Conserve Momentum

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Organisations are full of people who tell you to stop.

We are told to stop:

  • to wait for a meeting
  • to wait for clarity
  • to wait for approval
  • to wait for support
  • to wait for proof
  • to wait for another project
  • to wait for another business unit
  • to assess risks
  • to develop a better message, product, change, etc
  • to gain budget, resources, implementation windows, etc

Don’t stop. Momentum is a critical resource in a time of rapid change.

Change agents need to be more agile than their organisation. You can’t steer if you are not moving. Don’t let the organisational molasses slow you down. You can be sure that your opponents or competitors are not waiting for approval to proceed.

Momentum addresses support, proof and evidence.  Momentum builds clarity, inevitability and alignment.  Momentum surfaces and addresses risks. Momentum gets things done.

Waiting achieves none of these things.

Conserve momentum. Momentum will conserve you

Simon Terry  @simongterry

This post was first posted at

WIIFM on Working Socially?

Let’s be honest: change bites!  Most people do not like change.  Change brings uncertainty, a loss of security and control, a fleeting feeling of helplessness, and even panic.  Helping large organizations embrace disruptive change is a tall order.  What’s needed are roadmaps, play books, guidance, intelligence, patience, and a little inspiration.  But, change can be positive.  And, guess what?  If done correctly, it can be painless and enjoyable especially when you’re working with social software.

To that end, Change Agents Worldwide offers a variety of services to help companies make this transition.  We do it in a unique, network-based, new economy model.  Today, we’re announcing our first group project.  We partnered to help Salesforce’s Chatter team explain the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) of working socially on an enterprise social network.  So many of us are used to the benefits of working socially, but it’s still a foreign concept to much of the working world.  Part of our charter is to enlighten employees on the benefits of working in a new way.  Adoption is still an issue for most social collaboration vendors, and as Change Agents, we want to fix that.  We are experts in this, and we believe an understanding of social networks is core to the future of business.

Take a look at the creative tools we helped create for the Chatter team under the tutelage of the fabulous Maria Ogneva.  Maria is one of the most knowledgeable social collaboration professionals in the business.  We worked very closely with Maria and our amazing creative and brilliant friends at The Tremendousness Collective to create this animated video and accompanying infographic.  Also, a hat tip to our Change Agent Bryce Williams who coined, “Work out Loud.”




Download the infographic here:


Setting Expectations


Photo by Sarah Ziegler

A friend and I were recently talking about adoption. Specifically we were talking about the adoption of tools that help build enterprise communities. One idea we discussed that I haven’t read that much about is:

        Setting expectations.

While I know this idea is not new, I have not heard much about the use of setting expectations for Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business or adopting enterprise social networks. For example, as a people manager, if you have read it once, you have read a million times. To help guide your employees to ensure they know what to do, you need to set expectations with your employees. If you don’t the manager is at a higher risk of not getting the best performance out of each employee.  This is an oldie but goody. But why don’t we use this same idea in the enterprise for adopting enterprise social tools?

I find that for some people, they just want to create a community because their peer has one (the me too syndrome).  Others have good intentions but don’t know where to even start to build a vibrant community. In both situations, neither have defined what expectations they have for their community. In both situations, instead of just allowing them to create the community and have it fail, the requester needs to clearly understand their goals so they can use the technology to meet their goals.

So, step 1: get the requester to define their hopes and dreams for the community they want to build.  Have them define how do they see the community working. Have them, articulate what their goals are for the community.  Work with them to design how the community will work. The key to the success, is to get them to set their own expectations for the community and then have them work to have their community meet that expectation.

While setting expectations are great for the community, one of the keys to ensuring the community is as vibrant as desired, the community manager must communicate what expectations they have for the community to the community. In addition, as the community grows, the community manager must influence the community to meet those expectations, while being willing to reset their expectations and adapt to how the community grows.

Setting expectations are crucial, being influential and flexible is equally important.  But then again, isn’t that the recipe for success in almost all situations?

from Eric Ziegler’s blog

Working Out Loud: Three Years Later


In about one month, my first blog post about Working Out Loud will be three years old: When Will We Work Out Loud? Soon!

