Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Power up! Level completed


I am proud to announce today that Headshift has joined Dachis Group to create the leading global social business design consulting firm
When I first saw the news last April that Jeffrey Dachis had backing from Austin Ventures to create a new startup in this space, I was intrigued. With his track record of market making as founder of Razorfish back in the day, I suspected he could be an important player in making the breakthrough we are looking for in the enterprise social computing field to take our ideas mainstream. We have some smart people, prolific commentators, analysts and excellent product companies in this space, but somehow we felt the breakthrough required a smarter synthesis of ideas, technology and user experience than we have seen to date
Whilst the world went wannabe-start-up crazy, Livio and I ploughed an old-fashioned furrow, building a cash positive business from day one, growing a strong team of consultants and developers and slowly and patiently working with companies and large organisations to help them understand and adopt social tools and business social networking. We have a pretty awesome client list and enjoy working on both sides of the firewall with commercial, media and public sector clients, but real change takes time and so we have played the long game
When the downturn hit, we realised that this was an opportunity not to be missed. Rather than just argue the merits of network-centric management, people over process and the power of feedback and information flows, we felt companies now had an urgent economic imperative to reduce internal costs, do more with less, and to operate in a more agile and responsive way. At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, we had our best quarters ever, but we recognised that we had to scale up to meet the bigger challenge of truly transforming organisations through social business design. But how? We had been down the VC route before in our previous start-up and were aware of the risks. Acquisition by a ‘big player’ would probably slow us down, not speed us up. What we were looking for was not cash or credibility (which arguably we already had) but some kind of disruptive rocket fuel and greater experience scaling a service business
Initially, when we started talking to Jeff, we had no idea just how closely aligned our thinking was. Our ideas, based on practice, turned out to dove-tail perfectly with Jeff’s thesis about social business design. He flew over to check us out and we spent a wonderful two days mind-melding, at which point I think we all realised that this was our destiny. Finally, when the lawyers and accountants were happy with the details, we completed the deal that marks the beginning of the next phase for Headshift
So, what does the next phase look like
We are ready to move beyond the experimental phase to create real business transformation. Leaving behind the niche world of enterprise 2.0, we are ready to work with businesses at a senior level to run change programmes aimed at bringing their processes, internal IT and communications into the Twenty-First Century. It has never been cheaper or easier to collaborate online. It has never been easier to harness people power to drive business performance. It has never been easier to engage with customers and business partners. Yet, as we know, most companies have come to accept an overly bureaucratic, process-heavy high-cost model of doing business as the norm. They need credible partners who can operate across technology, organisational design and business analysis to help meet this challenge, not just evangelists or technology vendors. That’s our role
Dachis Group’s all-star team have developed some thinking around four levels of operation for social business:

  • ecosystem: networks and relationships, inside and outside
  • hivemindedness: collective awareness, engagement, and participation
  • dynamic signals: ambient awareness, relevance, findability
  • metafilters: filtering, tagging and sensemaking

We see great potential for addressing simple but important use cases at each of these levels of operation, but the main challenge in the short-term is how we can help second wave adopters make sense of the new world of social tools and networks, and this is something that keeps our feet firmly on the ground
When we started out, over six years ago, we wrote our Readme.doc setting out a vision of what we wanted to achieve with Headshift. Looking back at this paper, we have lots left to do, but now we have engaged our second stage rockets, I think we will get there quicker. I can’t wait to see where we get to by the end of our first decade.

21 Responses to Power up! Level completed

  1. By Ricardo Sueiras on September 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This is awesome, makes a lot of sense and hope(sure) you will suceed! Well done guys…

  2. By Jason Grant on September 2, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Sounds very promising. Best of luck with this.

  3. By Oscar Berg on September 2, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Spot on! Good luck on the new level.

  4. By broadstuff on September 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

    The times, they are a changing…..

    Two posts in the hopper today from the London scene – early swallows yet, but is a summer icumen in?
    First, news that Headshift has sold itself to ex-Razorfish CEO’s new gig, the eponymous Dachis:
    We are ready to move beyond the experimental phase t

  5. By Sigrun Olafsdottir on September 2, 2009 at 11:26 am

    WoW! Congrats! It all sounds utterly fab and is certainly well deserved considering the hard work, the dedication and the blind faith both you, Livio and then later – a great team of all sorts put into Headshift from the word go. Up Up and Away!!!

  6. By alberto knapp on September 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Sounds really interesting ! Good luck !

  7. By Mary Abraham on September 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Congratulations to the Headshift team! This is exciting news.

  8. By Trine-Maria on September 2, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Congratulations Lee – sounds like you are on the right track – can’t wait to hear more – you are always an inspiration to us – and I really think that you guys deserve the best of luck with helping organizations changing their structures and ways and systems to step into the new participatory, cocreative and hyperlinked world! All the best from us in Copenhagen!

  9. By Susan Scrupski on September 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Congrats Lee. This is a great day in the neighborhood for sure. Yet, not sure why you’re thinking you need to leave the “niche world of e20?” Most of us in the echo chamber have always believed its success is predicated on wide scale organizational transformation. But I digress… this is fantastic news and very much looking forward to what comes next…

  10. By Lee Bryant on September 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks all!
    @Susan – I mean only that we want to move beyond niche, not that we will forget our roots or our friends 🙂 Thanks for all your kindness and support , which I really appreciate. See you in Austin very soon, I hope!

  11. By Cormac Heron on September 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Amazing work you guys. Very happy for you. When I was working with Headshift in PwC I felt that there were bigger things to come. Well done again.

  12. By Will Critchlow on September 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Well done – and good luck. Sounds awesome. I look forward to seeing what comes next!

  13. By David Rosenberg on September 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    This is amazing news, I just read your readme and I literally refuse to believe you wrote it in 2003.

  14. By Martin Cleaver on September 2, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Congratulations guys!

  15. By Chris McGrath on September 2, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Way to go Lee. This is exciting news for everyone in this e20 microcosm. Dachis Group’s first major announcement is a brilliant one. Can’t wait to see what you guys accomplish in the upcoming years.

  16. By Andy on September 2, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Brilliant news – well deserved and a smart move on both sides. A great fit I’m sure. Congrats guys.

  17. By Robin Grant, We Are Social on September 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Hey Lee – congrats!!! Looking forward to seeing where those second stage rockets take you…

  18. By David Armano on September 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    What a wonderfully written post. We are truly in good company.

  19. By Jevon Macdonald on September 2, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Honored., really. We are all feeling lucky and proud.

  20. By Keith Timimi on September 3, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Lee, Livio, who would have thought, all those years ago in a smoky hotel room in Centraal Square in Amsterdam, that it would have come to this … Congratulations, well deserved, and you have exciting times ahead.
    I hope there are opportunities to collaborate with some of our clients in Singapore in the future.

  21. By Molly Webb on September 3, 2009 at 9:26 am