In this increasing ‘social era of business’ the powerful and traditional organisations will lose out to those that are smaller, nimbler and better connected. In her recent essay and podcast the excellent business author, Nilofer Merchant describes how the fast-moving gazelles will beat the big 800lb gorillas. And this social era of business is about a lot more than just the use of social media.
The traditional rules of scale and production strength can no longer guarantee business success and with this in mind Nilofer Merchant has written the obituary for Traditional Marketing Strategy. ‘RIP, Traditional Strategy: 1930-2012. It was great to know you and we loved your work’.
Traditional Strategy influenced our business thinking for over seventy years. It shaped how we planned our products, what we did and our business conversations. It was rare not to have meetings dominated by important questions relating to ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ or the thoughts of ‘long-term planning’. But as Merchant points out these traditional business concepts, valuable and useful as they can still be, are becoming increasingly less useful. This is because in our hyper competitive world, it is speed, flexibility and contacts that will make more of a difference. We are now in the social era of business. And Merchant is not alone in thinking this way. In a recent video, the innovation expert Steffan Lindegaard explains that new business and product development is more about connections and networks than traditional planning, power and control.
So is the social era all about using the latest social media gadgets and gizmos? In her new book “11 Rules for The Social Era” Merchant, is very quick to point out that it’s not. Most importantly she says; ‘Social is and can be MORE than media’. For her, the social era of business is about a real change in how companies today can attract and build value with their people – and how they actually work. It’s not just about the use of Twitter or Facebook.
In the social era of business, value is no longer a factor of departmental structures, in-house teams, with the best ideas, process and plans sent down from Jerry on the fifth floor. Ideas are everywhere. Merchant says; ‘value can come from any individuals – inside and outside the organisation’. Whilst social media tools help, this shift in how we work effectively with others is about more than the world of the screen; on the phone, tablet or PC. Increasingly, it is co-creation, collaboration and open innovation that are more relevant than traditional business school texts and plans. And it is the smaller, faster and adaptable businesses that are better placed to do this. “The industrial era primarily honoured the institution as a construct of creating value. And the information age (including Web 1.0 and 2.0) primarily honoured the value of data. The Social Era honours the value with the single unit of a connected human” – Nilofer Merchant, Harvard Business Review
To deliver successfully in business today it’s now more important than ever to understand the value of working effectively with others. It’s about using social intelligence and linking with people across your team, organisation and network. Curiosity is at the heart of great design, business and product improvements and those who have attended our CollaborationCafes will know that we concentrate upon teaching how to do this, using smarter and more open business conversations.
Merchant notes that whilst traditional large companies are using social media tools in an attempt to make them more open and collaborative, too often these are mere tweaks to their system. At their core, they retain a traditional business culture and structure. Whereas modern, more agile businesses such as Twitter and Starbucks operate with flatter structures, openness and innovation built into their DNA. They were born, grew and came of age – in the social era.
You can read the full article by Nilofer Merchant here and listen to her podcast here. For more articles and research by Andrew Armour please visit andrewarmour.com. For information on CollaborativeEdge and CollaborationCafe Training Programmes please visit benchstone.co.uk or contact Andrew Armour at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Andrew Armour is the founder of Benchstone Limited and a specialist in marketing partnerships, collaborations and innovation. For over twenty years he has been managing critical marketing programmes, licensing and media content deals for companies such Walt Disney, TVNZ, America’s Cup, OfficeMax and Yell.com. He currently provides consulting, management, workshop and training services – and can be contacted by email.