Dear Social Business Evangelist, Where Art Thou?

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo in the SpringThere used to be a time when social business evangelists were perceived, mainly, as disruptors, to a certain degree, of any given status quo within the corporate environment out there at large. They were optimists, outrageous, somewhat heretic, true rebels at work, free radicals to some extent. Perhaps even a bit of hippie 2.0 in each and every one of them. They were, essentially, the change agents who were helping act as catalysts for that business transformation that was becoming a full socially integrated enterprise.

What happened to them though? I mean, I believe that social business evangelists, in general, are still breathing those very same traits I just mentioned above, but where are they? Have they become a bit too complacent with their own beliefs, needs and wants, and several other aspirations to want to change the way business gets done today, now that the corporate world by and large is, finally, becoming more savvy around Social Business itself? Have they moved on to something else already? I am not sure what you folks would think about, but I’m starting to see that trend more and more and it worries me. It worries me a lot! More than anything else, because we are not done at all with our Intrapreneurship efforts, as my good friend David Armano would claim, and by far! but yet again it looks like we all may seem to be content with how things are going. Is it time to bounce back?

It probably is, because, like I have mentioned above, there is still a lot of work to be done! Yet, I cannot get off my head that feeling of seeing how those social evangelists may have become a bit too complacent within their own role of becoming a disruptor and eventually fade away (into other things), because they feel their role is no longer needed. That was essentially one of the several perceptions I experienced, while attending the premier event on Social Business over here in Europe at the Social Business Forum event held in Milan, Italy. That’s why during Day One of the event itself I may have been perceived, in several conversations, as a bit too pessimistic about the state of things. Quite the opposite though. And for a good reason. We are not done, by and large; no matter what people may tell you, we are just getting started!

In a superb blog post, my good friend Cecil Dijoux, highlighted plenty of the good work that still needs to be done. Go and have a look and read through that highlights article to get a glimpse of what he perceived from the overall event as well. It will be worth while your time, I can surely guarantee you that! And as a teaser, here’s a golden quote that he reproduced from the thought provoking keynote session from another good friend, the always inspiring, mind-blowing, John Hagel, which highlights pretty much where we are today:

“Information is power. Institutions are designed to provide some people with information which is power. If knowledge flows, it is undermining the foundation of people power in organisations. How do we confront that power?”

Then allow me to be a bit too provocative as well with this particular follow-up commentary. Remember when perhaps 3 to 4 years ago we used to go to all of these social networking for business events and suit and ties were just missing from the equation? You could hardly see one or two in a large room. They were the outcasts, to a certain degree, and perhaps frown upon for no good, nor apparent, reason. But if felt good. It felt disruptive, provocative, heretic, even a bit rebellious of what you have been experiencing all along. Well, fast forward to today and it looks like in a good number of social business related events the suits and ties are back! Have we become a bit too formal and given up on our outrageous, heretic ways? We are no longer seeing ourselves, social business evangelists as disruptors? Have we, finally, been assimilated by the corporate world, before our job is done and completed? What do you think?

That’s essentially part of a reflection I went through with a good number of friends at the Social Business Forum event that then crystalized on this nearly 8 minute long conversation I had with the always knowledgeable Bjoern Negelman, which he then shared later on in YouTube:

 

In that short video interview we talked about the need to bounce back; to shake off our very own complacency with the fact that now that businesses are starting to live social our job may be done; to bring back those weird, fancy, crazy (t-)shirts we once wore vs. those lovely suits and ties we know well from all along; to essentially realise that now that we have got the right level of attention our role as social evangelists is more critical than ever not just to help early adopters make their move into getting the most out of social networking, but helping businesses understand how the whole paradigm of work is shifting into a much more open, trustworthy, collaborative, knowledge sharing prone, transparent and nimble workplace and therefore it would require a new mindset, a new set of behaviours to be lived and enjoyed by each and everyone of us. With perhaps no exceptions.

That’s where the challenge still remains. We may have prepared rather well the way for those various different waves of (early) adopters, but our job is far from done! Remember? “90 percent of transactions for customer service happen offline“, or “70% of social media complaints are ignored!“, amongst several others… That’s why we need to bounce back. That’s why we need to shake off our very own comfort zone(s) and soon enough, before it’s just too late! The fight is still on!

