20 Signs You’re Probably Not Working For A Social Business 

If innovation is the most overused word of 2014 , then “social business” must be the most misappropriated term.

Every other organisation I come across is claiming to be one. But what does it mean to be a social business?

Altimeter Group defines it as:

The deep integration of social media and social methodologies into the organisation to drive business impact.”

Indeed Brian Solis has written about the need to distinguish the two:

A social business is more than social media and the Likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al. Yet, it’s a term that’s often confused with social media strategy. But, there’s an important difference between a social business and a social media strategy.

Social business is a philosophy; a way of business where social technologies supported by new approaches facilitate a more open, engaged, collaborative foundation for how we work.

 I also really like this description from Andrew Grill

A social business is an organisation whose culture and systems encourage networks of people to create business value.

I’m lucky as I get to talk about social business with lots of people , and the ones who ask my advice almost always mention culture as the main organisational barrier to the adoption of social and digital technology.

We all want to be a social , collaborative business. How do we know when we’ve achieved it?

Here are 20 signs that we’re probably not there yet:

  1. Internal meetings happen behind closed doors rather than being distributed and networked.
  2. You are doing nothing about email. You just add more of it everyday.
  3. People have to seek permission to have a social media presence.
  4. You can only talk about work stuff on social media. You can’t be human.
  5. You measure followers , fans, likes and web hits rather than relationships.
  6. People put time in the diary to “do social media”.
  7. Your social media accounts switch off at 5pm and weekends.
  8. You don’t turn internal reports into publicly available blogs , videos and infographics.
  9. You think it’s job done as your CEO has a twitter account.
  10. There’s no evidence of social removing hierarchy.
  11. Most of the people who like your Facebook page work for the company.
  12. Social media is treated a channel of its own rather than part of an integrated whole.
  13. You just promote your own organisation rather than being a generous sharer of other peoples knowledge and content.
  14. You borrowed someone else’s digital services plan and copied that rather than think of your own.
  15. Your Comms team runs social media. Because it’s just a Comms thing.
  16. You still say things like “Not many of our customers use Twitter”.
  17. You still say “Our customers are quite elderly – they don’t use social”.
  18. You don’t know who are the influential members of your social community.
  19. You don’t follow customers and potential customers back and get to know them.
  20. Your organisation still exists in departments –  HR, IT, Operations. Knowledge is sorted accordingly. Compartmentalised. Siloed.

Truth be told – very few of us work for a truly social business.

We are all on this journey together.

What would you add to the list? I’ll add any suggestions to a special Haiku Deck!

How social helps us cross organisational borders

data-brain

 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.