In a recent post on Stowe Boyd’s site he says:
“These [social] principles are fundamentally different from most business operations, so I think social can’t just be gravy poured on top of the current meat and potatoes. And it’s really about innovating, which again argues for a fundamental rethinking of how work works”
Perhaps the values that underpin Social Business may have existed in a previous time, and that somehow the needs of the industrial revolution and the Taylorist 20th Century – what I would term our “Necessary Past” – inverted them.
It is a concept brought to life by Nietzsche in his work the Antichrist (1895). Setting aside the religious context – this blog has no interest in the matter – he argued that Christianity had inverted humanity and was “hostile to life” – he called for a “revaluation of all values”, a transformative reversion to the values of a pre-Socratic life-affirming age characterised by vitality and spirit.
If we set the predominant, Taylorist-imbued values against Social, the contrast is marked by clear opposites….
|PREDOMINANT VALUE||SOCIAL VALUE|
|Closed loop – secrecy, IP, privacy||Open source – sharing, “crowdeverything”|
|Success – the only badge, expressed in material terms or accolades||Failure – experimentation just as important, the driver of creativity|
|Data – mechanised and objective certainty||Uncertainty – qualitative, human, subjective|
|Profit and shareholder value, measured in cash||Contribution, measured in multiple “currencies”|
|Growth – the upward curve||Sustainability – latticed and embedded change|
|Efficiency – the creation of predictable pathways||Inefficiency – the chance of the unexpected and unplanned as the new differentiators|
|The system – reliable and certain, whose outputs are expected, capable only of what it is designed for||The human – vulnerable and chaotic, yet capable of the incredible and unexpected|
|Optimisation – time and energy spent on attaining perfection, elimination of defects||Opportunity – acknowledge defects, maintain focus on what is possible|
|Order – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” –respect for the predictable||Disruption – “if it ain’t broke, break it” – the generation of creative energy|
|Kaizen – continuous improvement||Sporadic change – inspired, momentary|
|Hierarchies – solidity and structure, clear command and control, simple, two-dimensional||Networks – ever evolving, occasionally exploding or imploding, highly complex, three-dimensional|
|Instruction – line management, clear direction and flow through defined pathways||Influence –understand and navigate changing networks and patterns|
|Risk – pessimism, plan for all eventualities, divert energy to what may not happen||Optimism – belief that risks can be overcome with creative thinking, deploy energy on what is believed possible|
|Plan – DMAIC – define, analyse, measure, improve and control – all based on a clear path determined at the outset||Multiple journeys – small steps, re-evaluate, re-calibrate, take on new information, iterate, see where the path leads|
|Script – a pro-forma for every situation||Ad lib – every situation anew|
|Scheduled socialisation, at formal break times or after work hours||Continual, multi-layered conversation over several media|
|Status – measured objectively through external material symbols||Self-improvement – measured subjectively, through self-awareness and EQ|
|Process value – business organised around the ways it provides value||End value – business organised around the value it provides|
I once suggested that social business had its roots in the Stone Age – which at the time was slightly tongue-in-cheek – yet seems to have become less so the more time passes.
Did we once hold Social values to be true, but lost them in the drive to industrialise and technologise? Is Social Business, as many assert, a “new paradigm” – or are we in fact simply re-valuing what we presently hold to be true? In which case, is this a revolution – as some have claimed – or a revaluation?
It probably needs a Social mindset to begin to answer.