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

Hippie 2.0

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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