Club Championship

I’ve been thinking about adding it to the family picture.

But during recent months I’ve started to feel a bit hypocritical on the topic. Do I practice what I preach within my place of work? Yes, fairly consistently. I’m the fastest converter of an email transaction into reusable knowledge this side of the Mississippi. However, I’ve been severely lacking in the amount of sharing and engaging I do in the real open. In the public domain.


The ironic part about my relative public silence on the topic has been that the blog post (in all of its Spaceballs glory) will receive 10 times more views during 2013 than it did during all of 2011-2012 combined. But certainly not by my doing. We all have the likes of John Stepper, Luis Suarez, Dennis Pearce, Julian Stodd (among others) to thank for so eloquently enhancing, advancing and amplifying the message.

In fact, finding John’s and my blogs spotlighted in the recently released “Social Collaboration for Dummies” book by David F. Carr partly inspired today’s post. I realized that each pingback I receive and each reference I serendipitously discover gives me a sense of pride similar to what I tend to feel watching my own children achieve. It’s been fun to witness what feels like a mini-movement taking off. Just this past week alone you saw references to “working out loud” on Twitter at #jiveworld, and simultaneously at the #DevLearn conference happening across town in Vegas.

(No offense John, but the first thought that crossed my mind when I saw us referenced together in David’s book was “Social Collaboration By Dummies, for Dummies!”) :). But it’s also proof that the concept works.

Full transparency note: I received a complimentary e-copy of Social Collaboration for Dummies from David.

FFL Coach

Can I blame my relative silence on an amazing summer of golf club tournament championships, coaching flag football, watching 3rd grade cheerleading events, helping the kids practice piano, and raising a new puppy? Well, I basically just did. But I know as well as anyone that personal discipline is really to blame. But the weather’s turning around here, so as I turn on the heat, I can more easily turn up the volume.

So how have things changed in the last three years with respect to Working Out Loud? I can think of no better way to reflect than through references to my old trusty…Spaceballs!

  • I’m My Own Best Friend – People are realizing that shifting what you are already doing to a style more conducive to “Working Out Loud” doesn’t just benefit their colleagues and organizations down stream, it increases the Return on Effort (ROE) they get for the time put into the exact same work. More visibility. More potential amplification and recognition for the same amount of work. My three year old blog post is an example of its very own point.
  • You Went Over My Helmet? – We now understand better that one of the most common roadblock associated with Working Out Loud is the fear of potential retribution for bypassing “proper channels of communication” through the enterprise hierarchy. This is an area that I think we need to continue to evolve, share real success stories to give people the tools and confidence to tackle Working Out Loud in a manner that makes them feel at least a little more “safe”…and not subject to “THAT!” What success stories do you have to share that may help people feel more comfortable in this regard?
  • The Bleeps, The Sweeps and The Creeps – The What? The What? And the What? We’re doing a better job of speaking a language that real business practitioners can understand. Instead of terms like “Enterprise 2.0”, “Facebook for the Enterprise” and “Social Networking,” which we used heavily in 2010, terms such as “Working Out Loud”, “Narrating Your Work” and “Higher Return on YOUR Effort” are resonating better with our business counterparts. Even my older post about Horizontal Collaboration has maintained a consistent flow of visits.
  • Ludicrous Speed! – I think three years ago, we were optimistic to think that by 2013 we would have achieved a much higher success rate of “light bulbs” and adoption within large enterprises. Now we are more realistic about how long such a significant shift in behavior and culture will take. We’re now more encouraged by baby steps and daily incremental progress vs. our expectations that “social” was about to “go viral” in 2010 and not getting on the train immediate was a competitive disadvantage. Susan Scrupski captured some industry sentiment on this topic back in 2012. Maybe Light Speed is good enough for now :). I know I don’t look good in plaid, personally.
  • 1,2,3,4,5 – Security and Social. I think we’ve done a lot in the last three years to help dispel concerns around compliance and security related to “social in the enterprise”. In 2010, the main concerns I was dealing with were protecting the loss of IP, preventing people from providing “wrong answers” and inappropriate employee behavior. Now it seems there are enough success stories and examples that the conversation has shifted more to adoption and helping demonstrate the value of shifting our collaboration behaviors. We’ve demonstrated that being “social” doesn’t necessarily open up new risks, but can in fact be more successful at bringing risk to the forefront earlier and when there is still a chance to remedy the issue…in contrast to when inappropriate behaviors occurr out of pure naivete, in private channels, and aren’t discovered until it is too late to remedy…leaving only damage control to come to the rescue.

