Two new trends are on the rise in business at the moment and they both use the words social and enterprise. Importantly these trends are often more closely connected than many realise. The trends are:
– Enterprise Social Media, the use of social media to foster connection and collaboration inside an organisation; and
– Social Enterprises, an organisation which exists to fulfil a social purpose by leveraging the approaches of the business world
Enterprise social media drives a more social outlook in any organisation where the culture will allow it. At the heart of the connection is that these trends force us to reflect on human concerns like purpose, community and our legacy – enterprise social media simply makes us social.
Enterprise Social Media fosters Purpose
Enabling your employees and other partners to connect and share their stories and experiences will quickly surface the themes of your purpose. Discussing and sharing these examples helps build a stronger sense of community in an organisation and deepens engagement. Importantly, the social network will also offer a forum to discuss, clarify and resolve of the conflicts of purpose that organisations face. Purpose is not a statement issued by management. Purpose is an ongoing dialogue with everyone in the organisation and it’s stakeholders.
Enterprise Social Media fosters Openness
Enabling your people to share their passions, interest, experiences and concerns is going to bring the surrounding community into your organisation. People now have a tool to collaborate on community and social issues. This can range from awareness building to forming groups of like minded employees to organising volunteering and activism. The more open your organisation the better it will be at responding to social needs and feedback.
Enterprise Social Media fosters Accountability
A highly engaged community can become a conscience for Purpose. If employees have a concern about delivery to Purpose or the wider social impacts, they have a forum to discuss and seek action. Importantly this is a public and transparent forum where they may have like minded colleagues. These conversations build accountability in managers across the organisation to explain the connection of their decisions to Purpose, to the creation of social value and to broader community impacts
Enterprise Social Media fosters Leadership
Organisations are full of people who have leadership potential but lack the impetus and a first follower. Social media offers a low risk environment for these first time leaders to connect with their personal purposes and to attract followers. It also offers an environment where leadership for the commmunity can be recognized by the community. Building the leadership voice, action & reward for leadership in your organisation will enable social value.
Enterprise Social Media fosters Innovation
Social value can be created in many traditional commercial organisations through adding a little innovation to everyday activities. Enabling your employees to make suggestions and work together to realise these ideas using enterprise social media can accelerate that process by bouncing unconventional ideas off traditional processes. Employee ideas can add social value by suggesting new challenges to tackle, a change in sourcing, to better ways to leverage waste and even debating where an organisation creates value for customers and the broader community.
Purpose+Openness+Accountability+Leadership+Innovation=More Social Enterprise
People crave purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to society. My experience suggests that given the chance people will leverage enterprise social media to seek to create additional social value in and through their colleagues and organisation. These conversations can generate deep pride and engagement.
The main barrier to this effect is a culture unwilling to allow the challenging conversations required. Our work in fostering more social enterprise is to get out of the way of our people, embrace the growing potential for more social value and do what we can to build stronger purpose and social impact.