Don’t blame the technology. As many organizations add internal social networks and open collaboration tools to their work environments, the general expectation is that a broad-based internal user community will make new connections, generate new content, share information widely and provide robust feedback that elevates the best material in the organization. It’s not working. Most new collaboration tools introduced into organizations are either ignored or used in unproductive ways.
To increase acceptance, organizations can start by avoiding redundancy. If most knowledge workers use multiple external networking tools (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), an internal networking tool may not provide much incremental value. Either skip it or find a way to align with what people are already using. If a new tool is vastly superior to an existing tool, move to the new tool in a standard way, clarify the expected use and get rid of the old tool. Sure, move to the latest and greatest communication technology, but take away the ham radios (unless you’re in the ham radio business). Realize that another technology is not the answer – it’s only an enabler. Open collaboration tools may help find your best contributors (or help them self-select), but it won’t miraculously turn the crowd into active participants. If your team isn’t already talking productively (or using Sharepoint, Messenger, Connections, Sametime, etc. in a valuable way), what makes you think they’ll use something more advanced to do so in the future?