Posts Tagged ‘ESN Handbook’

BlankBookOn February 13 I hosted a Twitter chat on the subject of imagining your ideal Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) Handbook. This was an effort to start the discussion among several ESN professionals about what the ultimate handbook for our profession might include, and then to proceed to creating just such a handbook. We had a lot of participation and shared ideas which have been captured in the archive of the chat. Just prior to the chat, I explained my thoughts in this blog post regarding the need.

It took me longer than I hoped to gather the thoughts shared by everyone into some coherent format, but I want to present here the collective thoughts of those who took part in the February 13 chat along with an overall structure for the handbook that makes sense to me. The next step is for those interested to look over this info and fill in gaps with additional topics to cover, perhaps suggest consolidation of a few subjects, and begin to fine tune the structure and contents of each section of the book, including specific chapter/article titles and potential authors.

What follows, therefore, isn’t nearly complete by any means. It’s merely the organization of the earlier thoughts into some order, acknowledging that there is a lot of cleanup and gap filling to do before we have a worthy final outline to build on. But we have to start somewhere, and this is a good start, I believe.

Given the breadth of possible contents for this book, I like the idea of organizing it into sections that address the what, why, where, who, when and how and enterprise social networking. Those questions are intentionally arranged in that order to explain first what enterprise social networking is, why it’s important, where it can be useful, who must be involved to make it work, advice regarding possible timelines or phases of implementation, and a host of how-to subjects that provide meat for the reader and practitioner.

The working title is ESN Handbook: The What, Why, Where, Who, When and How of Enterprise Social Networking

What follows next are the 6 major sections with possible topics (so far) for each section.


  • This is NOT Facebook for the Enterprise (Naomi Moneypenny’s article)
  • A top-down and bottom-up approach to getting your answers/info to do your job better/quicker
  • A different way to communicate – networked/pull vs. controlled/push communications
  • A globally connected workforce
  • ESN’s place in the communication toolbox (with email, IM, etc.)


  • Answering the “What’s in it for me?” question for users
  • Why you should care about enterprise social
  • Business cases for different job functions, e.g. project managers, sales, R&D
  • Use cases on getting work done efficiently in business language and context
  • Supporting business objectives through clear goals and strategy
  • The value of networks inside and outside the org structure
  • Being a Responsive Organization
  • Improving work processes


  • Each org is unique
  • Applicable for any size business
  • Not just for IT (or HR or…)


  • Stakeholder Identification and working with all departments involved
  • Defining Roles
  • Getting executive buy-in and participation
  • The psychology and sociology of communities
  • Working with and addressing concerns of legal, risk, and security teams
  • For all generations – not just millennials
  • Your extended enterprise: customers/suppliers/partners
  • Community managers


  • ESN timeline: planning, evaluating platforms, getting buy-in, launching, managing, maturing
  • Don’t wait for everyone to get on board
  • Start quickly


  • How to Get Started
  • Start small
  • Don’t call it a “pilot”; plan for “phases”
  • The feedback loop between corporate culture and the ESN
  • The importance of participating freely and frequently
  • Leveraging small successes to create bigger ones
  • Treating everyone as adults
  • Creating governance policy
  • Lessons learned the hard way – what not to do and why
  • Focus on best principles rather than best practices
  • Be agile, always probing, never married to inflexible time or approach
  • Promoting experimentation to discover new uses
  • Troubleshooting common business (impact on productivity) and user (firehose of info) concerns
  • Reporting; Ways of measuring success
  • Expect the platform to change
  • Corporate culture and trust
  • Content moderation
  • Growing adoption
  • Change management



  • Don’t be overly negative, focusing on “don’ts”
  • Don’t focus too much on tools subject to change
  • Avoid legalese
  • Don’t focus on future possibilities; focus on current realities
  • Keep it simple
  • Don’t promise this will reduce email; overall messages might increase
  • Don’t focus only on technology; Launching/adopting an #ESN is about change management, legal, HR, human behavior, communications; approach must be holistic
  • Be vendor neutral
  • Keep chapters short


  • @russn, @CarrieYoung, @GuyKawasaki, @Nmoneypenny, @oscarberg a Digital Strategist & Business Analyst-Enterprise Collaboration from @avegagroup;
  • about Responsive Organization: @yammeradam or @matthewpartovi
  • @espnguyen – @sdeanswann, @mattpartovi, @alanlepo, @yammeradam, @stevehopkins  @rickardhansson CEO @incetivecorp How to get started, get to phase on
  • @carrieyoung – If a play book is written, I’m in! My chapter: the dirty little secrets that will make your ESN successful
  • @joeloleson – Love to write, but yes @nmoneypenny is over the top great ESN writer
  • @adamjsr – I’d like to see a chapter from my former colleague Luis Suarez @elsua, well-known for shunning email years ago
  • Would be interested in engaging @hjarche on the subject of personal knowledge management, learning in social networks
  • @StanGarfield on knowledge management
  • @akberry, @ullabres, @kzrtech, @hohertz3, @ashleygross, @chriscatania, @curtisaconley
  • Another great mind is @alexkass on social collaboration (background in human-computer interaction).
  • Guy Alvarez – @guylaw1313
  • Chris Slemp – @cslemp, toolbox discussion, scenarios, what not to do
  • Eric Herberholz – @erich13
  • Jennifer Honig – @jhonig1
  • Nick Inglis – @nickinglis
  • Trey Mayer – @TreyPoint: use cases & integrating into LOB systems
  • Vanessa DiMauro – @vdimauro
  • Jeff Willinger – @jwillie

So where do we go from here? I need all interested parties to really consider all of the above and make suggestions for improvement in the outline before any writing begins. What additional topics should be covered? Who are some additional professionals in the field who may be able and willing to make a writing contribution to the project? What additional resources should be referenced? Are there additional sections needed beyond the basic structure of what, why, where, who, when and how?

