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.

Social Business: Pining for the Fjords!

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it…  It’s dead!”

So, which is it dead or not dead?   There is so much confusion in the market about what “Social Business” is, it might as well be a dead parrot (too).  And there is no shortage of people who come at this conversation with a perspective that simply adds more confusion based on their orientation or specific economic agenda.

No one knows this struggle better than I.  I had lost the battle to preserve “Social Business” for its original owner, Muhammad Yunus, who by-the-way is trying to solve global poverty and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, sometime in 2009 in discussions with the social cognoscenti.  My former employer and friends at the Dachis Group had settled on repurposing Social Business to describe the evolving phenomenon, and after I was acquired, I too fell in line eventually rebranding the Council I had created for early adopters of Enterprise 2.0 to become “The Social Business Council.”*   I think the goal had always been to create a singular view for the market, and I supported the direction.  But, even as I was leaving Dachis Group in the summer of 2012, we took a pulse to see how many of the early adopters had fully integrated their internal social collaboration initiatives (collaboration and learning) with their external social media marketing initiatives (sales and marketing), and wished we hadn’t asked.  I knew the number would not be high, but I was literally shocked to see the response was nearly zero.  The actual number was 4%.   The number was so startling that when I presented it at a Jive user’s group meeting here in Texas, people were somewhat alarmed.  So, I repurposed the figure in the report to reflect how many people said they had plans to do it, but currently had not done it.

planets

The reality that surrounds this issue is we are really talking about two different planets that share the same language based on the principles of the early web 2.0 phenomenon and open web.  But, anyone who’s played in both these camps will readily acknowledge that a digital strategist or VP of Consumer Strategy has no idea what social collaboration is inside the enterprise and most likely spends his/her entire day in email, teleconferences, meetings, and ppt.  And, someone who’s running an internal enterprise social network has no idea who the top players are in SMMS (or what that acronym even means).  The problem is becoming somewhat unwieldy, however, because people who do not know better can easily confuse expertise in one area with the other.  Some of the senior enterprise folks in our network are facing career track issues with this right now.  Further, there’s now evidence of attempts at rationalization taking place, trying to shoe-horn the whole shebang into a singular phenomenon.  Nice try, and if it leads to changing the world, we’re for it.

One of our Change Agents, Richard Martin, pointed out that Nilofer Merchant side-stepped the issue quite neatly in her book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era: “You might wonder why I’m not using Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) or social business (#socbiz) terminology. Enterprise 2.0 primarily focused on the tools necessary to create information flow, based on the idea that we can do better if we share information freely. Social business (#socbiz) was a term first created by Muhammed Yunus, but more recently has been a popular way to describe the way companies function and generate value for all the constituents (stakeholders, employees, customers, partners, suppliers)—the idea being that we add a social overlay to the existing structural framework. Here, I pose a new question with the notion of Social Era: in what ways can we structure things entirely differently to create more value in the context of our times, to be fast to market, to be fluid in mind-set, to be flexible in how we organize, deliver, and create value?”

She nails it in that “new” question.

We’ll be talking about some of those answers in an upcoming webinar we are doing next week in cooperation with our sponsor partner, Socialcast by VMware. The webinar will provide a reality check on where social is today, but more importantly, will talk about the underlying trends that are driving enterprise-sized businesses to become more network-based and adaptable.  You’ll have the pleasure of listening to thought leaders Simon Terry and Harold Jarche share their insights on why social matters now more than ever before.   Simon will explain how we got here, what the problem is in the market, and Harold will explain ways we can begin to address these problems today.  We’ll cover a few case studies and have lots of time to do Q&A with webinar participants, so please sign up and join us.  We look forward to your participation.

Webinar: Moving Forward with Social Collaboration
Date:  December 12, 2013
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST

 

This webinar kicks off a series of projects we’ll be doing with Socialcast to educate the market.   We have a lot more in store as we roll into 2014 too.  As always, thanks for your support for the great work we’re doing at Change Agents Worldwide.  You can support us by tweeting (@chagww and #caww) about us, liking us on Facebook, following on on G+, joining our public community on G+, and following our updates on LinkedIn.  Of course, don’t be shy about joining us as well.  Things are going to change in 2014 for new members, so if you’ve been considering joining, now would be a good time.

Last thing –  Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review are running a fairly good survey on trying to get to the bottom of some of these issues and to mitigate some confusion in the market.  I highly recommend you complete the questionnaire.   We’re also very excited about Change Agent Jane McConnell’s Digital Workplace results which will be out in early 2014, as well.

See you next Thursday!  And, as always, interested in your comments.

 

*Sadly, one thing is deader than a dead parrot: The Social Business Council.  Dachis Group shut it down this month.  It was a great resource for many early adopters and fans, and its legend lives on in the halls of Wikipedia if you’d like to update the page.

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That Sound You’re Not Hearing in Your Business Could Be Fatal.

