Culture comes first for a social enterprise!

Posted: September 15, 2012 in E20, SocialBiz
Tags: , , ,

As noted in my last post I’ll be speaking on a panel at the Connected Enterprise 2012 conference in November. The topics I’ll be talking on are:

  • Challenges and risks of a ubiquitous working environment
  • How to build and leverage collaborative teams
  • How to implement and maintain adoption of collaborative technologies
  • How to use social media for effective talent recruitment
  • How to lead a connected and collaborative enterprise

 My next few posts will explore some of those area’s and the first post is something that spans pretty much all aspects – Culture.

The word culture is derived from “to cultivate” and it’s in this sense we need to think about it. Trying to change the organisation culture is an often-cited wispy and nebulous challenge for various reasons. The one thing you’ll read is that organisation culture is as a direct result of the leaders. We all know that a sales focused CEO will drive a culture of competitiveness and profit seeking behavior and conversely an enigmatic energy driven leader will drive the same.

One of my first career jobs was at a multi-national ERP software company. When I joined there were urban legends and stories about the founder and CEO pulling off one of the biggest deals in the companies history in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt! I believe that to be case because that type of “don’t take life too seriously” attitude permeated the company resulting in a fun, dynamic and tight knitted group of people, many of whom I’m still in touch with 15 years later. This culture was cultivated from the top down!

Take a look at Forbes top 100 most innovative companies. It’s no surprise that the article talks about the innovative index of the leader in relation to the company – they go hand in hand.

So it is with Social and collaborative organisations. For an enterprise social network (ESN) to really work people need to see it driven from the top. I’ve read of only a few instances that a grassroots movement has gained enough traction to ripple through the organisation and when it has it’s because a member of the executive team has spotted the benefits and evangelised it.

This recent Brainyard post cites 3 things that would need to change for a company to adopt social.

  • 29% – shift the company culture
  • 20% – designating a person to make it happen
  • 15% – setting aside a budget for social technologies.

It’s easy to see that all 3 of these could be accomplished by a single senior leader taking up the cause. They can lead by example and cultivate a collaborative culture, they can allocate resources and champion the work and they have the power over the purse-strings to make it happen.

If a company doesn’t already have a sharing and collaborative culture then implementing an ESN isn’t going to change that. It’s a tool that enables the underlying values and a competitive “knowledge-is-power” organisation will hear little else but chirping crickets on their social platform.

In my next post I’ll share some examples I’ve seen of great Social Leadership, some disabling behaviours and some ways to start changing the culture.

  1. […] my last post I talked about how culture comes first for your Enterprise Social Network (ESN). Without the right […]

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