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(Abbreviated transcript below. Please watch video for entire interview.)
Jay: Hey everybody, it’s Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Joined today by
a very special guest, Jacob Morgan, author of the book you see
right there, “The Collaborative Organization,” and also the CEO,
Founder, and Grand Poobah of Chess Media Group. Jacob, how are
you good sir?
Jay: I have had the opportunity to read the book in electronic format. Love it! Love it. It’s like nothing else on the market, and I really mean that. It is a serious, serious book. You put some big time work into that.
Jacob: I did. Yeah. I mean as you said, there’s nothing out like this book yet. It’s the first really comprehensive strategy guide to collaboration in the work place. It’s exciting. I’m very much looking forward to it actually coming out. There’s a big need in this space, nobody’s written anything about this. So, I saw a gap and wrote the book.
Jay: Nice job. Well, it’s useful too, because it’s the kind of work that you guys do at Chess. Right? The book is at some level about the kind of consulting you do.
Jacob: Yeah, exactly. Ever since the big uptake of social media, we’ve been seeing a lot of companies start to bring these tools, platforms, behavior changes, and technologies into the enterprise. But if you talk to an executive or a decision maker at a company nowadays, you say “Hey, where are you going to find
out about this stuff? Where are you going to get resources?” There’s really nothing out there, right?
You might be able to have some conversations with some people, some other practitioners of another company, but there’s no
resource to go to, to help you figure out how to make a strategy, how evaluate vendors, how to build a team. There’s nothing out there. There’s really nowhere for you go. So, it’s a big challenged for a lot of companies. It’s something that I hear constantly, time and time again. “Can you point me to a resource that helps me address this?” or “do you have any moves for that?”
Benefits of Internal Collaboration
Jay: I don’t want to make you summarize a 300-page book in a 30 second answer, but…
Jacob: I can try.
Jay: …why do people need to collaborate internally? Why is this important?
What are the business benefits of that type of… Because having
done a little bit of that kind of consulting myself, people say,
“You know what? Is this more trouble than it’s worth?” I think
you would obviously say, “No, it’s not” but why is that true?
Jacob: Well, I think there are two parts to that. The very core part
and one of the foundations behind the book was this whole kind
of message that collaboration makes the world a better place.
What I meant by that was that, if we can make our employees more
engaged at work, if we can make them all passionate about the
work they’re doing, we can make their jobs easier at work, than
it should ideally decrease the stress that they have outside of
You know, less arguments with spouses, more time to spend with
friends and family. You have a more flexible work environment.
They have more time for themselves to learn and grow. It makes
people just happier and better in general. It just makes them
happier, they like what they’re doing, and they have a greater
work life and balance. That idea, at the end of the day, isn’t
necessarily enough for executive or decision makers of
You can’t just go to them and say, “Hey, collaboration’s great.
It’ll make the world better. Do it.” What I wanted to do was
take that message and that concept, and put some strategic and
tactical elements behind it to make that idea go from an idea to
an action at the enterprise. It was actually good timing because
you see a lot of these problems within the enterprise. Right?
Like duplication of content issues, employees that aren’t
engaged, it’s hard for them to find and search for information,
and spending so much time in front of email. I think a recent
stat by Forrester said that we spend around 33% of our work week
just looking for information. Not even doing work, just finding
Jay: Yeah, I believe it.
Jacob: So, there are always problems within the enterprise. I think
Gallup said 72% of employees are disengaged, which they consider
is essentially sleepwalking through their jobs. So, 72% of
American workers are just sleepwalking through their jobs. It’s
just a sad and scary number, right?
Collaboration Breeds Cultural Alignment
Jacob: It’s huge. Other things like organizational alignment, being
able to find subject matter experts in your company, all these
different things within the enterprise are huge, huge problems
today. Now that we have these tools and we see strategies in
place, we can solve a lot of these issues and make the company a
better place to work.
