back from an end to end series of trips throughout the Asia Pacific
region meeting with clients (which accounts for my less than
productive update of my blog somewhat) and had one of those 'Ahhh Ha”
moments that people often talk about.
I didn't find the meaning of life or anything as profound as that..... this time.
I did come to a realisation somewhat as to the apparent lack of take
up of “Social Business” as a business concept across primarily
Now I know that many people have written about the
linkages that many business executives associate with the term Social
Business and Social networking in a personal sense (i.e. as in seeing
Facebook as a personal activity and Social Business relating to
non-productive activities from a business sense), but that wasn't it.
it was a generalised attitude that I found that “Social Business”
or more appropriately “Social based collaboration” being seen as
yet another bit of marketing fluff from technology vendors.
wind the clocks back some 20 odd years ago to a time where the
emphasis from newly graduated MBA students was on “Knowledge
Management” and the treatment of information as a valuable, and
necessary corporate asset. Numerous management tomes were written on
the subject, and everyone (well the vast majority anyway) were in
agreement that the need to capture and harness the collective wisdom
of experienced employees could be a key to continuous progression of
despite this huge developing market for tools that could assist, the
technology sector effectively let this opportunity slip by. Not through
lack of trying mind you, but through the lack of any significant success
stories in this area. Sales were one thing. Adoption was clearly
it was in ignoring the social and behavioural factors associated with
building the desire of employees to surrender their knowledges, or
maybe with the implementation mechanisms of the various Knowledge
Management tools touted and sold. Whatever the reason, Knowledge
Management as a competitive differentiator touted by the technology sectors marketing teams dwindled away.
forward now, passing the dot com boom and bust, e-commerce strategies,
learning organisisations and the like to today where the whole world is
talking Social; Social
media and from my perspective, Social Business where an organisation
attempts to capitalise upon the societal trends to a more
collaborative and open approach to life, and implements such changes
internally to drive productivity.
here's the catch.
everything being put out there, this is a organisational management
issue; this is organisational cultural change – not a technology tools
issue. Yet from my viewpoint, many technology vendors are positioning
just the opposite - that technology can 'save the day".
the technology exists to support this new environment, but without a
clearly defined and openly communicated strategy within a company
(with associated changes to underlying support structures and develop a culture that rewards sharing) deploying
Social Technologies are doomed to continual failure.
Business is first and foremost, the same as knowledge management
principles espoused some 20 plus years ago. Yet even today, many do
not have the underlying support structures necessary to permit
evolution into these forms of practices and cultural change.
example, individual performance reviews are still based upon
individual excellence. Stack ranking of individual
output against peers still abounds. Promotions and bonuses are
based, not upon how much useful information and knowledge is shared,
but upon individual attainment, not team.
And as you can anticipate, these few are just the tip of the iceberg.
In many cases, I
have seen vendors promoting to enterprises that it is their technology
that is key to these changes. That's akin to stating that these changes
magically happen with the inclusion of these new socially orientated
tools. “Build it and they will come” type mentality.
fact of the matter is like all things in life, improvements in work
is an evolutionary process. It is in clearly defining where you are
today, and in having a vision for how things should be in the future.
Importantly it is in having a plan to evolve work practices,
operations and culture towards that new vision.
Social Technologies can help.
But only if there is that vision, plan
and acceptance of an evolutionary approach.
And at this
stage I see technology vendors spending too much effort on selling the
features and functions, rather than the change management necessary to
deliver the long term organisational and cultural required, and in
providing services to help.