Social Business in 2013 – An Opportunity (Open Business)

51 thoughts on “Social Business in 2013 – An Opportunity (Open Business)”

  1. Whoa, this connects on so many levels. I’m not fully prepared to respond to this, but some thoughts that come to mind: it seems like a step change (not only an increment), a shift up (not sideways), a more direct way to say what this is really about, “this” being Open Business (I like the definition here

    To continue your line of thinking, your new category (at the risk of getting it wrong), I like the sound of Open HR (transformed into *Human/Employee Relationships* ), Open IT (*Employee Systems*), Open MKT (*Trusted Advisors*) and Open Org Comms (*Employee Communications*). Everything else is a closed system (which still can and need to exist).

    I wonder if it’s also about transforming the Digital Workplace further into an *Open Workplace* with a strong focus on co-creation, cooperation and collaboration? Lot’s to think about. Thanks for this, Luis!

    1. Hiya Joachim! Whoaaaahhhh!! Now you are talking! This is just fascinating stuff! I, too, really like the definition of Open Business from Wikipedia which comes close to the real thing than whatever Social Enterprise and Social Business came to the original terms / concepts. And when you expanded further into Open HR (Love that one!!), Open IT, Open Marketing, Open Comms. I can certainly see it happening from the perspective of not just bringing along plenty of openness on how certain things operate (We probably don’t need everything out in the open from the start!) there is also an important ingredient of transparency that would correlate with your notion of considering Open Business a step up. I, too, see it that way!

      In fact, I see it as an opportunity to raise the stakes even higher from the perspective that plenty of enterprise social networking vendors haven’t been much open in the past, never mind their customers, so it’s been quite a challenge to see how Open Business would flourish in such a closeted environment where protecting / hoarding knowledge and plenty of political / bullying baggage is still lagging behind…

      Time to shake the ground, indeed! Yes, I know, lots to think about, Joachim, but your open, generous reflection has sparked a new trend of thought that I am sure is going to get us move further along in the right direction! Thanks for that!

      Let’s do it!

  2. Hi Luis. Great post.

    We’ve been pushing for Open Business for the last few years at http://www.9010group along side other great teams like . In fact David and I are in the process of writing a book on its 10 Principles that have come about from helping companies like Mastercard, Honda, and Tesco adopt it at a both a Strategic, Cultural and Operational level.

    For us being more ‘social’ has never been a goal state.. but being more ‘open’ to partnership has.

    The challenge we have found is often the social media revolution at an Enterprise level has often just been reduced to just a tech play such as Salesforce or a patchwork of other 3rd party providers. Attempts to go beyond simple connectivity or one-off engagements with the outside world and towards a more systemic form of openness that drives real world, rapid, constant and measurable innovation is just too scary for most.

    Open Business is real and happening, in fact we believe inevitable for those that want to be still here in the next 10 years,but highly fractious. Its why we launched to collaborate with other practitioners to celebrate pioneering work. As you will probably see, of recent, we have been unable to commit the time ourselves to drive the project and are looking for others to work with. We would like to extend ownership of this community to yourself and others that share our vision of the future.

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks much for dropping by and for the wonderful feedback comments! Glad you noticed the blog post, as David did as well on a recent Twitter Mention. I can certainly concur with that technology fetish flavour from most businesses when thinking about the impact of social technologies behind the firewall. It’s been there for decades and guess we won’t be able to get rid of it that easily, but we can surely try it out!

      It’s interesting to see though how plenty of knowledge workers are starting to realise how this *social* revolution at the workplace is a whole lot more than just a bunch of a fancy new tools to do cool things. I think they are starting to witness and experience first hand how it’s move about the pure business transformation of how they collaborate and share their knowledge out in the open and how for an Open Business to succeed you may not need to rely that much on technology, as an enabler, but really work hard towards the intangibles: openness, transparency, equity, trust, engagement, sharing, networking and so forth.

      I mentioned this to David just recently how this shift away from technology into the pure business transformation side, without the connotation of Social, has been in my mind for months and have been advocating quite a bit about it as well. I guess with this blog post I’m just declaring I’m now finally ready to make the move and transition into pushing for that Open Business model David, yourself and other folks have been advocating all along and I will be delighted to help out and join you guys in promoting those 10 principles and work along them hoping to redefine how work gets done in the 21st century.