Either add your comments here, email me at, or tweet me @JeffKRoss. Thanks in advance for your thoughts as we advance this collaborative writing project for the advancement of enterprise social networking.

BlankBookMost of the attention from businesses regarding social media is directed toward external social media efforts – ways of connecting with current and potential customers and clients. That’s understandable. Likewise, most of the resources available for online community managers are also aimed at those responsible for external communities. That, too, is understandable.

In all the attention given to external social, however, it is too often the case that a potentially transforming use of internal social media for companies gets neglected. What about the employees who do the day-to-day work in service of those customers? What about those who work to improve products, services and processes for the good of the customer and ultimately the business? Why is there too often a lack of attention on the very same form of communication – social media – for and among employees who have the same needs as external stakeholders for quick, effective, modern communication and collaboration?

Granted, many companies have successfully implemented enterprise social networks (ESN) for their employees and many more are jumping on board the ESN train regularly. But there are still far too many skeptics, and even for those who understand the potential and devote themselves to their internal collaboration platforms, finding adequate, thorough, well-written, up-to-date, helpful ESN resources is at best a challenge.

That’s why last summer I started researching the possibility of starting a weekly Twitter chat for those interested in enterprise social networking, launching #ESNchat in September 2013. It has grown into a steady, reliable source of weekly exchanges between talented, experienced, knowledgeable people who eagerly share their insights each Thursday for an hour at 2:00 pm EST. It is a joy and privilege for me to host that hour weekly. Through it I have become acquainted with kindred spirits around the globe who share my passion for enterprise social networking – both from the vendor and the business user perspective.

Now it’s time to take the next step.

It’s time the ESN community had a thorough, helpful, regularly updated and freely available handbook to help shape the future of enterprise social networks. It’s time we gathered in one spot the best advice, the best stories, the most insightful guidance, even the what-not-to-do’s so that there can be a solid step forward in the maturity and practice of ESNs worldwide.

While there may be a number of individuals qualified to author such a handbook by themselves, it seems to me that in the spirit of social collaboration, the best final product possible would be one that results from a number of enthusiastic, experienced devotees working together to produce a handbook that benefits from the combined wisdom and experience of many contributors.

To that end, I’m calling on my new-found friends and colleagues connected with #ESNchat and others who may be interested to work with me on writing and publishing what we believe to be the best handbook possible for those involved with enterprise social networks. Our first step in gathering thoughts about doing so will be the focus of the weekly #ESNchat on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 2:00-3:00 pm EST on Twitter.

Here are some of my thoughts on what might be involved with this journey:

  • We need to collectively determine which subjects are to be covered in the first edition of such a handbook.
  • We should match each of those subjects with one or more individuals to be the primary authors for those chapters.
  • Time should be given to allow advance previews and suggestions for improvement by a number of interested parties – not just the primary authors of each chapter.
  • We should consider adding sections throughout or at the end of each chapter for brief comments and insights from others in addition to the chapter’s main authors.
  • We can make use of the #ESNchat archives to sprinkle tidbits of wisdom throughout the book on a host of subjects, embedding relevant tweets.
  • Research will have to be done on the best tools to use in the collaborative writing process and publishing of the handbook.
  • The final product should be available at least as a free PDF download, and potentially in additional formats as well. I am not pursuing this to earn a penny; I am pursuing this to advance the field.
  • The handbook should be a living document with updates no less than annually and likely more often as needed for individual chapters to stay current.
  • It should not be owned or copyrighted by any ESN vendor, remaining vendor-neutral just as is #ESNchat, although experts employed by ESN vendors should be allowed to contribute as long as they do more than merely promote their product.

I’ve never written a book before (although there is the equivalent of about 3-4 average-size books among the nearly 600 posts on this blog). There is much about the process I have to learn. However, I think the time is right to collaborate with my ESN friends and colleagues and produce a regularly updated handbook that can become the primary resource those involved with enterprise social networks turn to for information on how to start, grow and manage successful ESNs in any size or type of organization.

So who is with me? If the idea sparks your interest and you think you may want to be a part of this effort during 2014, then join me for #ESNchat on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 2:00 pm EST on Twitter. If you can’t join (or missed) that hour, get in touch with me and tell me which aspects of an effort like this mesh well with your knowledge, skills and experience.

Even though the field of enterprise social networking has been around for several years, there is much room for growth. I believe having a superb, regularly updated handbook on the subject can be a significant influence in where the field goes in the years ahead.

I look forward to the challenge and the journey with those who choose to join me in the effort.