Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Social Media in Business conference


SMIB Conversations Matter   I’ll be presenting on ‘Using Social Media for Competitive Advantage’ at the Social Media in Business conference in London on Friday 23rd October:


“The conference examines how social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, are having a major impact on business practices and culture. How can these tools be utilised, how can you employ strategies within your company to increase profitability, sustain reputation and empower your employees to be brand ambassadors. Indeed should you employ internal social networks within your own organisation as a means of facilitating a sharing community amongst your employees, or should you use public open platforms?

These tools can be highly disruptive to any company and are changing the fabric of communications through PR and marketing, you can no longer sit back and watch this unfold, you need strategies in place, you need to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Conferences of this type ordinarily have a price tag of x4 or x5 the ticket price!

We are thankful to our sponsors who enable us to bring this conference to you at an affordable figure.

Register now and join the smart thinkers, stay ahead of the game!”


Other speakers at the conference include:


The cost of attendance is just £161 and readers of this blog can benefit from an additional 15% discount if they quote the following code when booking: 15SBIZ.




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  • Tuesday, 29 September 2009

    My definition of Social Business


       My definition of the Social Business / Competitive Society is:

    An organisation than invests in the development of social capital, ie the value of the connections, relationships and conversations taking place between people in an organisation, or working with the organisation. This value can be created and developed by effective leadership (communityship), HR and management practices, internal communication, OD interventions, web 2.0 tools etc.  The value provides the opportunity to transform organisations, ie not just helping to meet existing business objectives but to set new or more stretching business goals.



    Picture credit: Booksworm


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  • Monday, 28 September 2009

    My further thoughts on the Social Business


    Employees    Wow, there’s been a lot of debate on Enterprise 2.0 and the Social Business recently (I’m not going to do a list – do a search!).

    And I thought I’d follow-up my post on the 2.0 meme with my perspectives on the Social Business.

    Of course, this is something that I’ve covered extensively before.  This blog started off its life as ‘The New Social Business’ on 24 November 2007, and I’ve shared my likes and dislikes about the term several times since then, eg:


    Peoples’ concerns about E2.0 seem to reflect my own:

    • That it’s too focused on technology (McAfee’s new definition that “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms by organisations in pursuits of their goals” doesn’t exactly help!).
    • That it’s over-use has led to it becoming distracting jargon.


    The term ‘social business’ is therefore preferred by many people for reasons which are also similar to mine (ie concerning the need for business to become more social, if not directly referencing social capital).

    Stowe Boyd sums it up well on the Enterprise 2.0 blog:

    “I have come to believe that this is the place where companies need to focus their attention: socializing the business, not adoption of Web 2.0…

    We need to shift to a much more agile and adaptive way of thinking about social and collective action within businesses, and managing in a very different world than we were even a few years ago, back when Enterprise 2.0 might have seemed like a great term. Nowadays that term may be holding us back and confusing folks that haven’t been as close to the discussion as we have.”


    Of course, there are some concerns about the term ‘social business’ too.  Once again, these support my own concerns, and relate to the reasons why I changed the name and address of this blog.

    One additional concern however is that ‘social business’ is owned by Dachis Group (as well as Altimeter Group and other upstart consulting firms).  One comment on The Obvious says:

    “‘Social business design’ is a term Dachis Group uses to distinguish itself in this market  Therefore, I believe the term is not neutral and should not replace the more generic phrase Enterprise 2.0.”


    Well Dachis and Altimeter were both only started up in 2008 so I was using the term ‘social business’ well before them.  And I hereby give my permission to anyone who wants to use it to do so!

    However, I’m still not convinced it’s the right term.

    Suggestions on other blogs include ‘integrated business’ and ‘peak hierarchy’.  But I still like ‘Competitive Society’.  What about you?




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  • Monday, 21 September 2009

    Netflix – Enterprise 1.0 or 2.0?



    Netflix’s culture of freedom and responsibility has been addressed on quite a few blogs, including Strategic HCM, and on other social networking sites, including the Moon Shots ning.

    But it’s comments on the company’s open culture and predisposition to the use of social media – and particularly whether this makes it an example of Enterprise 2.0, that I want to address here (for examples of these comments see Fast Forward and Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad).

    And I just don’t see it.  A great company – absolutely.  Enterprise 2.0 – no.


