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by Kate Cooper
July 18th 2012 by Kate Cooper

Adapt Survive Thrive: Three building blocks for the adaptive organisation

Recently Altimeter Group issued a call for insights on the Adaptive Organisation – How can an organisation be faster than real time?

Our mantra at BLOOM is “what happens internally is as important as what happens externally” when it comes to social business. Our clients understand that they have to evolve from the inside out in order to get ahead. They ask questions like:

  • “How do we put our customer at the heart of our business?”
  • “How do we get our people more connected to our audiences?”
  • “How to we get more related to our employees?”


Here we explore three building blocks for adapting, surviving and thriving in the new social business landscape:

1: Foster cross department collaboration

Social media/business activities should involve multiple stakeholders across multiple departments to really make programmes fly. Think marketing, communications, sales, customer service, HR and legal as a starting point.

With one Pan European client from the manufacturing sector (think oil tanker organisation), we have recently deployed a silo-busting programme where we brought together departments and suppliers (in some cases competing suppliers!) to collaboratively redesign their consumer journey. We pooled insight from a variety of sources to explore the new consumer landscape and purchasing habits in detail and then started with a blank sheet of paper using real-time insights to drive the strategic process. What became clear very quickly (even to the most skeptical stakeholders) was, that to align their business to the new consumer journey, we would need to involve stakeholders from across the enterprise. By the end of the scoping and mapping phase of the project we had identified 10-15 different departments and plotted them against key parts of the consumer journey as a foundation for prioritising our silo-busting efforts around the consumer need.

2: Deploy social technology

The new social business landscape doesnt just mean challenges and obstacles but also opportunities for businesses. Social technology can act as an enabler of change and work very quickly. Use cases for deployment of social technology internally include knowledge sharing, cross department collaboration, relationship building, cross cultural and cross geographical working to name but a few.

At BLOOM, we use 37Signals suite of tools and applications which is ideal for us as an SME. It provides for all our collaboration requirements and a whole lot more. It’s especially useful for connecting our geographically dispersed team who are often on-site with clients. Our philosophy is that any of our team should be able to collaborate as if in our office from any device anywhere in the world – basecamp, backpack and campfire sprinked with a little bit of dropbox and skype pretty much fit the bill. We also use this suite to collaborate with our clients on a daily basis.

For our enterprise level clients, we have deployed multiple enterprise level solutions for connecting employees with employees, employees with consumers and consumers with consumers. For internal collaboration, knowledge sharing and connecting, Salesforce Chatter is proving a particularly useful tool for a number of our clients as a way to break down organisational silos. Even pilot projects with small numbers of participants connect employees who never normally speak with one another (even if they’re sat on the same floor in the same building!).

3. Use education as a lever for change

Organisations need to change to become more consumer centric and meet their consumer’s needs. We havent met one yet that doesn’t. Social Business education programmes provide a key lever for change, adapting behaviours and attitudes as well as instilling core knowledge and developing skills.

We have trained over 10,000 client employees globally and believe in an agile approach to education. All our programmes follow the 70 | 20 | 10 principle with only 10% of training being delivered through traditional formal learning approaches. Drawing from points 1 and 2 above, we use creative learning techniques to encourage on-the-job collaboration, knowledge sharing and empowering employees to deliver training themselves. Social technologies are a core component on the education and change management toolkit.

For one global toy manufacturer we trained 30 global social business ambassadors in a train the trainer programme which then enabled them to go and train stakeholders at a local level. Over 1000 staff have received training from the 30 ambassadors.

For another multinational manufacturing client we are in the process of conducting 121 or group executive coaching on Social Business for their Senior Leadership Team including CEO, VPs, Directors and General Managers. The focus of these sessions is to empower them to understand how the principles and practices of Social Business can be leveraged to deliver their overarching strategic goals whilst activating them as advocates for customer centricity. Education can impact and contribute to all levels of a social business.

We would be interested to find out what building blocks your organisation is using to adapt.

This blog post was written as a contribution to the Altimeter Group Blog Ring on Adaptive Organisations


Kate Cooper, MD, BLOOM