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Social Media Changes Corporate Culture

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I am truly thrilled by all that is happening in the social media and on-line community world – strong investor interest in our next round of financings, continued adoption of our software and service offerings by leading brands, and clear interest by company leaders in discussing how social networking is going to change the traditional landscape of leadership, business processes and corporate communications.

Given this backdrop, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the changes that I have seen take place since I started selling social technologies and strategic services seven years ago.

1. Migration from ME to WE: In simple terms, social media forces companies to look beyond their boundaries to their customers, prospects, alumni, partners, and investors for insights and answers, customer support, product innovation, and sales and marketing – essentially business processes and competencies that they traditionally found among their people, and believed were core to their success. Although, this concept of looking outside one’s organization is not entirely new (remember the old concept of the extended enterprise), the emphasis is!

My experience over the last seven years suggests that few companies and their leaders really understand how to turn their organizations from internally focused to externally centered. To prove my point, ask yourself, how many of the products and services your organization creates and sells are designed and developed by people that don’t work for you (an open source community)? Alternatively, find out who provides customer support in your company – your call center operation or your customers, using today’s social technologies? These are just two acid tests to evaluate your company’s focus – is it ME (the company) or WE (others not affiliated with your enterprise).

You’ll find that the benefits of moving towards a WE centered company are numerous. Some examples include the following statistics:

• Community users remain customers 50% longer than non-community users. (AT&T, 2002)
• 43% of support forums visits are in lieu of opening up a support case. (Cisco, 2004).
• Community users spend 54% more than non-community users (EBay, 2006)
• In customer support, live interaction costs 87% more per transaction on average than forums and other web self-service options. (ASP, 2002)

(via: http://redplasticmonkey.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/online-community-roi/)

2. A New Class of Leaders: For those of you who have heard me speak or have read my blogs, you know that that Mzinga came out of a simple belief I have held for a long time: In the industrial age , men rule. Why? Labor is physical and most men are physically bigger and stronger. In the information age, men and women both rule. They’re both are equally good at using and disseminating information to meet their needs. But in the Relational Age – the age in which we are now entering where people and one’s ability to relate to another is the most critical success factor – Women Rule.

Now I am not suggesting that all women are better than all men in building relationships or relating to another person, but my 50 plus years of life tells me that this is a pretty good generalization. In addition, Dan Coleman’s book on EQ reaffirms my belief that the future corporate leaders will have more EQ than IQ and a lot more EQ than PQ (physical quotient). In a relational age, more and more individuals will be successful based on their “ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence Dr. Robert K. Cooper Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organizations, 1996, page xiii).

The bottom line is that social media is bringing a new social reality to the corporate world which will enable women and men with high degrees of EQ to prosper versus their earlier counterparts who ruled with might.

3. Command and Control Leadership vs. Facilitative Leadership: We all know what leadership is, but I bet few of you know or have heard of the concept of “facilitative leadership.” In simple words, “facilitative leadership” is the ability to put someone’s interest in front of your own, thus creating a win-win partnership.

ROFLCon: The Internet Cult Leaders- Talk - 4 . 27 . 08

I, like everyone else, have come to realize that very few companies put their customers, prospects, investors, employees and potential hires first. However, I also recognize that those that do, win continuously.

It’s hard for most leaders to imagine really putting others and their interests before their own (witness the current financial crises), but social media brings others to the forefront by giving them (in fact, everyone) a voice. And by giving them a voice, everyone now has power, not just the company, which until now, had the power of voice because they could afford to pay for it (e.g. TV and radio, print and billboard, advertising). Given that, I have belief that the future core competency will be “facilitative”, not “command and control” leadership – e.g. the ability of an organization and a leader to follow others and meet their needs and not the reverse.

In short, we are the beginning of a major cultural, leadership and business process revolution. This blog is to limiting to cover all the major changes coming, but all of them are exciting and will, in the end, pay major dividends for all companies that adopt them.

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