Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking ahead to 2013 together

It's been too long, too much has happened... even I have struggled to stay in the loop.  So instead of a recap - a few quick comments on 2013 ahead.

I'm setting up a business.  Still in alpha: a mission-driven enterprise to realise the positive potential of changes in the ways we work.  Communities, networks, agility and collaboration... all that stuff I do.  But more than anything, providing support to those contributing to this vision.  I'm pretty excited about this one - nearly as excited as I am about what the experience will hold.

The first big project will be a book, also in alpha: Collaborative Communities 101.  To help potential agents of the future and develop collective literacy... by making the essentials accessible: the core that an agent needs in the emerging collaborative future.

I'd be grateful if you could kindly keep me accountable to my part in these - making sure they happen.  And also to my four focus areas - resolutions if you'd like:

  • be a good person - be genuine, kind and serve others
  • think big and lead - look at the bigger future, and be compelling in inviting others to join me cocreating it 
  • dedicate - stick with it and do it properly
  • work better, together - stand on others' shoulders and develop capacity collectively

Let's have a wonderful 2013 together.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

'Social Business' - what's it all about?

This is my take on 'social business'.  It refers, in short, to businesses that are social in nature - that are a connected part of society.

I'm referring to Australian/UK usage here, so I'm not referring to social enterprise - businesses created for social purpose - which is the meaning of 'social business' in other places.

And yes, all businesses are inherently social.  Some people think this makes it a pretty empty phrase.  I disagree.

All businesses may be social, but they don't necessarily act like it.  The main factor defining 'social' is interconnection.  Most of the time, businesses construct elaborate, reinforced boundaries to separate them from the outside world.  Their interfaces are distinct, controlled channels like communications / marketing, or product<>money exchanges.  Businesses try to eliminate their 'social' nature, preferring to instead interact with markets, or individual customers.

Sound familiar?  Social businesses are networked businesses.  I may have written about them before.

I got thinking about this today reading the blog of @ChrisBrogan.  Chris is a pretty cool dude.  He knows his stuff (marketing, sales, service // business design), and he shares a lot of good content at  He was also the #1 Diigo result for 'social business'.

His take on 'social business' is social media as a communications tool.  From a traditional business perspective, this is a fair stance.  But it is only the start of social.

Maximising the opportunities of social business goes beyond reviewing communications practices.  Don't just take my word for it (@Nilofer)!  Social business is about reimagining businesses' role in the social ecosystem.

The traditional role and purpose of a business is to create a product, sell it to people, and make as much profit as possible.  Simple.  But in reality, businesses have complicated sets of relationships, and a role in the ecosystem that can't be reduced to products + sales = profits.  Increasing interconnectivity accentuates these complications.

Businesses that recognise this complication are in a great position.

By shifting focus to the value they create in the ecosystem, businesses can better understand their future and financial sustainability.  Focusing on value also highlights opportunities for innovation that a narrow product-sales-profit focus might never illuminate.  Shifting perspective to value also opens business up to the opportunities of shared value.

Some businesses might be able to ignore this whole 'social' thing... those in stable markets that create value in a very straightforward way.  For now.  But the others will be left behind if they think that a Facebook and Twitter marketing strategy will keep them at the front of social business.