Using Social Business to Fix the Right Problem

Being truly social requires that a business needs a roadmap with a content strategy and a governance strategy

 

In trying to analyze and fix business problems we sometimes fail to look at the broader issues and develop solutions that only provide a partial answer to an existing need. Recently, a colleague told me a story of a non-profit organization that decided to build a school for girls in a village in Africa where no educational opportunities existed.

Fortunately, the agency decided to look at the full complexity of this undertaking before erecting a school building and hiring teachers. What they discovered was that for the school to be successful, they first needed to build a well. The reality of life in the village was that the girls had to spend three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon fetching water from the nearest place available. Without removing this obstacle to their education, they would never have the time to attend school, even if the building and teachers were provided.

 

 

 

A Quick Social Fix

 

Obstacles in both business and life are not always obvious and if you are too quick to provide solutions, you may find you have addressed the wrong issue or fixed only part of the problem. Similarly, some businesses find a tool or set of tools that they perceive as a panacea and use them inappropriately. Many implementations of social media and social business suffer from this issue.

Social media, to define terms, is a narrower concept than social business and usually refers to the channels or platforms that support listening, collaboration or publishing. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are among the most widely used. Social business is the integration of social technologies into business strategy and processes and requires a fundamental shift in communications, relationships, tasks and processes. To be successful in infusing social technologies in one’s business, one must align new initiatives with business strategy and provide support, training, guidance and the appropriate structure and rewards.

Social business does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, 70 percent of companies are using social technologies with two thirds of the value creation in improving communications and collaboration within and across organizations. The technologies they cite include enterprise social networks, blogs, wikis, crowdsourcing, social gaming and discussion forums.