Collaboration requires a culture of comfort

Karla Gill, VP Information Resources, Marriott International
Gain Adoption Through Trust

When we set out to create our enterprise IT-business vision, the Digital Workplace Strategy, collaboration among our business users quickly became a centerpiece. We knew we had to update the way people could collaborate by providing something more than “reply to all.”

The social networking capabilities we created serve as business networking tools that create a better workflow, but we had to address concerns that new technology would mean new processes. We chose “site stewards” for each business area–people who are familiar with the business processes, content and results. For the users, the stewards are trusted voices who understand both the technology and the business. For IT, the stewards are coordinators who have been trained and certified on the technologies being used and on our corporate collaboration policies. They serve as change agents and promote collaboration and adoption best practices around the world.

William Weeks, CIO, Key Equipment Finance
Allay Control Fears

When we determined that the open-yet-structured environment of an internal wiki could provide all the information organization and collaboration we needed, we knew we would be facing push-back from a certain segment of our user population.

Our adoption numbers go up every month, with our business users contributing content and discussions at almost twice the standard rate to what is now our primary intranet. But that would not be the case if we hadn’t convinced our department managers that the wiki wouldn’t be the end of the world as we knew it. Open sharing is scary for a lot of people; the big human drive is for control, and the financial industry has a very traditional view on information governance. Some managers wanted full approval over any information added to or changed on the wiki, creating a bottleneck that would completely negate the benefits we hoped to gain. We had to talk them through the scenario, explaining that were not exposing financial information on the wiki, we’re sharing project information, processes and the like. Every action, entry and edit is attached to an identified user. Knowing that accountability is there provides reassurance for the managers, trust in the information and a check on users’ impulsivity.

Ruth Thorpe, VP and CIO, U.S. Pharmaceutical Operations, Sanofi-Aventis
Teach New Rules for Interaction

Our decision to move strategically into public social networks–including the physician network Sermo and others such as LinkedIn–came from recognition that the external population we interface with is already there. To connect with our customers, we have to be where those doctors, patients, payers and government regulators are spending their time.

Moving in this direction, however, created an unintentional divide among those who wanted to jump right in and interact in these forums and those whose role it was to protect the interests of the company. We knew that the dynamic nature of the technology would make it difficult to drive standard behavior, and we wanted to inspire a two-way dialogue wherever possible. Surprisingly, age has not been a factor in adoption of these new mediums, but knowing how to open a dialogue with a community requires training for some in the tools and the intent. People were posting statements on these sites and reacting with surprise and confusion when they werent receiving any response. So we have been teaching them the importance of proposing ideas or crafting points of discussion that will kick off responses and generate branches of other discussions, creating a level of interaction that was never before possible.

Gill, Weeks and Thorpe are each members of the CIO Executive Council, a global peer advisory service and professional association of more than 500 CIOs, founded by CIO magazine’s publisher. To learn more visit

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