Playing Social with Words

A quick post about playing with words, notions and associations, and about what I did 10 years ago – and in the end of the post I make a promise!

Years ago I was in Supply Chain Management business, and now my startup is developing a SaaS application for businesses, in a #E20 style. That is why I am very curious about Social CRM, SCM and Enterprise 2.0.

Two recent ‘good bits’ started a thought process: 1) Jacob Morgan’s tweet and 2) Seth Godin’s fantastic post.

Seth Godin wrote about “the pleasant reassurance of new words”:

“It’s a lot easier for an organization to adopt new words than it is to actually change anything. Real change is uncomfortable. If it’s not feeling that way, you’ve probably just adopted new words.”

I do agree, seen that happen.

Jacob Morgan tweeted about how we are using new words for something that has been around for a long time:

What Seth is saying and what Jacob points out reminds me of two examples of how words are getting new lives – gently or with some violence – or how old and new denotation can live side by side:

Social Business

One example of the phenomenon Seth referred to could be the use of the notion of ‘Social Business’ by the big (legacy) players. In an interesting Forbes article ‘Shining the Limelight on Social Business Services’, by Rawn Shah, he describes how the large vendors are looking for different approaches to integrating collaborative capabilities into the IT infrastructure. In addition he points out an important issue:

“However, it’s important to see that social business is not simply a software one. It is a business transformation involving organizational culture, enterprise business processes, customer relations, and workforce behavior just as much as it is a change to the enterprise IT infrastructure.”

He continues with wise words:

“While it may be relatively easier to push technology onto users, transforming business culture takes much more convincing: changing attitudes to do work in a social space, changing task and workflow behavior, changing motivation and compensation models, changing business metrics and KPIs, changing customer facing processes, working through longer adoption cycles, and ingraining a culture of collaboration. This involves a different lens than just the IT department—it can involve HR, business management, customer service, product development and innovation. Hence, to develop a mature social business, you will need to explore how it applies to these respective areas—this is where consulting services can provide guidance.”

Indeed important, a trinity of the people, process & technology. A very timely topic I’ve touched on in my earlier post ‘A job for a Silo Integrator?‘.

Lean

For me the word lean still denotes strongly to the Japanese car industry! Yes, I worked in a Swedish Supply Chain Management company at that time and the local car and machinery industry was actively applying lean production. And I still recall ABB Sweden’s T 50 project (cutting troughput time by 50%) quite well.

We have seen a clever reuse of the notion ‘lean’. As a startup entrepreneur I do like a lot Eric Ries’s Lean Startup philosophy. His work was presented in Wall Street Journal with these words:

“Mr. Ries’s Lean Startup philosophy aims to help new companies make speedier decisions by taking a more disciplined approach to testing products and ideas and using the resulting customer feedback. “

I definitely want to study Eric’s philosophy and writings in more detail, and maybe I get rid of the Toyota association.

Social Business Process Management

Back to Jacob Morgan’s tweet – what he asked in his tweet gave me an idea: Social Business Process Management! I thought I had invented a new notion, I googled, and of course found a nice post about Social BPM written in June 2010 by Joe McKendrick. In the post McKendrick describes his discussions with Forrester Research analyst Clay Richardson, and shares some SBPM aspects: the need for increased end-user involvement, better understanding and assessing the capabilities, and how the communication and coordination issues between the teams are challenging in many organizations.

Ok, enough playing with words.

What did I write 10 years ago?

What makes me very excited is the fact that I have written about these issues 10 years ago. And forgotten most of it! I just found and browsed through my old Master thesis (from 2001) with the title Value Creation in the Integrated and Collaborative Business Processes. I am reading it now in order to find out how “Enterprise 2.0” my old work is. With quick browsing I saw quite many fitting E 2.0/Social Business key words. And the Analytical Framework which summarizes the thesis is not totally bad.

So, my promise to you is:

As soon as I have had time to write down couple of thoughts around it, I will post again and also, if you like, share the thesis with you. It’s not a masterpiece, but might be of interest for some of you.

PS. Does adding prefix ‘social’ remind you of adding the little e? eCommerce…

2 thoughts on “Playing Social with Words

  1. Hi BR! And thanks for your substantial blog. If this was quick, I don’t even dare to think, what it would be if it were slow… )
    And again you have so many – too many? – interesting and inspiring themes that it’s not at all easy to make a pick. Nevertheless I chose one:
    The challenge to develop organization, i.e. people to adopt the new abilities and attitudes. I mean if someone has tried that even with oneself, have certainly noticed how much uncompromising will it really requires. From daily basis. Mature social business requires mature individuals. And if some organization wants not only to get things done but to uncover and use all the possibilities that lie in these individuals, it really needs more than just consulting every now and then. It needs a change of paradigm of every level, starting from the hindrances that are blocking the creative problem solving – the ability that each and every one of us had as a child.
    You kept your promise, I break mine by commenting briefly this playing with words:
    It seems to me that there are alot of fuzz about the vast transformation process that goes through for example the human relations. But not so many clear and concrete – grounded – ideas, how to deal with it really. But maybe we’re not yet there.

    • Thank you, Mikko, for your nice comment – and sorry for the delay in answering!

      Indeed, again, this is kind of a thought flow : ), very quickly written. I am painfully aware of the fact that I should pick one subject and stick to it…

      Uncompromising is a good word choice and I did like this: “It needs a change of paradigm of every level, starting from the hindrances that are blocking the creative problem solving – the ability that each and every one of us had as a child.”

      Your last point about human relations, I am tempted to suggest that in many organizations the back office/support functions are suffering from the same disease: silos & not understanding the big picture. I’ve seen it in HR, sales, marketing, communication and IT. Of course, there are nice exceptions/success stories.

      Thank you,
      –Riitta

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