Business, Social Business and Beyond...

There are lots of businesses. Only a few have successfully found a way to be great social businesses, too. Sadly, even fewer still know how to listen to the the process improvement suggestions of their customers.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

This weekend, I read Dion Hinchcliffe's and Peter Kim's new book titled " "="">

This is a subject that holds a lot of interest for me. I have found too many businesses to be too naïve, too busy, too confused, etc. about how to become a social business. They are usually too wedded to old, outdated business practices and too rigid in their ways. They can't change or change is too uncomfortable for them.  It's a shame.

A social business is one that does more than implement new social technologies. It learns how to monitor the social commentary around its firm. It learns how to not just listen but to shape and act with a speed that is consistent with the speed that modern social companies are expected to act. A social firm is more than this but you get my point. It's a firm that is driven by new constituents, with new media, using new sources of information and collaboration. It's definitely not the insular, closed and uncommunicative company of yore.

Just the other day, Sameer Patel wrote an especially targeted piece in his Pretzel Logic blog on the problems firms have in becoming social businesses. Sameer did a good job of documenting the status quo. What today's firms (and their executives) need is a playbook to become a social business. Hinchcliffe's and Kim's book do this really well.

The graphics in this book are worth the price of the book alone.

Some business books are (in)famous for cheerleading some new trend. The pages are chock full of stories of one company after another that have adopted some new philosophy, technology, etc. The problem with these tomes is that they presume that knowledge of the new concept is all that one needs to move forward. These books are long on concept validation and really short on practical guidance.

Social Business by Design hits a very good mix of concept and practical guidance. And for that, readers will likely appreciate it. For a subject like social business, there's lots of hype these days and very little insight into what a firm must do to become one. The book is full of the evolutionary steps a business must make to become social.

When Dion and Peter get ready to create the follow-up to this book, I'd like to recommend they explore an area of social businesses that isn't happening well yet. These are firms that work with customers, suppliers and others who are trying to tell these firms how to improve.

I resent doing business with companies that don't want (or can't) take process improvement feedback. When I take the time to write a business about what needs improving in their firm, I'm doing it to see them change. I like doing business with them but might curtail or halt purchases if they don't change. Unfortunately, letters don't get answered. Calls get routed to outsourced call center staffers who can't or don't forward suggestions to the process owners of a company. No one is there to take proccess improvement feedback. They're just there to deal with immediate problems.

No, the social business of today is often limited in its interactions to just dealing with IMMEDIATE customer problems. They aren't interested in non-urgent but very important structural, procedural, satisfaction or other problems. That's their loss.

But, I digress. If your firm hasn't moved to become a social business or is struggling with the evolution to become one, read this book and execute against their counsel. When you're ready to become a social business that cares about short AND long term issues, then give me a call.

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