The Rise of Social Business Brings “Smarter” Change Management

Just a week or so ago, the IBM Connect 2013 Conference was kicked off by IBM’s General Manager for Social Business, Alistair Rennie. In front of thousands of thought leaders from around the globe, he marked the beginning of a journey that many organizations, agencies and companies will embark on over the next 20 years. This journey is all about empowering your people. The end goal is to get your teams and talent to be more effective at what they do, no matter the mission. This journey is just beginning for many, and will continue to evolve tomorrow and everyday thereafter. During the journey you will unleash the true potential of your people to make a difference and change the world in important ways.

How will this be realized? By applying the “purposeful use of social” in our workplaces.  We have seen the power of social in our own lives, as citizens and consumers. That same capability in the globally integrated enterprise can uncover talent, highlight common goals, and create community to propel our reach and extend our influence. Think about how far reaching and essential your mission could be when talent is tapped beyond your organizational silos, ushering in new ideas for innovation. Talent is all around us. Today’s challenge remains, “can you find it, can you put it to work, and can you build a winning team” to support your mission?

No one understands this challenge better than the military leader. In an article written this week by the Chief of Staff of the U.S Army, Gen. Raymond Odierno, he emphasized the importance of being able to rapidly adjust capabilities to meet the unique requirements of any situation, and deliver precise results through their most capable weapon system – the American Soldier. He goes on to stress the importance of inter-connectedness and keeping pace with collaborative technology to connect people and build virtual communities to solve problems.

When you connect the “purposeful use of social” with large untapped pools of talent, what you get is a new and powerful paradigm. This new paradigm reflects the way work is done today, and can lead to increased performance against the backdrop of unprecedented amounts of uncertainty and an accelerating pace of change. This paradigm shift is what IBM calls Social Business. From “Liking” to “Leading” through the application social capabilities in the workplace, companies, agencies and organizations are becoming smarter. How exactly? With insights, analytics, collective intelligence and greater efficiency in how they engage employees, interact with customers or citizens, and deliver lasting results and value.

More importantly, organizations are managing change in a smarter way, with the support of social business and mobile platforms to connect  expertise quickly to tackle problems in a more collaborative and collective manner. Managing change at its core is a very human reaction supported by the processes of engagement, interaction and gathering insight. More minds, more perspectives, more data, and more wisdom from the crowd of experts can lead to better change and lasting change for any organization or enterprise. That directly contributes to building a Smarter Workforce that retains talent and remains essential to the world.

Navigating and managing change is like running in a race. While you are running it on your own, you are never all alone. You are empowered and rejuvenated with every step you take, every mile you complete and collectively through the recognition of progress by those around you, often cheering. There is talent and experts on all sides of you and if you asked for help, you would get it. You are part of a community defined by a common activity and a collective goal. Even though you are running against the clock, this is “coopetition” defined by the altruistic experience of setting out on a journey together. Once you cross that starting line, you are working toward the same reward and the same finish line. And

it feels good to high five people after they finish the race.  Managing organizational change is no different. When shared and celebrated it seems achievable and valuable. It is social in nature.  And with the “purposeful use of social,” change management gets smarter and better.

Before Social Business came about communicating progress of a change campaign across an enterprise required enormous resources. To transmit a single message across divisions demanded managing and navigating hierarchical silos, understanding up-line and down-stream distribution channels, allocating e-mail accounts, and managing contact lists. This method of “fire and forget” communications led to an increased sense of feeling disengaged as employees.

Today, with the help of social business practices, the status of change is open, transparent and shared easily via portals, blogs, forums, comments, wikis, and dashboards with the click of one button. From the first post, powerful network effects allow for increased engagement and interaction. The conversation around change – what used to be considered water cooler talk – is allowed to continue throughout the social  n etwork and across the enterprise, naturally and transparently. As a result, change is better understood, often told through the words of the employees or customers as they interact and share reactions. No one is better positioned to take advantage of this engagement capability than an enterprise leader, as demonstrated by IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, who uses IBM’s internal collaboration platform – Connections – to  communicate to a global workforce. With every comment the change campaign gathers valuable insights to shine new light on approaches and bring fresh ideas to drive innovation.

Organizations are eager to capitalize on the benefits of sharing knowledge in a more social way, which reflects the way we work, learn and interact as humans. The most recent IBM Chief Human Resource Officer Study revealed that social businesses outperform their competition by 57 percent. While a McKinsey & Co. study observed that 9 out of 10 companies reports measurable benefits from becoming a social business. The rise of the social business is evident, and it will improve business outcomes for the long term. As uncertainty and complexity in the marketplace continues to increase along with the unprecedented pace of change, organizational change management will require the power of social to deliver lasting  change to support a Smarter Workforce long into the future.

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