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

From the blog

Forget Social Strategy, Think Social Philosophy: Hippie 2.0

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & Surroundings in the Spring"Really? Are you serious? I mean, are you sure you know what you are saying?" "Yes, sir! I know what I am saying… Exactly that! For Social Computing to sink in and be that critical and crucial part of the ins and outs within the corporate world we would ALL need to make that blunt move. No exceptions. And the sooner, the better! If Starbucks has done it, why can’t we all? We need to go through that fundamental leap of faith, before we can all say that our job is done and over with. For a successful adoption of social software within any business, it needs to be, right there, part of the company’s DNA. Of their culture. Of their core values they live by day in day out. Not just another marketing strategy. Otherwise, it will fail altogether, like most of them have failed in the past. Even today.

I do know, and realise fully, that those comments shared above may well be a bit too harsh, but allow me to give you folks a little bit of background of what I actually meant with them. Back at the Enterprise 2.0 conference event in Boston, MA, a bit over a month ago, there was one particular panel that I was really excited about beforehand and for which I just couldn’t wait to participate in. It was moderated by the incredibly talented, and good friend, Susan Scrupski under the title "Roundtable on 2.0 Adoption in the Enterprise" and with quite a superb line-up of tremendously insightful and thought-provoking panelists: Bart Schutte, Jamie Pappas, Lee Bryant, Mary Maida and Dennis Howlett.

Now, I am not going to write much further about the various different highlights from that panel itself, since I will be doing that in an upcoming blog post on that very same topic, as part of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference Highlights series of posts.. However, I would want to touch base on something that happened during that session that I have been thinking about for a long while…

At some point during that session one of the panelists mentioned what has been, so far, one of the main showstoppers and inhibitors from a successful and wider adoption of social software tools: that is, failure to prove its business value. Yes, the good old known ROI for Social Software and how challenging it’s become to find its sweet spot. Of course, from there we started talking about financials, about making the numbers, about making it successfully quarter by quarter, etc. etc. And how social software could help influence such trend of thought. You know the drift. I bet you also know how it all followed from there onwards. Well, maybe not…

I just couldn’t help it; I had to stand up, and say something that’s been in my mind, heart, soul and whole self, for years, and that, finally, had an opportunity to come out on its own! Yes, I guess I was fired up by those comments to some extent. My commentary was basically stating out loud, and very clear, how having the same mind set about social networking inside the corporate world, as the one we have been having for decades is not going to get us very far! Quite the opposite!

Focusing on the financials alone of social computing and how it can help us generate more business revenue, i.e. focusing just on the numbers, on keeping the stakeholders happy, on using the same business models as last century’s is just going to help us get back into the same position we are nowadays in with this horrendous financial global crisis we are going through for a couple of years and still going strong. Hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment …

We need some fresh thinking; we need to break the barriers of how business has been conducted in the last few years; we finally need to break free from that financial yoke and eventually strike for that sustainable economy that everyone keeps talking about, but that doesn’t seem to come along as quickly as we thought. It keeps slipping away from our fingers, when we know it’s just so close to us! We need to stop thinking about social strategy and push more along the lines of social philosophy.

Because, after all, who wants to live in a world like today’s, yes, like today’s (With the current financial crisis and all) in say 30 to 50 years from now? Would you be willing to make the same mistakes we have made in the recent past and go through the same painful experiences again? And again! And again!! Would you? Would you like your children to inherit such unsustainable world? I am not sure about you, but I wouldn’t, and somehow something tells me that I will be around, like most of you folks out there, to witness what it would be like. And, for sure, I would want to see a better picture than what we have today! Otherwise, why bother altogether, don’t you think?

Now, can social computing help achieve that? I mean, can it helps us shift gears, change our chip, smarten up and start living by those same core values that social networking has been excelling at for over a decade already? Will we need to wait for 50 years for that to happen? I hope not! I seriously hope not!

That was along the lines of what I shared during that live panel. I know, I couldn’t help myself doing that. It was probably a bit over the top, judging by the comments of a few people who came to talk and catch up with me after the session itself, where a couple of them event hinted I just became the new Hippie 2.0 of the 21st century! Whoahh! Yeah, right! Whatever!

