E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & SurroundingsIf you ask some people out there what social computing and social software are all about for them, they would probably tell you that it’s all about the tools, about this new set of social technologies, about all that fancy stuff that you can do on the Internet nowadays in a much simpler and more effective manner, without being too technical for that matter. In short, they would probably tell you about a new set of social tools that have transformed the Web as we know it making it much more open and participatory for everyone.

And they may be right. Why not? For me though, as I have been mentioning over here in this blog for a long while now, it is a whole lot more than just tools. Or technologies. To me, social computing within the enterprise is about everything, but the tools. It’s a philosophical and social corporate movement, a lifestyle, a new way of connecting and interacting with people, both inside and outside of the firewall; one where the main focus is not on the technology itself, but on the people behind it.

Yes, I’m talking about culture. Indeed, it’s all about a cultural shift, one that is starting to take the corporate world by storm at multiple levels, going from a grassroots bottom-up approach all the way to a top down executive level. If you ask me, I would even venture to state that is unstoppable at this point in time. We are probably far too immersed in it already to just want to back out of it altogether. So if it were just about technology itself, we probably could have done it already, but since the change is much more profound, like I said, I don’t think there is a way back. And that’s a good thing.

So I thought that today I will put together this blog post to start talking about something that it’s been on my mind for a while and which touches base on how receptive, open and collaborative the culture of a particular business needs to be in order to adopt and embrace social software. There are a couple of blog posts out there that I would want to reference on this topic, but I still haven’t finalised my thoughts about neither of them.

Yet last week I bumped into another YouTube video that brought back that conversation into my mind of how collaborative your corporate culture needs to be in order to embrace these social tools. And while I finalise that entry, I just mentioned above, I thought I would put together this blog post sharing that video to give you some hints as to where that follow-up conversation will be heading to, and what my two cents on the topic would be so far.

And it all starts with a rather provocative statement: "Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch". Funny, I’m just going to be linking to a YouTube video that talks about culture and strategy on the same sentence. Quite an oxymoron, don’t you think? Yet it’s social computing the glue that would make it stick together and make sense of it all, especially if you want to have a much more open, transparent and collaborative culture within your company that aligns, at the same time, quite nicely with your own business strategy.

I tell you, this is one of those videos that will make you think for a little while on the topic. It surely has done that with me after I watch it through. It lasts two minutes and 24 seconds and I’m certain that it would do the same to you… In fact, after watching it, I just couldn’t help thinking how important the corporate culture will be for every single business on their successful adoption of social software.

Specially, if that collaborative nature already pre-exists before embracing these social tools. But again, not going to reveal much more till that other follow up and upcoming blog post. Instead, here is the embedded video I would want to share with you folks now to then open up the conversation for a future series of blog posts… on Social Computing, Business Strategy, Culture and how we could combine them all into a single corporate entity… Nice and exciting challenge, eh?


(Video clip courtesy of Coffman Organization)

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7 comments

  1. A culture strategy? Maybe. But clearly not the way they’ve described it. A Gap? Only when you think about it in the wrong way. Strategy and culture are on the same continuum. You can’t really have a culture strategy. Your business strategy is useless without embodying the culture.

    Nothing makes this more clear than the principles of Tribal Leadership (watch the TED piece first): http://delicious.com/iknovate/TribalLeadership

  2. By thinking about, “how receptive, open and collaborative the culture of a particular business needs to be in order to adopt and embrace social software”, you have moved past the dichotomous thinking of open/closed culture that plagues a lot of the surface-level discussions about social computing in large organizations. I recently wrote about this myself in the context of the social business design meme, pointing to the importance of using social network analysis within the organization to understand existing collaboration patterns before developing a collaboration strategy.

    http://skilfulminds.com/2009/09/22/the-fallacy-of-openclosed-culture-in-social-business-design/

  3. Great post. Culture eats strategy for lunch? Mmmm…

    The video makes some very vaild points, not least of which is that culture must be aligned with corporate strategy.

    How effective is a great culture with no strategy? A great place to work? Sure. A profitable company? Maybe.

    Vision and strategy are where things start. Creating and enhancing an innovative culture where people love the process associated with execution of the corporate strategy is imperative and imperative.

    Great post – thanks again.

    – Brian

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