And this is, once again, one of those times when I am going to be rather grateful to serendipity itself, for having played its magic one more time incredibly well, by pointing me into this rather short video clip, that lasts for a bit over 90 seconds, under the suggestive title “The Branding of Culture” and which has got plenty of really interesting, insightful and relevant tag lines all over around social business. Yes, I know, I know, the usual disclaimer would apply here, once more, since it’s an IBM video clip, but you would see what I mean with what is, to me, the key message I got from the clip itself and which would be spot on for today’s reflection on the key, essential, critical role that Social Business Evangelists would still need to keep playing for many more moons to come: 

“Practice what you preach” (Always!)

 

My dear fellow Social Business Evangelists, be honest, be authentic, be open, be transparent, in short, be yourself! We are now, more than ever, very much needed by the businesses who employed us in the first place to complete that shift into realising that full socially integrated enterprise. Your business. Our business. And everyone else’s for that matter.

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40 Comments »

  • Carsten Rose says:

    Excellent post – as usual! I fully aggree.
    And as I’d like to answer in (old) low german: “Ick bün al dor.” or for the anglophones “Ic béo hér.”
    ;-)

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Carsten! Many thanks for the kind feedback and for dropping by! Glad you enjoyed the blog post and that it resonated as well! You know, for someone like myself who studied (old) low German & English back in the day as I was graduating at University as an English teacher that was quite a blast from the past! Brilliant quote, too!!

      Fantastic addition to the overall theme! Thanks a lot for adding that it along! :)

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  • AnaDataGirl says:

    Terrific post Luis! Let’s keep the intrapreneurship spirit alive :)

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Ana! W00t!! I knew you would enjoy the article and that mix on the Intrapreneur flavour. Somehow I do feel we need plenty of it still within the corporate world to help change habits and mindsets and shift gears while redefining that new way of working by gathering around networks and communities and self-organising work around wirearchy vs. just hierarchy. Disruptive change, for sure, but one that’s worth it. Every penny of it.

      Reaching that level of autonomy and decision making will help empower knowledge Web workers to be more in control of their knowledge workflows and encourage them all to work smarter, not necessarily harder :)

      Thanks much for the heads up and for dropping by! Lovely feedback!

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  • Mark Stonham says:

    Great assessment Luis, and rallying call for the second push for Social Business transformation.
    If SM evangelists can gather evidence that Social Business ‘works’ and produces an ROI that will help the cause.
    Also corporate change takes time, so some patience may be needed.
    Maybe it’s just time to re-group and bring in the second wave – the Social Business Operations team. Whether they support or replace the evangelists will depend on individual circumstances.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Mark, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the great feedback comments! Spot on! Perhaps we are at that stage for the second push for Social Business Transformation. One where, while we may have a need for those social business evangelists, we also need to get down to earth and realise that we got some additional work to do, i.e. demonstrate that business value of social networking to the business, as John Stepper blogged brilliantly over at this blog post.

      We should definitely not lose focus on what’s the ultimate goal, i.e. sustainable business growth, but at the same time it’s not going to happen overnight, just like email, for instance, did when it first came about. I mean, it was “invented” over 40 years ago and it was only till about 10 to 15 years ago that it entered the corporate world. I guess we would need to accommodate for a similar transition. What’s interesting is how that social evangelism seems to have faded away when only half of the work is done, imo.

      Call it Social Business Operations team or whatever. We are at the critical stage, and tipping point, of helping accelerate that change, so we should probably re-focus and come back for that final second push. Otherwise, all of the previous effort would be “wasted”… Therefore, the call to bounce back! :)

      We need it.

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  • Mark Stonham says:

    Hi Luis, to continue, I see companies/corporates need to adopt SM at 3 levels – strategic (ie. empowerment), departmental (ie. Social Selling, Social Cust Svcs) and Tactical (ie. Facebook community, Linkedin Group). We’re still working through CRM, and now adding Social, ie. adding social interactions to the structured customer view of CRM. What pioneers and early adopters do and learn will trickle down. To paraphrase Churchill, ‘This isn’t the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning.’ Checkout my blog for various articles, with an SME Social Selling bias. http://wurlwind.co.uk/category/application/social-media-application/

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Mark! Another wonderful insight and follow-up commentary! I certainly agree with you on that perception of the 3 levels of adoption for social business and while I’m all for the final frontier of interactions out there on the Social Web, i.e. be where your customers are already having conversations about your products with other customers, competitors, partners, etc., I do realise as well that we cannot, or should not, neglect the impact of social behind the firewall to certainly help shift gears on how interactions have taken place over the last few decades.

