Corporate Patterns over Process
Now let’s pause and reflect on how this scenario is playing out inside a corporate firewall. An Oil and Gas company for example encounters a new drilling problem in its Alaskan exploration initiative. At a cost of $250K per day, delays are costly indeed. Through its normal knowledge management, designated experts, and consultancy route it may take several days to document, share the problem and wade through the possible solutions now contained in multi-threaded email trails and attachments. There is the further risk that the best person(s) to solve this particular issue were not cc’d on the original email circulation.
In a socially calibrated organisation, there will be a dynamic organic, dynamic community for this same drilling in Alaska and other related problems. The community is a fluid entity where relevant skilled people from inside and outside the company are permitted access. When an operational problem as above occurs, the entire Community is made aware of it by the member who posts it. More importantly the person who owns the problem is able to identify others in the organisation that appear to be well suited to assist and invite them into the discussion. Better still, when these others arrive, they can immediately see where the group’s search for a solution is at and so can add to that sum of insight at speed. And better yet, all of this Community discourse is captured on the platform to be leveraged (by anyone) when a similar problem occurs again or merely to advance the overall knowledge of the company.
This is a far cry from the current process led management style that is the hall mark of most large companies today.
The rise of the influence chart over the organisational chart
In Social Networks, people who create content are ‘rewarded’ for their efforts by means of garnering followers or having their content passed on by others. In Social Business, where the focus of interaction is already pre-defined as being directly related to the business, content creators are rewarded for their contributions to the business by having others view and comment on their content, download their content, and promote their content. In a Social Business context there may be two employees with a similarly large number of followers, but the nature and value of their influence can easily be determined and leveraged.
Take for example a Renewable Energy company that is struggling with a requested innovation from a client in France. A newly recruited graduate engineer in the Aberdeen office thinks she has a possible way forward. She asks to join the relevant community and because of her junior status is asked to make her case for gaining entry. She puts forward her proposed solution which is reviewed by the community manager who thinks it has merit and grants her access. Once inside the Community the talented young engineer has access to relevant discussions, more company data, paid for research and other people in the company to advance her learning. Where there is a need for someone to devote some of their own time to reading a particular technical piece of research and summarise it for the community, she is able to volunteer her services. Her summary is reviewed and commented on by her colleagues. All of these interactions (known as Social gestures) are captured and scored against her openly viewable profile on the platform. As a result of her success on this project the number of other engineers who follow her increases and so does her influence in this context. Using platform analytics, someone in HR who covers Talent Management can easily track the efforts of the new engineer and the recommendations of her peers, and highlight this to the board.
Observe how this activity has taken place without reference to any organisational hierarchy. There are no reporting lines and very little in the way of requested authority and approval. This is how a socially calibrated organisation looks and operates.
In this world the influence chart carries far more weight than the organisational chart and more significantly that shift is embraced and championed by organisational leaders. They know that this is the way forward. They can see how their companies will look in five years’ time. They understand fully the Social Business imperative.
Make no mistake the biggest winners of all are the senior business leaders in the company, as they now have a living breathing organic company playbook or corporate memory to access and interrogate at will, which leads ultimately to the ability to make better business decisions.
“By encouraging employees to both seek and provide help, rewarding givers, and screening out takers, companies can reap significant and lasting benefits. McKinsey white paper - Givers and Takers”
For a more detailed study of specific line of business functions and how they are affected by embracing Social Business – see: McKinsey white paper – How social technologies are extending the organization