Are Social Practitioners and Evangelists Truly Different?

My friend, Alan Lepofsky, has always made this point, “Social people are different.  The rest of the world is not like us.” Ironically, Alan and I get into the most hair-splitting among our pro-social circle of friends, but I’ve come to understand he is absolutely right about this. “We” are a different breed.  The online spirit of generosity, kindness, sharing, transparency, a first-instinct of collaboration is unique to a small tribe that discovered and advocated for social technologies in the enterprise. When we try to introduce these tools to our friends, our family, new clients, other colleagues, it falls flat.  It’s “2.0 adoption” all over again. It’s made me wonder if we truly are different. Are our brains wired differently?  I’d love to test this with a social scientist. My hypothesis is we have a “giving” gene.

My French friend, Cecil Dijoux, whom I’ve come to know via the social web apparently sees the same phenomenon.  In this video, he refers to us as “Asbergers” which he picked up from the Silicon Valley HBO series where it was meant to be “weird.” Of course, Asberger’s is a serious condition on the Autism spectrum, but I grok the sentiment. “We recognize each other by the way we think and talk.”

It’s unusual to want to change the world, or to pursue a purpose with passion at work. It’s counter-intuitive to behave in a way that benefits a group vs. our own self-interest (exclusively).

I’ve always believed there were more of “us” than “them” if only we could get the message out to the rest of the world about the freedom and joys of working socially. Effectively, once you start working this way, it changes your worldview. You become more empathetic, less self-serving. Lately, I’ve become cynical. I never thought I’d lose my faith in humanity to do the right thing, but as the years go by, the more I think I simply just want to connect to the other “giving gene” people.

If you know what I’m talking to about, let’s connect. We may not be able to change the rest of them, but if we add more nodes to our team, we will have meshed together our own social network of like-minded, giving people. And that’s a beautiful thing.

#OccupyEnterprise and Start your own Revolution

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around / No time for dancing, or lovey dovey, I ain’t got time for that now…

Life in Wartime – Talking Heads

The world changed in 2011.  Did you feel it?  No doubt you saw it changing on TV, on Twitter, on YouTube, on your mobile phone.  Did your heart swell with pride?  Did the emotion of a history-changing moment grip you and render you teary-eyed?   There were so many events this year that captured our attention.  Regimes crumbled, cities burned, young revolutionaries rejoiced.  And in the rush of those events, we felt we were part of it.  That finally, within our lifetimes, people could use their mass and will to effect dramatic changes in the lives of ordinary people.  It’s important to remember that every revolutionary event began with a belief and a person who believed passionately enough to make it happen.

Enterprise as we know it changed this year as well.  Serving as a wonderful backdrop to this #occupyenterprise story, I was happy to see that the #ows movement in NYC was meeting in the lobby of Deutsche Bank.  Although I support the #ows movement in spirit, I’ve chosen to change these large organizations from within.  In a nutshell, that’s what we’ve been doing in the Council.  In fact, our guy at Deutsche Bank is making a lot of progress.  Last June, John Stepper presented his case study at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.  In closing, he left the audience with this lesson: “Don’t just retweet other people’s revolutions.  Start your own.  Apply the big ideas to real problems at your company and change the work.”  Change at these powerful institutions is not going to happen over night, but it is happening today.  And our members are driving that change every day.

In the Social Business Council, we have a popular tag: #clang usually followed by several exclamation points.  If you search #clang on our Socialcast site, you’ll retrieve 146 posts.  That’s 146 times our members have either posted or commented on an enterprise-changing event made by one of our members.  The cases run from the minor, but very significant, to the blow-your-mind-this-is-really-happening variety.  Watching the progress our members are making is history in the making.  Sometimes I feel like I’m an embedded reporter.  It’s not a violent war, but an ideological one.  The Council members are fighting for a new way of working where freedom of ideas will produce increased employee motivation and loyalty which in turn will spur innovation and problem-solving.  Yes, business objectives are driving this change, but the natural by-product is the humanization of the workforce.   Transparency will go a long way to revealing the unsavory underbelly of the corporate beast.  One of our members, Andrew Carasone of Lowe’s Home Improvement,  has done a fantastic job of explaining how social business drives business performance.  It’s predicated on using social business change as an organizing force, embracing a culture of sharing vs. a culture of fear of “not knowing.”  He also has some insightful views on how the formulas for human capital incentives and achievement need to be rewritten.  In short, reward competition less and collaboration more.

If you see yourself as a change agent, or someone who believes in the power of the “Think Different,”  you have a home in the Council.  Our members are deployed in the largest organizations in the world.  We are changing the world from the inside out.  Join us.

 

Attributes of a Socially Optimized Business

Once again, I had the great pleasure to work with my colleagues on an XPLANATiON with our Social Business Council members.  We interviewed a core group of our members to identify the attributes that comprise the whole of the socially optimized business.  I think you will agree, the results are fabulous.

Where are you on the course from Start to Social?

Special thanks go out to members @briantullis, @jimworth, @kendomen, @kimberlymahan, @kristenritter, @seanwinter, @dpontefract, @bricejewell, @robcaldera, and Joachim Stroh.

