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More milestones on the road to social business
on April 30, 2012
Earlier books I've read about social media -- Groundswell, The Social Organization, Get Bold and others--seemed more forward-looking about how social media could change organizations based on early findings and early case situations. Social Business by Design feels a little further "down the road" with more statistics, more firmly established cases, less experimentation, and more of a call to action. This is something you MUST do if you plan to compete with other organizations that have made or started their transitions to becoming social businesses. As telling as the success stories were, a couple of examples showed the dangers of not having considered the social environment. The authors describe how the lack of social response capabilities hurt Toyota with their sudden acceleration problem and BP with the Gulf spill. The implication seems clear. As people expect to communicate socially, you can no longer afford to ignore them.
As they work through their cases, Hinchcliffe and Kim build a list of 10 social business tenets that can be used across most situations. Their pattern is to look at some case situations, analyze the issues that were addressed with social business solutions, explain how a more established environment is making such solutions more mainstream, and then derive each successive tenet. This is an effective way to evaluate how business motivations and solutions are working in an emerging social environment with almost no discussion of the technological opportunities. While technology is in no way downplayed, this seems like the right way to frame social business--given that we are in an innovation environment where thousands of options and applications are available for an organization to choose from in matching its social platform to the needs of its culture and the openness of its people to change. And more to choose from every day.
In multiple examples they point out how hard it is for organizations to give up control. That many companies still want to exert some level of oversight rather than letting all members communicate directly with each other. They admit that such reluctance will probably continue in many organizations, but that sooner rather than later organizations will see the true benefit of letting go and empowering the network do what it has shown it can do.
This book will make you feel that there may be more risk in not moving forward toward becoming a social business. It provides great cases and ideas for how to proceed forward from a business more than from a technical perspective. It doesn't tell you how to make the move, but it can't do that because each organization's culture and opportunities are different.
It was interesting that the Dachis Group (earlier founders of Razorfish) has created this blueprint for adopting social business strategies. Razorfish was a key player as companies started to develop their Web strategies 12-14 years ago. When that bubble crashed, there was less focus and spotlighting of Web strategies but that didn't stop companies from moving much of their processes to the Internet. In the last five years, pioneering organizations have worked to make those Web strategies more interactive and to become more social. Dachis seems well positioned again to help their clients in this phase of development as well.