      RE: Open Business Council, I would be delighted to participate in that effort in any form / shape I may be able to, although I may need to wait for a few days till I come back from vacation to see how much time and effort I can dedicate on top of my day to day job ;-)) But I will be in touch, for sure!

      Thanks again for the wonderful feedback and for sharing all of those wonderful links!

  3. Dear Luis,

    Thank you very much for the very interesting post!
    I have been following you since a friend of mine introduced me to your blog after your talk in Swiss Re in Zurich last Autumn and I find your posts more and more interesting!

    You are bringing a very intersting picture forward from the leaders of the “open” initiative. In the end if we fail to engage PEOPLE and make them feel “like at home” we are missing the point!

    I have come to this conclusion after discussing with people from Accenture as well… You may see here one example on how useful people found the initiative:
    Another person with interestin ideas that I follow and you might know from KM-World is Dave Snowden. He is “against the idea that Social tools can work alone”:

    In my work I have split the focus into Tools and People, where “people” includes apart from people “content” and “organization”…
    So, I am very interested to see where the leaders are going…

    Thanks again for sharing your ideas!

    1. Great link on the ever-insightful Dave Snowden, Aristeidis. The Accenture study is mostly about ROI tied to time metrics, which I find relevant for simple/routine work but increasingly irrelevant for any complex tasks.

      1. Hi Joachim, thanks a lot for dropping by and for sharing further along details on the Accenture study. I share the same conclusions as you shared above, in fact, perhaps a notch more ambitious to indicate how we need to start thinking about moving way past beyond the low hanging fruit with figuring out the ROI of whatever the metric, and, instead focus on how we can navigate through the now more than ever complex and uncertain business world that surely needs to find its way back in our society, versus just continue to live on that Ivory Tower that we all know who benefits the most. That’s why I feel it’s time to level up the game in accordance with the times and business environment we live in 🙂

    2. Hi Aristeidis! Thanks ever so much for dropping by and for the wonderful commentary! Absolutely, I agree with you 100% that Open Leadership is going to be a major topic over the next decade or two, more than anything else because “Closed Leadership” has demonstrated in the last few years how fundamentally flawed it is since only a few benefit from the benefit and hard work of the vast majority. Technology will certainly remain a key enabler, but I’m really much more interested on how that Open Leadership can help us move forward from that quote that Don Tapscott shared not long ago at his TED Talk where he quoted: “Business can’t succeed in a world that’s failing”.

      That’s why I’m so very much interested on how Open Leadership, how that openness and transparency can help us move forward with business “fixing” a world that’s currently very broken.

      Too funny as well your mention of Dave, who I have always considered one of my KM / Social / Complexity mentors from over the last 10 years and who is the main culprit I went into KM over 10 years ago and never looked back! There will be plenty of more blogging this year on some of the stuff I have learned from recent exchanges with him while at KM World 2012 in Washington DC and which would also correlate to plenty of the main mantras that Open Business shares along. Thus stay tuned for more!

      Thanks for sticking around and for the helpful feedback, including those links, too!

        1. Sure thing, Aristeidis! Stay tuned, because there will be plenty more coming along! I have already got a bunch of draft blogs and ideas I would want to share across on the topic to help evolve the conversation, at least, with my ¢2. Hope other folks would do the same as well 🙂

          And thanks much for adding that link to Dan Pink’s Drive… So very appropriate for this conversation as well and right on the money! (Pun intended hehe)

    1. Hi Jamie! Goodness! Talking about an impressive write-up of what’s to come with regards to Open Business and the various different ramifications way beyond just business and right into our society! Joachim hinted the radical changes that could take place within a business, so I can only imagine what they would be like as a society and covering all sorts of different aspects. Truly fascinating!!

      It would be interesting to see where that Radical Transparency can lead us, but more importantly whether Closed Systems Leaders would be willing to make the move into Open Systems Leaders and truly lead the way. I think your blog post just wrote the stakes for the so-called Leaders 2.0 who have been leading us into the Social Era but haven’t been rather open along the way protecting their *own* silos… Things, indeed, are going to be incredibly interesting and rather exciting not just in 2013, but in the next decade!

