The Hyper-social Organization – Review

The main premise of The Hyper-social Organization is that social media, connectivity, and always-on technology are enabling what humans do naturally — be very social.

The authors on knowledge management:

Of course, one of the big challenges for companies is that, unlike information or data, knowledge does not flow easily, as it relies on long-term trust-based relationships. Indeed, data and information are facts that describe a situation and can be generated by machines, whereas knowledge consists of truths, beliefs, methods, solutions, ideas and other elements that are created by humans and shared among people who trust one another. So one of the keys to success in this new economic reality is to move from a transactional world to a long-term trust-based world.

I have to like these questions the authors ask organizational leaders:

How good are you at engaging your detractors? How much of a “perpetual beta” culture do you have in your company? Do you consider your customer service department to be a cost center, or something more?

On the value of marketing materials:

McKinsey estimates that two-thirds of all buying decision-focused conversations do not involve anyone from the company. In a separate study, IDC estimated that only 20 percent of all content developed by the typical marketing department is actually used by the sales organization. What we can extrapolate from this information is that the content developed by most marketing departments is used in less than 7 percent of all buying decisions.

The most interesting part of the book is the Hyper-Sociality Index, based on four pillars:

Tribes vs Segments — “In a hyper-social environment you need to reach the tribes whose members influence one another – not the market segments that can be targeted with direct mail and ad campaigns”

Human-centricity vs Company-centricity — “… the shift in attention to the human elements of your business can help to improve product development, marketing, sales, talent management, knowledge management, and customer service.”

Networks vs Channels — “Data and information flow through channels, whereas networks allow knowledge to flow.”

Social Messiness vs Process and Hierarchy — “SEAMS: sensing, engaging, activating, measuring, storytelling” [Note: this does not align with the Cynefin framework that advocates a Probe — Sense — Respond approach to complexity, so I think SEAMS lacks the flexibility necessary in complex environments.]

The authors pose a similar question I have been asking for years as well, “Will traditional hierarchical organizations, with multiple levels of management between the tribes and corporate decision makers, enjoy any sort of advantage in a hyper-social future?”

Finally, here are 8 characteristics of hyper-social leaders:

  1. Behave like humans, not faceless entities
  2. Ditch the rule books and embrace values
  3. Live their values
  4. Trust people and create trusted environments
  5. Embrace transparency
  6. Embrace diversity
  7. Never compromise on quality
  8. Let go of control

If these concepts are new to you, I would recommend this book. I noticed that John Hagel is often quoted in this book, so you may want to pick up his latest book as well, or instead — The Power of Pull

2 Responses to “The Hyper-social Organization – Review”

    • Harold Jarche

      Interesting that you comment on this, Sheree. The authors use the term Human 1.0, “We may be living in a Web 2.0 world, but the behaviors that this environment triggers are solidly Human 1.0, and they can largely be explained by the evolution of humans to become the only Hyper-Social species without all members having to be related.”


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