So in summary, the most concrete conclusion we can make after three years is that…everything I’ve learned about Working Out Loud…I learned from watching hours of Spaceballs in college 🙂

I’d love to hear your perspective of how things have changed in the last three years for you with respect to Working Out Loud, and what do you see coming in the next three years?


Originally shared on

How to start a change movement

Change movements fascinate me.  People coming together to create change that is beyond the power of one individual, is how all of our greatest social accomplishments have been made.  I have started a few myself, both successfully and unsuccessfully.  I have studied lots of others hunting for ideas that can be reused.

I have learned that there is no perfect formula. However, these things help movements to success:

Purpose:  Defining why the movement exists matters most.  This is the reason people will give up their time and effort to be involved.  Failure to agree on common purpose will result in factions, disruption and failure later

Engaged champions: A few engaged champions is worth thousands of passive members.  Find your champions and treasure them.  Finding them is usually as simple as letting them approach you.  The ones you want will have a bias to act.  You are often better cutting the freeriders and focusing only on the engaged users in the early stages.  Exclusivity, a strong sense of the other and deep personal relationships helps build energy and resilience in the movement.

A small secretariat: A movement usually needs some group accountable for shaping and maintaining direction.  A small secretariat of the most engaged champions can play that role.  The secretariates does not need to be hierarchical but they do need to play a role as custodian of the purpose and a node for actions across the network.

Cellular structureNetworks are more resilient & more engaging than hierarchies.  Small group structures engage people and build personal connections within the network. The groups also provide local support, back-up for missed communication and solve issues locally where required.  Action by small groups requires less coordination.

Stories: Successful movements have rich storytelling traditions. Myths, tales and anecdotes help share their messages and make purpose tangible to the community and others. Stories share abstract ideas in tangible ways making them more human and personal.

Continuous communication: Driving change is only one element in people’s lives.  You cannot overcommunicate.  Share stories, successes and challenges.  Make sure there is a vibrant connection across your network.

Sense of community:  Great movements build strong senses of community.  That is usually evident in the support and sharing that occurs within the community beyond its core purpose.

Symbols of change: To understand the movements vision, you need defining symbols that people can understand and relate to their own world. A few common values can be part of a powerful symbol of the change.  The more human, personal and individual the symbols are the easier they are to live and share.

Consistent action & confrontation: Action builds movements.  Action inevitably involves confrontation with opponents.  A regular cycle of action and confrontation is required to keep engagement of the movement.  Action and confrontaction creates new stories to share and can bring the movement’s symbols and purpose to life for a wider audience. Progress may be slow but action must be continuous.

Reflection & adaptation: Successful movements adapt to changing circumstances, responses and to the needs of the system in which they operate.  Processes to foster reflection and development of new adaptations matter to enable this.

Gathering: Human beings are tribal.  We like to gather.  Whether it is gatherings of the cells or gatherings of the whole movement, the people involved need to come together and feel part of the tribe from time to time.  Gatherings are where the informal story sharing occurs.  It is where trust and connection is built, knowledge is exchanged and new innovations are started.

This list is a starting point on my studies and experience.  What are your ideas?  What have a left out?  What of the above is wrong?

Simon Terry @simongterry

Wasting People – Who Cares?

