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

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Becoming a Successful Socially Integrated Enterprise – The Long Journey

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo in the winter

Back in October last year, if you would remember, I decided to, finally, get things started with this particular series of blog posts around the Social Business Adaptation Framework I have been using with clients for a good while now to help them either jumpstart their own efforts in their Social Business journey or to help them spice up their already existing Digital Transformation initiatives they may have had in place already for some time. Well, a year later, and after a much longer hiatus than what I would have wanted, or expected, I am pleased to share with you all the very last blog entry from the series where I will be talking about the last tip of advice I, typically, share with customers, within that framework, of course, to help them get things started.

But before we go a little bit deeper into that last piece of guidance, allow me to share over here as well the index of articles that cover each and everyone of the 5 pillars of the Social Business Adaptation Framework I have been using all along, so that you get a chance to see how the flow would kick in within that framework itself. So, let’s see it:

As you can see, it all starts with asking the ‘why?’, that is, the purpose. Why are we embarking in such a journey to become a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise in the first place? What do we want to achieve? Why are we doing the things we are doing? and, perhaps, much more importantly, why are we still doing the things we are doing, when we all know they may well not be as effective as they once were? Can we get to successfully challenge the status quo of how certain things operate?

From there onwards, we get to define, jointly with the knowledge (Web) workers themselves, what are the potential constraints, guidelines, policies, etc. etc. in place that we will be operating under, so that people will have an understanding about how far playing safe can go. And right after all of that, that’s where the good fun starts! It’s all then about an opportunity to help provide the necessary conditions for people to decide for themselves if they would want to improve the way they connect, learn and share their knowledge with their colleagues, as well as customers and business partners. We know we just can’t change people, nor organisations, but we can certainly provide the necessary conditions for them to make that choice. It’s theirs and theirs alone. So working towards influencing a set of (potentially new) core behaviours and mindset via differently adapted business practices, a community of social networking ambassadors / champions for support and additional guidance (to kick off even perhaps an additional community building programme) and the opportunity for each and everyone to get enabled is essentially what’s going to help us jumpstart that journey towards becoming, living AND doing social.

And because it’s a journey aimed at the long run, not just through several short sprints (remember, it’s a marathon that we are running here), the last tip I keep sharing further along with clients, from the framework mentioned above, is to eventually start small, build from there. Get started as soon as you possibly can and, above anything, avoid over-engineering the whole transformation process itself. Far too many times I have witnessed, first hand, how plenty of really well thought-out and about-to-be-executed change initiatives get lost in the far too many intricate details discourse. Far too much over-engineering the whole transformation process may eventually kill it, before you realise you are doomed for good then, as there might not be a way back. And that’s the last thing you would need. Dave Snowden once wrote that the moment you announce your change management initiative with all of the fanfare you can think of by grabbing vast majority of the attention, that’s the moment when that same change initiative starts dying out a little bit day in day out.

That’s why I keep advocating myself for start small, build from there, because by thinking about change in small increments and actions will probably give you a much higher rate of success, however you may have defined it, or, as Dave himself puts it in another rather thought-provoking article under the title ’Towards a new theory of change’:

But the real change in organisations is when you change the way that people connect, and the most profound way in which that connection can be achieved is through small actions that change perceptions in an evolutionary way. People argue that it is easier to change an individual that to change the system and that may be right. But if you want systemic change there are simply too many individuals to change to achieve it and it is a lot easier to change the interactions and allow people autonomy over what they are.’ [Emphasis mine]

If you come to think about it, it’s like building a cathedral, really. Brick by brick, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. A small change, or action, may happen every day that makes the whole difference and over the course of a very long period of time you realise you are, eventually, building a very beautiful cathedral altogether. My all time favourite one took 300 years to build and it’s just as stunning and jaw-dropping as it can get. Like with all change management initiatives aimed at long term, that’s when you realise it takes an awful lot of patience, perseveranceresilience and, above all, empathy. Tons of it. So the soonest you start working on those soft skills, as you prepare your way towards completing that Social Business Journey over the course of decades, the much better off you will be. Both individually as well as collectively.

But remember, it’s all about the small actions, about starting to do something today, whatever it may well be. Even the smallest of actions or changes under those potential conditions and constraints already put in place, can have a huge impact altogether as knowledge (Web) workers start making their own choices and begin their own journey of discovery, connection, sharing (what they know), learning and eventually of getting work done more effectively, which is what matters at the end of the day, if you ask me. We need to ‘stop talking about how things should be, and start changing things in the here and now’.

Indeed, I couldn’t have put it in better words than we need to stop talking about the so-called Future of Work (#FOW) and, instead, start doing more (in small increments and actions, of course!) about the Present of Work (#PresentOfWork).

It’s our choice and ours alone.

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