Austin’s Dachis Group talks about social business design, defined as “the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture. The goal: improving value exchange among constituents.” I find the Dachis overview (pdf) interesting, if a bit scattered. David Armistead and I at Social Web Strategies had been having conceptually similar conversations for the last couple of years, looking at the potential culture change associated with social technology and new media (with Craig Clark), the need for business process re-engineering (with Charles Knickerbocker), and the power of value networks. This morning while sitting on my zafu, I had a flash of insight that I quickly wrote down as five thoughts that came to me pretty much at once…
- Organizations are already using software internally and have been for some time – email lists, groupware and internal forums, various Sharepoint constructions, aspects of Basecamp, internal wikis and blogs, etc. What’s changed? I think a key difference is high adoption outside work – more and more of the employees of a company or nonprofit are having lifestyle experiences with Facebook Twitter, YouTube, Flickr et al. The way we’re using social media changes as more of us use it (network effect) and our uses become more diverse.
- Organizations see knowledge management as storage, basically, but we can see the potential to capture and use knowledge in new and innovative ways, e.g. using multimodal systems (Google Wave, for example) to capture and sort knowledge as it’s created, with annotations and some sense of the creative process stored with its product – knowing more about how knowledge is produced improves our sense of its applicability. (It’s exciting to be a librarian/information specialist these days.)
- Organizations will increasingly have to consider the balance of competition and cooperation with internal teams. I’ve seen firsthand how a culture of competition can stifle creativity by creating a disincentive to share knowledge. I’m thinking we’ll see more “coopetition.”
- Who are the internal champions within an organization? There will be more interest at the C-level as social technology is better understood and success stories emerge from early adopters. It would be interesting to know what current champions of social media are seeing and what they’re saying. Also – how much of the move toward “social” will come from the bottom up, and how will that flow of new thinking occur?
- How does the new world of social business (design) relate to marketing? Operations? Human resources? To what extent to the lines between departments blur? How will the blurring of the lines and potential cross pollination transform business disciplines?
A final thought: all the minds in your organization have a perspective on your business, and each perspective is potentially valuable. How do you capture that value? Do you have a culture that can support a real alignment of minds/perspectives/intentions?
3 thoughts on “The impact of “social” on organizations”
I agree with your first point but the big difference is that companies were (are) heavily focused on technologies and platforms. At Headshift/Dachis we see many large organisations rolling out brilliant systems already for years, but never really ask the end user what the need or want. So there is a clear shift from technology focus to human focus.
Lee, definitely agree. It’s a manifestation of a problem we’ve had with all digital technology over the years – a software vendor may teach you how an application works, but they won’t necessarily get into the impact on your business processes. Social technology in particular calls for business process realignment and culture change to optimize for the new communication infrastructure. And even if you decide not to implement social technology as a company, your employees will be using it, often carrying supposedly external social platforms in their pockets.
Jon, be one with the zafu! namaste.
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