      Change takes time, but it’s inevitable!

      PS. Thanks much for sharing the link! Expect to see a couple of blog posts on some of the ideas covered in it, too!

    2. Hello Jamie. Thank you for sharing this link! I would say it is matter of time to see if our “evolution” will be perceived as evolution or will be surpressed or more radical and lead to “revolution”…
      Definately, we cannot fix a failing world by doing the things the same way we did in the past… Let’s see how the power holders will react…

      1. Thanks much, Aristeidis, once again, for adding further up! I think you pretty much nailed it with this particular quote: “[…] We cannot fix a failing world by doing the things the same way we did in the past” and that *is* the main reason why we would need to start thinking about how we are going to redefine the way we do business nowadays, because it’s surely going to impact who we are and what we are as societies. And time is running out, I can imagine, if things would continue at the pace they are going… And with regards to power holders, if you look into it, I doubt they would be the very first ones interested in thriving on a world that’s failing all around them. There won’t be much of a future for them either, don’t you think?

  4. Hi again Luis, it is with hope that the thinking expressed by all contributors here is a portent of the changes the must start to happen in order for us all change and resist the affects we have seen globally over the last few years. I agree that a networked multitude has the potential enable some pretty radical shifts in the way we live, work and relate to each other. We all feel we see this happening within our own networks yet at the same time the relationship we have with those in power can be seen to be stripping away things the gains we have made over the last few decades. Workers (not just information) rights are being watered down and removed, social safety nets, a new wave of privatisation and an ever increasing (in profits not shared equally) land grab through rentier economics are closing down opportunities for the rest of us. Can organisations, especially those at the heart of how our economies work (especially finance) become open and open to what that may mean for their profits? Can education become open in a time when in the US student debt is at $1 trillion or in the UK those in power would like so privatise our secondary education? I hope from the few conversations we’ve had online you understand I’m with you man and I am forever hopeful but it does feel like at the moment we’re loosing the battle – but maybe through dialogue like this we’ll eventually win the war.

    1. Hi Casson, what a superb contribution! Many thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response to which, while reading through it, I just couldn’t help thinking about two key concepts that I feel are going to be rather key: Resilience & Awakening. There is a saying over here in Spain, where I am sure you understand how tough things are over here at the moment, if not getting tougher by the week!, that there is no harm that will last for 100 years. And I strongly believe it’s that kind of spirit that will help bring forward that equity that we seem to keep forgetting or neglecting about.

      Yes, things may be dire now with the current business environment as well as civil rights gained, but there is plenty of energy, focus, and purpose on a good number of different initiatives out there that are helping out, big time, with that Awakening and Resilience. Take a look into Jamie’s blog post. It’s a superb read and one that would surely help us all understand better what’s coming and how things will be moving further along. Truly fascinating!

      I think what is going to be rather key, instrumental and fundamental for ourselves is our ability to prepare the ground for future generations to finish off our work. To keep planting the seeds so that those future generations can harvest the final product of what we have attempted doing all along.

      That’s why I’m a big fan and huge advocate of Open Business elements like Radical Transparency that we all need to keep re-claiming more and more. I would bet that if we were to have it right from the start, circa 2007, we would be nowadays in a much more different situation. And one other key thing that we should not underestimate is, indeed, the conversations we are having on the Social Web to try to make things better for us all and future generations. It’s that conversation, that exchange of ideas, that generation of key elements like empathy, trust, caring for one another that’s going to become critical for the shift to take place.

      It’s already happening, perhaps not at the massive global level that we would expect, but, certainly, it’s happening. We just need to become smarter at it, build a stronger purpose, meaning, and, above all, focus on the premise the change will be worth it, because it will eventually.

      May take us a bit of time, but the fascinating thing from the whole field of Open Business is the journey, not the final destination. The latter will be enjoyed by our future generations.

