Change Management Is the Foundation of a Social Organization

Michael Brito is currently a Vice President at Edelman Digital.  He writes frequently in his social media blog and just finished writing his first social business book, Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization which will be released in July 2011.  We’re honored that he was willing to write this guest post for us. Preorder the book!!

A social organization is built upon three pillars – people, process and technology. All three need to work independent of each other, yet need to be integrated into the DNA of organizational culture.

The first and most important pillar deals with an organizations most valuable asset, its people.  It addresses the need to drive change in an effort to shift employee behavior, communicate effectively across job functions and geographies and remove organizational silos. All the technology integration, collaboration software and community applications deployed internally will prove useless unless there is a fundamental shift in the way employees think, behave, interact with one another and communicate. These change management initiatives have to be driven by organizational leadership and practiced at every level in the organization.  Otherwise, change will not occur. This means that leaders must not only talk about changing the organization but exemplify the behaviors that really do facilitate, practice and empower others to actually change.

The end result is an increase in trust and collaboration among all employees, members and volunteers at every level.

Process is also a key pillar and cuts right through the entire fabric of the organization. It ensures that every person operating for or within the organization is consistent when performing certain tasks.  Processes should help facilitate the chaos that exists in every company or nonprofit organization – i.e. volunteers (or members) sharing sensitive material externally, social media ownership, crisis management and product feedback workflows; and ensuring there is one measurement philosophy that the entire organization is bought into and using for reporting.  Additionally, training initiatives, social media policies and guidelines, moderation policies must be documented, approved and then rolled up into a co-created governance model.

Every organization needs technology in order to facilitate change and collaboration. Organizations need to be smart and think long term before investing in technology applications that meet their technology and cultural requirements i.e. internal collaboration (Jive, Lithium, Yammer), social listening (Radian6, Meltwater), measurement (Rowfeeder, Argyle), social relationship management (Sprinklr, Syncapse Platform) and social CRM (Nimble, JitterJam, Pivotal).  The challenge with technology is that there are so many software vendors in the space to choose from. Organizations need to think strategically before making significant investments into technology; and consider scale, integration, support and maintenance costs, and the current suite of applications that are already deployed within the firewall.

The foundation for social organization transformation is culture and leadership. Process and technology initiatives are certainly important and play a vital role; but without a change in organizational behavior it will prove meaningless. Change starts from the top and it’s the leaders that are responsible for facilitating this change.

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