    To me, this is an example of the ever growing and largely unhelpful use of the ‘2.0’ tag that I’ve just posted on.

    Enterprise 2.0 isn’t just about using web 2.0, but it’s not just about anything new, innovative and exciting either.  It’s about creating an environment where the value of social capital: the connections, relationships and conversations in a business, is taken seriously.  And I don’t see any of this at Netflix. So:

    “Few organizations are more able to access the power of the collective than Netflix”? – I just don’t see it, sorry.


    The presentation suggests the company does work as a team – but stresses that this is a pro-sports team, not a kid’s recreation team.  And definitely not a family.  To me, even though they want to avoid brilliant jerks (recognising that the cost to teamwork being too high), it doesn’t even sound like a real pro-sports team. This impression is strengthened by the description of their ‘loosely coupled’ approach. It sounds like a group of highly talented individuals (“stars in every position”). Perhaps the business equivalent of the Madrid Galacticos?

    There’s also the issue about the impact of not investing in recruiting and therefore having to fire people, that I touch on at Strategic HCM.

    The presentation notes that high performance people and effective teamwork can be in tension as these people have strong opinions. This supports Boris Groysberg’s conclusions that a focus on recruiting stars can be bad for business.  But I’m not at all  sure that Netflix has has revolved this dilemma sufficiently.





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  • Sunday, 20 September 2009

    My thoughts on 2.0


    Training Wreck   I recently commented on a couple of posts on Dan Pontefract’s Training Wreck where he provides his perspectives on the 2.0 meme (web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, learning 2.0, Claire 2.0 etc…).

    And I thought I would post here to expand on my response:

    “2.0 can mean a couple of things. One is that it simply refers to any significant, qualitative vs quantitative shift over the ways things were done before (otherwise we’d be talking about 1.1 not 2.0). But then work 2.0, culture 2.0 could mean anything. So I don’t think that’s a useful route to go.

    But I’d suggest that the other way of looking at this, and the only way I can see to bring these terms closer together is that they’re all about ’social’. Web 2.0 = social technology, enterprise 2.0 = a more social way of organising etc.

    In fact, as we’ve discussed on your previous post, HR in a 2.0 World: Leading vs. Following (, they’re all about generating social capital.

    Just a personal view of course!”


    I’ve previously provided my own view on a few of the 2.0 components listed by Dan:


    However, I do tend to agree with Dan that ‘2.0’ is used a bit too much these days, particularly when there is little cohesion between these different applications.

    Take Dan’s Enterprise 2.0 and Work 2.0:

    • Enterprise 2.0: “The use of emergent social software platforms within companies”
    • Work 2.0: “The shift from a 9-5 workday to a flexible workweek inclusive of work locations.”


    What’s the similarity between these, other than the 2.0 variants of each terms are somehow more modern?  (This isn’t a criticism of Dan’s analysis, simply of the framework he’s working in).

    My other criticism of this approach is that it leads us to be overly utopian.  Eg:

    • Culture 2.0: “The shift from white ivory tower hierarchical / manage by fear structure to one that is wirearchical, heterarchical, flat, connected and community-driven.”
    • People 2.0: “Employees will seek out an employer that provides an experience, a second family, a place to feel valued, the new ‘employee’ will not be institutionalised.


    I believe we can make a step-change to a qualitatively different way of managing organisations without requiring businesses to become social paradises.

    My suggestion, that I made to Dan, and I’ve made previously on this blog too, is that resolving this tension requires us to link a single factor to all 2.0 components.  This will allow us to define all components upon this single common factor, rather than having to create lists of attributes for each one.

    I then suggest that this single factor is a more social approach, based upon connections and relationships.  As evidence of this conclusion, I point towards the fact the web 2.0 (the originating component) is also called the social web ( / social media / social technology etc).

    But that’s a bit vague, so the further refinement that I make to this, is that each 2.0 component focuses on creating social capital.  So web 2.0 is technology that enables the development of social capital, enterprise 2.0 is an organisation than invests in the development of social capital, HR 2.0 is the management of people in a way that leads to the development of social capital, etc.

    This view may not (yet) have wide support, but it does have the considerable benefit of consistency!




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  • Monday, 14 September 2009

    Directors pay and Social Advantage


        The Guardian has published an interesting survey of FTSE 100 Directors pay.