      Yes, we can be social, we can live social, we can get down to business with social with our customers, but unless we also breed and live it from the inside we are not going very far! What I meant with “Practice what you preach”, but essentially helping social networking democratise and humanise the corporate environment by making it much more open, transparent, public, participatory, democratic, caring, vs. having to keep fighting silly political / power struggle games, bullying, or just basically people following strictly that mentality of “Knowledge / Information is power” vs. Knowledge shared is power.

      I see that same impact on our CRM interactions as well as for the employees themselves internally, since, in a way, they are also customers on their own and certainly that’s the main role I have been advocating for with social evangelists on shifting gears, changing mindsets, influencing new behaviours where social collaboration and knowledge sharing are a given, vs. a constant hurdle to fight.

      Having a balance between the two is going to be critical, in my opinion, and both of them equally important. After all, happy employees generate happy customers, right? ;-)

      PS. Great blog, by the way! Some really good stuff in there I’m hoping to tap into soon enough, too!

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  • Russell says:

    That’s it, I must write up my long planned Punk 2.0 post!

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Russell! Gosh, you surely need to put it together! I would love to read it, matey! I bet it’s been in the making already for a while, so perhaps a good time to unleash it into the public for everyone else to benefit from it altogether ;-))

      Let us know when it’s up, please!

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  • Mark Stonham says:

    Hi, briefly, I see Community Relationship Management in business/commercial context as the new CRM. Employees, sales partners, suppliers, customers, prospects, public etc. all in the mix. ‘Power’ needs to be re-defined, and commercial interests / confidentiality also, which are just some of the strategic issues.

    History suggests it’ll be IT companies (IBM, Google, FB, Logica, Dell etc) who will pioneer internally and with their eco-systems, and then roll out transformation programs to early adopters – covering people, process, technology, etc. to achieve defined goals in stages on a roadmap.

    Some further thoughts at:
    http://wurlwind.co.uk/2012/04/the-evolution-from-list-to-community-in-marketing-and-sales-relationships/

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Mark! Wonderful follow-up for sure! Thanks much, once again, for keeping the dialogue going! Fascinating insights those of considering CRM as in Community Relationship Management, versus the traditional Customer Relationship Management with the ‘S’ for Social before it to help provide a new, fresh view of where we are heading: communities as major drivers of business value!

      That’s exactly the point as well that another good friend of mine, the always insightful and thought provoking Esteban Polsky, has been advocating, for a long time now, for on the key, critical, paramount role that online communities are going to play in this entire new ecosystem of customer centric businesses. You can read more about it on a recent blog post he put together from a couple of conference events he participated in and where he covered the subject much more in detail. Go here to read more about it.

      Also, another point, I am not sure why we are never including competitors in that new ecosystem of employees, sales partners, suppliers, customers, prospects, etc. They are the ones who keep us all real, down to earth, keeping us honest, telling the truth of what we do, sell, talk and converse about. And vice versa. They, too, are part of the ecosystem and thinking that unless we start considering them part of that “coopetition” process we may not move forward further enough as we should… After all, they are the ones who are already conversing with our customers, out there, on the Social Web, with us or without us. We shouldn’t forget about them, I would think…

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  • Mark Stonham says:

    Hi, Great point re including Competitors.

    I like motoring analogies, and there’s transferable lessons from F1 racing. It’s the team that gets ‘everything’ right; driver, car, pit-crew, base workshop, telemetry, etc etc that, on the day, is in the best position to win.
    And technology is essential for decision support and execution and agility.
    So, the best companies will be those who get ‘everything’ right to meet the needs of their target market/niche/customers. If you can’t differentiate yourself from your competitor in ways that the customers see as valuable then the value proposition needs to be updated.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Absolutely, Mark! And I would even go one step further on that analogy by mentioning that unless those teams collaborate effectively, coordinate operations with the right decision making in a matter of real-time speed the race is lost! Never mind the differences you may have, you would need to set them aside, thinking of the general well being of the initiative, i.e. winning the race and that’s when teams get together to react accordingly and pro-actively to ensure everything runs smooth! Indeed, collaboration, cooperation and co-creation working together at their best!