That got me! Well, what if I am. Most importantly, what if *we* are? What if through the usage and adoption of social software we would have an unprecedented opportunity to change the world we live in? Wouldn’t we want to seize that opportunity and make it happen? Again, think for yourself, would you want your kids and grand-kids living in a world like today’s in 30 to 50 years? Think about it …

Fortunately, I am not the only one who has been thinking along these lines, and somehow not only does that make me smile, but it also tells me that it may not be such a crazy thing after all … Did you have a chance already to go through the wonderful 7 minute interview that the Social Media Influence folks did to Alexandra Wheeler (Starbucks’ Director of Digital Strategies) on the topic of social strategy and social philosophy? Well, if you haven’t, you should! Because that’s what she is basically talking about; that in order for social networking (and social media for that matter) to sink in within our corporate world, and be part of every business’ DNA and provoke such sustainable growth where knowledge sharing, collaboration and, specially, innovation will be key, we need to forget about social strategy, and think more around social philosophy.

It would be only then when we would be making real progress. And somehow, I just cannot, but agree wholeheartedly with her on that. Yesterday I talked about how change management was critical for a successful embracing of social software within the enterprise. Today, I think we are ready to start a movement, one where that co-creation process of something much better, between knowledge workers and their customers is one and unique. One they will all live by to heart, and not just because it is a nice business strategy.

Are you ready? Will you join the Hippie 2.0 movement? Not to worry, take your time. Whenever you are ready, we will be waiting for you … With open arms, wanting to continue making a difference. For everyone. Not just for your business.

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    1. ROFL!!! Hi Mark! I haven’t stopped laughing yet after reading your comment a few minutes ago! I will let you know whenever we have got some swag to come along with it and whatever other flag-ish things!

      It’s funny! When I was putting the blog post, I was recalling a bunch of conversations I have been having with folks in the past which resulted in the spirit of the blog post and a bunch of the ones we have been having between the two of us came up! So, if anything, I should be grateful to you for the inspiration and the wonderful conversations! It was something I needed to get out out for myself and so far the reactions have been quite interesting!

      Will let you know about your freak flags, as mentioned above, not to worry! :-)) hehe

    1. Hiya, Kelly! Awww, thanks a bunch! Stay tuned, because I am already working on something along the lines of what we have been mentioning over here hehe Stay tuned! Will let you know when it is ready! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. Glad to have you pushing the envelope Luis. You’re spot with your comments, it also brings to mind the talk on “cognitive surplus” from Clay Shirky. Particularly the happening around ushahidi…

    If that’s not evidence of philosophy in play rather than strategy – I don’t know what is!

    I think if a philosophy will be worthwhile, it need to facilitate or return civic values, and not just business value. Civic value, will be regarded as more worthwhile and longer lasting than business value, and may perhaps precede and outlast any direct business outcomes.

    1. Hi Charlie! Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful set of comments! I haven’t gotten just yet through that video clip from Clay on “Cognitive surplus”… I have it on my “To Watch” for the weekend, but I guess I will need to watch it sooner!

      Brilliant the comments around civic value, because I think you are just spot on! In today’s society I’m more and more convinced by the day that business value is no longer enough for us knowledge workers; we need to not only aspire to that civic value, but to eventually demand it as our right to make a larger impact not only within our business, but within our society as well in general.

      Otherwise, it would be too bad to waste such a unique opportunity to make a difference between all of us! Glad you had a chance to drop by and add these comments. Very insightful!

      Many thanks!

      PS. Will watch the video and perhaps create a follow up blog post, too…

  2. Luis – hats off to you! Thank you for calling it out. As I often say in my council calls, Google took 8 years to become what it is. Imagine how long will the next Google take?

    Old business will act like old business. Economy 2.0 needs a fresh mindset, a fresh and proven social behavior. We have always been about communities/tribes, we moved away from it and look what happened? Now technology is making us become ‘human’ again and I guarantee you, it will always bring positive business ROI. (Just not trackable yet).