Edvard Munch-The Scream-1893“How have you been lately?” I asked recently a friend of mine, working in a large corporation. The response stroke me – “I now feel better than a while ago. I have resigned myself to the idea that I have no future in my job, in my company. I will no longer be promoted nor challenged. So, the best I can do is switch to “autopilot” at work, and invest my brain and energy in meaningful activities outside of work”.

“I feel better. I have no hope anymore about my job”

This is killing me, really. Not just because she’s my friend, and I know she’s a very valuable resource to her company, but because I’ve witnessed this oh so many times.

Every time, it’s about skilled senior professionals, in their forties or early fifties. Although committed to the company’s mission, they are led to a point where they have no choice but to emotionally disconnect from work. These people may be bitter (read anonymous evaluations of companies on, they can be cruel) – or just disengaged. It hurts them most if they’ve strongly invested their professional field before, sometimes at the expense of their personal and social life. I’ve seen this happen a lot with women, which is not surprising given the ​lack of opportunities they are offered in the corporate world. But an awful lot of men feel they’re being put aside as well.

A lack of recognition, career stagnation, inept management, meaningless pressure, bureaucratic culture, sterilized internal communication, social stratification, the unpleasant “corporate kabuki” of performance evaluation are hurting those people in their professional life and personal self-esteem. The problem is not that people leave their companies, generating high turnover; the problem is that they stay. They stay with no enthusiasm, little pride and a low, very low productivity.

Sitting on a gold mine

Corporate leaders are sitting on a gold mine and they disregard it. While striving for growth and productivity, many companies still afford the luxury to waste a major resource: their own talents. They’ve managed to have those people join, they’re paying their salaries, infrastructure, travel, communications, and so forth… and end up using a fraction only of the available intelligence and energy.

How come they don’t take the issue more seriously?

It’s not that they are not aware. Employee disengagement is everywhere. Studies and surveys pile up. The recent Gallup “State of the Global Workplace” report, showing that only 13% of employees feel engaged, has been much publicized. Thirteen per cent! Other major consulting firms come to the same conclusion (Aon plc, Hay Group) and communicate heavily on their findings.

Mainstream business literature urges companies to do something about it. Studies demonstrate that higher employee engagement leads to “greater business success, lower cost in talent recruitment, (higher) workplace creativity and customer satisfaction”. In his remarkable book “The Flat Army. Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization”, Dan Pontefract (@dpontefract) compiles enough data and case studies to demonstrate that “engagement is good”, and “disengagement is bad”. The proof is in the numbers.

Any action?

Most often unfortunately, companies do little about this issue. Constrained by habits or unable to think differently, few of them admit that it’s precisely the way they are run that causes disengagement. Hierarchy, command-and-control, organizational silos seem natural and permanent – the price to pay for efficiency. Outdated leadership models have proven good for the leaders currently in place – so why would they change? Who would be willing to relinquish their power, status or comfort?

Some organizations launch a window-dressing “employee motivation” initiative that ends up with yet another employee survey (with closed, lenient questions), a stereotyped corporate movie (featuring beautiful, diverse, happy people that look 100% fake), one more top-down newsletter, or a wide range of lip service.

Some leaders just ignore the topic and bury their head in the sand, causing a friend of mine to claim: “Man descended from apes, leaders descended from ostriches”. They express fatalism and see employees as a mass of undifferentiated, not fully reliable people which needs guidance, structure and control. Sheep need a shepherd.

At the same time, companies go on spending $$$ to attract talent from outside, because their own talents are “not good enough”. Oh, really? Regardless of perception bias (“the grass is greener elsewhere”), could it be that they’re “not good enough” precisely because they’re not engaged?

Nobody says it’s an easy task. Engagement drivers are diverse. In large corporations, it is impossible to handle well individual aspirations and please everyone. Plagued by a “support function mindset, insufficient capabilities, and a low tolerance for risk”, most HR departments are “unable to relate the ROI or business impact of their function” (McKinsey) and cannot handle the issue seriously. They can even be an additional source of frustration for employees. Forward thinking HR exist, but they have a low share of voice.

