Be more social at work

The focus of attention on how to use social media to best create competitor advantage is shifting. For a while now brands have fully embraced its role as a brand engagement tool, but it seems to me the debate now is also about its use within organisations to help drive growth. Social media technologies have the potential to enable mass collaboration, unleashing a surge of creativity, leading to faster and more effective innovation in every sphere of an organisation. However, it can be a challenge for organisations to overcome some initial fears and nervousness about its use internally. If they DO overcome these fears and make social media available, they don't always the invest time and the necessary disciplines needed to really make it work as well as it could.

So I was really interested to read their current book, 'The Social Organisation', in which Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald identify 6 different attitude sets that prevail in organisations that run across a wide spectrum. These range from those who are not using social media for business advantage (dubbed as 'Folly', 'Fearful' or 'Flippant') to those who are ('Formulating', 'Forging' and 'Fusing'). Apart from liking simple models like the '6 Fs' to help crystallise good thinking, it is easy to recognise the patterns of attitudes and behaviours within each of these categories in the many organisations we at Brand Learning work with (and we include ourselves in this!).

Given that most businesses are still at the early stages of adoption, the first of that group of 'Fs' are most common. Why? A mixture of reasons - some of the most difficult beliefs to overcome are that social media doesn't add value, will waste time (how unfortunate is that descriptor 'social' in a business context!) and poses a risk to confidentiality. If these views prevail, then it is unlikely that tools like Yammer - the closed network tool that we use here at Brand Learning - will be made available and/or will be used to their full effect.

A recent Yammer roadshow, hosted by their CEO David Sacks, provided a great opportunity to hear from speakers from a diverse range of organisations who ARE adopting this particular social media tool in a more strategic way. It was really exciting to see how many people attended (clearly a hot topic) and to hear first-hand accounts of the real experiences of individuals and groups as they grapple and overcome the barriers to effective adoption.

We are also on our own journey at Brand Learning and are determined to understand more and more about how to build value, and more importantly our own internal capabilities, from our social media technology of choice. The key insight that drives us is that it really isn't about technology, or which platform you adopt, (although you clearly have to have that in place!) but the development of the right principles, goals and management structures to help make the most of our collective creativity and naturally collaborative culture.

We're on the journey, and would encourage others to join in too. If you are ahead on that 6F spectrum, and a Forging or Fusing organisation (where collaborative community working is an integral part of everyday working life) then let us know your experiences. We would love to hear from you.

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s capabilities, please get in touch. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Learning.

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