How social helps us cross organisational borders


 Social is no longer just about collaboration; it’s about unlocking the engines of collective knowledge, differentiated expertise and rapid learning across the whole organisation.  (In 2014) we’ll see workplaces and marketplaces fusing together like never before; enterprises will be thinking and acting differently in the context of social – Andrew Grill , Social Business in 2014

This indeed might be the year when the walls in organisations really start crumbling.  Those departments, structure charts and policies that have kept us safe and protected for so long are beginning to slip away.

There’s still a way to go.  But it’s happening – new and powerful connections are being born and there’s nothing a social media policy can do about it.

Two things happened in the past week that made me ponder the huge impact this will have on how business is conducted in future.

Borderless Leadership

First of all I was in a meeting with the Bromford Executive team – pitching a business case about how we should begin a new approach to developing innovation.

One of the elements of the pitch was that 75% of what we work on could result in failure. We should expect just a 25% success rate and give explicit permission to fail. Nobody would then waste time and resources trying to make an idea work.  Just move on to the next one.

It’s a difficult pitch anyway you dress it up.

But a weird thing happened. As the report was discussed two people quoted lines from the blog of Chris Bolton that were hugely supportive of this thinking. I’m not sure if they knew they did. But they did. Chris , who regularly posts on risk and failure,  had infiltrated the consciousness of Bromford.

He doesn’t get paid for it , he’s never visited our offices, but due to his social influence he played his part in getting my business plan approved. Thanks Chris!

He , and others like him, are part of a new breed of influencer. Not a stakeholder , partner or colleague. More of a social supporter – someone who identifies with the values of an organisation and influences people within it despite being nowhere on a structure chart.

Note this trend: People connecting with people and organisational brand becoming less important. Personal brand and quality of connection becoming the key ingredient for future relationships.

Borderless Sectors

A few days later I was at Connected Care Camp.  It saw people from all across the country give up their time on a Saturday to get behind a movement to reimagine social care.

The interesting thing is how many different sectors were represented. Health , Housing , Tech, Social Care , Communications.  This collective had not been brought together by their respective industry bodies – but by the power of social to connect people and to begin a movement for change.

I’ve called these people super-connectors – those who are moving effortlessly between sectors and connecting those aligned with their interests.  Increasingly they are circumventing artificial and created barriers to facilitate change.

Indeed  social business is now starting to enable the things that sector leaders have failed to do – the removal of silo thinking , the rapid dissemination of information and the mobilisation of people into action.

Note this trend: Organisational influence becomes less pronounced. Expect people to seek out people with passion and influence regardless who they work for.  Some of the biggest changemakers work for the smallest organisations or don’t work at all. 

Of course this isn’t just about organisations.  At Connected Care Camp there were also service users present.  And this is where truly disruptive things will start to happen.

When you have the super-connectors collaborating directly with connected customers – you’ll see wholesale change to how business is done.

Truly – new and powerful connections are being born.


7 thoughts on “How social helps us cross organisational borders

  1. Hello Paul,
    Thank you very much writing about my posts.
    Back in the days of ‘Web2.0’, before Social Media was a much used word, I used to read about what you’ve described and get really excited.
    I never imagined I would get mentioned as being part of it, and part of something as exciting as the Innovation Lab at the Bromford Group.

    I feel really honoured that what I’ve written in South Wales has been of some use in Wolverhampton.

    Thank you also to many of your colleagues at Bromford. You have all been very kind. Social support is a two way process and you all have helped and encouraged me greatly.

    I know you said I’ve never been to Bromford, but that’s only a matter of time. I’ve worked out you are only a short diversion on the route to North Wales. See you in early 2014 I hope.

    The point you made about the increasing importance of personal brand is very interesting. It feels like we are on the crux of the change at the moment. I’m going to share your post with a few people who have different views about ‘brand’ and the importance of ‘corporate identity’. It will be interesting to see the response. Watch this space……

    Thank you ever so much for the post,

  2. Completely agree that the way organisations are using social media is changing, and it’s fascinating to see some of the barriers between personal and corporate eroded.

    We’re also lucky enough to have Chris working with us here, and it’s great learning from his perspectives on failiure.

    Great stuff!

    – Dyfrig

  3. Super-Connectors – Sounds very flash!

    But, yes, I totally agree Paul, the way collections of people work (I won’t even call them organisations) is changing.

    I was at #psicare – Connected Care Camp nominally wearing my Digital Social Care for Voluntary Sector Organisations hat, but I also had on a Local Government hat, an e-learning hat, a local community hat … alongside my (currently) wonky-face!

    The point (or pont … Chris!) is that there is a group of us who are either freelance or working for supportive organisations who can see the answer isn’t in a silo, but through connecting together the right people at the right time.
    It’s an exciting place to be and hopefully if we are brushing alongside responsive organisations will get things done and find answers to some of the bigger questions about care, housing and communities that our borderless sectors face.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s