If we’ve learned anything over these past six, going on seven years of covering the internal social collaboration sector, it’s that the social web has become a catalyst for intellectual curiosity.

folon

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.”   Simon and Garfunkel

 

If we’ve learned anything over these past six, going on seven years of covering the internal social collaboration sector, it’s that the social web has become a catalyst for intellectual curiosity. Tribes are forming everywhere with the growing popularity of niche sub-groups from LinkedIn to Google Communities. As quickly as you can say “add me,” this socially savvy collective is connecting, learning, and sharing with effortless, timeless ease. In other words, the long tail of interesting projects and topics is attracting talent to shared interest groups with like-minded professionals every moment around the social globe.

The future of the enterprise is already here albeit unevenly distributed in blossoms of network connections.  What are not unevenly distributed, are the individuals that “get” social collaboration and new modes of working. Small networks of professionals have always been present in the business world, but what’s different in the social era is the degree to which strong bonds and real relationships are forged on a foundation of meritocracy and reciprocal trust.  Not only do we know who you are, we observe your behavior in the network, and make judgments about your contributions and motives.  And absent an economic incentive to work together, individuals are sharing for the sheer pleasure of learning and teaching.

With a healthy, organic socio-collaborative corporate philosophy and pleasing UX platforms to foster it, talent will not stray outside the corporate walls for intellectual stimulation.  The corporate town hall will be buzzing with ideas and positive energy.  But, if your internal network is deathly quiet, or worse – non-existent, you can count the hours before your best performing future-worker talent connects itself to that outside world permanently, leaving you wondering why you didn’t see the big shift soon enough to make the change that could save your company.

The key to keeping your talent in-house and focused on organizational goals is to ensure the company’s mission is in sync with individual passions and interests. Command and control has been rendered obsolete in a galaxy of independent thinkers. It can putter on in the short term, but will never survive the long term.

I was poring over the lengthy back and forth between Nick Carr and Clay Shirky over the future of the book publishing industry a few weeks ago. At the same time, I stumbled upon this timeless piece by Boston Consulting Group founder Bruce Henderson about the difficulty of effecting change in a large organization.  PUB DATE: 1968   Henderson points out there are predominantly three dependent reasons why companies fail to change and ultimately fail altogether:  executive management doesn’t recognize or believe there is a fundamental shift underway important enough to affect the business, leadership doesn’t champion the change, and by the time they figure it out, it’s too late. In the final analysis, what hit me like a ton of Blockbuster brick and mortars is how foolish it will be for large enterprises to reject the premise (and practice) of social collaboration.  In the same way that media content is being re-purposed, repackaged, and re-distributed, so it will be for the knowledge assets of knowledge workers.  The degree to which executive management can recognize these important trends and retain its intellectual capital will be key to managing the shift.

Bonus:  A recent study by the CEB links healthy collaboration to breakthrough performance

Two Surprising Statistics on Social Business Progress in the Enterprise

Over the summer, we conducted a short survey among the Social Business Council members to gauge where large enterprises are regarding their progress introducing social to the enterprise.  The request was made by a Council member who was looking for some hard benchmarking data he could share with his team.

We wanted to answer the question:

“How far along are the leading early adopters?”

The results were eye-opening.  So many of us who track the market are always saying how early we are, how we are just at the beginning of this transformation,  how it could take a decade or so to really start seeing the fruits of our efforts, etc.   But, we really didn’t have a lot of  hard evidence.*  Now we do.

The first eye-opener was where early adopters report they are.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed (57%) reported that that only 10-20% of their eligible workforce is active on the platform.  The flip side of this statistic is, of course, that there is a lot of room to grow, and it opens up large opportunities for consultants, vendors, and social business advocates to help companies succeed here.

The second big reveal for me was the number of companies who indicated there is no real integration between their external social initiatives (social media/customer outreach) and their internal social efforts (a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0).  It was nearly unanimous: 96% reported there was nothing today that integrated their social business initiatives, although nearly half reported this was on the planning board.

In short, the survey asked 10 simple questions, yet essentially debunked some of the hype that circulates on the social web regarding the state of the market. In essence, the social business phenomenon is real, but all stakeholders vested in the market would be well-advised to exercise some patience in expecting game-changing results.

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote a longer piece on ZDnet with some of his takeaways, and you can download the report here.

*These survey results reflect the progress of  a unique cohort: very large enterprises with more than one billion USD in annual revenue that are actively engaged in a social business initiative.  Smaller organizations may report different results.

 

 

 

Pinch me. SAP is Dreaming up Social for the Enterprise.

With Patel’s new position, SAP recently moved “social” into its cloud group where it will support all SAP suites and concentrations (CRM, for example) in a new social platform that will be structured to support the business horizontally and seamlessly across on-premise and cloud offerings. The group is building what they’re calling, “Project Robus.” (Latin for resolve or purpose.)

This was my 5th year attending SAP‘s gala SAPPHIRE event.   You can see from my previous blog posts, a recurring theme in all of them is SAP’s cold shoulder toward all things social.