Jay: The organizational alignment part of that is really interesting to me
because it touches on a lot of the themes that we have in my
book, “The Now Revolution”, about social media, and being a
social organization is a lot more about corporate culture than
it is about technology.
What you talked about in “Collaborative Organization” is that,
the ability to collaborate, the ability to use technology to
work together actually breeds cultural alignment. That you
actually are almost using software to get people on the same
page, which is really interesting because we always think of
alignment as more sort of squishy, touchy, feely values and
mission statement kind of stuff.
But what you’re saying is “let’s work together,” and in so
doing, it gets everybody thinking the same way. That’s really
Jacob: Yeah. I think the two go hand in hand. It’s sort of like, what
comes first, the culture or the technology? The two go hand in
hand. There are certain cultural things that you can do within
your enterprise to help change things and move them in the right
directions. So, just get leadership support and you get
executives on board behind these things.
But at the same time, these new technologies and these new tools
allow you to do things that help impact your culture. Like,
getting access to your entire employee workforce, seeing what
everybody is working on, what they’re thinking, what they’re
doing. Those things help change their culture within the
enterprise. You can talk about wanting to change culture as much
as you want, but at the same time you have a large organization
with 50-100,000 employees plus.
There’s no way to get all these people communicating, sharing,
talking, and communicating without deploying these types of
tools. These tools help change culture while culture is
inherently being changed within the enterprise. So, they really
go hand in hand. It’s really hard to completely change culture
without some of these technologies and pieces of software in
place. The saying is true; you can’t just deploy the technology
without considering the culture as well.
Jay: You mentioned rewards at one point. Do you think it’s important to
build gamification into the enterprise, to have some sort of
market forces in there that encourages employees to collaborate,
respond, and participate?
Jacob: I think so, yeah. Quite a few interesting discussions and
debates around gamification. One of the things that aren’t done
in a lot of those is the risks of gamification for the
enterprise. It’s something that, for some reason, nobody is
talking about. What are the risks of deploying these types of
game concepts or game mechanics to the enterprise? What happens
if we start to reinforce the work behaviors that we didn’t
intend to either reward or reinforce?
For example, work-life balance is the big issue in many
companies today. Right? Employees are really struggling to work,
and have time for their personal lives. But if you introduce
these types of gaming components, that both reward employees
for working and being active, and always maintaining their
presence, we can start to see that their work-life balance
starts to get a little muddled.
Because, what happens is you have employees that are spending
more time working so they can get more points outside of work.
Is that a behavior that we want to reinforce? Well, maybe not
intentionally, but that’s part of what could be happening within
the enterprise. Kathy Sierra gave an excellent example of gamification around reading.
So, not specifically applicable to the enterprise, but the whole
concept was, do we want to reinforce and reward things that
should be inherently valuable like reading, or helping others?
Should we get rewarded for helping others just because we’re
helping others? Why do we need points behind it, why do we need
some sort of gaming behind it? What that does is it takes away
from the inherent value of what these things are you’re supposed
Jay: Yeah. If you put points against it, are you saying that you shouldn’t
do that unless points are accrued? It’s almost like giving kids
allowance. Right? Should you give them allowance to do chores or
is it like, that’s just the cost of doing business by living in
this house, right? It’s the same kind of idea.
Jacob: Yeah, exactly. A lot of these things are applying to the
enterprise. We really don’t know what all these risks of
gamification in the enterprise are going to be yet, because this
is all stuff that’s been relatively…
Jay: Too new?
Jacob: …within the last few years and all these things you can get
from that. I think gamification is interesting. I sort of think
it can be and should be applied to the enterprise, and it is
being applied. But some organizations are struggling to be, do
you want to do physical, tangible goods and rewards, or you want
to do other things like status and access and stuff like that.
Internal Community Managers
Jay: Do you think it’s important to have an internal community
manager, the same way that you would have an external community
manager in the outward-facing social media program, a person or
persons within the enterprise who are sort of the keepers of the
flame with regard to this collaboration effort?
