I came across a recent article Making Social Business Strategy Work posted on AMA and I forgot who wrote it because I didn’t want to know. The title is bad enough, but it managed to attract me to spend three minutes reading the article. The article was obviously written by a ‘consultant’ advocating that formulating a sound social business strategy requires understanding the key factors driving current market opportunity which includes the following:
- The changing nature of work. We have shifted to an “always-on” culture, where definitions of where and how jobs get done have radically evolved. Time-shifting, hoteling, and telecommuting are increasingly accepted as lifestyle choices, not just cost-cutting tactics.
- A shift to cultures of public sharing. Social psychology tells us that humans harbor a fundamental need to connect. In more analog times, the public display of this inclination was a 6,000-card Rolodex on an executive’s desk. Maybe two. Today, professionals put their networks on display via LinkedIn.
- Evolution of personal technology. The Blackberry that most executives carry around in their pocket packs more computing power than many of the international business machines that helped them rise up through the corporate ranks. We are living in the midst of a perfect storm combining powerful hardware, fast networks, and robust applications, allowing productivity to skyrocket.
What is new here? Well the changing nature of work didn’t happen yesterday just in case the author didn’t realize. Since the days of Lotus Notes, VPN and laptops, people like me have been doing this for 20 years. The migration of Rolodex to Linkededin happened long time ago, did he just notice that? Let me check his total number of LinkedIn contacts and when he first joined Linkedin.
And the evolution of personal technologies ..ah Blackberry… it doesn’t do much other than allowing me to read word doc (barely), and I got my first Blackberry in 1999. I don’t think there are any drastic changes in the way I use my Blackberries (Yes, I am using two) – which are primarily used for reading and sending emails and making calls and sending a few texts. OK may be a few pics upload once in a while. What perfect storm?
If I was sitting in a boardroom and some dude showed up and asked me “What’s our Social Business Strategy?” I would probably kick him out of the room.
A business strategy is a business strategy. It is about scanning for shifts and looking deeper into needs of customers and signals for change. Strategy requires making choices (and trade offs) of where and how to compete and then analyzing the capability and resource gaps to get to the future state. So we don’t need to call it ‘Social Business Strategy”. If we need to address any environmental shift, that’s part of strategic planning. If we start doing this we will soon be asking whether we have “Business Strategy for Cloud Computing” or “Business Strategy for Social Change” or “iPad Business Strategy”.
Social technologies are slowly impacting organizations, on how people collaborate, share ideas and make decisions, but it is not a business strategy. And it is not about LinkedIn, Blackberries and Facebook. There are huge implications over the long term, but the article failed to illuminate the deeper implications.
The author talked about parsing signal from noise, but articles like this are definitely all noise.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.