THERE ARE 3 “HARD” SYSTEM AREAS
What is the organisation’s strategy seeking to accomplish, and how does the organisation plan to use its resources and capabilities to deliver that?
- Social tools/methods are potentially useful for increasing productivity and effectiveness, as explained above
- Potentially they create a difficult-to-replicate advantage, especially over low cost commodity producers
How is the organisation structured? What are the reporting and working relationships? How are decisions made? How is information shared (formal and informal channels) across the organisation?
- Social tools/methods can potentially move information more quickly through an organisation than previous tools, and can connect to and from both formal and informal channels
- There is the (theoretical) potential to restructure the organisation into a more flexible, faster reacting cellular structure
- Strategies designed to help break down cultural barriers, increase staff engagement and morale can be instigated and managed via social networks
What are the primary business and technical systems that drive the organisation?
- Social technologies are emerging, at present they tend to be “point of use” – the challenge is to integrate them to each other
- Our experience is that they also need integration into the main systems
THERE ARE 3 “SOFT” SYSTEM AREAS
What is the management/leadership style like? Are there real teams functioning within the organisation or are they just nominal groups? What behaviours, tasks and deliverables does management/leadership reward?
- Social technologies/methods force a real change in behaviour, both from the managers – and the managed
- It is easier to monitor/measure qualitative behaviours quantitatively, but there is a risk that such measurement, done insensitively, reduces trust
- The structure and/or layout of the physical workplace may need to be adapted to meet the requirements of employee’s new ways of working
What is the size of the organization? Are there gaps in required capabilities or resources? What is the plan to address those needs?
- Economics of modern work mean attention to multi skilling, multi location working, associates not employees
- Organisations need to be “lean” – and there are quite a few lessons from Japanese techniques that are similar to social business ideas e.g. cells, quality circles, continuous improvement, group decision making etc
What skills are required to deliver the core products and/or services? Are these skills sufficiently present and available? How are skills monitored, assessed, and improved?
- There is increasing evidence that social skills are desired by customers, and can create competitive advantage
- Social technologies do provide means to monitor and assess themselves (and other skills) but as noted above, insensitive use will cause distrust
- Shared values help to synchronise decisions, ensure that everything is “pointing in the same direction”/”on the same page” – i.e. they improve operating efficiency
- To attract and retain the best talent, a business either needs to pay top dollar in a global market, or needs to be seen as being more than just a profit machine, it needs to stand for something bigger
- People feel more motivated and inspired if there is a bigger purpose to their work than the 9-5 drudge
- People like to feel they “belong” to something worth belonging to, it gives work purpose
- Research we did of companies with strong founding cultures was that these can last a long time, even several generations in a business
- Global versus local company culture, ensuring common understanding is key as the culture of global organisations may be interpreted differently by employees based internationally
- Making “company journalism” more possible – as the shared values means informal/employee are easier to ensure employee blogs etc do not need as much oversight
However, a business that doesn’t “walk the talk” will soon lose any benefits the above accrues. The culture has to be ingrained, not grafted on for convenience.