Courage, trust, purpose and collaboration: thoughts on social business change from #PivotCon
Laura Dinneen, Head of strategy: Last week I had the pleasure of flying to New York to attend social business conference Pivot, which I left not only with amazing new contacts but also a brain full of ideas, questions and inspiration. Here I’ll attempt to show you my post-Pivot brain in the form of Post-It Notes and scribbles, along with some thoughts I’d like to expand on in later posts.
Leadership, organisations and employees in a social era
#PivotCon kicked off perfectly with Stowe Boyd and Paul Greenberg setting the scene for the whole two days ahead. Things have changed in profound ways and we’re now living in the postnormal – a world that’s changed but hasn’t caught up to us yet. For leaders this is scary and uncertain (VUCA), which makes it difficult to make decisions, and difficult to use existing data to plan for the future. Organisations are closed with big bad departmental silos, whilst employees are disengaged and lack shared vision.
IBM’s Global CEO Study (which is required reading at BLOOM) also highlights these themes and uncovers how leaders are looking to shape the future of business.
The following concepts really stood out to me as themes throughout the conference, but are also core requirements for navigating social business change in the postnormal.
The need for leaders and organisations to have courage and place trust in their own uncertainly and their own employees was a recurring theme over the two days.
Charlene Li talked about leaders needing the courage to take a leap of faith (as Felix Baumgartner recently did), and how we as social business professionals, employees and leaders can help create courage:
“Courage means being afraid and yet still moving forward to the edge and jumping off, not knowing what will happen. Social media exposes the need for courage because doing it right requires engaging in a dialog and relationship with other people — which is pretty scary when you have no idea what they will say.” – Charlene Li
Linda Boff from GE told us leaders need to have the courage of their convictions to “go try things” and to start doing and learning by implementing pilot programmes.
Having the courage to relinquish control and place more trust in employees is something leaders need to start doing in order to move forward. Organisations that trust and empower their employees will reap the benefits. Of course the other side to this is that failing to trust and engage your employees can have the opposite effect, as forewarned by Dr Leslie Gaines-Ross.
If people trust the words of employees more than execs, what are organisations doing to make their employees happy ambassadors? #pivotcon— Laura Dinneen (@lauradinneen) October 15, 2012
…which makes it even more important for organisations to recognise the potential for employee ambassadors to engage with consumers in an authentic way, something Chris Heuer and Pheobe Venkat from ADT talked about when discussing the engaged employee as natural diplomat.
For companies to grow, you need to delight your internal customers so they can delight your external customers #pivotcon— Laura Dinneen (@lauradinneen) October 15, 2012
Paul Wilmore from Barclaycard talked about also placing trust in the wider, external community, and engaging consumers and stakeholders in a transparent way.
Purpose motivates employees to connect, engage and improve. Shared meaning and truth is a critical way to engage the disengaged and give employees who have lost faith a reason to try.
Wendy Lea from Get Satisfaction said we need purpose and courage in order to deliver on our promises to both consumers and employees. Rob Harles and Brian Solis talked about establishing a new narrative that resonates in social by pulling out the truth about your mission, taking core competencies and really engaging into your purpose.
A fourth key theme for me was collaboration as the social heart of business, and although internal collaboration and silo-busting was discussed at length, I’m also talking about collaboration with consumers and stakeholders. In order to collaborate effectively though, we need to listen, and listen deeply – something Kare Anderson knows a thing or two about. With the insights gained from listening, social can be used as a critical tool in the facilitation of information and collaboration.
Greg Gerik talked about practical ways 3M have implemented collaboration practices to great success, achieving a more open culture, better knowledge sharing, and a huge wealth of insights through internal social data. Collaboration is now happening (or needs to happen) within organisations employee-to-employee, but also organisation-to-organisation and organisaiton-to-consumer.
Learning how to adapt to business change is something we help leaders, organisations and employees do through BLOOM social business consultancy. Find out more or try our Social Business Maturity Calculator for a snapshot look at your organisation’s social business temperature.