The Social Organization: Part II

By Rich Blank posted 05-05-2011 01:16


In my last post, I raised the question that's on all our minds:  why are our professional lives socially challenged?   Having a Facebook business page or Twitter account does not mean you are a social business.  Enterprise 2.0 tools (like blogs or wikis) by themselves do not make an organization social.  And I suggested we need to become a social organization across our value chains if we indeed wish to understand our social customer.  In this post, I will explore what this social organization looks like.

B2B, B2E, E2E, and B2C... across these value chains, a social organization exists.  Each day, we network and navigate through our matrixed value chains.   We share and consume knowledge and expertise, learn, connect, and share.   We socially seek people who have some affiliation with what we do and who we are personally and professionally.    This social organization is not functional in nature.  It’s not focused on business process or ERP or CRM systems.   In fact, the social organization is comprised of a number of communities from supplier communities, customer communities, employee communities, and various sub-communities throughout the value chain.  These communities have networks of people, knowledge, and information that help source materials, manufacture product, sell and satisfy customers, and keep the economic engine running.  

While some of these communities are more formal, many are loosely affiliated.  For example, when we are hired into an organization, we're lucky if we receive any formal orientation or onboarding today.   This is particularly true as more knowledge work is outsourced and resources are continually rotated in project-based work.  Yet our success as an individual and ultimately as an organization is dependent on our ability to navigate the social organization.   Our success is tied to establishing relationships, having powerful conversations, and engaging in a series of unstructured collaborative activities.  We attend a conference, a sales meeting, training, talk to customers, resolve an escalation, host a meeting, schedule one-on-ones with colleagues, report status, hunt for experts who have the knowledge we require to do our day-to-day jobs, etc...   We have conversations across multiple channels, many devices, in a variety of forms.  And through these activities and conversations, we establish important relationships with our colleagues, customers, partners, and suppliers.   Business is conducted and value is created.

Unfortunately the social organization that already exists remains cloudy and its impact of the bottom line is misunderstood.  These undocumented business activities, conversations, and relationships become incredibly inefficient in spite of the importance they have for individuals and the overall organization success. We drown in the inefficiency of our email inboxes. The knowledge and relationships people have gained simply vanish when the person moves on to another project or another organization.   In the absence of understanding what and where communities exist, our ability to assimilate into the organizational culture and contribute to the organizational goals is limited at best.   Without a place to capture the conversation and knowledge, our engagement and affiliation to the organization suffers.  Our connectedness to people around the globe becomes disconnected.  Customers are left waiting, projects are delayed and cost more than expected.  Issues take too long to resolve or go unresolved all together.   Inefficiency goes unaddressed and productivity suffers.   Simply put, it takes too long and it’s too hard to get work done.   

Indeed social computing enables and supports this social organization.   Social technology has capabilities designed to capture the conversation, manage knowledge, foster business relationships across products, across lines of business, across the value chain and the social organization.   Social computing simply attempts to enable all the “social business things” we are already doing today – just more efficiently.   So what elements of social technology will help our professional lives?   In my next post I’ll outline and define the important elements of social technology and how these capabilities have real business value within the social organization.


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