    It’s interesting firstly because of the ongoing debate about executive reward at the moment.

    But what I wanted to focus on here, particularly given my recent post on Whole Foods, is the differential in pay between CEOs and average employees.

    In general, the differential is quite a bit less that that described by John Mackey in his presentation on Conscious Capitalism – I presume because we’re looking at the UK rather than the US where the differential is presumably higher?  It’s still a lot higher than Mackey’s recommendation of 19x though.

    And the highest differential – for Bart Becht, CEO at Reckitt Benckiser - is 1374! (ie Becht gets paid 1374 times the amount (£37m) paid to Reckitt Beckiser’s average employee - £27k).

    This clearly isn’t a great basis for effective up and down collaboration.


    Mind you, Cisco CEO, John Chambers’, recent $2m under-performance bonus doesn’t seem to be affecting the way it’s becoming more collaborative.

    I guess this is only one part of the equation…



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  • Tuesday, 8 September 2009

    Management models and Social Advantage


        In the latest issue of the MLab’s Labnotes, Julian Birkinshaw suggests that organisations need to think as much about their management models (the choices firms make about what happens inside their organisations) as they do their business models (choices about their sources of revenue, their cost structure etc).

    These choices include:

    • Choices about the nature of the objectives the firm pursues (ranging from alignment to obliquity)
    • Choices about how individuals are motivated to pursue these objectives (extrinsic to intrinsic)
    • Choices about how activities are co-ordinated in the firm (bureaucracy to emergence)
    • Choices about how decisions are made in the firm (hierarchy or collective wisdom).


    I think this is a useful, new input to management thinking.

    However, I’m not sure about the four dimensions of Birkinshaw’s framework (the four choices above).  Where does the Social Advantage approach fit into it this for example?


    Social Advantage as collective wisdom

    Although it doesn’t fit the framework that neatly, I’d have to say that Social Advantage fits best with the last two choices: managing across (emergence vs bureaucracy) and especially managing down (collective wisdom vs hierarchy).  But then these are ‘means’, and  think Social Advantage is very much about ‘ends’.

    And I think some other dimensions are probably at least as important to Social Advantage as those presented in the model.  For example, what the organisation focuses on – outcomes or business impacts, And how importantly the organisation sees people working together in teams, or just sharing information between themselves.


    Collective wisdom AND hierarchy

    Also, although Social Advantage is probably best supported by a flat structure, I don’t see that it requires the end of hierarchy.  To me, the dimensions of the model are probably paradoxes (this and that) rather than polar opposites (this or that).

    Anyway, polar opposites aren’t really in the spirit of the Moon Shots – particularly M20:

    “ Better optimise trade-offs.  Management systems tend to force either-or choices.  What’s needed are hybrid systems that subtly optimise key trade-offs.”


    So, I don’t feel very positive about the framework, but I suppose if it encourages organisational leaders to think about their management model, and perhaps what dimensions will be important to them, then I guess it will do its job.

    As Birkinshaw himself notes,

    “There is no one best management model…  Rather, there are choices to be made, and the appropriate choice depends on a host of circumstantial and competitive factors.  Firms who generate competitive advantage out of their management model are the ones that make conscious and distinctive choices about what principles to follow.”


    Also see:



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  • Tuesday, 1 September 2009

    Social Advantage after the downturn


       This is why I think Social Advantage is particularly important at the moment:

    “A new survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated suggests that the layoffs experienced by many organizations in the recent economic downturn have had a more adverse impact on productivity than employers may have thought.  The ‘Productivity Drain’ survey finds that 40 percent of employees at organizations affected by layoffs would classify productivity as having been negatively impacted. Furthermore, of those 40 percent, two-thirds of them state that morale is suffering and that employees are less motivated than before. This is in large part due to the level of work that employees are dealing with. Sixty-four percent of respondents felt that there was too much work and not enough employees to do it, and with employees frustrated with the additional workload, half of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with their employers’ effort to maintain morale. Perhaps more concerning is that 36 percent of respondents believe that when the economy picks up, as an organization, they would not be prepared to meet the increased demand.”


    How do you deal with more work with less people? – manage the relationships between the people, as well as the people themselves.


    For more information on the survey, see The Workforce Institute (at Kronos® Incorporated).

    For more information on Social Advantage, see:



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