Starting on a tangent…
One of the beauties of the written word, particularly in digital format, is that it cannot be “worn out” in the physical sense which makes me think that overuse is the digital equivalent where we become desensitised to the significance and numb to the meaning being conveyed.
At the current rate, words and phrases such as “change”, “paradigm”, “new world”, “connected economy” and “radically different” are being overused to the point of being worn out of meaning – and I know I play my part in that!
But how else do we talk about the significance and magnitude of some of the converging trends racing towards us as businesses, industries, nations and societies?
Back on topic…
Much of my between-the-ears pondering of late has been grappling with what I see as the significance of Social Business and how it relates to these trends. Trying to get beyond some of the “nice” idealistic notions and at the heart of why it needs to be understood as relevant to our leaders and core to their organisations’ ability to thrive tomorrow – whether they be in industry, education or government.
Steve Denning, in concluding his Forbes article Why Apple and GE Are Bringing Back Manufacturing, identifies a number of the changes that we are already beginning to see from some of today’s thriving organisations, and highlights themes I’d expect to hear in conversation with any Social Business strategist worthy of the title:
Success in this new world of manufacturing will require a radically different kind of management from the hierarchical bureaucracy focused on shareholder value that is now prevalent in large firms. It will require a different goal (delighting the customer), a different role for managers (enabling self-organizing teams), a different way of coordinating work (dynamic linking), different values (continuous improvement and radical transparency) and different communications (horizontal conversations). Merely shifting the locus of production is not enough. Companies need systemic change—a new management paradigm.
Cause or Effect?
Perhaps it is a question of maturity, further evidence that it’s just the first innings of social in the enterprise is over, and the reality the hype cycle waits for no-one? Emanuele Quintarelli shared some insight in a recent post:
The fascinating thing is that we moved to the Through of Disillusionment without ever fully experiencing the Peak of Inflated Expectations given that most executives have yet to understand the meaning of this social revolution while pundits are ringing the bell of a next new thing.
Which leads me to think of things in the context of Denning’s words. Executives don’t need to understand “social”, they need to recognise the change under way and the disruption ahead of us. We should objectively question the current state of play in the Social Business space – the vendors, initiatives and case studies we are familiar with – and whether they are truly cause, or rather effect?
We need to see Social Business efforts morph into systemic change programs of the scale Denning eludes to, that will ensure organisations can continue to thrive.
A new end game for Social Business
So whilst we may be rewriting the end game for Social Business, I don’t feel we’re moving the goalposts. To borrow a few more words from Emanuele:
We can call it Social Media Marketing, Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. Nonetheless we’ll be still missing the point until the broader picture will come together by connecting social to the digital landscape and embedding digital into the real business realm.
But what is ever so challenging to capture in a diagram are the levels of complexity, the strength of leadership and commitment needed, the variables and unknowns, the “human factor”.
What began as the enterprise adopting Web 2.0 approaches continues to take on new meaning and significance. It is now core to building and leading organisations fit for purpose.
Social Business is growing up.