      Thanks for sharing that analogy! Very descriptive for detailing what the Social Business journey should be about. Now we just need to have the social technicians preparing the way for the race! :)

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  • […] not have learned much about how we did things in the past. Now, if yesterday I was musing about how Social Business and Social Evangelists are becoming more and more industrialized by the day, it looks like we are starting to witness how social learning is trying to get […]

  • Luis! Don’t be going all Willy Loman on us! Your post, along with a few other things we’ve been discussing in the Council, prompted me to respond. These changes are taking place, but they will take a decade or so (sometimes I think even more). We have made a lot of progress in the past five years, but we are nowhere near an “early majority” status.

    And, keep evangelizing! Remember, even though we are morphing social to assimilate into traditional business operations, the values of social come along by default.

    My post is queued for about an hour from now. I’ll add it to these comments when it’s live. xoxoxo, we will talk more when I see you in Boston.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Susan! Whoaahhh! Think we may be having a bit of a disconnect in here :) By all means, I did not imply on the blog post that Social Business is dead, by far! You were mentioning on that SUPERB blog post about a 10 year timeaframe and I would agree with that. In fact, I’m a bit more realistic and have set myself up on the timeframe of the 50 range, considering that we have already gone through 18 of those years from the first moment social technologies came out. Never mind the business paying attention to them.

      There’s a lot of work to be done, and we will have a lot more to come along; what I’m starting to find it rather worrying is how that initial enthusiasm, passion, heretic flavour from a bunch of social business evangelists surely is dying a painful death because a good number of people have decided to move on to something else, their businesses decided to move them elsewhere (Including outside!!) or they feel things are not moving fast enough to help them progress further in their career that they “give up” and move on.

      That’s what I was calling the attention, because, yes, the “suits” are coming, but they are coming along with the exact same flavours of how they did business in the past and into this “new social” world. So all of that existing work about aiming higher towards total openness, radical transparency, publicy, building trust & loyalty (That would work both ways!), engagement (Need to remind folks, once again, of what is the % of engaged employees at the moment? 1 or 2 out of 10?!?!?!), rampant open innovation, co-creation, etc. etc. is all beating the dust because the “suits” want to carry on “their” own work, which I am fine with, except that it is destroying all of the superb work that was happening till this day on helping accelerate that change / shift we all once envisioned.

      Yes, people can go and send the “suits” and bring them all in, BUT ensure they are thinking with 21st business models and modus operandi and not the same good old stuff they have been carrying out for decades, because it’s not going to work.

      And that’s what I tried to reflect on the original blog post. I totally understand and get that we are *just* getting started. In fact, I plan to retire doing this very same thing that has driven my passion for the last 11 years. How many folks would be able to say that, Susan? ;-))

      What I am just trying to point out is that I think we still very much need that disruptive, heretic, unprecedented passion for openness, trust, transparency into orgs. at large from those evangelists that they were there once so that they can make it contagious for everyone else, i.e. other evangelists and those “suits”. It’s just the baby is just about to give the first few steps on his / her own, but with the wrong kind of support, which is what I am sensing right now, I am afraid the baby will not be walking, running at lightning speed, but crawling, crippling him/herself from everyone we have taught the baby to learn, experience, play, work with.

      And that’s what triggered this post eventually, Susan. We are both, and everyone else, on the same boat and we will be on it for many years to come! Let’s just not try to sink it, or throw people overboard before it’s just too late ;-))

      Thanks much for that wonderful commentary and the stunning blog post from the reactions from the Council. Really excited to see they are still pushing the messages! :)

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  • Here you go! http://www.dachisgroup.com/?p=92922

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  • Chris Slemp says:

    Luis, if those evangelists are anything like me, we’re just too busy getting stuff implemented and responding to the mainstreaming of social business. Now that my company has accepted the social business reality, I chalk that up to the success of wave 1 of our evangelism. I’m spending time now getting the unwashed masses caught up and getting value, and am just now ramping up my wave 2 push that’s already starting to ruffle feathers and raise eyebrows just like we saw 2-3 years ago. Plenty of work to be done… this just feels like the phase between innovation waves that’s not as much “fun” for people like us, but is just as important.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Chris, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the great feedback comments! Absolutely!! I am in fully agreement with your assessment and I still think our role in that regard to keep things moving is going to remain essential. Yes, we may be looking into seeing how the rest of the lines of businesses are embracing social technologies, but this is way way more than just adopting a new set of tools.

