Herding Cats and Enterprise Social Planning

herding cats

Social is not about top down control and management.  Planning is crucial, don’t get me wrong.  It is empowering communication for all departments.  That’s why it’s so transformative and empowering for individuals.  Have you tried to herd cats?   There’s a better way.


While you can’t control it, and simply blocking all attempts will create mass chaos, it is worth the time to plan.  People need to talk, people need to communicate and collaborate.

If you can’t control it should you even do it?  Yes!  In an enterprise there is so much to gain from a successful social platform.  The enterprise water cooler is a dream worth having.

Is there a new definition of controlled chaos?  Is there a way to find a happy place where the business can feel like they have enabled the collaboration to happen, without feeling like they’ve given away the keys?  Yes.

If you do block it on every turn.  You’ll end up with collaboration happening in places where it shouldn’t.  Partner collaboration happening in groups on linked in.  Employee collaboration happening in rogue freemium versions of yammer.  Sales trying to do a scrappy version of Chatter, and marketing brining up Jive in the cloud, and IT running a wild west SharePoint environment that they aren’t resourced to do and wondering why they aren’t getting the business support. Departmental collaboration is often that first goal with these social tools, but ultimately the target is success across the enterprise.  Adoption, engagement, and endorsement without stifling control.  Social is NOT ECM.

As various parts of the business start to learn how this new social business through tools the departments themselves will be afraid it will destroy the traditional processes.  It will poke holes in the process by connecting people that previously never had contact.  Short cuts will be revealed.

The goal of the enterprise should be to try to educate the employees around the social platform that is chosen.  IT should try to integrate it into the Intranet and consolidate it when applicable.

Here are five ways you can promote adoption and stop trying to herd the cats. Compliance not control is the goal.  Here are some thoughts to help you learn to let go… and embrace the fact you have no control.


1. You will obtain compliant behavior when the motivation comes from individuals themselves

2. Motivation is not a function of management.  Any social that comes out of forcing employees to use it will be short lived.  Education and training is fine to encourage and enforce, but real adoption comes from successful personal experiences.

3. Experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way.  Course correction is the mantra.  Remember the employees could be using collaboration platforms like those happening in public or consumer based forums.

4. Don’t be afraid of non work conversations, think about how much of what happens at the water cooler is focused on news and events.  That’s how relationships are built.

5. Educate users by sharing a vision and policies and they will govern themselves.


We’ll talk about how to promote compliance at another time, but the first lesson is to learn to let go of the thoughts of control and focus instead on promoting engagement and good adoption.  Herding cats is chaos, but putting out some cat food and the cats will come.

6 Comments on “Herding Cats and Enterprise Social Planning

  1. Pingback: Herding Cats, Enterprise Social and Other Content of the Week

  2. I agree. Putting too many rules on online social is like telling your employees who they’re allowed to talk to and about what. If you can trust your employees, you will get better value out of them, social intranet or not.

  3. Pingback: Herding Cats and Enterprise Social Planning - SharePoint Experts - Bamboo Nation

  4. I like that you stated Social is not ECM. I’ve seen exactly that situation and it was like sending dogs in to heard the cats; different agendas/purposes (exception might be a heading dog).

    Thanks again for being a SharePoint Rock Star! Keep the insights coming.


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  6. Pingback: collabshow.com Resources for Getting Started with Enterprise Social! #ESN #Yammer - collabshow.com

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