    1. Hi Bilal! Thanks for the lovely comments! For a minute they made me think about JP Rangaswami’s comments back at the Enterprise 2.0 conference event keynote session he gave back in June where he stated the following:

      “It took IBM 40 yrs to become evil; Microsoft 20; Google 10; Facebook 5; Twitter 2.5”

      Indeed, things are going faster and faster and the fact we are now capable of having a sense of what’s happening amongst us we are no longer content with what happens, but we also want to take a much more active participation from the whole thing; like finally having a voice, an opinion, an expectation of how businesses should run, but also an expectation as to how they should behave not only with their own customers, but also with their own knowledge workers.

      Somehow, something tells me this is just the beginning of some great things and I find it exciting we are all about to not only experience them, but live them fully! W00t!!

  3. Luis,
    I stumbled across your Blog via who knows how…. And I am glad I did. I also believe that social media, online communities of thought/practice/enterprise/government/issues/concerns/cares are without doubt the new ways in which society will enable change in the future. The world has finally shrunk to a manageable size. We are on the cusp of something humanity changing, and I don’t think enough people are aware ….yet.
    I will RSS your blog and continue to read and enjoy.
    Cheers from Down Under
    PS – I enjoyed the work of your namesake during the Football World Cup (except for the handball)!

  4. Nice post, Luis! I agree talking about the underlying philosophy and/or concepts of social media is insightful and helpful. I find talking in this way to employees and managers helps. As an IT manager in the company I work for said: “When deciding to do an IT investment let’s not talk about money/ROI first, but first make a decision based on the story.” In your terms: The philosophy should make sense and be understood first.

  5. Hi Luis,

    What a great post !

    We’re back again on this Evolutionaries Vs Revolutionaries question (link).

    Unfortunately, to transform Enterprise 1.0 into 2.0 you need to have C-suite people sponsoring you.

    And C-Suite people only understand 2 paradigms 1) ROI and 2) Risk Mgt.

    What if through the usage and adoption of social software we would have an unprecedented opportunity to change the world we live in? Wouldnโ€™t we want to seize that opportunity and make it happen

    “What if not ? What are the risks ? What are the costs ? Do you think I am gonna risk to transform the whole company on a ground of a What If ?”. These are the answers you are likely to get I am afraid.

    Though I fully agree with you, I won’t join the Hippie 2.0 movement because together with the S word (as A. McAfee wrote (link)) this is exactly what scares C-suite out of E20.

    I think we need to explain again and again and again how Enterprise Social Networks can help the company to create value, getting things done faster and better, having happier and more loyal customers (think Social CRM) and happier and more productive employees.

    You can put number behind these figures : how much more revuenue loyal customers generate when you take good care of them (this one I don’t but it surely can be googled around).

    How much does your operating profit margin increase when your employees are happy and engage Vs when they disengage ? There are number available (link): about 6% difference.

    We are leaving in a time where Facebook makes more traffic than Google. C-suite people knows that. And it never takes long before something successful in the internet get inside the corporate wall.

    My bet : it will eventually happen because last thing C-Suite people want is their company to look obsolete in terms of internal technologies.

    I guess the main challenge is how it will hapen. The main risk is to implement Enterprise 2.0 to make Enterprise 1.0 processes more effective (link). In that case it won’t change anything to the company culture. We’ll just do the incorrect thing faster.

    So we need to be pedagogic and tell C-suite that the reason we need to implement Enterprise Social Networks is not because they are new, trendy or because our competitors have implemented it. It is because they have proved on the web to be the most appropriate tools to leverage a continuous flow of information (the interconnected world we are leaving and making business in (link)) in order to create value.

    In order to fully benefit from its value, we need to take this opportunity to review E1.0 processes and change the way we do business. That’s the way we really want it to be impleted.

  6. Great post Luis. It gave me the idea of a new way of presenting the ROI thing.

    We all agree that ROI is rather a complicated issue. Not everything can be turned into equations and, above all, not human related things in an impredictable context.