      It’s also about shifting gears and embracing a new mindset, a new wave of habits and methods of getting work done where openness, transparency, trust, engagement, etc. rule over what technology would be providing and this is an area where we are still very much in need of that initial wave of social business evangelists, because at this point it’s starting to fade away letting those “suits” that Susan mentioned take over. And to them it’s the same good old habits, with a new tools suit.

      Not good enough, in my opinion. We won’t be progressing much further than what we have. We need to shake that off and still keep pushing for that democratisation of the workplace, through engagement, connectedness, trust, empowerment, openness, transparency, etc. etc. Much more work to do than just trying to industrialise social business, in my opinion :)

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  • Marie-Louise Collard says:

    Hi Luis
    Many thanks for your great and thought provoking piece- as always (and with lots of useful links)! But I’m going to have to admit two things to you….
    I’ve never liked the term evangelism and even if I did I don’t think I agree with what you are saying!
    To me, evangelists are people who are forcing conversion, who want others to conform to a way of thinking that is often narrow and uncreative. And this is the complete opposite of everything that I see in Social Business.
    “Practice what you preach” – but who’s listening? Does preaching really work in the modern more savvy social business corporate environment? I would like to argue that it does not and that your evangelists have not disappeared, moved on, faded away, got complacent – or any such thing. The just dress differently! Perhaps we don’t recognise them but I bet they are working harder than ever on reaching that next level of integration and organisational effectiveness that will drive the business forward. That next level of engagement that encourages diversity and autonomy in the community as well as all those essential factors that you mention in this thread – and I’d rather use the word “adapters” than “adopter” – because these tools are no good if they can’t be adapted to local needs and working processes within the community.Like evangelism, forced adoption is not sustainable.
    So Luis, even if I do appear just out of social business nursery let’s not look for those evangelists – do we really want them? because what we do have is something far better in our midst that is trying to work very hard to get to where you want them to get to- but perhaps needs more time.
    They just look different and they’re far more practical.

    Thanks

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Marie-Louise, thanks much for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts. Always inspiring and very much thought-provoking! Appreciate you taking the time to share them across and add further up into the discussion. Let’s see … To be honest, I am with Ana on this one, if you ever bump into an evangelist, in the Social Business space, that behaves in pretty much the same way you are describing, please do me a favour: slap them left and right for me, because they truly deserve it! That’s evangelism done wrongly! Evangelists are supposed to be catalysts, eye-openers, shakers, provocateurs, challenging the status quo of things trying to open up discussions and conversations that otherwise would not have taken place. We just can’t have enough evangelism in the the corporate world. In fact, I am of the opinion that all of these decades without them inside of the business world has created a substantial amount of damage and headaches that we are just only now recovering to some degree.

      RE: who’s listening? Well, those who you are trying to address with those open conversations, ideas, initiatives, trends of thought, on whatever the topic to raise some awareness into the discussions you would want them to engage with. Preaching would only work, if you eventually lead by example on what you preach. Here’s an example: plenty of social business evangelists preach about all of the good stuff around Social Business on openness, transparency, open collaboration, knowledge sharing, earned trust, engagement, etc. etc. you name it, yet when they go back to “their work” they keep using email or other siloed environments. What kind of message does that send across to those who may be listening? Definitely, not the right one! That’s what I meant with “Practice what you preach”. If us, Social Business evangelists can’t lead by example on this new way of doing work with our colleagues, we have got a much more fundamental problem of not believing what we advocate for, which essentially is going to be a huge turn-off by those we are trying to reach. Know what I mean? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening!

      Forced adoption, indeed, is not sustainable, but applying old methods of engagement, participation, collaboration, etc. etc. to these new social technologies is just like changing the lipstick and still behaving and doing the same good old stuff, if that was ever good … We need to continue pushing for that adoption, or adaptation, whatever you would want to call it, but we need to break away from those practices that we know just don’t work their magic in a social business environment. Things like command and control, micro-management, knowledge is power, disengagement of employees, demotivation, etc. etc. are still key themes very much alive and kicking! Why? Because we keep trying to achieve these new social goals with the same mental models from the 20th century, instead of moving further along into what we all know needs to change: that openness and transparency, along with democratisation of the workplace that we have mentioned above as well.