2008What I-know-I-don’t-know about E2.0 and SAP from Sapphire ’08

 “Enterprise 2.0 is just not a burning issue on the minds of top SAP execs… SAP execs mirror the same sentiment as our executive clients: they have serious businesses to run– not a lot of time for the giddy consumery stuff. SAP software fuels the nitty gritty of hard-core business processes for most of the largest enterprises in the world. Where blogging (for example) fits into getting a raw material through the factory floor to a finished product, booked in inventory and ready to move through a supply chain is just not obvious to me right now. So the likelihood of an Enterprise 2.0 bolt-on to SAP is just as slim as it is naive.”
“So, once again, SAP invited me to its annual SAPPHIRE and ASUG event. I find myself wondering if SAP will get return on their investment in me once again. The answer is, probably not…  The reality is SAP and its global customer base are just not ready for the socialization of the enterprise. It’s just not a topic that commands attention at this massive event (despite my valiant efforts to bring it up in every executive briefing). The majority of conversations at SAPPHIRE revolve around common themes such as decision-making, analysis, data, spreadsheets, databases, reports, statistics, and business processes. In other words, the real work that goes on in real businesses.”
“For me, SAPPHIRE presents a unique opportunity to re-calibrate and diffuse the hype chamber that self-perpetuates around the 2.0 phenomenon.   SAPPHIRE is the 2.0 Rehab that I voluntarily commit myself to every year for one week. Only at SAPPHIRE do I get an opportunity to see the world the way my Council members do– that the 2.0/social business hoopla is enjoyed and shared by a small minority of corporate professionals.  Through the eyes of SAP customers and the SAP eco-system, I gain unique insight into the tremendous task ahead which involves a host of issues, not the least of which is tying 2.0 transformation to the enterprise business processes that run the world’s most successful businesses.”

This year, in 2012, it looks like things might be taking a new turn.  At least the lip service is on message.  Readers of this blog should know SAP recently hired the #e20 community’s good friend Sameer Patel to assume the position of Social Czar at SAP.  Patel has his work cut out  for him, however.  The two social platforms that qualify as social at SAP are StreamWork and SuccessFactor’s Jam (formerly CubeTree).  Two platforms that, frankly, don’t see much social traction in large enterprise. Neither one ever comes up in a landscape conversation of social collaboration software, and turning up examples of hard core users has been pretty slim among those of us who keep an eye on this category.  CubeTree, in fact, was never a player.  With Patel’s new position, SAP recently moved “social”  into its cloud group where it will support all SAP suites and concentrations (CRM, for example) in a new social platform that will be structured to support the business horizontally and seamlessly across on-premise and cloud offerings.  The group is building what they’re calling, “Project Robus.” (Latin for resolve or purpose.)

What’s probably most significant about Project Robus is that all development is being led by SuccessFactor’s co-founder and  technical cloud guru, Aaron Au. Au  is the lead architect and will run engineering for the project.  The operating vision behind the socialization of SAP’s massive ENSW footprint hinges squarely on integrating social with business process.  As Patel describes it, “This is core infrastructure.  It’s like application servers and middleware.”  The orientation is on business activities first, and social features second.  In other words, use cases will drive how and when social interacts with a business process.  All social presentations within the SAP product suite will touch the Robus platform.  My blogger colleague Alan Lepofsky describes it as “social plumbing.”

The pressure to deliver social is on SuccessFactors CEO Lars Dalgaard who is the Board executive advocate for social. Dalgaard is breathing new life and new ideas into the software behemoth.  He appears to have much support from co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Snabe, as most cloud and social questions asked at the scheduled media/analyst interview were turned over to Dalgaard.   There is evidence in the market that SAP has finally embraced the principles of a more collaborative, social business world (see Jim Snabe’s opinion piece in the Financial Times, “Social Networking and the Future of Business“).

I want to believe SAP will pull this off, but there is a small part of me that wants to scream, “You’re doing it wrong!”  It’s as if SAP is looking for a software solution to a human opportunity.  Focusing on the unstructured data and time spent between workflows is anathema to SAP’s heritage and corporate culture.  And even if the executive and management ranks see the opportunity, the rank and file are going to be puzzled.  We were sitting at dinner with a number of SAP mentors and I asked if any of them were using StreamWork.  All heads shook no.  One mentor said he wouldn’t even bother logging on.  My enterprise blogger friends roll their eyes when I talk about how social is about reinventing the way we work.  But they’re not seeing the changes I’m seeing in large organizations that are successful with social reinvention.  Luckily, I’m not the only one talking about this.  The enterprise is ready for a different way to work.

But, like Kermit, it’s the lovers, the dreamers, and me.  Those of us who are under Social Business’ spell are true believers.  I hope Lars Dalgaard and the SAP executive team can execute on the human potential of social, but I’m still a bit skeptical.

See Dalgaard’s “dream” app.  Here’s to hoping they pull it off.

#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.