Zen and the Art of Enterprise Maintenance

Surreptitiously, while I was inspired to write this post, I heard Garrison Keillor on NPR’s Writer’s Almanac do a short birthday piece on Robert Persig, author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  For other Hippie 2.0’s out there, “Zen” occupies essential shelf space on the permanent library.  (GenY’rs: read it.)  Persig, a philosopher of sorts, penned a brilliant quote in two parts.  Here is the first part,

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

On G+, Facebook, and on our private discussions in the Council, I’ve been relentless with the same mantra that the re-engineering of the enterprise for this era is about re-tooling hearts and minds.  We are aiming to change the world of work.  All the re-engineering that packaged, streamlined, and removed human error (and innovation) in the last era (the Debbie Downsizer 90s) left a lot of baggage behind to undo.  I lived through that era.  And even though a lot of consultants, systems integration firms, and enterprise applications vendors got rich, the price corporations paid in crushing the human spirit was far greater than the costs saved on process improvement.

Unless you haven’t noticed, U.S. corporations are under pressure these days to perform.  Getting them back on track to record earnings is going to require something difficult to measure on a balance sheet or excel spreadsheet: human intuition, motivation, ingenuity, passion.

The radical changes folks like Luis Suarez, Ross Mayfield, Stowe Boyd, Euan Semple, and many others have been championing for a long time support this fundamental philosophical do-over of corporate culture.  It begins in the hearts and hands of a few evangelists/change makers/trust agents/intra-preneurs to beat the drum for change.

Now, the second part of Persig’s quote is,

“Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.”

To get to the “fix” part of this equation, it’s going to take the smarts and knowhow of everyone who’s focused on the Enterprise.  There’s a great thread on G+ from Sameer Patel on the “how.”  The lasting value will be to apply the spirit of social revolution in the enterprise to the practical application of social in the enterprise.  I’ve heard reports from Dreamforce that the rhetoric-to-reality gap was pretty stark once you left the Benioff keynote cathedral and walked onto the show floor.

This is the hard part.  Delivering on the promise of social.  So consider it a clarion call for all practitioners, consultants, and vendors (big and small):  Figure it out.  Bring it home for the rest of us and the planet.  We’ve done the first hard part which is selling the promise of revolutionary change.  And we’ll keep beating that drum, btw.  It’s the backbeat to the song we’re singing.

A presentation I gave earlier this year to member 3M on the power of Change Agents.

A Social Baptism for the Enterprise. Hallelujah and Amen.

About this time last month, I was undergoing a crisis of faith.  Faith in what brought me to this space: the promise of what the next generation web could be and could do to change business as we know it, as well as society at large.   My faith was shaken by a few ripples in the foundation.  I posted this short blog post on our Council Jive site:

I got some great feedback from members, but remained somewhat in a state of insecurity.  Things exacerbated when later in the month, a host of conversations had cropped up in the blogosphere on the failure some individuals were experiencing regarding adoption of social technologies inside large enterprises and critics taking delight in the “I toldya so” grand opportunity.

As the summer of 2011 was coming to an end, I found myself wondering whether I was the only one pursuing some greater purpose? Had I been completely delusional?  Blindly naive?

My crisis of faith ended on the morning of August 31, 2011.  

Mark Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO, whom I’ve been heralding as the voice of the new Enterprise generation since I saw him speak last year, killed it in his opening keynote for Dreamforce 2011 with the messaging I (and many others) have been consistently preaching for the past five years.   And, considering Salesforce’s Dreamforce is now the largest technology conference in the world, the social baptism that every one of those 45,000 in attendance and many more who were tuning in around the world received was epic.

So, with grace and humility, I have been re-energized.  You kinda either get this or you don’t.  If you do get it, I hope you’re rejoicing. I know I am.  If you don’t get it, don’t worry, it will benefit you too despite your willingness to embrace it.

If you are a believer, or just socially curious, I highly recommend you watch Benioff’s keynote.

Finally, Mr. Benioff, if you’re listening, all I can say is Thank You from the bottom of my bottomless heart.

News Flash: Social in the Enterprise is not for Amateurs

In the early days of experimentation with 2.0 in the Enterprise, anyone could really fire up a wiki or blog, port some RSS feeds, and call an impromptu meeting in the cafeteria to recruit a renegade team to collaborate and share.  A lot of the enthusiasm and passion that surrounded these tools stemmed from these small pilot efforts.   Today, workforce collaboration and social ideology is top of mind in the largest corporations.  One interesting metric we decided to track at the Council was “who” is tasked in the Enterprise to get this job done.

Working with our Dachis Group | XPLANE colleagues, we created this infographic that details who’s leading social business efforts internally, and where they fit in the organization.  As you can see from the data, social business is serious business and merits primarily six-figure, Director level oversight.  This survey represents about 100 of our members from some of the largest corporations in the world who are currently engaged in a worldwide rollout of a 2.0 transformation initiative.

Another key point revealed in the data is that it’s not IT exclusively leading these efforts.  Although we have a large concentration of IT members, several other areas are represented.  In particular, Knowledge Management, Learning, and Innovation are well-suited to communicate and translate the benefits of working in a new social paradigm.

The infographic can be downloaded here. Enjoy!