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Want your Social Business Group to succeed, report to the C-Suite - Keith Privette Home / Business Analysis / Want your Social Business Group to succeed, report to the C-Suite

Want your Social Business Group to succeed, report to the C-Suite

We have begun the era of businesses turning the corner of complete change in the way they are managed internally to be more affectively run externally for their customers, investors, and communities.  There are many blog posts, articles, and conferences being dedicated to this very topic.  Since it is relatively new on the business management landscape, people and companies are trying to figure out what works, what does not, and what does the future hold.

I decided to take a stab at the actual organizational setup, roles and types of people that will strategize, plan, operationalize, and support the social business structure.  The one common sentiment that appears quite often is “how do we get buy-in from senior leaders and the c-suite”  I think the best way to get buy-in is to have direct reporting and governance over the organization, people, goals, objectives and measurement of success.  This gives the senior leaders direct line of site to the people and structure for it to succeed.


Wikipedia Definition of a Social Business:

social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective. The profits are used to expand the company’s reach and improve the product/service. This model has grown from the work of Muhammad Yunus and others.  Social business is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors.

I really like this approach to the definition of a Social Business!  It seems a more practical and applicable to most business settings today, whether it is a private, public or non-profit type of organization.

Peter Kim of Dachis Group

Its goal: helping organizations improve value exchange among constituents.  Social Business Design uses a framework of four mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive archetypes: ecosystem, hivemind, dynamic signal, and metafilter. This model can be applied to improve customer participation, workforce collaboration, and business partner optimization. Doing so provides insight to help measure and manage business to produce improved and emergent outcomes.  To learn more, I encourage you to read our complete thinking behind the concept of Social Business Design.


Here is my diagram of an approach to structuring your social business group organizationally. This will be the basis of the ideas below:

 

Org Chart Social Business Group

Org Chart of the Social Business Group


There are some main components for this structure to be affective and effectively run. The following will be discussed in this post:

1. Planning

2. Business Metrics

3. Get the People out there

4. Eclectic Group of Roles and People

5. Solid Line and Dotted Line Management

6. Reverse Mentoring


1. Planning

The planning is a critical function of the Social Business.  The planning has to have an understanding of the collective needs and wants of the organization.  A centralized function around planning will provide an enterprise view of all the competing needs and wants of the organization. What the Social Business Group will have the ability to do is collectively prioritize all of these competing needs of all your organizations.  One of the byproducts of this centralized planning of the internal and external social business is that silo’d organizations start to share goals, objectives, and measurements of success.

The planning also leads a more collaborative effort to tactical and operational execution of these needs and wants.  The Social Business Group will have the ability to flow work back and forth between their group and organizations that will more than likely have the people to execute the tactics.  Depending on the needs and wants the Social Business Group can execute for an organization, which allows organizations within the enterprise to expand and contract based on the needs and wants.  This cuts down on hiring for duplicate resources for tactical execution.  The Social Business Group can synthesize organizations inside the enterprise to leverage one resource for these execution tactics, instead of 4 organizations hire 4 people and they end up all doing the same thing and costing the company four times as much.  This group ensures the planning and execution of the social business both internally and externally.


2. Business Metrics

The Social Business Group is driven by Financial and Non-Financial metrics.  This group will be responsible for continually monitoring the effectiveness of the needs and wants based on pure financial returns, non-financial activities that will help drive financial return, and reviewing short and long term course correcting success.  The Social Business Group will be held responsible for reporting the success and or failures of executing needs and wants.  This group will be held to review activities in the future.

So if the need or want has a business case of a return of financial investment in 3 years, when that 3rd year rolls around the group will be responsible for reporting on these numbers.  If the numbers are not reached there will be accountabilities and responsibilities that will need to be explained and corrected to find a new program to find that return or documented so history does not repeat itself.  There will be a repository built for keeping track of these programs.  The following areas below could be some areas that the Social Business Group will be responsible for planning, executing and supporting on an ongoing basis

a. The hiring and retention of employees

b. Finding leads to and tracking the success of closing for financial success

c. Increasing customer satisfaction

d. Increasing market-share for a product or service

e. Increasing spend within the current loyal customer base.

f. Decreasing expensive Call Center phones and leverage more online customer service channels

g. Drive purchasing on niche markets with niche ways of marketing and advertising.

h. Decrease operating costs by reducing duplication of efforts across the silo’d organizations.

These are just some of the financial and non-financial accountabilities and responsibilities the people, processes, projects and technologies will have in this group.  To achieve any of these metrics the Social Business Group must be sharing, collaborating and ensuring people and technologies are working together to achieve.  The days of silo’d achievement metrics are over if you want to succeed.  Success is NOT derived in silos anymore.  Unless there is a group fully dedicated to ensure shared metrics are achieved then they really are never achieved.  Look at your goals and objectives for 2011 see any shared goals with other silos and your bonus tied to if achieved or not…….didn’t think so.


3. Get the People out there

The Social Business Group does not sit in cubes all day long taking orders or waiting for the next project come in.  They are fully integrated with all business functions throughout the organization.  They need to seek out the individuals that want to energize the company using new collaborative processes and technologies internally and externally.  Most businesses are operating outside their firewall with business partners as well as consumers and investors.  This group is always seeking ways to understand the flow of information for decision making and moving the organization and its people forward.

This group is responsible for making sure there are seamless leveraging of the processes and technologies. This group is held to a make sure groups are interacting sharing and collaborating to ensure shareable metrics achievement, sharing of successes and failures, and reusing as much process, information and technology as possible.  This cuts down on 8 monitoring tools for 6 different organizations and 6 different groups managing their business and people in a silo.  This is complicated and not much costly.  The organizations cannot honestly report if they are being successful for the organization as a whole without the infusion of the group ensuring cross collaboration and initiative completion.

