Increasing Social Intranet Adoption: Accepting Failure as Part of the Learning Process

Implementing a social intranet is not a simple process. We’d love it to be as easy as installing an app and letting your employees loose on it. But a business tool that impacts change, increases productivity and positively changes how people collaborate and work together across teams, departments and the entire organization is bound to hit a hiccup or two during the adoption process.

And part of the challenge can be – this pains us to say – failure. Not every aspect of a social intranet will be a home run. Failure is a fact of life (and business), and a social intranet isn’t immune. After all, failure is one of life’s best teachers.

When you implement a social intranet, there will be surprises along the way – both good and bad. Learning to roll with the punches so that failure doesn’t stick and having the wherewithal to push forward, pivot and see your social intranet through to success is vital to your project’s success.

Often, it’s simply the ability to persevere and see past the disappointment of failure that distinguishes winners from losers. To be part of the former category, here are our best tips for handling inevitable failure – whether small or big – when it comes to your social intranet.

  1. Accept it when it happens

A big mistake many business owners and manages make is refusing to acknowledge failure, let alone accept it. Don’t give up or throw in the towel completely, but accept that failure is going to happen and know when to cut your losses. Admitting that something didn’t go as planned can be a vulnerable thing to do, especially in a business environment. If you – or your ego – however, aren’t able to admit that something didn’t succeed and you need to make adjustments, you’ll be in for a rough ride!

  1. Identify what went wrong

After realizing that something is a flop, identify what went wrong. This is a key step that will help you pivot rather than doing nothing to change it. Some ways to accomplish this is by participating in the failed initiative yourself to see exactly how things went south or interviewing and debriefing those involved. Keep a record of your findings so you know what not to do on your next attempt. Because, of course, there always has to be a next try right?

  1. Put a corrective plan of action into place

Here’s your chance to make the next try work out better! Before you jump right back in to give it another go, evaluate your options and strengths, and come up with a corrective course. We know, we know - it can be a buzz kill to halt momentum to put together a plan, but it’s important to know the different things you’re going to try this time around and what your measures of success will be.

Use insights you learned from step two above to make this attempt more successful, and know when to change directions or even give up on an element of the social intranet if it just isn’t clicking. For example, your organization might not thrive using wikis and blogs, but you rely heavily on document collaboration and file sharing. Don’t fight the natural gravitations of your employees to certain features and ways of using the new platform!

  1. Re-communicate and re-inspire

After you’ve accepted failure, identified what went wrong and have come up with a new plan of action, make sure to communicate what happened to your employees. No one likes change to begin with, especially when they’re kept in the dark about why something flopped or why your organization is changing its course of action. You already know that communication is key (you probably wouldn’t be pursuing a social intranet otherwise), but never underestimate the power of transparency.

Failure has become an ugly world in our culture and with good reason. It’s never fun to experience failure, and hopefully you won’t encounter it any time soon with your social intranet implementation. If you do however, don’t view it as a stopping point; instead see it as a chance to improve and move forward so you can bounce back stronger than ever.

To give yourself the best fighting chance possible at successfully implementing a social intranet, check out our webinar with 451 Research on “Top 10 Tips to Improve Social Intranet Adoption and Collaboration.”