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Defining Social Business Design

by Daniel Siddle

On Tuesday morning I presented at the Get Social Roadshow in Cardiff under the title of “Social Business Design in Business Today”.  The bulk of the conversation was around examples and case studies of good social business design.  Starbucks, RedBull and RPC all featured.

Before we went into the examples I wanted to get across what we at Headshift | Dachis Group think Social Business Design is, the kind of challenges organisations face when becoming social and the kind of things they need to think about.  So I started with the definition we use and simply riffed off that to cover those points.

Social Business Design is the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process and culture.  The goal: improving value exchange among constituents.

There has to be some intent behind the drive to become social. It won’t just happen spontaneously, you need to put in some effort to get to where you want to be. The days of build it and they will come never really existed and in the competitive environment of social media and the time constrained environment of the Enterprise won’t ever exist. Like any change management process you need to have a vision for the future, a plan to drive that change, measures to make sure you stay on track and a reason for doing it in the first place.

Things change. Everything about social business, from the macro to the micro level, is changing. Technology is changing, user needs are changing, the content running through your activity stream is changing. You need to get used to it and you need to be able to use it to your advantage. Adopting Agile development methodologies help with the technologies, learning that you don’t need to read everything and that you can rely on ambient awareness helps with the content.

Everything you do will be checked, referenced and gauged by people and groups against a set of standards that are constantly shifting. Release a platform that people like and they’ll flock to it (Facebook). Release one they don’t and it’s a different story (Google Wave/Buzz). Put content out that is useful, informative and has value and it will be rated, ranked and liked as it is pushed in front of more eyes. Put content out that isn’t so great and watch it get calibrated on the lower end of the scale.

You can put a great system in place to support collaboration and networking but if no-one wants to collaborate or network then you’ve probably wasted your time. Any transformation into a social business will require a balance approach to all three. Implement systems that are a delight to use. Consider people before process. Work with people’s intrinsic motivations.

Don’t be selfish but make sure you’re selfish. A reliance on people being selfish is the quickest route to collective benefit. You need to understand what you want from becoming a social business and make sure you get it. You also need to understand that people aren’t going to do anything for free, people are selfish. You need to provide them with value, be it free product, be it information, be it directions. You need to understand what is of value to you, what is of value to the rest of the ecosystem and then make it meet in the middle.

These points may seem very basic, even obvious, to those of us who do this every day; but you would be surprised how many organisations or consultants do not consider these points before they begin.

What did I miss? Any other key elements you think organisations should consider?


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