About 60 to 70% of these folks will have community management in their DNA.  They will always be seeking out people, technologies, and paths to succeed.  They will continually look to help, but within helping discovering new ways the organization or people can achieve success.  This group of folks will be involved and engaged behind the firewall as well as beyond it.


4. Eclectic Group of Roles and People

The Social Business Group looks very different than most traditional organizations within the enterprise.  Since the group will need to be proactive as well as reactive when it comes to technology, people, problems, issues, and solutions, they need to have this eclectic look, feel and interaction, mainly between the people and technology.  Organizations will no longer have the ability to isolate the process from the technology or the people that asks for technology and the people that deliver technology.  This group will be a reflection of the mantra “Business is IT and IT is Business”

This group will have marketing, business technologists, subject matter experts, project managers, art directors, call center operations leaders, interactive technologists, “infrastructurists”…..This will be an eclectic group of individuals working together to make the group be efficient and the enterprise to be efficient in the execution of needs and wants.  This group will be responsible for blending all things traditional with new,  this silo and that silo and business and technology in specifically in the areas of:

  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Communication
  • Initiative Management and Metrics
  • Product\Service Management


This group will keep the ecosystem of internal and external in balance and understand when it is not in balance.  They will have the ability to understand and react because the relationships of trust have been built with key partner groups and issues or innovations can help efficiently because the time and people were involved all along the way.  The only way to achieve this balance is to have an eclectic team working for the betterment of the organization as well as themselves.


The following picture shows the different roles or titles that will reside inside the Social Business Group for the enterprise:

titles in social business group
titles in social business group



5. Solid Line and Dotted Line Management

The solid and dotted line organizational structure is the most interesting of organizational design.  The solid line gives you control and dotted gives you influence or responsible for execution.  Both of these relationships are completely necessary for this organizational structure to work.  It essentially boils down to top down and bottoms up meeting up for organizational success and execution.  The dotted line provides visibility and shared responsibility in making sure each organization is successful on its own as well as part of the whole organization.

Having the dotted line to these organizational units shows solidarity with these organizations as well as a shared responsibility that if this organization needs to be working with another organization or an organization could use another organizations resources or help; this group ensures and communicates these actions.

With the solid line in place to c-suite this group is responsible and accountable for organization goals, objectives, mission, metrics and return. There is no red tape, there are no trickle down or roll ups, there are just direct line of site of investment and return for the whole organization. This essentially becomes an strategy, planning, operations and tactical execution area for the executive office and officers.  Being that most Executive Offices represent the whole organization, they should have a group dedicated to making this a reality.  A SWAT Team for the Executive Office of real hard core business and technology planners and executors that are flexible and adaptable  for real return for the organization.


6. Reverse Mentoring

The senior leaders of most companies need to be brought up the digital and community interaction landscape. By leveraging the solid line organizational structure the Social Business Group is responsible for training and educating of the people they are reporting to. This will help with vision, business direction, business decisions, and investment.  I have found once you unlock the navigation and using the tools within internal and external communities, senior leaders feel a part and then take the responsibility for furthering the execution and success of the Social Business structure for their organization.  Once the senior leaders can see how shared goals, responsibility, and information are used for true financial returns they cannot get enough of the interactions with the people and tools.

This is for the betterment of the organization and the people.  The one thing I would caution against doing is isolating this group from the rest of their people while they “get up to speed”.  Building “walled gardens” for them to play to learn will have adverse affects when trying to integrate back into the fold of the whole company.  In their “walled gardens” the senior executive WILL NOT get the sense of all perspectives from top to bottom, because they are only learning from their peers.  The public learning together does a lot for building trust and relationships in an organization at all levels.

So what do you think?  Will this work in your organization?  Do you see any other benefits to this centrally located organization? Please let me know in the comments.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not going to be easy.  This one won’t be just snap together a org. chart on a powerpoint and it happens.  This one takes into account the people and behaviors that will need to change along with this.

Like I infamously put it at a #jmu612 event here in Minneapolis “We are fundamentally changing the way business has been done for the last 50 years,  if you try and take this on yourself or within one silo’d organization, it’s like climbing Mt Everest in your boxer shorts, you’re never going to make it!” You need a team, you need buy-in, you need technology and you need new ways.  Without it,  good luck….

  • Incredibly thorough analysis. Much to discuss. I was drawn to your comment: “The days of silo’d achievement metrics are over if you want to succeed. Success is NOT derived in silos anymore.” Agreed silos can be counter productive, but I do struggle with them and believe they can’t be eliminated right away. Serving as boundaries, they do provide some clarity on roles and responsibilities and a level of accountability. For a social business group to work, it is critical they have the full support of the C Suite, their concept must be fully socialized within the organization, and they must have the authority to enforce recommendations. Interested in continuing the conversation!

    • Why thank you Dan! I appreciate the hat tip! I see all to often that silos have their own budgets and own success criteria and if I divert attention or resources from that to help another silo, I might not get my bonus…. short-sided short-sided if you ask me.

      Yes roles, responsibilities and functional silos are ok, if they know how to share goals, objectives, success and failure. Some boundaries have to be set to be able to have clear and concise accountabilities and responsibilities, but I think all to often we fall into the “It’s not my job” or “We will do our part and throw it over the wall” Low hanging fruit and easy way out.

      There are so many grey areas of your job description that the best professionals I have seen is they know what they do well and do it, but then also know how to encroach and collaborate in the grey areas between roles and skill sets.

      Yes buy-in from the top is critical, but having avenues of connecting to make this a reality has to be a group driving and making things happen. Yes lets continue the discussion, here or any channel we find each other in!

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