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Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at Penn State Part Two: Change Management around Culture

Posted by on February 25, 2011

This is two in a multi-part series on how Pennsylvania State University is implementing Enterprise 2.0.  Part one covered the business drivers of Enterprise 2.0 for Penn State University.  Today we are going to take a look at where the push for E2.0 came from as well as change management issues around culture.  Prior case studies in this E2.0 series have been done in a similar fashion on OceVistaprint, and Intuit.  This case study was conducted with information provided by Bevin Hernandez who was the project manager when this initiative was completed.  Bevin has since moved on to found a company called Firebrand where she is the Chief Organization Officer.

The push for E2.0 at Penn state came from both the bottom up and the top down.  The VP of outreach (the 1,500 department within Penn State) saw the communications report (which we discussed in part one) and was quite upset that employees felt their voices weren’t being heard.  At this point in time the internal communications team had already started looking at possible solutions to the problem.  There were already isolated pockets within Penn State that were using their own social tools to communicate with one another.

At the time when this initiative was being considered, collaboration was not a part of the corporate culture, in fact the culture was very fragmented and individualistic.  Teams were not rewarded based on their performance and the entire environment was very competitive which created strong silos.  People from different departments didn’t know each other or talk to each other.  To make matters even more challenging, physical proximity was also a hurdle that had to be overcome as employees were spread out in different buildings in various parts of the state.  This meant that prior to even selecting an appropriate solution for enterprise collaboration Bevin had to speak with all the upper level managers throughout the organization and explain to them what was going on and how the problem was going to be solved.  Once this was done volunteers were recruited to help move things into action.

An email was sent out to the organization stating that a “secret project” was in the works and that they needed volunteers.  The project was called a secret because people didn’t have good things associated with the old intranet that was deployed previously, called “my outreach” (discussed in part one).  20 volunteers responded to help and 16 of them committed to the project.  Volunteers were solicited in 5 areas:

  • Content
  • Multimedia
  • Policy
  • Evangelists
  • Data/analytics

These volunteers were shown the ThoughtFarmer system (which launched 8 weeks after contract signed) and were asked to help with creating, fixing, and curating content.  Employees from various units throughout the organization all worked together to make this happen; some employees were entry level while others were mid level.  These “evangelists” had to be armed with the tools and the right information to help this permeate the rest of the organization.  Although no formal tools were developed to help them out; links and information was shared actively throughout the group.  Adoption of the technology will discussed in subsequent posts.  One thing to note however is that the value of this initiative was conveyed from an individual level not from a company level, meaning employees weren’t told “this is how Penn State will benefit as a result of you using this,” they were told “this is how YOU will benefit.”

Key Takeaways

  • The push came from BOTH the top-down and the bottom-up
  • Collaboration was not a part of the corporate culture at the time, instead it was very fragmented and individualistic
  • Upper managers from all units were briefed
  • Volunteers were recruited via email and told they were working on a “secret” project
  • The value was conveyed from an individual level and not from a company level