      Having said all of this, I *do* still see the need for those social business evangelists to keep doing something that I find essential and rather critical: challenge the status quo of how corporations have been run over the last few decades. Even if that means their jobs will be sacrificed eventually. See? That’s the bigger challenge right there: how many folks would be willing to sacrifice their job roles for that social business model of operating to finally sink in across the board, so that we can all evolve and move along? Talking about pragmatism … right there ;-)

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      • Marie-Louise Collard says:

        Wow – perhaps I did what an “evangelist” does – challenged the status quo – of the meaning of the term at least!
        I’m fascinated by the difference in perspective Ana – but what I was trying to get across is that “evangelists” whilst “opening up conversations” and bringing in “different perspectives” (possibly true)- often dominate those conversations rather than engage and listen. So, whilst they are essential as drivers perhaps it’s time for a slightly different strategy? As Rachel Happe says below , as long as the/your organisation is moving in the right direction perhaps a degree of “assimilation” is needed in order to achieve all the “doing” that is so necessary and vital to get on to the next level!

        Luis, a lot of what you say makes complete sense and I’m not actually disagreeing – I’m merely suggesting different rules of engagement for a particular phase in the Social Business Cycle of Life as I see it. I’m certainly not suggesting abandoning any of the challenges you mention that are so crucial, – butI’m just not on the balcony answering your call!!

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        • AnaDataGirl says:

          Evangelism and status quo don’t go together Marie-Louise so my understanding of your initial comment was just that you had a different view from my own regarding evangelism :)

          I take it from your reply that you see evangelism in the sense I described as more necessary in the early stages of the Social Business Cycle of Life and that maybe a different sort of engagement & facilitating needed in more advance stages? It could well be, yes.

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          Hi Marie-Louise, and this is exactly why I enjoyed this kind of eye-opening conversations, because as much as folks may be learning from social evangelists about how they, too, could challenge the status quo of all things corporate, evangelists need to also do plenty of active listening to understand their audiences and engage with them in a meaningful dialogue; they need to come down to earth and adjust to what reality and in the case where they may not well be doing that what I can continue to suggest is to gently slap them left and right, tell them to shut up, listen, keep quiet for a minute, capture their thoughts while they are listening and adjust to what the conversations may well be developing. There is nothing more dangerous than an empowered social business evangelist by their own egos, and I keep telling people that if I ever become one of those please do approach me and do the smacking here and there! I will deserve it greatly! :-O

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  • AnaDataGirl says:

    “evangelists are people who are forcing conversion, who want others to conform to a way of thinking that is often narrow and uncreative”

    Funny, I actually think of evangelists exactly the opposite way: opening up conversations and bringing in different perspectives and experiences, challenging the way people work or collaborate or look at social tools at the office…

    “ecause these tools are no good if they can’t be adapted to local needs and working processes within the community”

    And what if those working processes are clearly broken? Do we maintain “the way things get done here?”. I don’t think so. In most cases, there’s a better way. This does not mean disrupting for the sake of looking like a revolutionary individual! This means planting seeds of change because the way most of us work is not working anymore…

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Ana! Whoaaahhh!! Powerful statement this one: “This means planting seeds of change because the way most of us work is not working anymore…” Brilliant!! That’s exactly what I was mentioning earlier on to Marie-Louise about evangelists having that special task of challenging the status quo of how certain things have been done within corporations and open up the conversations into other ways of working, if those clearly don’t make the cut anymore, like we are witnessing today more than ever. And I am loving that comment about planting the seeds, because that also implies that you / we may not well be the ones who will be collecting the harvest when it’s ready to be collected! Now, how many social business evangelists are willing and ready to come to terms with that concept of not seeing the fruits of the stuff you have planted and worked on for years, but that’s going to take plenty of time as we all know… Fascinating!!

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  • Rachel Happe says:

    Catching this post late but I’m not 100% sure what you are talking about… from my point of view, it’s not that anyone has stopped evangelizing but, as Chris said above, they are actually busy DOING something about it and that means there is less time for them to be out and about talking a lot about it.

    I actually see a different risk entirely in that organizations are burning these individuals out because demand and need for their knowledge and services are growing faster than the growth in expertise and budgets to address the issue.

    So… out in the market, it feels like the conversation has died down but that’s only because people are swamped. Interest in and growth for our services at The Community Roundtable is growing more than it ever has – but it’s a bit hidden.