Employee disengagement can be prevented (or cured)

However, despite the difficulties, a few simple changes could turn companies into more engaging organizations. How? Through social re-engineering. Changing paradigm. Empowering employees. Thinking of them not as “resources” but as “partners”, not as uncontrollable kids but as responsible grown-ups. Supporting communities. Giving up stereotyped language. Revisiting corporate leadership culture. Becoming a social organization… sufficient substance to feed future posts — and hopefully corporate strategies, someday. Among existing great resources on line, the Change Agents Worldwide blog is full of valuable insights on the matter.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences. Have you witnessed disengagement in your working environment? Has any organization you know been able to turn around the situation, to build new motivation and passion for work? How have they done?

GRUNDFOS Holding A/S: a Social Success


Grundfos is a global leader in advanced pump solutions and a trendsetter in water technology.   (source: LinkedIn).  This privately held leading manufacturer recognized that social was the catalyst to embed its values throughout the company and provide innovative solutions for its clients.


“We sum up our values with the words: BE responsible>THINK ahead>INNOVATE. It is our responsibility, our foresight and our focus on creating ground-breaking solutions and ideas that have made us one of the world’s leading pump manufacturers.”  Source: (LinkedIn)

Change Agent Martin Risgaard presented this story at the Microsoft Next (CIO Conference) in Aarhus and Copenhagen this week. His story described how Grundfos launched an enterprise social network on Yammer and how this network grew from less than 10 people to almost 6000 in less than 18 months. Uncontrolled, viral growth is not that uncommon when it comes to social tools within the enterprise, but stories on how this is harnessed and made productive are fewer and far between. Martin’s presentation focuses on some of the main lessons that Grundfos has learned during this initial period that can serve as inspiration for others.

Immersion is a Catalyst of Change

Wish you were here

When making major change finding symbols and mechanisms that help accelerate the change can be important. These elements of your change management plan act as catalysts, helping make the change occur. Jim Collins described the power of catalytic mechanisms as a vehicle to help organisations achieve goals in a classic Harvard Business Review article.

Immersion in the problem is an incredibly powerful catalyst of change in organisations. Too often change conversations can have an abstract or a theoretical flavour. Improving customer satisfaction, employee engagement or community reputation can seem like moving the needle on an intangible measure. These conversations are often lifeless. They are very different measures and conversations when you are at the edge of the organisation, face to face with those affected and discussing the issues.

Immersion changes the nature of people’s understanding of problems. Put the change agents or those doubting the need for change in the heart of the problem, face to face with the issues and people involved.  The need for change change is more tangible.  People see things with new eyes. Immersion shows you parts of the system that you have never seen before. There is nothing like being on the spot.  Immersion also delivers passion and insights that can’t be found around a conference table.

We have a lot of ways to immerse ourselves in any situation requiring change. I have seen the power of formal immersion programs that prompt reflection, discussion and action. More simply, we can eat our own dogfood. We can go to Gemba. We can know our enemies. We can manage by walking around.  We can do the work or live the life for an hour, a day or a week. We can turn back on our customer and community understanding and use our own radar to contribute to the change.

Immersion can be the easiest powerful action you can take to catalyse change. Everyone in the organisation can be involved. It can take as little as half an hour and as much as a lifetime. Put your leaders in the heart of the problem and watch the results.

Simon Terry @simongterry

The Sound of Social Business

Caravaggio Le joueur de luth détail“Social”, in its social business meaning, has a lot to do with the way business is made, the way corporations are organized and interact with their internal and external stakeholders, the tools they use to generate value in the age of networks. Nothing to do with art, music – leave aside the well-worn concept of collective value arising from our combined differences, as what an orchestra does.

But the gap may not be as wide as it seems. A recent interaction with a contemporary music band had the surprising effect to make me reflect on social business. How comes?

For two years already, I’ve been a volunteer Chairman of the Board of Sphota, a company that describes itself as a “musical innovation collective” or “co-op”. Sphota is the legal structure for the Caravaggio music band.

