Imagine you are invited to a party of one of your best friends and your friend decided there should be a one-size-fits-all solution for the drinks: a Bloody Mary. Everybody who visits the party has to drink it, there is nothing else, not even plain water. Nobody asked you if you’d like it, even worse: the Bloody Mary was decided by the single person who is not at the party, since he managed to get a major discount on it.
If you have only one option, there isn’t so much left choosing, is it? However most enterprises think this is the way to implement concepts such as Enterprise2.0. They choose one solution (without consulting the people who will have to use the solution) that is often presented as the solution to everything for everybody. Often the implementation of this one-size-fits-all-solution is top down, just pushing the solution as hard as possible. You can’t blame them, since there will not be a groundswell, since nobody really wanted this solution, even worse, most often people are already using a complete other solution (shadow it) that better suits their need.
The weird thing is, that this approach is accepted in a lot of environments, a very few deciding for the majority without consulting at least a few representatives of this majority. As Lee Provoost wrote in his blog post about closing the gap between Enterprise2.0 and Social Media it is important to choose a user centered approach. A user centered approach (bottom-up) is key in driving adoption together with a good and strong community management (top-down) tremendously raises the quality and success of your community as Lee mentions.
User centered approach
But keep in mind, even when you use an user centered approach, you should not be focusing on one-size-fits-all-solutions. Users are different and they often work in different parts of the enterprise. There’s a good chance that they have different needs, however this is not a license to have as many solutions as possible. Focus on solid solutions for (and with) the users and focus on integration and solutions such as a federated search. A proper integration with the ‘normal’ process and other enterprise2.0 solutions, a federated search for your enterprise2.0 solutions and ‘old’ solutions and, don’t forget, your people are the glue to have a succesful adoption.
Providing choice and involving users will save you more money in implementing Enterprise2.0 concepts in your enterprise than choosing just one solution and trying to push it real hard.