Jacob: Yes. I think it sort of depends on how you define community
manager. I think in this case for the enterprise, community
manager/evangelist, it kind of blurs together. I think it’s
important to have people on who are monitoring the community.
They sort of have a good pulse on what is happening internally,
they that can tell if things are getting a little tense within
They are on there regularly, encouraging other employees, that
see if employees do something or take a particular action on the
platform. If there is a way for them to improve, somebody can
reach out and say “Hey, by the way, I saw that you did this. It
might be more effective if instead of putting that here, maybe
create a group for your company, and here’s how you do that.”
So, something that’s part evangelist, part community manager,
part trainer and educator, I think that role is definitely very
important to the enterprise.
3 Types of Objections to Collaboration
Jay: You talk in the book about three sort of reasons why this doesn’t
happen. Sort of three pockets of resistance in companies. It’s
resistance amongst managers, resistance amongst the actual
users, and then resistance amongst the IT department who don’t
want to deal with the software. Which of those is sort of most
common or most insidious?
Jacob: It’s tough. I think every company, at the end of the day,
always experiences some sort of employee/user resistance.
Always. Those are the conversations that I have a quite a bit.
But at the same time, the IT resistance and the manager
resistance is something that typically happens early on, where
before anything is even launched they obviously IT’s get behind
In a lot of cases IT’s get behind it and managers will support
it, unless it’s very much a grassroots effort, in which
employees are just hearing things because they can. Nowadays,
it’s so easy to just deploy something like a box or a Wiki,
credit card, $20 bucks a month, you’re up and running.
I think all three of those types of resistance exist within
companies, especially if you’re looking for an enterprise by
deployment. But at the end of the day, the biggest challenge
that a lot of organizations have is having people on-board,
using these tools using these platforms.
Jacob: I would say that that is the most applicable towards all
companies. That is the common threat that they all have. How do
we get employees to use these tools and participate?
Jay: Is that typically an issue that people just don’t want to do anything
because “Hey, I’m okay with email, or the status quo doesn’t
bother me.” Or is it that people, at this point, have gone off
the reservation and are already doing their own grassroots box,
or set up a small Yammer, install just for our division? Or
they’ve kind of got their own Skunk Works kind of program?
Jacob: Both. Some employees say that they don’t have the time. Some
employees say that they are working with a lot of new
technologies, so it really varies. If you look at an enterprise
and you think of an employee who already has to have access to
multiple platforms, multiple user names, multiple passwords, and
all of a sudden you say, “By the way, here is a new
collaboration platform for you to use,” of course they’re going
to look at you like you’re nuts.
“We already have so many things that we need to access, why do
we need something else?” But if you can make that collaboration
platform the front door to the enterprise, meaning if you log
into this one platform…
Jay: Yeah. Single sign-on. Yeah.
Jacob: …and that’s all you need to do, exactly, single sign-on, then
it makes it a lot more efficient and a lot more valuable, and a
lot more practical to the enterprise. So, it really depends how
you position it and how you actually make this work within your
company. One of the other things that I talk about in the book
is positioning this as individual value versus corporate value.
If we worked together at a company and I was a manager, and I
came to you and I said, “Hey, Jay, we’re going to deploy this
collaborative tool because it’s going to make the company more
money and it’s going to help us save more money.” You’re like,
“Yeah, alright. Whatever.” But if I came to you and said, “Look,
we’re going to deploy this tool because I think it’s going to
help you become more efficient at work.
It’s going to help you make your job easier. It’s going to give
you a greater work-life balance.” Positioning it as individual
value, how it impacts you, how it affects you, it becomes much
more real to employees. It’s not just on the technology side,
but also how it’s being positioned, it’s how it’s being
integrated. It’s how this is being spout out and what it’s being
considered. If you look at this as just kind of a project or an
addition, chances are it’s going to be a little difficult.
