For someone who co-authored a book on how companies that succeed in leveraging this current wave of innovation, powered by the social, do so by turning their business processes into social processes, it may seem contradictory to now hear that you should not turn your business into a social business.
There are several reasons why those two concepts are very different. And most pundits declaring that you should be building social businesses are missing the point.
First off, a social business (see WikiPedia entry) has been defined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus inhis book Creating a World without poverty — Social Business and the future of capitalism as a “non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today. It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission.”
If you’re GE, IBM, or Pfizer, you may not want to turn your business into a social business.
What you want to do is to power your business processes with humans and the social characteristics that have been innate to them for tens of thousands of years . You want the individuals and their creativity to help you humanize your brand, you want people from outside your R&D department to help you innovate, you want human employees (as opposed to corporate automatons programmed to stay on message with corporate speak) to engage with humans who may want to buy your products or come to work for you.
Companies that found the key to making this work do end up with social benefits — happier employees, happier customers, tighter-nit communities, etc. — but they do not need to become a social-objective driven enterprise to do that.
You want to turn your business into a human-powered enterprise, we called it a Hyper-Social Organizations, not a social enterprise — and therein lies a big difference.
What are your thoughts? I will try to get back to more regular blogging…(and I know you’ve heard that one before 🙂