Social Business is About Evolution, Not Revolution

4 minute read
Chelsi Nakano avatar

We're wrapping up our month of Social Business today, so in the spirit of endings I thought I'd help you embrace a new way of thinking via a statement from Olivier Blanchard: Social is something you are, not something you do

Bringing it Back to Business 

Blanchard's "10 Truths about Social Media & Social Business you need to know" struck a chord when he initially posted it in October of last year, but the meat and potatoes of his argument -- that social media is a culture, not a process -- is becoming ever more prevalent in 2012. 

Examples? I got 'em. We'll start with the tweet jam we held earlier this month. 

"...we keep calling it social business, but if it’s ever to really catch on, social needs to become an intrinsic part of what we simply call 'business,' wrote our own Marisa Peacock, supporting the statement with the following:

@toddpart 1st step is to stop trying to distinguish socbiz as something different. SocBiz should be part of normal routine now

@themaria Not to derail the conversation, but when will we finally drop "social" and just agree that it's just good business? :) 

@lehawes The diversity of thought expressed so far in this chat underscores how nascent social business is. And its emergent nature.

Next, the proof was everywhere at Social Media Week. From discussions about why social influence isn't as big a deal as we make it out to be to the future of sharing (hint: it's automated), down to a nice summary from Robin Houghton:

In the future, we won’t be talking about social media or social business, just business. I’ve believed this for a long time: the job of social media specialists is ultimately to put themselves out of a job. Except of course, nothing will happen overnight. Euan Semple said he thought we were 5 – 10 years off the point when the majority of businesses ‘get’ social. That’s actually a very long time on the spectrum of technological change, but not in terms of people and business culture change.

We're Getting There...Slowly

Okay, so the realization has been made. But how do we "become" social? If it's being over doing like Blanchard says, then probably not by taking the tool route. Harmon.ie's co-founder and CEO, Yaacov Cohen, recently made an example out of Jive, citing the company's wider fourth quarter net losses in spite of growing popularity. 

There’s no doubt that Jive is an impressive software company that’s developed a technology innovation wrapped in a brilliant marketing package. This is a shame, because their approach is fundamentally flawed...In order for the enterprise to truly become more collaborative and more social, they need an evolutionary approach, respectful of current workflows, business processes and existing infrastructures. Becoming a more collaborative and more social business requires a gradual change of behavior, not a brutal rip-and-replace strategy.

Ouch. It's a rough reality for Jive and companies like Jive, but it makes sense from this angle. If social continues to prove to be a fundamental quality, not an add-on, most organizations won't succeed in the social space by changing what they do and not who they are. 

Learning Opportunities

It's About People, People!

In the end, it comes down to the evolution of the company you keep. This is another one of those messages that thought leaders have been preaching for a long time now: people over technology. 

The reason it's so slow going is because truly optimizing groups of people introduces many things into the framework that organizations aren't exactly comfortable with: connection, caring, empathy and vulnerability. Especially vulnerability. These are the things that we practice in our personal lives in order to to have good relationships, but, as Rachel Happe said at last year's Enterprise 2.0 conference, “we don’t put those values on the corporate spreadsheet, we don’t account for that, we don’t do gap analysis charts around that and what I’m telling you today, is you need to start figuring out how to account for that value.”

Blanchard is a little more candid: "If you hire and promote assholes, your company will be full of assholes. It doesn’t matter how much Twitter and Facebook you add to your company’s communications or how many awesome monitoring dashboards you buy if you are a company of assholes.Guess what: An asshole on social media is still an asshole. Start with your people, not your tools. They are what makes social either work or fail."

Thoughts? To the comments!