Social business : your worst nightmare ?

t-shirt_1984_george_orwell-2Most of the time, though leaders or consultants  show social business/ enterprise 2.0 as the model of the next enterprise, the one which make match successful business and well being for the employees in a win-win mode. Are you sure ? Usually this issue of social business is focus on the enterprise social network, and that’s just a tool. So the result is related to what you do with this tool. When you see how ours organizations currently run, are you undoubted that we go in the right way for a better world, or a worse one ?

One of the issue of the enterprise 2.0 is transparency. So a kind of panopticon where everyone will be able to watch everyone. A world where everyone can see each other doesn’t remind you anything, as  1984 ? What a social pressure for all your employees, you can’t dodge this issue. So a more sneaky pressure which put you under stress, but no one is in charge. An organization where everyone can watch me and judge me is really your dream ? Less or lack of middle management ? A less hierarchical enterprise, open, where to reach this goal you fire all your manager ? True, good start, sounds like a dream.

A personal branding related to my posts on the enterprise social network. So a tool which is going to count how many posts I’ve made, my votes, likes from my colleagues. For the ones who have watched the tv shows, The Borgia, they will feel this fragrance of simony. An annual assesment related to quantity, only focus on my use of the enterprise social network. Not sure, that shows the real value of the social business for the employees.

Empowerment for employees. Again a dream for everyone ? It is the same idea that any unemployed is a potential entrepreneur. Not sure that anyone wants this part of autonomy, because it means, choice, risk, responsabilities. Some people don’t want to be a leader.

In fact any arguments in favor of the social business has its own dark side and lead to the worst. It is an cultural issue, a real shift where everyone will have to learn how to behave differently, rethink the balance of power relationship, the social links inside the enterprise. An employee won’t care if the pain in the neck comes from a manager or a famous internal expert. Many mistakes are adjoining to the middle management, but may be the system and the organization should be more watch. The balance of power will be less hierarchical and more social, ok but there is still a balance of power and some domination.

There is real model to rebuild, that’s why the change management for that kind of project is not linked to the management of the tool, but on a switch of the mindset and a new way to work, the change of social relationship inside the organization. Usually National Education Services in different countries want to apply some alternative pedagogy like Freinet or Francisco Ferrer, but without the mindset related to them. It can’t work, you can’t split in one hand the usages and in the other hand the philosophy. These usage are dedicated to a transformation of the society, that’s the same here.

Set up an enterprise social network is useless if you don’t change the way you manage people and if your internal culture doesn’t evolve too. Sometimes you can produce the opposite effect, and more destabilize your management and your employees.

So what looks like the social business of your dream ?

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  • Julian Andronic

    Anthony,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience with #socialbiz. There are elements of what you are saying that are true, 1. #socialbiz software is just another technology; 2. open enterprise for the sake of open enterprise sounds like a MTV reality show where you are waiting around for something silly to happen. However, #socialbiz undoubtedly can have a positive effect on the way business is done. In your case you cover just one element of #socialbiz – the Enterprise Social Networks that without the proper governance, planning, training senior-level support and strategy are doomed to fail. That is fairly obvious, because it’s not a technology decision per se, but one of cultural change. The truly successful companies in this area will be the first to tell you that the process was not easy, required resources, but most importantly, the company’s commitment to change. I can’t say that #socialbiz is the silver bullet for every business issue you might have, but it can solve some real problems too, think about customer/partner networks, idea crowd-sourcing, expertise discovery, etc.

    Julian

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