But, if you look this as sort of a corporate strategic
initiative on how the company’s going to do business in the
future, then it becomes much more pulled towards how you’re
going to position it, how you’re going to brand it and market it
internally, and how you’re going to get employees to use
different kinds of tools.
Jay: Awesome. You talked about just a little bit in the book, but is
fascinating to me just because of my background in digital
marketing, this notion of social email. That some of these
collaboration tools can obviously take some email off your plate
because some of that messaging goes into the tool, Yammer being
an example that most people are familiar with.
But there are other socialized email elements that are possible
as well. Can you talk a little bit about how that works and what
the upside is of that?
Jacob: Sure. I think there are two types of platforms that we have
today. We have platforms that are looking to pull you away from
email, that are basically saying “Eh, you don’t need email
anymore. You can do all that sort of stuff on this platform.”
There are other platforms – although I can’t think of one off
the top of my head – that are integrating within email, within
Outlook, meaning they say, “We understand that you’re in Outlook
all the time. We understand that that’s where you do most of
your work and your business, and where you communicate. We’re
going to create this plugin, in your sidebar in Outlook that
gives you the capability to do all your collaborative things
So, you can access, share, and post status updates, find subject
matter experts, all within Outlook, so you never need to leave
Outlook. It really depends on the approach that you take. Some
vendors are betting that email is going to go away or diminish.
Other vendors are saying that email is always going to be there
and you might as well make the best of it. It really depends on
who you talk to, as far as the email debate goes.
Jay: Yeah, it may certainly seem from the enterprise side that to suggest
that email is going to go away is a little bit of a long shot. I
think it’s easier to say that we don’t need email anymore in a
smaller company. As we’re taping this, the rumors are but of
course about Microsoft buying the Yammer for a giant truck load
of money and it certainly seems that would be their play. Right?
To bolt Yammer into Outlook and say, “Yeah, I know you’ve heard
all about these Google apps. You probably are thinking about
that. But look, we’ve got this together. It’s going to be
amazing, and SharePoint, it’s all together.” It’s a very
interesting strategic play for them.
Jacob: Yeah. Exactly. In the whole grand scheme of the whole social
business collaboration space, in a couple years, people might
not even remember what Yammer was if Microsoft buys it. They’re
all just going to be like “Yeah, it’s a Microsoft product.
Yammer? What’s Yammer?” We’re in this very ephemeral blip of the
social business space where things are just trying to figured
out and eventually, who’s going to find its place. Everything
will sit down, and we’ll just move forward from there.
Jacob: Yeah. I think it will be very interesting to see as far as what
the future of email is going to look like, whether it’s going to
turn into just being an alert system or an alert notification.
Kind of like a pager, where whenever any type of activity
happens on the collaboration platform, you might just get
notified of that by email, but you won’t actually respond.
Jay: Almost like the way Facebook does today right? Somebody has commented
Jay: …somebody has tagged you, what have you.
Jacob: Exactly. You can go into your email and you say “Oh, somebody
got a tag,” but then you go onto Facebook and that’s where you
actually do all you activity, you respond and comment, and all
that sort of stuff.
Jay: Well, I think, sir, you are on the right side of history. People are
tossing around billion dollar numbers in the collaboration
software space, you being in the chronicler of the space with
the first great book about enterprise collaboration. I think you
timed it just right. It’s a really good book.
If you have interest in this whole internal social business,
getting people on the same page of the play book area, it is
really, really, really fascinating.
Jacob: Thank you. The goal was to use this as kind of like a stepping
stone for other people to build off of. Hopefully there will be
future versions of the book. It’s really designed as, as an
executive or a leader, if you’re interested in deploying
collaborative tools and technology into your company, where do
you start? What do you need to know? All that sort of stuff I
tried to include it in the book, so hopefully it will be a
valuable resource to the people that read it.