Why you should ditch your ‘social business’ strategy

Have you been wading through treacle for months, trying to get people in your organisation to understand social business?

Maybe you’ve been attempting to get board-level buy-in to your social business strategy, but failing to get traction?

Perhaps you’ve tried to articulate what ‘social business’ really means – explaining this way, that way, in smoke signals, standing on your head… but still haven’t really managed to change anything or get off the starting blocks?

If so, it might be time to consider dropping the term ‘social business’ altogether.

Chances are, a tiny minority of people in your organisation share your interpretation of what it means, while some others have an inkling that it’s something to do with CSR; and the rest think it’s at best social media (tools) and at worst a bunch of fluffy stuff on Facebook and Twitter that their kids are better placed to understand.

If ‘social business’ terminology is causing confusion, you’ll find yourself wasting loads of time, trying to define and explain over and over; and still people will struggle. This can easily become demoralising, counter-productive and sometimes turns into a maverick’s crusade that further alienates the majority of your colleagues.

Instead, try adapting the language to something that suits your organisational culture. Talking about becoming an agile, responsive, effective, 21st-century organisation might be the path of least resistance. It also gets away from social business seeming like a destination that you’ll reach, tick the box and that’s it – ‘we are social now’ – when really, there will always be (an exponentially increasing number of) new tools and capabilities that need to be evaluated and embraced, so the key is actually finding ways to reduce barriers to change in order to move faster and grasp opportunities.

Reduce barriers to change in order to move faster and grasp opportunities

The above could be an innovation and velocity strategy, or a change management strategy, or a business transformation strategy, or an efficiency strategy… but you’ll find it can only be achieved by becoming a social business (by the way).

As a rule, if ‘becoming a social business’ – put in those words – resonates with the CEO and senior leadership, it’ll pan out. If it doesn’t, it’s better to drop that language and forget trying to sell a ‘social business’ strategy; but instead demonstrate how you can achieve all your business goals better, faster and cheaper by sharing knowledge more effectively, increasing the speed of decision-making, compressing the timescale of projects, enabling your colleagues and customers to find each other and find information more easily and other specific use cases.

By weaving social – as the enabler and accelerator – into existing strategies and plans, to hit existing objectives – you’ll find your organisation naturally evolves into a social business, without the pain and isolation of talking (and attempting to teach) a language nobody understands.

At the end of the day, ‘becoming a social business’ isn’t really the point. The point is making the world work better, from both a human and commercial perspective. Achieve this at a fundamental level, in a sustainable way; and the social business badge/BHAG becomes irrelevant.

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