Welcome to the Social Enterprise Awakening!

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo (As Seen from Artenara)There is no doubt that this week will probably be remembered for a long while, in the Social Enterprise space, at least, as one that served as the tipping point of embracing a new dynamic within the corporate world that is slightly different than what we have been witnessing all along with Social Business in the last couple of years. As we are wrapping it up, I am more and more convinced now that there are a good number of subtle differences between Social Business and Social Enterprise and somehow the main key differentiator between one and the other has got to do with a simple idea, yet with a tremendous powerful meaning: Social Revolution.

If you have been reading a couple of the blog entries I wrote this week, and, most importantly, a good bunch of the links I shared in those articles, I think we are witnessing that Awakening 2.0 phase I mentioned back then that is helping us all, knowledge workers, realise how this is our moment. Our true moment. Our opportunity to re-find and re-define our purpose in our workplaces, our wanting-to-make-a-difference moments; in short, experience that self-discovery journey of what we really want to do with our work lives, because, whether we like it or not, that’s also going to reflect on our own personal lives altogether. We now, finally, feel a whole lot more engaged, empowered, trustworthy, appreciated and … respected. And all of that thanks to the revolution social computing within the enterprise has, at long last, provoked within the business world, as well as in our society, as we know it. Something that my good friend, the always inspiring and very thought-provoking, Deb Lavoy, put together, beautifully, with this golden nugget in a recent blog post:

If the industrial revolution’s idea of a great business was one in which every role, process and activity was well defined and controlled by management, social business is one in which every employee and customer are aligned around a common purpose

To then follow it up with this other one that I, too, feel rather identified with:

“Social Business is one that recognizes that their mission is engaging hearts and minds to achieve excellence. Social Business is about respecting people”

Deb’s superb article under the suggestive heading of “Could E2.0 really mean Enlightenment 2.0?“, and which I strongly encourage you all to read through it as I am sure it would leave a wonderful taste just before the weekend kicks off for everyone, finishes off with a final remark that would be very suitable, in my opinion, for both Social Business (= Customer focus) and Social Enterprise (Workforce focus) and the kind of impact they both have, whether internal or external, with the emergence of social networking at the workplace:

A Social Business is a business that respects and profits from the complexity and unlimited potential of people

But it’s not the only article we have seen this week covering this very same topic of the “Social Revolution within the Enterprise“. Take a look, for instance, into this other brilliantly written blog post by another good friend, Bill Ives, under the title “The Gig Economy – Intrapreneurship – A New Style of Work” which pretty sums up this shift in the way we work with this rather inspiring quote as well:

“[…] one of the ways that things have changed is now workers are much more transparent about their work and having more fun at the same time. We are out from under the hierarchical cloud imposed by the industrial revolution. It is easier to do this as an enterprise of one that is connected to many organizations as I have experienced

Once again, both themes of Observable Work and Intrapreneurship coming along nicely to help us define the future of the workplace. Our workplace. One that it is for us to define and shape up over time, according to how empowered, and engaged, we feel in doing what we love doing: our jobs. But there is more…

Check out this other great piece, over at Forbes, put together by David Kirkpatrick, under the heading “Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution” to see how, once again, the business world is about to be hit, without remedy, by that thing called the tsunami of the Social Web and what it has meant for our society as we know it in helping transform how we live and fully embrace those 2.0 core values of openness, transparency, engagement, trust, respect, and, above all, sharing. Another worth while read, for sure, to have a good glimpse of what’s to come, specially, based on the good number of stories from companies who have already embraced such social transformation and those that are facilitating it and what’s meant for them all along, containing as well, perhaps, one of my all time favourite quotes by another good friend, John Hagel, on such a key important trait for every single business transaction amongst knowledge workers and business people: Trust!

“Trust is built by sharing vulnerability […] The more you expose and share your problems, the more successful you become. It’s not about the top executive dictating what needs to be done and when, it’s about providing individuals with the power to connect”

Absolutely spot on comment on what I truly believe the social revolution for the Social Enterprise would be all about. And talking about John himself there is another really interesting article that I would want to point you folks to, so that you can have a look and find out plenty more about why I mentioned above that I feel we have reached that tipping point of that internal social transformation provoked by social computing. In “John Hagel on Empowerment, Management Fears, and Social Software in BusinessAdam Ludwig conducts a rather insightful interview with John, where the latter gets to talk about how we have already started the transition from being managed to being lead; to have leaders, instead of managers, acting as servants helping facilitate and get the most, and the best, out of their knowledge workers; to move away from the traditional hierarchical structures where a few told the vast majority what to do and what to think, to an environment where work gets regulated and done by both networks and communities, helping facilitate that transition from knowledge stocks into knowledge flows.

His description of how empowering it is to lower the center of gravity in decision making and problem solving is absolutely fantastic! Just as well as how social software tools help lower down tremendously both transaction and friction costs allowing knowledge workers to become more productive by solving business exceptions much faster, without having to rely anymore on traditional tools, which, on their own, probably made handling exceptions even worse over time! (Hint: email!)

Finally, one of my all time favourite ideas, the one that keeps me coming back to work, day in day out, that John gets to share on that interview, and which I think is the main culprit of what we are witnessing with the social revolution within the enterprise, on empowering and engaging your employee workforce, is passion. Passion of your knowledge workforce about what they do, what they believe in and the connections and relationships they have been able to build over the course of time as a result of it. Connecting people with a common affinity / passion for a particular topic, specially, work related, is a very powerful thing, as John mentions: “Passionate people are deeply motivated to improve themselves and drive themselves to the next level of performance“.

Now, I am not too sure whether we are entering a new era of Enlightenment 2.0, as Deb suggests in her blog post, that I referenced above. Perhaps it may well be so. What I do know though is that this week we have just opened up the door towards a much more socially integrated, empowering, open, transparent, engaging and nimble enterprise and that has got to mean something.

There is no way back. Welcome to the Era of the Awakening 2.0!

Have a good one everyone! :)

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2 Comments »

  • Sophie Davis says:

    First of all, thank you for such an amazing post.

    Yes, social business/entrepreneurship/enterprise is much bigger than just re conciliating profits and purpose.

    It’s something we are just starting to get. Maybe we’re afraid to say it openly because we’ve denied that part of ourselves so much. Social business is really about re-conciliating business and spirituality.

    I say spirituality and not religion, for we know that business and religion can coexist in perfect harmony.

    Acknowledging the soul, knowing the soul, THAT is the key to our problems. And acknowledging everyone else’s soul because we are all 1 people on Earth. What happens to you, happens to me.

    That’s what social entrepreneurship is about: respect, care, responsibility.

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  • […] I know, I couldn’t help using the 2.0 moniker), which I already hinted a little while ago on this blog entry as […]

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