Social business demands culture change

Leveraging technology in today’s social world goes way beyond the technical requirements—success or failure seems more dependent on how flexible and effective your management practices are, rather than your specific IT competency.

  • Departments fighting over who owns social media? That’s a silo issue, not a social media issue.
  • Don’t trust younger staff to lead your technology innovation? That’s a trust issue, not a technology issue.
  • Internal collaboration platforms not working as they should? That’s a workflow and value prop issue, not a platform issue.
  • Not enough systems thinking, too many “knowledge archipelagos”? That’s a transparency and data sharing issue.

Most organizations today are simply not compatible with the way a social business really works – but culture change takes time. However, we believe that you can change your culture one process at a time. You simply have to identify specific management problems and implement solutions that shift behaviors and processes in the right direction.

I’m working with Jamie Notter to develop social business consulting programs that can help you get to where you need to be. Loved our Humanize book?  In brackets below are specific elements from the book and how we’re tackling those.


Pick from among these projects to get started down your path to being a more social business. Remember, culture change can happen one process at a time:


Problem: Departmental silos are inhibiting internal communication and collaboration.
Silos are great in helping us leverage deep expertise, but they can cause problems when departments compete with each other, obscure information, and prevent effective collaboration. Instead of “busting” them, you need to actually build capacity for collaboration, and change some processes to make sure it happens.

Solution: Train your people to collaborate and manage conflict, and redesign key processes to cut across boundaries. Bring us in to conduct some training in conflict and collaboration skills, and we’ll then work with managers to redesign processes, including information sharing, employee orientation, and staff meetings, to enable better collaboration. We’ll also look for ways to use the community platform to mirror the cooperation we want to see throughout the organization. [OPEN, decentralization, systems thinking]


Problem: Lack of trust means information is not shared effectively.
Trust increases speed and effectiveness, but traditional organizational structures and processes make trust more difficult, particularly across the lines that separate departments and levels in the hierarchy. The result is a very poor flow of information both horizontally and vertically, which then inhibits effective collaboration. Turning this around requires embracing transparency in a strategic way.

Solution: Change processes to embrace strategic transparency. Trust is not something you can force or “implement” — but you can grow it by intentionally being more transparent. Find specific areas where you can change the way you do things that enable greater transparency, more truth being spoken, and more effective collaboration, and you’ll start increasing trust in your organization. Bring us in to help you identify the areas where new transparency will contribute to trust, and then change some processes to actually make it happen. [TRUSTWORTHY, transparency, truth]


Problem: Performance reviews are universally frustrating, and often fail to generate desired behavior anyway.
Performance reviews are confusing (documentation for firing? personal growth? meeting departmental goals?), and are often forced into one meeting per year. It’s hard on both managers and employees, and it rarely connects back effectively to culture and strategy. Performance management should be about results–getting more of the behavior you need to ensure technical excellence and support both strategic and cultural goals.

Solution: Bring us in to redesign your performance review process to be more effective. We’ll clarify what you’re measuring in the process to ensure it ties back to the culture, skills, and personal development that will drive your organization’s success. Then we’ll redesign the process itself so it’s more continuous and includes feedback from peers and direct reports, rather than the traditional one-way review. And we’ll use technology to make the whole thing easier (because cumbersome review processes never get done). [TRUSTWORTHY, truth, COURAGEOUS, personal development]


Problem: Conflict within or among teams slows you down and never seems to go away.
Specific teams and even entire departments and organizations can effectively grind to a halt when they get stuck on conflict. Without the skills to resolve the conflict, most teams just limp along, sometimes for years, and performance suffers. the challenge is to find the root causes of the conflict and do the hard work required to resolve them fully.

Solution: Bring us in to intervene on the conflict directly. We’ll work with the team/group in a series of facilitated meetings to define and resolve the conflict once and for all, which includes developing action plans to ensure the team does not slip back into the conflict unintentionally. We’ll also leave behind some conflict resolution tools you can use moving forward as new conflicts crop up (and they always do). Resolution of the conflict and increased capacity will enable staff to re-focus their attention and effort on more pressing strategic issues.


If you have the resources, an integrated effort to build your social business capacity will be more effective. It may include some of the targeted interventions mentioned above, but it starts with our social business assessment, which you will use to develop a portfolio of change efforts that will make your organization more human, more nimble, more agile, and more effective.

We have an online questionnaire that we combine with staff interviews and research about your company and industry in order to develop an assessment report that will target the specific aspects of culture and management that need the most work.

Change Portfolio
Based on the identified needs, we’ll help you map out a “portfolio” of management change efforts that balances some quick wins along with longer term change efforts, as well as keeping the right balance of more familiar change versus change that covers new ground.

We’ll providing facilitation, coaching, process design, training, and any of the targeted interventions we list above to help you succeed.

Contact us if you’d like to discuss an enterprise-wide learning initiative. We can design a truly social learning process to ensure retention and application of the ideas. The time to start is now.