    Also, one other point which I think is important – as change becomes adopted it is somewhat necessary to start being assimilating with the rest of the culture (and vise versa) – in my mind this is success as long as you are moving the organization in the right direction.

    Having said all that, tis a bumpy road to where we are headed and it is not clear whether the boulder will get up over the peak or roll back down and crush us all… so we definitely need to dig in :)

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    • Chris Slemp says:

      Amen, Rachel:

      “organizations are burning these individuals out because demand and need for their knowledge and services are growing faster than the growth in expertise and budgets to address the issue”

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Rachel! Thanks a lot, my dear, for dropping by and for sharing along these great thoughts on the topic! Very timely, not to worry, never too late! I know exactly what you mean with “[…] they are actually busy DOING something […]” since I am on that stage myself, if you notice how I master myself the Guadiana River effect of showing up, hiding behind the firewall, etc. etc. That’s not an issue with me, nor everyone else, since it’s very much needed and understood. I have yet to see an intense where folks are not understanding, helpful and patient with those who go into hiding. What I was talking more about is how those same social business evangelists, not all of them, but a good bunch of them have “stopped”, if I can use that word, challenging the status quo of how things are running in orgs. focusing perhaps too much on the business without thinking they still need to bear that cap of a disruptor to ensure that status quo adjusts accordingly.

      Ohhh, and AMEN on your comments on the burning out issue, because I am seeing it as well, perhaps that’s a good indication how some of the bleeding edge social evangelists from the beginning have moved on into other unrelated jobs to Social, or their companies have decided their services are no longer needed. That certainly is an issue, but the main thing here is that those folks who stay behind are working so hard to make things stand and move forward, and they are so phenomenal that they are succeeding big time and businesses are not seeing those issues and just keep adding pressure on it. Perhaps we just need to let it drop, let businesses see the effects of that burning out phase, evaluate the risks of continuing further along with that mentality, vs. planning accordingly, and see whether we could influence a shift in mentality of how we need to support those folks accordingly, more than putting plenty more strains on them…

      And, finally, great point on “start being assimilating with the rest of the culture”… happy to go with that, but then again, it needs to work on both ways, both directions. And so far, not seeing much happening, in a FUNDAMENTAL / DEEP level, in orgs to revert the trend. We are adjusting to the business to help accommodate their on boarding, but at the same time we are not seeing the businesses come forward just as much as we are doing it, or is it just my perception? Perhaps I am living on a bubble about to burst and wake up to reality… Hummm, either way, it’s a reality I’m not sure I’d want for all of us …

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  • Hi Louis! Great discussion, I see two different strands emerging here:

    Those that are heads down in working on implementations (naturally, that’s what you expect to see over at the SBC) and those that call for a second push for Social Business transformation.

    For the second group, let me point to Seth Godin’s “Dip”, a great book and visual to explain a dip we experience (a frustrating period of low returns) before real returns start to kick in (see http://www.ribbonfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/thedip.jpg).

    I can see organizations taking the wrong turn and thinking we’re social now, we’re done – just by re-igniting communities (already had those) or re-activating content harvesting (been there, done that), or re-engineering systems of record (not the real thing), or re-vamping traditional processes (e.g. this can-all-be-done with workflow).

    These organizations are not done, they just took a wrong turn, and we need change agents to help get through this dip.

    Another thing I wanted to mention is that intranets (at least for larger organizations) are incredibly complex. Woving social into this frabric is a enourmous task and we’ll be busy doing that for a long time (as Susan mentioned). Here’s a visual to highlight some of these complexities and the shift we need to take towards a the socially-oriented people-centric workplace – https://plus.google.com/u/0/100641053530204604051/posts/TRM6Wgdy7sA

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Joachim! Goodness! That set of comments was just brilliant!! So much so that I have just got on me Kindle “Dip”, since I think you have just described, pretty nicely!!, where we are at the moment. Yes, we have awoken businesses towards bringing up communities from where they were in the past, over last few decades!, re-engineered those systems of record, as well as revamping those traditional processes and right there your confirmation that we are heading in the wrong direction. There is a whole lot more than bringing that back, and I agree. For a starter, people centric businesses where employees, AND Customers, are right at the center, where sustainable growth is aimed at based on everything else that may well be out there other than power & greed, which is what it looks like it’s turned us into where we are today… And that’s exactly the kind of transformation that I would love to envision we embark on for that second wave of social business evangelism: that democratisation of the workplace, making it more human, more engaged, transparent, trustworthy, loyal (working in both directions!!), nimble and whatever else you can think around social traits.

