The kind of behaviours and philosophies that sit behind social business are alien to many organisations that were built upon the kind of Taylorist command and control structures that have dominated corporate life for the last century. So in order to become a truly social business will require a sizable cultural shift for many.
Change management is therefore a big issue in the social world, with success and failure largely resting upon how well you achieve this process. Consultants Booz & Company recently released their 2013 Culture and Change Management Survey, which saw over 2,200 participants giving their opinion on what successful change management looks like.
The survey found that culture was deemed to be overwhelmingly important to successful change, with 84% of respondents having that opinion. What’s more, a strong proportion of respondents revealed the crucial role played by leveraging the culture of the organisation as part of the change process.
Despite this however, under half of respondents believed that their own organisations were doing a good job of managing culture, with over half revealing that a cultural overhaul is required.
Perhaps most revealing of all however are some of the reasons given for change failures. The top scoring reason was that of change fatigue, which occurs when employees are asked to change too many things, too often. Another major reason for resistance is when change is something that is thrust upon employees from their managers. Such top down diktats seem wholly out of touch with modern thinking, but remain stubbornly popular in organisations of all types. Indeed, the waterfall model probably remains the most commonly applied method of strategy dissemination, despite the all too frequent instances of failure.
I’ve written previously about the need to look at change as a systemic thing, and certainly many of the failed social business initiatives are guilty of missing this particular trick. They will for instance invest in an enterprise social network in the hope of encouraging collaboration whilst at the same time rewarding employees for individual performance, giving them no time (or permission) to collaborate outside of their job description, and ensuring they have no say in how decisions are made.
If you are to deliver change successfully then culture has to be on board, and the only way to change the culture is to look at the business as a whole.
The Booz report makes interesting reading on this crucial topic. You can access the full report via the link above, or watch the exec summary in the video below.