    On the other hand when a company invests time and money on something no one can reasonably say “I don’t care about what will happen” and, above all, not the guy who signs the check.

    But should things be so manichean ? Those who care about ROI, numbers (business approach) and those who look beyond and have a more philosophical approach (Hippies) ?

    I think that there’s another way. When dealing with this issue, businesses should rather have a NGO approach. What I mean is that NGO collect and spend money, they are not asked to make more money with what they’re given but they have to prove they did things, they improved the situation. In one word : you can be accountable (and you have to) without being obsessed by turning money into more money.
    So NGOs have to be accountable but they don’t show financial results, they show concrete achievements that can be turned into numbers even if not financial.

    Providing better education is not a financial outcome. But it can be measured by how many kids can to school thanks of the NGO. Same for health : how many young kids manage to live older than 6 months compared to what it used to be…

    Saying “we can see things have improved” is not enough, measuring financial outcomes can be a nonsense but demonstrating in an objective, concrete and indisputable way that things have improved is, in my opinion, mandatory since you have to be accountable for using resources and money that are not yours.

    I really believe most people can agree on this “third way” but I have to admit that, to date, too many people are either focusing on finance or being ok with the feeling that things are doing better without being able to demonstrate it. There should be an acceptable halfway option between these two attitudes.

  7. Hi Luis,
    Hippie 2.0, I like it!

    I’m not coming from the same context in which you’re positioning this discussion, but the rhetoric alone strikes me as off. There should be no false dichotomy between social strategy and social philosophy. The two should be intertwined and enable the other.

    A social philosophy begets a social strategy, and a social strategy enables a social philosophy. A social strategy should focus on business transformation that enables the social philosophy.

    Your heart is in the right place, but things are not either/or. They can often be all of the above–whatever it takes–whether your audience is moved by ROI or just the inevitable groundswell of the new way of being–we’re focused on the same end objective.

  8. Luis,
    As always you are straight to the point. Yes, business should think differently, the problem is, the businesses that have thought differently could not be sustained for various reasons over time in most cases. A few survive for years.

    Maybe the new generations of business executives will bring this change but hard to envision my older peers(those over 45) in the Executive suites doing this before they retire.

    I am with you on this.
    But when one is in need of every dollar for livelihood it’s a big leap fr some to do in blind faith.

  9. Coming off a rough week, I dropped in on this post to see what comments you received. Like a big weight lifted off my shoulders, these comments and your original post has lightened my mood and given me great hope for the future. I, for one, will stop the world and melt with you, Luis. Count on it.

  10. I’m a new conscript for joining the Hippie 2.0 movement. Maybe not new because I originally signed up 46 years ago during the summer of love. I never gave up my allegiance to the movement and I’m thrilled that your spontaneous outburst at your conference has triggered a renewal and revisiting of the values of that era.

  11. Luis;
    This is a really good name to broaden this general movement and I would say the connection to philosophy is also valid. I’ve long thought that Hippie 1.0 was more of a fashion statement for many people. I don’t mean to trivialize what was done. I just believe that deep foundational change is harder and takes longer than it might originally appear and doesn’t alway take the direction you would initially think. Since my first reading of post-fordism in the early 90’s I’ve felt that the original Hippie ideals were still at work underground and that continues today with people like John Hagel and Umir Haque.

  12. Luis, this is very, very interesting. And I can see from the comments that people are already plotting to kill it stone dead. (Not that they want you and me to think that’s what they arre doing, but Cecil articulates it so well!)

    “We mustn’t be heard talking like that, the board would never accept it.” As though success in business was ever about getting permission.

  13. Great post Luis and I’m glad we got a chance to meet at E2.0. I’ve conducted 4 in depth interviews (3 of them are live on my site) of companies implementing E2.0: Intuit, Vistaprint, Oce, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The #1 thing I hear back is that employees are the most powerful asset that any organization has it’s important to empower them to help make them do their jobs better. You can’t put a price tag on engagement. Every organization I interviewed was supported to experiment and try things without the expectations of a particular ROI and in every case an ROI or accomplished business objective was reached that far exceeded the orgs expectations.

