Author: Harold Jarche Posted: October 20, 2011 1163 views

The Dachis Group’s latest XPLANATiON of the attributes of a socially optimized businessis a pretty good answer to the question, “What is social business?”

Looking just at the key differences in the info-graphic, I’d like to dig into “Why” these differences are necessary:

Greater acceptance of risks & failures: This is how complex problems are addressed, and all businesses are dealing with more complexity. As I mentioned in leadership emerges from network culture, a Probe-Sense-Respond approach is necessary. Dave Snowden underlines the fact that over half of your probes will fail and hence the need to have a culture where failure is an option. It’s what Dave calls “safe-fail”: “We conduct safe-fail experiments. We don’t do fail-safe design. If an experiment succeeds, we amplify it. If an experiment fails, we dampen it.” Failure is not just an option, it’s a common occurrence.

Clear guidelines allow everyone to speak openly on behalf of the company. That’s because hyperlinks have subverted hierarchy. Everyone is connected. In hierarchical organizations, workers are more connected when they go home than when they’re at work.  the inside. This is a sure sign of the obsolescence of many management control systems.  The Internet has changed everything.

Democratization of information: User-generated content is is ubiquitous and much of it is very useful. Search engines give each worker more information and knowledge than any CEO had 10 years ago. Pervasive connectivity will change traditional power structures, though the full effects of this are not yet visible.

Leaders and experts can easily emerge: It takes different leadership, or leadership for networks, to do the important work in complex work environments, which is to increase collaboration and support social learning in the workplace. If the main point of the internet is to remove “barriers to socializing”, then shouldn’t leadership in a networked, social business strive for a similar objective?

Team-oriented, much flatter, exists beyond the org chart: This is another result of a networked society but I’m not sure if team is the best term for social business and I would use collaboration instead. This is the objective of Wirearchy: a dynamic multi-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology.

Greater business visibility, info flows vertically and horizontally: There are emerging patterns and dynamics related to interconnected people and interlinked information flows, which are bypassing established traditional structures and services. It’s part of wired work.

Comfortable with outward facing communication: Most of the action in business is moving to the edge and a greater percentage of the workforce will be customer-facing.

About the author >

Harold Jarche

Harold Jarche passionately believes in the re-integration of work and learning. People have connected with Harold over the past decade, through his blog and consulting practices, for innovative ideas on business, technology, social networks and learning. He also distills heady topics like complexity theory into practical advice. Harold has saved clients time and money by focusing on business objectives and conducting cause analyses, instead of prescribing training as a solution looking for a problem. A graduate of the Royal Military College, Harold served over 20 years in the Canadian Army in leadership and training roles. Harold has held senior positions at the Centre for Learning Technologies and e-Com Inc. His preferred workplace is on his bike, where he gets his best ideas.

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