      That’s why I feel, and everyone participating in this discussion, that there is a lot to be done! But let’s focus on where we all know the real business transformation needs to be happening. The other stuff is just part of the cake, but let’s not forget the icing on that same cake. That’s the best part! And essentially what triggered this blog post as well :)

      Thanks ever so much for the wonderful commentary!! Much appreciated the inspiration and the tip on “Dip”!

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  • […] Social Maturity at Scale: From Evangelism to ExecutionBy Susan Scrupski on June 14, 2012 It takes a village to raise a tectonic shift in the way companies communicate and operate at scale.  No, it will take a network of connected villages.  And it will take  over a decade to get past the early adoption phase for social business transformation inside large enterprises.  A few threads and blog posts are prompting me to write a few thoughts on where we are in the evolution of social business maturity.  The one that mostly notably hit home for me was Luis Suarez’s Willy Loman, Death of a SocBiz/E20 Evangelist post this week: Dear Social Business Evangelist Where Art Thou? […]

  • Cecil says:

    Hey Luis, thanks for this great post. It was so nice meeting you in Milano.
    Few thoughts about this :
    – Social Software has this counter culture touch as it was born out there in the wild internet from the passion of communities. It is a huge difference with standard enterprise software (Knowledge Management included) which was developped by companies. This cultural aspect of these technologies and the corresponding usage will remain.
    – On the other hand, if we want Social to get into the Business (From Social to Business) we’ll have to get use to see a couple of suits around. This means this is serious business and it starts to get adopted on a massive scale
    – Milano probably is the worldwide capital of fashion. People are very elegant there and they’re keen to put suits on. More generally speaking conferences tend to be more formal in Europe than in the US
    – A thought about the 10 years of 50 years scale. We are witnessing a very interesting contrast between the speed of emergence of new technologies and the slow adoption of big organisations. The fact that some companies are relunctant in adopting them can be seen as an opportunity for other organisations that are more adaptive : they can leverage these technologies as differentiator.

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  • […] Dear Social Business Evangelist, Where Art Thou? LUIS SUAREZ  |  TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2012 […]

  • […] Dear Social Business Evangelist, Where Art Thou? LUIS SUAREZ  |  TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2012 […]

  • […] then when I put together that rather controversial blog post under the provocative heading “Dear Social Business Evangelist – Where Art Thou?“, but I guess that’s the exact role I would be looking forward to seeing Social […]

  • Claire Flanagan says:

    I for one will say, I’m still doing all that and more. My job has grown so much exponentially that I can’t keep up! I’m heads down running programs, expanding efforts, teaching, training, putting next wave business cases together (and in some cases going back a bit to fix basics), socializing with executives, training a new Community Manager (yay! Beth Laking), working on a new digital literacy learning architecture, and still fighting the good fight. But all internally. My job has grown so much that it’s hard to be outward focused. I truly feel, for me at least, scaling the work that needs to be done is the biggest challenge. I truly believe that if an evangelist picks the right business case – and they can prove how to integrate this into “just a way we do our job” they will not have much free time :) – which is my case now. Fortunately, I was able to add staff who will certainly be a huge value add to our business :)

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  • […] were starting to become rather scarce and very rare to be seen out there on the Social Web. So I wondered where were they? Well, a year later, I think I may well know now where some of them are. Doing perhaps the very […]

  • Hi Luis. Disruptive as usual…and thanks for that! I was thinking about “evangelism” and the historic “teller of good news” context often related to religious efforts, and something stuck me. One of the most prolific “evangelists” of our day is Billy Graham. He holds campaigns and gets thousands to “convert”. Yet people may not realize that for every Billy Graham there are hundreds (if not thousands) who do “discipleship”. Graham gets them to make the decision, but he soon leaves. However, behind the scenes there’s an organized group of very dedicated people who are just as enthusiastic about the cause, who have lived the transformation themselves, and who are fanatics about helping others learn how to live the life associated with their new decision. These are t-shirt wearing, outspoken, radical thinking people. If I translate this to our need for “social conversion”, maybe we should look to our evangelists to help “win the crowd”, but we need to get some fire-breathing, social business disciples to help bring new converts along? I know it may be taking the “religious” thing a bit too far, but it’s radical, often misunderstood, and life changing.

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