  14. Oh, heck yes! I knew being a hippie in the old days would help me as I got older. Hippie 2.0 is right, anarchy and self organization! Farout!

  15. Luis, this is a great thought I’m glad to see it’s attracting lots of response and reaction.

    Schumpeter in The Economist has a great review of ‘The Power of Pull” which IMHO puts its finger on the marketing problem with this meme. The ideas are right, but middle-aged men trying to make themselves look cool is just wrong.

  16. Excellent! Having gone through Hippie 1.0 followed by Web 1.0 (and 0.1), consider me a part of the club.

    Lew Platt, former Hewlett-Packard CEO said this: โ€œIf only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more profitableโ€. Its been at the corner of my creative ROI2.0 mind ever since. I’ve encouraged my peers to consider not return on investment in the sense of conventional metrics, but what Enterprise 2.0 can bring to knowledge management activities and career growth of community members and participators – effectively, get away from Investment and focus on Return on Information (hence, ROI2.0). Its unfortunate that even here, finite numbers to develop case studies and cost value benefit are difficult to collect and report, but I continue to overcome the eye rolling to push this point, particularly given that there is yet a finite yardstick to measure in the conventional way.

  17. Deine Blogs zu den verschiedenen Bereichen sind aus meiner Sicht sehr passend. Ich bin ueberzeugt das Du Dich sehr gut in den Bereich auskennst. Aus diesen Hindergrund frage ich Dich, kannst Du mir eine Seite schreiben, auf der ich mehr Infos erhalten kann? Dies waere sehr gut fรผr mich.

  18. Late to the party but we old hippies still don’t wear watches.

    I want to join the movement, too, Luis. Actually, I don’t know that I ever left it. Thanks for refreshing the flame!

    If we need any tie-died t-shirts, I can get them for us here in Berkeley any old time.

    1. Hi Jay! Thanks ever so much for dropping by and for sharing your feedback over here! It’s interesting to see how this blog post is, by far, the most popular one from the entire blog confirming there is a need, indeed, for such movement. At the moment, it’s a bit “dormant”, hoping to be re-ignited again and I may take your word on those t-shirts! LOL

      Your comment is eventually coming along at a perfect timing, more than anything else because of the recent events happening over here with the #spanishrevolution and I am hoping to develop some more on an upcoming blog post that, if anything, will continue to be just as provocative. Stay tuned and thanks much for joining the club! I will keep you all posted!

      PS. @All, now that I am a bit more committed towards responding to blog comments, I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for them. I will be responding to each and everyone of them in the next couple of days; lots of great thoughts emerging from them and worth while sharing across! Thanks again!

  19. Luis I am currently studying enterprise 2.0 and have found this a great read and very entertaining. I have found your blog helpful in the understanding of the topic as well as how to write an excellent blog entry.

    1. Hi Jesse, thanks much for the heads up and for the kind feedback comments! Glad this post and a few others have helped you set the stage along the way for your Enterprise 2.0 studies. I see from your blog you are doing pretty good so far with some rather interesting and insightful blog entries, like the one on the Good and the Evil of Enterprise 2.0. Very interesting!

      I noticed as well that you are based in Australia, if you would want me to help out connecting you with a few E2.0 in Australia do let me know your Twitter ID and happy to make such connections ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again for the kind feedback!

  20. amen. I was so glad to come across this.

    as a millennial, i’ve seen the extended financial crisis and rapid rise of technological changes obliterate previous expectations of the steady career and financial path that I was raised to admire during my whole school career. thank goodness: it had all looked a lackluster vanilla as it was.

    career opportunities have been reduced / shifted elsewhere and my expectations have shifted too: the value of ownership vs sharing, top-down leadership, how people should communicate ..

    and whilst I could go on (and would be very happy to), i’ll stop here and just say that it’s good to see a voice championing the fact this isn’t about bolting a facebook page onto your brand, but is instead a new way of thinking about what an organization exists in order to do- to bring about a greater social good, the sum of which isn’t measured soley on economic terms.

    thanks for the inspiration luis!

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