Named after the Florentine painter, Caravaggio was born in 2004 from the desire to produce instrumental and electronic music of pop-rock inspiration. Music is written by Benjamin de la Fuente (a childhood friend of mine) and Samuel Sighicelli, both renowned contemporary composers. The rock side is inspired by alternative / progressive rock, combined with a strong rhythmic. Bruno Chevillon and Eric Echampard, both experienced jazz musicians, complete the group. They compose and play their music in concerts in France and abroad, they have published several records and are the authors of the recent Larrieu brothers’ movie soundtrack: “Love Perfect Crime”.

My daily routine revolves around a pretty different world from Caravaggio. I’ve been involved for more than 20 years in international business, dealing with business development projects in the communications and health arenas. I have spent the last decade in a large multinational corporation. My co-workers are mostly of a scientific background. I’m developing and implementing engagement strategies and social collaboration initiatives.

But in our recent Board meeting, listening to the band’s achievements and projects, exchanging with the members on their aspirations and difficulties, I realized how much our experiences had in common. It’s not mere empathy… There are actually common features between what Caravaggio does, and what social business is (or should be).

  1. Where does the unclassifiable belong? 

Going across borders makes it complex to define what you do, which makes it difficult for others to understand and accept.

My friends at Caravaggio incorporate electro, contemporary music, rock, and progressive jazz. They compose pieces and meticulously organize their performances, while leaving space to creative freedom and improvisation. They explore the borders. They enjoy a positive image in the specialized media, but articles show the reporters are struggling with the question: “How to define their music?”

Similarly, social business goes across traditional boundaries in the corporate world. It has to do with communications, information technology, marketing, human resources, commercial operations, customer service, social responsibility. All these functions should be activated and coordinated to re-invent corporations in the age of networks.

But social business professionals know well, they walk a thin line between territorial behaviors and benevolent censorship. People in charge of each above-mentioned field are generally very suspicious about initiatives that encroach upon their territories while arising from a larger perspective. Cross-silo collaboration remains painful and difficult. Few companies have been visionary, or bold enough to handle the transformation at a top management level – anyway, I’m not convinced top-down is the only way to go social.

To solve the absence of identification, companies generally hook the “social business” or its engagement component to one of the existing silos, be it IT, Marketing, or Communications. By doing so, they sharply downsize its organizational and business impact. But at least, people are reassured: “now we understand what social business is” – it’s IT, or marketing, or comms.

  2. Innovation is not mainstream. Social business isn’t either.

Although I wish Caravaggio to become world celebrities and sell millions of records, I doubt they are the next Lady Gaga. Because their music is complex, unusual and demanding, it doesn’t target the mainstream listener. This is another similarity I find with social business: it’s not everywhere.

The enthusiasts may think it is, as they keep reading articles and books that trumpet the triumph of social business (see The Golden Age of Management is Now by @stevedenning) and engage into social media with other enthusiasts (like I do). But it’s an illusion. Within corporations, they is still a looooong way to go before people are convinced they have to go social, and even more before they change behaviors, policies and organizations.

This was the subject of a fascinating conversation I was part of recently, with famous social business thought leaders Dan Pontefract (@dpontefract) and Luis Suarez (@elsua). “Is social business gaining ground?” was the question. Are we on a curve of progress, or will social remain a niche forever? There was a silence… I was anxious for the answer… Then Luis said: “Things are changing. They’re not changing as much nor as fast as we would hope within companies, but in they do in the society as a whole. Society no longer accepts organizations to behave as they used to in the past”.

What social business evangelists have not yet managed to achieve, external pressure by social demand may bring forward.

  3.      Non-standard projects don’t fit into bureaucratic boxes. 

There was a long discussion in our Board meeting about how Caravaggio could access various types of public funding, aimed at supporting artistic creation. Despite budget cuts, France still offers many of these, which are great for the diversity and vitality of the cultural fabric.  Such funding is of paramount importance for Caravaggio, until the band broadly expands its audience – which may not happen. But funding means rules, processes, tick-boxing and bureaucrats. While they’re not fundamentally bad (as a citizen, I like the idea that the State doesn’t spend my money without a minimum of control and guidelines), they’re hardly adapted to non-standard projects.