      We have got much work to do 😉

      1. Hi Luis, thank you for such a heartening reply. The two concepts of resilience and awakening, the former, for me, a working class staple (a contentious term maybe but we are the 99% now!) and the latter something connecting us all over the last few years are indeed what we need to remember are in us all and a driving force. I must say that it is your transparency, openness and honesty about your feelings whilst being at the heart of the corporate world that is an example to me. It is hard to let go of that fear, the fear of not just being thankful to have a job, the fear of writing like this out in the open albeit with like minded people but in the knowledge that anyone could read this and hey, how could that affect my reputation or my career chances!

        I have an abiding memory from watching the (up)rising in Egypt where a guy said that he was no longer scared of Mubarak. You know whatever happened from there on in things had changed for ever for that guy.

        As you say this is not for us but for the future and rest assured, with guys like you to talk with I’m going to do my best to enjoy this journey too.


          1. Hi Joachim! Whoaaahhh! Hats off, my dear friend! Seriously, your drawing and visuals skills on creating some mind-blowing imagery is par to none and something that I have always admired big big time! Thanks ever so much for your generous contributions into the many discussions and for sharing them over here to make the overall conversation *even* better.

            In this last instance I really enjoy how the vast majority of the themes included in it would align perfectly with key themes from Open Business with terms like resilience, sustainable growth and, specially, transforming the organisation. Absolutely fantastic piece of work!

            Many many thanks, once again, Joachim, for sharing it along and make us all better as a result of it 🙂

        1. Hi Cas, once again, much appreciated the thoughtful feedback and the very kind comments. Yes, I *do* know and fully realise that my openness and transparency may be seen problematic in some scenes, specially, in big corporate land, but then again I realise over a decade ago that I just can’t have it any other way. Intimidation and fear can’t take you anywhere. However, ideas, your passion and intent for those very same ideas you believe in, and that inner energy of connecting, conversing, and learning from other minded peers is what drives me towards being so open about what I know, what I learn, what I do at work, and how that may impact others. And now that we are in 2013, I have decided, while I have been having some time for deep thinking with the long hiatus that it’s time for me to up the game, my game, at least, and advocate for what I am really passionate about in the corporate world: *the people*

          And since that reflects as well on how I connect, collaborate and share my knowledge across with other people, all the better. It’s having that exchange of ideas and experiences that’s worth while. The rest is redundant and low hanging fruit that can satiate you for a while, but not for the long term. I am up for the long term. At least, for as long as I may be able to drive through with my passion for these topics, so happy to continue the dialogue over here and elsewhere! And stay tuned as well, because very soon there will be a higher degree of transparency coming along to match that *new* mantra of Open Business 😉

      2. “Our ability to prepare the grounds for future generations” Right on target Luis, that’s what corporations have forgotten about, and that’s the kind of commitment I’m sure social business people would embrace

        1. Hi Luis! Absolutely, and what a great commentary, because it’s that one that would inspire the opportunity of re-introducing a keyword in the business world that’s been missing for far too long: responsibility towards not just employees and knowledge workers, but towards the society they aim at thriving in. And that’s the very problem we are currently seeing / facing, that responsibility, ethics, morale, amongst several other key concepts are missing from today’s businesses key responsibilities and why we need to revert that. That’s why Open Business fits in incredibly well, in my opinion, with that flavour of openness, trust, transparency, publicy, and so forth. Exciting times, indeed, for businesses to redefine themselves and for people (Yes! It’s always about the people!) to be the main drivers of that change! Us, altogether and ultimately, don’t you think? 🙂

  5. This is a pretty interesting post. I enjoyed reading through it, as usual with you Luis.

    I have one concern: we focus extensively on knowledge workers and the benefit of their engagement through Open Business.

    But the reality is that there is still a big chunk of routine work in the enterprise (even in the non-manufacturing ones) and I am struggling to figure out how these workers can benefit from the Open Business concept.
    Of course sharing can help them improve their processes and drive innovation, but the basic part of their work is still a routinely no brainer activity.

    From my point of view, to have Open Business succeed in a company you need to have everyone engaged into that matter, so they also need to be considered.

    Any hint or suggestion is welcome!

    1. Hi Norbert, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the wonderful commentary as well. To be honest with you, I have always considered knowledge workers those people who have an opportunity to exercise their skills and experiences, their knowledge and information acquired over time to make smarter decisions, so I may be taking that definition of knowledge workers a bit too loose, or perhaps a bit too wide, since, in some way or another we all have got our very own experiences and knowledge acquired, right? Even for routined work. Either way, allow me to offer a hint or a suggestion to your comments.

