Today I reviewed a client’s draft social solution strategy document. It was comprehensive and well researched with several references from analyst firms, media outlets, and academics. Unfortunately, some of the analysis and advice in the references is, well, just bad (in my experience, of course). Also, in doing my daily Web scan of what’s going on, I sometimes come across “less than best practice” advice and poor analysis (again, in my experience).
So, I have the idea of starting a 2009 Bad Advice Awards for Social Software Solutions competition through this blog where we can illuminate and discuss what we think is bad advice or poor analysis. At the end of the year I will post the winners based on your feedback. My viewpoints are also up for examination. I only ask that we be professional about it and view it as an intellectual exploration. So let me know what you think of my idea for the 2009 Bad Advice Awards.
I will offer two entries to start.
Bad Advice: Fail Early, Fail Often
The notion of failing early and often is the complete opposite of what I’ve seen. It almost tells you that you don’t have to take a social initiative seriously to garner success but just wing it until you get it right. IME, that is bad advice. It turns out community members are not so resilient to failure. If you fail a community even once there is a good chance you will never get them back. My research indicates that if a participant visits a community environment and doesn’t see value the likelihood of them returning a second time is less than 30%. If they still don’t see value returning a third time drops to almost 0%. Start with the expectation of success not failure (even if it is early). See “How to Apply the PLANT SEEDS Framework for Enhanced Enterprise Web 2.0 Adoption” and “Toolkit Sample Template: PLANT SEEDS Checklists for Planning an Enterprise Web 2.0 Initiative” for information on how to take it seriously and plan for success (available to clients or for a fee). I actually have updates to both of these that will publish within 2 weeks.
Bad Analysis: “But I don’t see Enterprise 2.0 becoming a big area of corporate spending. The tools are too cheap and easy to replicate with tons of free alternatives, and many of the vendors are just not ready for prime time.”
Social software is far more about the social than it is the software. Even if the tool costs were negative (that is they pay you to use them), the costs of catalyzing, growing, and maintaining a community are not at all trivial. Also, this is a growing market with plenty of alternatives. As the market matures and consolidates the cost of tools will increase and by then the value proposition will be better understood and people will pay. Also, many of the free tools are not enterprise ready. But there plenty of “ready for prime time” enterprise vendors and 100s of enterprises with thriving communities with thousands upon thousands of participants that gain value for themselves and deliver value to the enterprise. Although enterprises need to make careful decisions, they shouldn’t be waiting “for prime time.”
What do you think of these two? Do you have any submissions you want to nominate?
Blatant Disclaimer: These awards are determined by myself and the community of those that follow my blog and are not representative of any Gartner stance.
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