Friday, 11 February 2011

Social Business Jam


   I’ve been participating in IBM’s Social Business Jam this week.

Most of you will know their Jam as the system IBM used to encourage contributions from tens of thousands of its employees when reviewing its values some years back.

It’s been an interesting experience to participate in it – and I can see how it would be of great value for an organisation – particularly when, as IBM has done this time, it is opened up to people outside the organisation as well.

However, this was a smaller jam, and I’ll admit that I still struggled to keep up with all the discussions I’d have liked to.  The larger version must be quite a different experience again.

Here are the updates I’ve put up on the jam:


Don't be made sick by the social04:27 PM Feb 10, 2011

True, but think businesses are always going to find limits in the value they can achieve from social unless they accept and get comfortable with the word social - and that their organisations are social settings.  

The big issue is mindset01:30 PM Feb 10, 2011

I'd agree jobs, careers, rewards will all need to change. But I think peoples' mindsets are the biggest issues. Eg I think the concern shown in the comments for attribution (who gets credit?) is out of place in a social business - we need to get people focused on the reward and even better the performance of the team or community rather than just themselves. A linked issue is quantification. Yes, tools like SNA can give a good understanding / measure, but a lot of the positive outcomes from a social business will emerge out of the messy collaboration within communities which will be hard, and largely unhelpful, to pin down on anything much at all.

Personal brands becoming more important12:18 PM Feb 10, 2011

I think personal brands are becoming more important - for individuals and their employers too. The last Edelman survey again reinforces that people don't trust big monolithic businesses (sorry). They trust PLUs - people like us. This means corporate branding is increasingly ineffective. People develop their own perceptions of brands by the people they have conversations with. The best thing big business can do is to enable all their people to have personal brands, and to engage in conversation. If the people live the organisation's values, there's your brand.

Incentivising use of so me or something else?12:12 PM Feb 10, 2011

I generally don't think we should be incentivising employees to participate in social media - or at least, only doing so temporarily.

But lots of people using social media a lot isn't necessarily going to result in a successful business - in fact there could be some fairly obvious and potentially significant negative consequences.

What's much more sensible is to reward the behaviours and outcomes you're trying to improve through the use of social media.  

Knowledge or relationships?12:07 PM Feb 10, 2011

Jack, I agree with a lot of this and love the point on knowledge - although I think it's stronger than that - much of our knowledge only has value when it is given away. 

I don't know if sharing is the key innovation though. Again, it's down to what do we mean by a social business. For me, it's one where relationships are valued and improved. Would sharing knowledge better help? - yes. Is it the most direct way to improve relationships - no.

For my money, the key innovation that will enable organizations to become social businesses is encouraging people to share more of what they know, more
of the time, and in more dimensions.

This new kind of generosity isn't so easy to inculcate in people, especially in business: we tend to want to hold onto the power of our information, expertise and insights. What's more, organizations have to create new ways of measuring and rewarding the kind of constructive, informative and practical sharing that is needed. 

All the tools and technologies for facilitating knowledge flow -- within an organization, from customer to company, or other dynamics -- are moot if people don't feel a strong incentive to share.

One insight that might help break down this psychological and behavioral barrier is this: the value of knowledge is unique in that even when you give it away, you still possess it.

It's just social behaviour11:56 AM Feb 10, 2011

I agree Chris. Francois Gossieaux's H-S Organisation book was interesting but failed to hit the spot for me, firstly because it's so futuristic, extrapolating trends that we're seeing now - which I don't think we need to extrapolate. The world has changed enough already to make social relationships important now. Second this split into human and social hasn't worked for me. It's just people being social, using new tools for this, and therefore being social at larger scale. But it's still the same social.

The whole question is topsy turvy!11:42 AM Feb 10, 2011

I agree that 'driving' not 'supporting' is interesting. But so is the whole question.

ie How can we align our organizational model, corporate culture, leadership and executive adoption to drive social business adoption internally and externally?

Well why would you want to? Who cares whether you've got a social business or not, particularly when no one can agree what it means. And it's just a concept, not an outcome.

Voted up from below?10:19 AM Feb 9, 2011

There are a couple of interesting questions arising from this. One is which way do you cut it? Do you have one person responsible for all social / collaborative relations internally and externally - and then still have people overseeing one-on-one relationships with customers and employees?

The other question for me is whether this would reinforce the hierarchical approach social business is trying to get away from. Perhaps this GM should be selected by the networks and communities in the organisation? - as their representative, not someone who would tell them what to do.

Understand value before measuring it09:57 AM Feb 9, 2011

Surely the key is to be clear about what social business is intended to create. Employee engagement might be a good metric - IF this is what you're trying to achieve. Or an SNA might do this job IF your objective is a better networked organisation.

I do agree, however, that this is the level that value needs to be measured - it's about people and their relationships, not the impacts of these

Social not media05:44 PM Feb 8, 2011

I absolutely agree there's an opportunity, or more accurately, opportunities for competitive advantage in this space. For me, though the opportunity is to gain better connection, whether this is with partners, customers or employees, rather than just through use of technology.

I find the comparison to web 1.0 an unhelpful one. Here the advantage did come from and as a direct result of the technology. Web 2.0 doesn't provide the same direct benefits but only through the development of connections and conversations. So it's these that provide competitive advantage, not the technology


By the way, I know simply pasting my own updates isn’t very social, but I wanted to do something to mark the jam happening, and the only alternative I could think of – to post my favourite updates from all the jammers there – would have taken far too much time to sort out!


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