Have you read Haydn Shaughnessy? If you’re interested in the social enterprise, you should. I haven’t yet read his recent book, The Elastic Enterprise, but I will: I intend to read it as I cross the Atlantic on my way to SXSW later this week. (I’m speaking there on the Saturday, on Massively Multiplayer Work, and at least 12 people have said they’d turn up for it).
Following on from a post he’d written in January, headlined Understanding Social: An Infographic of a New Business Idea, Haydn continued his train of thought with a post today: Why Social Business Will Fail (And How To Save It).
Haydn argues that for businesses to become truly social, they must be transformed, and radically at that. This transformation takes place in three dimensions. First, there is a change in how people are connected and how they communicate, both within the enterprise as well as beyond the enterprise, supply chain and distribution network, all the way to the customers themselves. Second, this transformation affects the very fabric of the industries involved, its participants, structures and processes as they evolve into open platform-based ecosystems rather than vertically integrated silos. These two facets, when taken in combination, then yield the third dimension: a genuine focus on the creation and evolution of shared value.
I’m a long-term Cluetrain devotee, so I’m not about to start arguing with those views. [Disclosure: Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger and Rick Levine are good friends of mine. And the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book contains a chapter written by me.]
Maybe some of you haven’t read Cluetrain as yet. Please do something about it. Now. Read it here. Go buy the book. Scan the teaser I’ve stuck below here, listing the first 16 of the 95 “theses” that make up the book. Do something. Now.
Amazing, to think that all that was written maybe 14 years ago.
Haydn uses the examples of Apple and Amazon to explain how a truly social enterprise changes industrial landscapes irreversibly, how the ecosystems evolve, how participants create and share value. Again, I couldn’t agree more, other than to point out that the radical transformations that Apple and Amazon have wrought, they result in at least one effect that doesn’t get mentioned: the slimming down, exit, sometimes even extinction, of many of the incumbents in related industries.
The separation between customer and employee, as evinced in the pre-Cluetrain world, is blurring. In a true social enterprise, the informed, connected, empowered customer is now engaging with the informed, connected employee: it is no surprise that the value created is truly shared.
Haydn also makes the point that the implementation of a social media layer on existing operations and processes is not what makes a business social.
And that’s what attracted me to join the company.