one area of study within the overall Enterprise Social Strategy, which there has been
little analysis on is what I have seen to be a "Social Glass Floor".
While Social Business Evangelists preach to the masses in
educating organizations about the business benefits of socializing
business processes; creating an agile, sharing, and more open
company culture, is there a "Social Glass Floor" where executives and top-level decision simply refuse to take part in this new paradigm shift?
- So if this glass floor exists, is it bad? good? necessary?
- Does their need to be an insulating social layer between employees, middle management, and top executive leadership?
- Can a company strategy really be developed using crowd dynamics?
the speed and complexity of business increases, can critical Strategic level business
decisions be formulated without input from processes augmented or created leveraging Social Business tenets?
To answer these questions we need to look at some current management decision-making processes and models.
Common Decision Models
model for decision-making has a very intuitive approach. In effect
however this model does not work well, as it fails to take into account
some key constraints prevalent today.
The decreasing time in business cycle(s), lack of trusted sources of empirical data, and decisions can be rendered moot due to speed of changing conditions which impacts the data used in the decision-making process to begin with.
access to information accelerated with the expansion of the Internet, and people found they are
able to share that information with the push of a button, it is critical
for business leaders to have a more fluid decision-making model, one
primed for the deluge of Information affecting business cycles. This
impacts the predictability of the decision-making.
forces would make one think that Social Business capabilities in the enterprise
would provide a great lubrication towards agile and comprehensive
Strategic decisions...We'll get back to that last statement in a bit...
decision-making models needs to also have allowances for the types of
decisions within the company. Strategic, Tactical, and Operational
decisions are frequently made across the organizational hierarchy at
The Strategic-Decision level is where the executives in organizations
concentrate their efforts. While operational and tactical decisions
seemingly impact the business on a daily or quarterly basis, strategic
decisions were historically made by Senior Executives.
I think Operational Decision processes can
be greatly improved by leveraging Social tenets. For example, by using
Social Listening and Social Conversations, a.k.a Social CRM (sCRM), Sales and Marketing teams can rapidly address individual customer issues to improve the satisfaction metrics and reduce attrition rates. Engineering Teams
can use Social collaborative public-facing platforms to solve specific
product problems or test new ideas.
Using internal Social Business platforms, HR departments
can monitor employee satisfaction (Net Promoter Score), employee
sentiment, and engagement levels using polling, surveys and other social
Tactical Decision Processes can also be enhanced using Social tenets. Using Crowd Dynamics, HR
could advertise some employee benefit options to the company, and
collect, synthesis, and report on the feedback and then make the
Global Supply Chain teams could leverage public-facing Social Platforms to engage with customers & partners to improve product and solutions offering by accelerating the company's ability to react to market conditions. Engineering Teams
can use Social collaborative public-facing platforms using Crowd
Innovation processes to improve product innovation without incurring
Before I discuss Strategic Decision processes, let's look at how decisions are spread based on a survey done by SmartBlog on Leadership organization:
a Social Business, an oft mentioned component is the flattening of
the organization, in how information can flow across the company.
Greatly diminishing or outright eliminating of the "command &
control" forces would logically lead to better decision due to the using
Crowd Dynamics to make informed, educated decisions. Again,
Operational and Tactical decision processes do benefit from a more
distributed Decision-making process.
So if most of the Strategic Decision-Making is
done at the top of the organization, is there value in re-distributing
that strategic decision-making power to the lower levels?
In my experience with executives using Social Media\Social Collaboration, they are either terrified to use it as the openness at that level can often translate into political crowbars
used exact negative pressures on each other. Executives will commonly
promote Social Media or Social Collaboration for the organization,
espouse its benefits, but you'll NEVER catch them posting anything of
true value. Why? Too risky they can be exposed or called to task for
their comments. The only executive who I have seen post regularly is
the CEO, probably due to some measure of insulation to the political
forces at that level.
So lets say there is a "Social Glass Floor" within the company. Is that a bad thing? Is it necessary?
go back to the Strategic Decision-making processes. There are clearly
reasons to avoid Socializing those processes. Mergers & Acquisition
strategies need to be done completely in private, downsizing or
organizational transformations leading to RIFs (Reduction-in-Force),
entering or leaving specific markets or industries, outsourcing and
off-shoring decisions, various financial strategies on investing company
short-term financial assets...these are just a few of the Strategic
Decisions that probably could not be done in the openness of a Social
could not imagine Strategic Decisions like those mentioned above being
publicly discussed with the larger organization. Who would want to work
in such an open culture? There are strategies that are discussed, but never invoked. Using Crowd Dynamics to build Strategy could lead to
anarchy within the company. I think there needs to be an insulating layer between senior executives and they strategic decision making process in order to keep the company from disrupting into chaos.
say there should be a clear line where the openness and free-flow of
information poses greater risks to the organization. Often there are
discussions on the "Top-Down and "Bottom-Up" forces required when
transforming the organization's culture towards a Social Business. The
"Top-Down" executive support is needed to begin and support the
transformation, but as for those executives actually posting content
that has real value or using the Social capabilities to make Strategic
Decisions will probably never happen in such an open construct.
Leadership is about making decisions, and while many decision-making
processes can be augmented using Social Business tenets, I think
Strategic Decision-making processes within the enterprise is not one of them.
So I say it DOES NOT MATTER if there is a "Social Glass Floor", just as long as the executives can LOOK DOWN, empower and support the rest of us in how we transform being able to "Work Out Loud".