      Please do have a look and watch this 5 minute long video clip under the suggesting title “I, Tomato: Morning Star’s Radical Approach to Management” and you will be able to see how an Open Business can also be one that’s dedicated to routined, manufactured work. In fact, it can thrive in there as Morning Star and a few other companies have been demonstrating all along. Worth while taking a look, for sure.

      [I will be putting together a blog post myself on this very same topic where I will be expanding further into it… Stay tuned!]

      1. Love the video clip, Luis. “A person with the most insight and most knowledge should make the decision” (obvious, but not easy to find and even more difficult to empower). A worker: “I’ve grown so much more than anywhere else”. You can sense workers see their purpose, understand their cause, show their pride, why they go to work every day. Something Simon Sinek often talks about:

        They are also comfortable doing what they do, so there’s a natural match with/progression towards their skills and talents. Fascinating.

        1. Hi Joachim! I knew you would love it! I know in the past I have blogged about a couple of other rather known companies operating on a similar democratic fashion with some excellent results and incredibly successful. So Morning Star just adds up on what finding a new meaning, purpose and focus around the employees could well do for your business and how employees would, finally, have that strong sense of *owning* their work in an environment where they know how their work is going to be appreciated and own-decision making much encouraged. An opportunity to grow, both intellectually and, of course, financially… Who would have thought about that being possible in such a non related knowledge worker environment, right?

          Your quotes are just excellent additions into the conversation as well, never mind the superb post from Simon with a rather highly recommended presentation worth while watching in its entirety! Way cool! Thanks for adding it further along as well!

      2. Good point. I forgot about this case. I guess once you enter in the working environment for the first time, no matter the task, you are fully motivated and engaged, but when you see the number of rules you have to adhere to and the number of limitations to your empowerment then disengagement starts.

        And Morning Star is not a hype, they have been working like this consistently.

        So there is hope.
        Transition is the key point to focus then.
        Easy to do in a start-up…big challenge for a 100k employees company!

        1. Hi Norbert, thanks for the follow-up! It’s interesting, because ever since I shifted gears and moved on with Open Business, it’s been a rather amazing experiencing bumping into lots of great reads and plenty of examples of other companies operating similar to how Morning Star is! I am hoping to be able to blog about a good number of them and what I learn from what they are doing with their own business models. Should be quite an interesting exercise for this year, for sure, to continue setting the stage and move further along.

          RE: “[…] when you see the number of rules you have to adhere to and the number of limitations to your empowerment then disengagement starts” Probably, but then again that’s the whole purpose why if you have a number of rules there is a great chance you may want to break the odd one out there to help you re-engage back with that empowerment, don’t you think? In my opinion, we are not challenging the status quo of how certain things are running, even though we know that some of them may not be right, yet, we don’t do it. Perhaps it’s a good time that we start challenging some of those rules AND the status quo, don’t you think? Even in 100k employees companies, if not, even more specially those! 🙂

  6. Yes! As usual, Luis, we are on the same page, though my pages tend to have fewer words than yours. 🙂

    The major shift is toward treating everyone in business as human beings; everything else flows logically from that.

    For 150 years, business has been inhuman. The model for our organizations is the machine. Workers are interchangeable parts. The less independence and variety, the better.

    Humans are illogical, emotional beings. They won’t be engaged until enterprise reveres their humanity and celebrates their differences.

    Openness is part of this — because it enables the natural order to emerge — but it is not all of it.

    1. Hi Jay! Many thanks for dropping by and for the wonderful feedback comments! Yes, I know what you mean, I have a well known tendency of being a bit too verbose and guess it shows on a good number of posts. For 2013 I am hoping to tame that a little bit and see how it goes 😉

      RE: treating everyone in business as human beings Absolutely! I couldn’t have agreed more with you on that statement and also on the timeframe of how long we have been going through it (Those 150 years … or more!). Too ironic how that imperfect, illogical, irrational (At times), but truly passionate, engaged, caring, empathic, trustworthy, creative knowledge worker is the one that eventually carries out the work. I mentioned on a comment above to Norbert how perhaps the main reason why corporations have always thought about workers as interchangeable parts is because we haven’t been challenging the status quo as much as we could, and perhaps we should.

