How the Social Chain Enables Effective Organisational Change

While in the past organisational transformation has often been accompanied by a well-crafted "message" from the CEO or Executive Management, we've found that social technologies not only allow but demand more authentic and wide-spread participation - right from the start. McKinsey, in a recent research report, also emphasises the important role of social technologies play in re-imagining the "future story".

Engage and connect widely through social technologies

In recent posts by Jeremy Scrivens he has emphasised the role of wide-participation in the formulation of the "future story" of an organisation and in particular connecting the strengths of the whole organisation to create innovation at scale. This is the concept of ecosystem-wholeness.

McKinsey outlined four key ways to drive more effective organisational change, all using social technologies:

  1. Firstly, to engage the workforce in active development of strategy. Jeremy discusses the purpose and means to do this in several of his recent posts including The Future of Work in GenG - Wired to Care & Share through Wholeness. McKinsey's work found that wide participation generated many surprising and valuable insights for organisations wishing to reposition themselves.
  2. Secondly, McKinsey recommends that operational silos within an organisation be connected by a "social chain": "a digital platform that links everyone working in a particular value chain inside a company". This integrates the social platform into how people do their day to day work - an approach that KINSHIP has long advocated as a key to success for enterprise social networks. This is a subset of the "ecosystem-wholeness" which we mentioned earlier.
  3. Thirdly, enlisting key customers to improve the value proposition is another key way McKinsey recommends to drive effective change outcomes. This is an oldie but a goodie, and an even more effective way is to have customers engaged in the first process of strategy formulation, via an "open business" and "community" mindset.
  4. Fourthly, uniting widespread operational communities using social tools - McKinsey use the example of sales staff and the use of social data analytics to better inform them of opportunities. We are at the beginning of new insights from more powerful social data analytics tools, and the speed and effectiveness of this new information can be used to directly feed into day to day activities. Positive outcomes from this information provides an incentive for a far-flung workforce to become more connected and engaged through the social chain mentioned above.

The subtitle of the McKinsey article is "online communities are helping companies engage with employees to accelerate change" - with which we wholeheartedly agree. In their wrap-up to their article McKinsey discuss the importance of "a new mindset for senior managers" in achieving effective use of social technologies as an enabler of change - a topic we reflected upon in How Fully-Networked Companies Get Better ROI from Social Technologies.

The precursor of social chains is knowing where you want to go

Of all the McKinsey recommendations we believe that #1 and the need for joint creation of the purpose and the "why" of change plays the greatest role in sustaining the changes and the ongoing role of social technologies, followed by the analysis and development of effective social chains.

We like to call the process of engaging the workforce (and customers) in the development of a future story "leading through Positive Disruption". Leaders who lead through Positive Disruption do the following:

  • They start by sharing a vision for a better future and they ask their people and customers to co-create this together in open innovation forums like Appreciative Inquiry, sustained by the new social collaborative technology.
  • They co-create a Kind Culture and open forms of behaviour which engage more parts of their global ecosystem in the quest for organising and delivering good much better than bad is organised and delivered.
  • They ask each other - what if we were to combine our strengths for social good and spend more time collaborating around that which we wished to accomplish, rather than that which we wished to avoid, what’s possible?
  • They co-design what is next.

That is Positive Disruption - that is the Future of Work through Social.


Walter Adamson 

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