The Social Organization

Enterprise social networks will become the primary communication channels for noticing, deciding or acting on information relevant to carrying out work,” the consulting company Gartner claims in a press release, but “80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.” Enterprise social is important but for the next few years most companies won’t get it right.

The authors of The Social Organization categorize stages of engagement with enterprise social. Most companies range somewhere between folly and flippant with fearful holding the middle ground. At best they don’t prevent employees from forming collaborative communities but they ensure the failure of those communities by not providing leadership and resources. Without the power to execute upon the innovative solutions derived from their collective intelligence, those communities become irrelevant and wither.

Enterprise social networks aren’t like cooked spaghetti. You can’t throw them against the wall and expect them to stick. Ironically, spontaneity requires planning, persistence, faith, hard work and more than a few dollars. The end result, however, can be communities that solve thorny business problems with innovative solutions. At least as valuable, I think, is the potential impact on employee engagement and retention.

Enterprise social networks have the potential to change the way we work and the way we relate to one another at work. Considering the staggering number of disengaged employees, the alienation, emotional pain and loss of productivity, some change is desperately needed.

The Social Organization isn’t about marketing with social media. It won’t help you sell widgets using Twitter. But it is a topographic map of the social landscape inside companies. It will help you ask the right questions. Without those questions you’ll never find your way across the terrain. You’ll be lost among the 80%.

The Social Organization: How to Use Social Media to Tap the Collective Genius of your Customers and Employees
Anthony J. Bradley, Mark P. McDonald

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