      It’s got to start somewhere, right? Perhaps upping the game from Social Business to Open Business (As in businesses, finally, opening up!) is our start to keep pushing for that change and transformation of how businesses have been running for the last 150 years… Time (and Us) will tell 😀

      Thanks again for dropping by and glad we are in sync! By the way, expect to see an influx of posts that relate plenty of your latest work into how I view Open Business as well. Back to humans again 🙂

  7. Hi Luis, I love your points on HR as Human Relationships and agree that employee engagement is key to this.

    So shouldn’t this be the starting point for organisation’s efforts to become more social / open?

    Ie adoption efforts to become a socially integrated enterprise may form part of this journey – butt it doesn’t need to start with this, or even involve this, does it?

    1. Hi Jon, my apologies that I didn’t have a chance to look into your wonderful commentary before, things have been rather busy with my first business trip of the year, but glad I’m finding some time now to chime in… Glad you have enjoyed the points about HR transforming itself into Human Relationships and how employee engagement is the key magic silver bullet to help provoke that business transformation we have all have been anticipating for far too long! 🙂

      To your question, ABSOLUTELY!! In fact, that’s why I’m focusing my interest, motivation, attention and efforts into provoking such shift. Over the course of the last couple of years we have seen how Communications and Marketing, along with Sales, have been having a relatively good result at driving the adoption of social technologies, but, if you notice, on the 2nd year it stagnates, because vast majority of knowledge workers are wondering about “what else?”. Making them more productive, more engaged, more collaborative, more open towards knowledge sharing, needs to be reflected as well on how HR morphs into Human Relationships and key elements like merit, reputation, social eminence, motivation, recognition, and so forth need to play a role, versus just thinking things will be all right, like they have been all along. Well, they haven’t. We are still carrying with us that huge business problem the corporate works has got today, which is that over 70% of disengaged employees!!

      Think we are doing fine? Hummm, I don’t think so. In fact, we are doing pretty bad and, worst part is that businesses don’t seem to understand they risks they are running into by not going deeper with Social / Open HR!

      Well, I am not sure whether it would need to start with this or not, as you mentioned, but I can certainly tell you that “this” needs to be involved and rather heavily, perhaps getting closer to the centre of the transformation, vs. just witnessing from the edges hoping it will work out just like that. Great chance it won’t, like we have seen how after those couple of years things stagnate again… Lots of good work in this area that we need to push forward, Jon. Keep going at it, please 🙂

  8. Late to the party, but glad to see all the insightful and educating comments. We need to look back to the days of small villages and local businesses, where everyone was engaged. The strength in new global open business will still come from the relationships fostered in the open communities of individuals – not the businesses themselves. At the end of the day, people will engage if they feel connected and have a purpose. I look forward to your continued journey. Thanks for taking us along.

    1. Hi Lorian! Wonderful comments and additional input! Many thanks for sharing it across and for the great feedback! I surely enjoyed your comment about “Thinking Locally, Acting Globally”, specially, in the context of that connectedness related to both purpose AND meaning. Somehow, in the current business environment of today we are missing large chunks of that purpose / meaning, at least, for the masses of the knowledge workforce. And that’s where our challenge begins and what I have been calling as well the Awakening 2.0 🙂

  9. Your blog post makes me smile and nod my head vigorously in agreement. I have been thinking about this as well… it’s about the Connected Business. As in IBMer enveloped in the world of technology, I somethings think of a connected shared mind… kind of like a Watson made up of people, connected to (as one) create new ideas and solutions none of us individually would have considered. In business, I think of this open connectedness in terms of acceleration to business.

    I have a hard time articulating the concept but I am turning to areas like brain study and bio-mimicry to try to capture the concept.

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for the feedback as well and for dropping by! I think I know what you mean in terms of how that open flow of knowledge and information and that connectedness will help accelerate innovation, the focus, purpose and meaning that Lorian mentioned above, but above, the opportunity to aim at what I have always believed is the main core mission of any business our there: sustainable growth.

      Open Business can surely help out with that 🙂

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