A coherent path to social business

Thierry de Baillon and Ralph Ohr, in their post on Business Model Innovation as Wicked Problem, conclude the following:

An ever increasing pace of change leads to a decrease in life time of operating business models. Companies are therefore forced to reinvent themselves more frequently by creating new business models. Entering new businesses through open business model innovation exhibits a wicked problem structure. In order to properly address those problems, companies have to follow emergent strategies and need to put decentralized, self-organizing structures in place. Social business brings an answer to the urgent necessity to successfully tackle corporate reinvention and to enhance strategic adaptability by connecting individual human stakeholders.

What kinds of “emergent strategies and decentralized, self-organizing structures” can be put in place? I think it boils down to three things: Openness, Knowledge-sharing, and Diversity.

1. Openness can be encouraged through the use of social networks and enterprise social platforms. People need to know what others are doing and the default mode has to be sharing. If workers cannot connect with anyone they need to, then the knowledge needed to address a problem may never be revealed to those who need it. Opening communications to everyone is the antithesis of bureaucracy, where lines of control are ever-important.  Bureaucracies are the enemy of innovation, as they favour self-preservation over change. They are self-serving. They are also reinforced by the notion of jobs. Openness means getting rid of jobs, which subvert openness, innovation and emergent practices. Social networks, powered by social media, help to remove bureaucracy and antiquated ways of working.

2. Just because a system is open does not mean that a learning organization will emerge. People need to practice knowledge-sharing through the narration of work and personal knowledge management. Both are simple concepts to understand but take time to become daily practices throughout an organization.

3. Finally, any organization needs to have a diversity of opinions in order to remain innovative and deal with the wicked problems described by Thierry and Ralph. “Connections drive innovation“, according to Tim Kastelle. “We need input from people with a diversity of viewpoints to help generate innovative new ideas. If our circle of connections grow too small, or if everyone in it starts thinking the same way, we’ll stop generating new ideas.” This means giving access to social networks, eliminating tribes such as departmental silos, and actively looking for people with different backgrounds and experience.

Putting all of this together, is what we at the Internet Time Alliance call a coherent organization.

The Coherent Organization:
Cooperation & Collaboration flowing between work teams & social networks
via communities of practice

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