A social business transformation requires a change in behavior. It requires employees to change the way they do their jobs and think differently. It requires business leaders to realize and adapt to the social customer, tear down organizational silos, empower teams and employees to share knowledge across job functions and geographies, and invest in the right social business technology that will help facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing. These change management initiatives have to be driven by leadership and practiced at every level in the organization from the c-suite to middle management and all the way down to an IT manager. Otherwise, change will not occur. This means that executives must not only talk about changing the organization but exemplify the behaviors that really do facilitate and practice change.
If business leaders are not completely sold on changing the culture, or rather, the ones actually driving it, there will only be minor change in certain pockets of the organization like marketing, customer support or a certain business unit. Many times, it will be middle management championing, evangelizing and driving enterprise collaboration, communication and technology adoption. And in some cases when budgets come in at zero and the execs keep saying “no”, the old school business norms will take root again and silos will rise again. All the technology in the world will not change behaviors. And changing an organization is more than just saying “we want to be a social organization” and then deploying Clearvale behind the firewall. Leaders have to exemplify the behaviors that they want their teams to adopt.
Social business is not about communication. It’s not about technology or Enterprise 2.0. It’s about change management. I believe this to my core.
A few weeks ago, I conducted a poll “How would you Prioritize Social Business Initiatives” and listed three possible choices – culture, processes and technology. Not the greatest sample size but there were roughly 75 votes and a little over 80% of those who took the poll believe that culture change is the number one priority that CEOs must think about when attempting to transform their organizations.
Now this begs the question. What if the CEO is resistant to change? Or maybe he or she is just not interested in creating a collaborative social organization.
This is where the social business change agent comes in. This can essentially be one or more individuals in an organization that desire change. Day to day they live through the organizational silos that poison most companies. They realize that the world is changing — the social customer is gaining influence, participation is mandatory, customers can become advocates if they are paid attention to and the employees can essentially become trusted brand ambassadors. And while the external landscape is changing so quickly most organizations remain stagnant, slow and stuck in their old ways. So who is the social business change agent? Well, each company is different so it depends. But here are some things to think about if you are looking to nominate yourself as a change agent.
I write at length about this very topic in my book , Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization scheduled to be released in July 2011. You can pre-order by clicking on the below social business book cover. 100% of all book royalties are being donated to Not For Sale; a global non profit organization trying to abolish human and sex trafficking. Thank you for your support.