In this post, lead consultant Cerys Hearsey explores the barriers created by end-users learned helplessness with Enterprise Social Tools.

In 2017, the enterprise collaboration space started to polarise around two approaches – the simplicity and focus on communication-centric experiences, and more complex offerings that cover more types of collaboration, tools and integrations. If you wanted examples to illustrate, I’d have to use Workplace by Facebook and Office 365. But even the simplest tool, with the cleanest UI, easy-to-understand use cases and wide-spread adoption meets unexpected barriers as it rolls out.

There is a key behaviour we must address before any collaboration technology can offer true transformative value: the learned helplessness of end users. A willingness to try and fail is sorely lacking when it comes to the tools we use every day at work. We’ve fully adopted the mentality of hands-off, call the help desk, it’s not my problem, in stark contrast to our private lives where we update apps and operating systems regularly, trying new tools and customising to suit our personal workflows.

Although this may not seem like a big problem for the organisation (after all, IT Services have evolved to maintain this learned helplessness) social technology is a necessary prerequisite for the reform of overly bureaucratic enterprises, and can enable important new ways of working, but without attention to the underlying organisational structure, it is unlikely to fulfil its potential.

If people cannot engage fully in leveraging the affordances of social technology, then how can they truly unlock the transformations possible through new org structures, culture and ways of working? Can they truly embrace new leadership styles and benefit from the fail fast mentality that social tools help to make possible? Or will their learned helplessness extend to these areas too?

The following are links exploring new ideas in the space of social technologies and collaboration tools:

Workplace by Facebook and SharePoint. Better Together?

Don’t know which Microsoft collaboration tool to use? You are not alone

Collaboration in the workplace of the future: boundaries are irrelevant

For those searching for a basic explanation of Yammer, Slack and Chatter

From the Post*Shift archives: Enterprise Social Networks: a Higher Purpose