Too bad, Caravaggio is a special case in the contemporary music landscape as well as jazz or rock. Its music grounds itself on several aesthetics without fitting in any of them completely. The band plays its own musical compositions but is also open to cooperation with other musicians, creating a team which size varies according to the projects. It’s a music band but its performances are much more than mere concerts. Enough to frustrate a bureaucrat: standard projects are so much more comfortable.

This is another point of convergence with social business. Companies’ procedures exist to standardize initiatives to the maximum, in order to ensure control, replication, and to limit risks. Dave Gray (@davegray) explains well in “The Connected Company”, the concomitant rise of the connected customer and the service economy create complexity that the “divided company” (standardized and rigid) cannot address. What are needed today are not more procedures, but more agility, flexibility and connectedness. But most companies’ bureaucrats are not aware – or don’t want to see – and make it a tough obstacle course for social business projects. Try to launch, say, an issue-centric, cross-social media, cross-stakeholder project as an alliance with several partners (very “non-standard”!), from within a company that is used to managing alone some product-centric, traditional media projects targeting siloed stakeholders (“standard”). Although few existing procedures are adapted to your project, the organization will still require you to fit in, and blame you if you don’t. Social business advocates, you’d better be brave and enduring.

  4.      Social requires hybrid skills – thus diverse people.

We’re in the era of hybrids, and this trend will only grow. I’ve been appalled for many years at how much companies were favoring a certain archetype and a narrow set of skills versus the diversity of profiles. Depending on the industry, telecom engineers, PhDs in pharmacy or medicine, etc. trust all leadership positions. People with similar or broader industry knowledge but other background are blocked from a certain hierarchical position, leaving the space for leadership teams that are very uniform.

Social business is just incompatible with uniformity. The stakeholders’ requests and expectations are so diverse that it’s illusory to think they can be handled through homogeneous teams. Various perspectives must be heard and understood, for companies to thrive in the age of social business. If your team is mainly composed of people with a scientific background, ​it may be time to have them read a little Chekov– and invite other types of people to join.

There are yet other convergences at stake with social business. This is where modern individualism (“I speak in my name”, “I’m empowered trough social media”) meets the collective dimension (“I’m a member of a community”, “we collaborate”). This is where reflection meets action, as you don’t advocate for social collaboration without socially collaborating yourself.

I love it that my friends of Caravaggio explore convergences in their music. Their purpose is not a style zapping game between contemporary, jazz and rock music, nor the simple pleasure of finding common references, but a substantial work about transitions from one universe to another, and about hybrids that can then be encountered. Their variable configuration, their attention to each member’s solo work on top of the band’s illustrate well the diversity and flexibility that are at stake in social business. I only wish they had women in the band 🙂 but they have 2 in their Board, which is not too bad.

What do you think, social business fellows? Have you been inspired by experiences from very different fields? I would be happy to hear about them.

Caravaggio band Caravaggio video at Moers festival 2013Caravaggio Facebook page

Four Things Change Agents Need

Driving change in any organisation is hard.  There are lots of approaches to driving change. Two of my favourites are Kotter’s and the McKinsey influence model.  There are many more.

In my experience, getting traction and making change stick requires four key elements to be established.

This change is real:  You need leadership, a strong case for change and evidence of enduring intent. The change must be needed. It must not be temporary or a fad. There must be evidence that the change is not going away. You are doomed if people suspect management attention will drift elsewhere

This change can be done: Are we clear on the symbols of success in this change? Has anyone else done something similar? Is there a role model that I can copy? A clear statement of the world after the change is needed to help people make the changes tangible.

We can make it happen:  The team needs the capabilities (skills, time, systems and resources) to make the change happen. It needs to feel within reach and possible. Never easy. Just possible. Within our collective capabilities.

We are doing it together: Build a sense of community, discussion and engagement with the change. We are not changing others. We are all changing together.

Simon Terry @simongterry


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