I was sitting with my two children watching the latest Harry Potter film and my mind began to wander. Maybe because I had lost track of the plot, the multiple characters or the bizarre twists of the storyline. Or maybe I was just marvelling at the animated effects. And I started to think about Harry Potter, The Money Machine.

When Harry Potter was a character in a book the scenes and situations could be literally magical. The only limitation was the imagination of JK Rowling and her ability to put it into words. Harry Potter floats above a table supported only by 2 blades of grass – no problem.  Professor Dumbledore evaporates with a gigantic flash of sparks and fireworks – certainly.  Conduct a game of quidditch on broomsticks above the school ramparts – absolutely.

Now when Warner Bros first looked at first Harry Potter books and considered turning it into a full length film how scared were they of the potential cost? The cost of building the set, finding a school above a lake, and making the fantastic magical effects come to life.

What was the budget? How successful would it be? Or more importantly how did they build some form of Return Of Investment. Maybe the answer is that they could never have imagined how successful the first film, or in fact the entire series was going to be. The Harry Potter film franchise is the highest grossing film series of all time.

Evangelists about to implemnt a social media application, like tibbr, inside an organisation must feel the same. There are host of clients who have implemented tibbr, and its competitors and have claimed to have got benefits. Microsoft has validated the market with their recent purchase of Yammer for $1.2bn, which I commented on in a recent blog called Is Microsoft paying $1.2bn to put lipstick on a pig?  But there is no clear blueprint for success when implementing social media inside an organisation. That is why I am currently researching and writing a book called “Thinking of implementing Social Media inside your organisation? Ask the Smart Questions“. It will guide the reader through the questions they need to consider before implementing social media.

But it still requires some leap of faith. Perhaps less so than the early evangelists who adopted the early social media products 3-4 years ago. Now there is far more evidence that it works – long term – to enable genuine ‘sustainable improvement’. There are client case studies, video evidence and strong business cases.

Nevertheless for many organisations, their senior management have a view of social media that is skewed by their personal experience of Facebook and see it as an irrelevant  risk. But the evangelists in the organisation realise in their heart of hearts they and their companies will be missing out of they do not implement social – right now. But they also realise that a more structured implementation approach is the route to success. But there are some large software vendors  -“Merchants of the Magic Bullet” in Harry Potter terms – are pushing the “provide and pray” implementation approach very heavily; i.e. just make the software available, stand back and it will just happen.

So are you going break a pattern and follow companies like Macy’s, HP, Red Bull, Del Monte and Apache? They have achieved fantastic benefits but they will happily admit the first project required a leap of faith.

As Professor Dumbledore says in the 4th film, “Dark times lay ahead.  We must decide between what is right and what is easy”.

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2 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Leap of Faith #social #bpm

  1. Ian, I very much agree on the benefits of social. The problem is that they way it is enabled by tibbr and Yammer it doesn’t do anything except to allow people to communicate in a less efficient and manageable manner than email. That’s why executives worry about the value of the investment. It doesn’t really add anything to the actual empowerment of staff. How would the innovation that ‘appears’ in the communication be translated to business benefits. The reality? It doesn’t!

    It improves the opportunities for innovation if the social communication is focused on business goals, meaning that it is performed in the right context and the people communicating ‘do not just communicate’ but they actually perform work differently in a collaborative manner that resembles social communication. No leap of faith necessary.

    if a business can’t define what the goals are that it is targeting then no amount of more communication or even empowerment will improve anything. Business is ‘purposeful collaboration’ so executives better EXPLICITLY define the purpose (top-down), customers or service agents define the customer outcomes (outside-in), management defines the operational targets (inside-out) and the process owners (and performers) define the execution (bottom-up).

    This way it is easy to utilize social collaboration to improve how your business works. Not in free-form chat, but in well-defined business context.

    Doing business really should be considered witchcraft …

    1. Max

      I agree that businesses need clear goals and objectives before they embark on any implementation project (ERP, CRM, BPM, social), but we are seeing that social can have some transformational impacts on the way that businesses can operate. Senior management have a perception of social that is rooted in their good/poor personal (or children’s) experience of Facebook. IMHO that is the leap of faith for them.

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