yourself in the shoes of the employees who you want to convince to use an emergent collaboration platform.  What would help encourage you to use something new, the fact that you can post status messages, the fact that it will help save the company 20% on travel costs, or the fact that you as an employee will have an easier time doing your job?

I know I’m beating this message across but that’s a good thing because I can’t stress it enough.  Value for the employees comes first.

What’s in it for them and why should they care?

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