Why Adapting in the Social Age is Key to Survival

Hand Holding A Social Media 3D Sphere

Do you think social media is something to assign to the marketing department?

Do you think social is mainly about getting out your message?

Do you understand that the Social Age changes everything?

 

Adapting to a Social World

I recently had the opportunity to talk with my friends, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt about their new book A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

They are both social media experts who help leaders and companies understand and thrive in the new social age.  Ted Coiné is co-founder of one of my favorite leadership communities, Switch & Shift and he was named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer.  Mark Babbitt is CEO and founder of YouTern, a social community for college students and young professionals.

 

“Social is not a campaign. Social is a commitment.” -Stan Phelps

 

Talk to the corporate leader who really is not online; the executive who maybe has a Twitter account but hasn’t signed in for a year.  What does she miss?

Business leaders not active on social are missing an asset that decision-makers in the Social Age desperately need to remain relevant and to spot trends: real-time, unfiltered market intelligence.

Through social listening, we learn what our customers are saying about us as they say it.  We observe how our brand is perceived.  We also see what our competition is up to – and perhaps even opportunities they’re missing because they are NOT listening.

Suggestion boxes?  Focus groups?  Surveys?  Those tools were all great in the Industrial Age – but they can’t begin to compare to the real-time market intelligence available to us for free on social.

 

Downsides of Social Media

Let’s flip to the other side: What are the downsides of social media?

Social media is an equal-opportunity amplifier. It amplifies the good, certainly.  But it also amplifies the bad.  Be insensitive, act unethically, mistreat a customer or employee, kick a dog in an elevator, put short term profits over people – or even this-quarter profits over common sense – and your brand will suffer.  Because today – through what we call the “Social Robin Hood Syndrome,” where the public is more than ready to rally in order to right a wrong – a complaint can very quickly become a tsunami of bad press.

While these downsides of social are very real, the vast majority of social horror stories are caused by ignorance, corporate arrogance, unethical leaders, uninspiring or even abusive employers – all who become easy targets when customers, employees and watchdogs turn to social for justice.

Fortunately, this phenomenon is also a positive; this forced accountability helps leaders realize that we must run our organizations in an ethical, honest fashion.  And if you’ve been leading in a commendable way all along, this amplification feature of social is your company’s best friend.  Over time, you’ll earn the market share of your less-than-exemplary rivals.

 

“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” -Jan Carlzon

 

 

Adapt to Survive

The subtitle of your book is “How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.” What are some of the dangers of a company largely ignoring social media?

What we learned from trend watching over the last five years is that social isn’t a technology radically affecting how we lead our organizations. Rather, the Social Age is a new era; social has changed business forever. The Industrial Age had a good run, but it’s over.

The business world is already showing us what happens when companies continue to operate under Industrial Age “best practices.” Look at the fate of JCPenney and Sears versus Amazon and its 17 million likes on Facebook. Ford, with its exceptional community building, and to a certain extent, new kid Tesla, are doing amazing work on social compared to competitors General Motors and Chrysler. And think about all the old-school beverage companies that are struggling while Red Bull rocks social media with 36 million likes on Facebook and 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

 

3 Recommendations for a Customer-First Social Strategy

Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

Socrates

How to Jumpstart Innovation

Bowl of Minestrone Soup with Pasta, Beans and Vegetables

 

Is your team stuck and in need of an innovation injection?

Are there ways to structure brainstorming to enhance the creative process?

Is it possible to learn how to innovate and create?

 

Make Stone Soup

If you study innovation, creativity and success, you will likely know my friend Jeff DeGraff.  I first met him when I was running a business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Someone on my team introduced me to the “Dean of Innovation” when we were struggling with a problem.  Dr. DeGraff is a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.  He has worked with some of the biggest global corporations including Apple, Visa, GE, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson.

His most recent book is Making Stone Soup: How to Jumpstart Innovation Teams.  If you want the recipe for collaborative innovation, this colorful book will deliver while inspiring you with new ideas for your team.

 

“Innovation is created as a result of constructive conflict.” -Jeff DeGraff

 

Misconceptions About Innovation

Most of us think of innovation and think of a brilliant inventor, solitarily working when Eureka!  Bam!  Innovation strikes!  You say most innovation doesn’t happen in that manner but, instead, happens in teams.  Tell us more about that.

Any other common misconceptions about innovation?

Most people have a very limited concept of innovation.  They think it’s a gMaking Stone Soup Book Coveradget or an electric powered vehicle.  But these technological inventions are the very end of the innovation chain. What makes your smart phone light and compact has more do with breakthroughs in material science than it does creative design thinking.  More so, innovations are often services or integrated solutions such as Google’s business model. Innovation is by definition a type of deviance from the norm, and therefore what makes an innovation is constantly morphing and progressing.

 

“Innovation is a type of deviance from the norm.” -Jeff DeGraff

 

Conversely, the biggest truth that people miss is that innovation is the only value proposition that happens in the future for which we have no data now.  You must feel your way through the ambiguity and accelerate the unavoidable failure cycle.  That’s how successful inventors, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists do it.  Excessive planning is the number one form of resistance when trying to make innovation happen. You have to take multiple shots on goal.

Most importantly, innovation is not produced through alignment.  It is created as a result of constructive conflict.  Enroll some deep and diverse domain experts and encourage some polite pushing and shoving, and you will be astounded by the hybrid solutions they create.

 

CREATE, COMPETE, CONTROL, COLLABORATE

5 Reasons Why Leaders Must Sometimes Take A Back Seat

Gold Fish
This is a guest post by Matt Driscoll, who is the management and Leadership L&D Consultant at Thales.

3 Basic Styles of Leadership

Leadership training is one of the most important and challenging aspects of learning and development, and there are three basic styles of leadership that one can develop: Managerial, Visionary, and Strategic.

Managerial

Managerial leaders focus all their attention on short-term goals and daily needs.  They are reactive, champions of cost-benefit analysis, and often guilty of micromanaging staff.

Visionary

Visionary leaders, on the other hand, focus their attention on the future.  They create a compelling vision of their company’s future and motivate workers to strive toward that goal. However, because they are consumed with plans for the future, visionary leaders neglect the day-to-day operational necessities and current financial realities of their companies.

Strategic

The most effective leadership style is strategic.  Strategic leaders develop compelling visions for the future of their companies and motivate workers to strive toward the common goals they define, while diligently maintaining the short-term financial stability of their business.

Apart from being attuned to both short and long-term needs, strategic leaders set themselves apart by focusing their attention on human capital within their organizations.  In order to move the company forward, leaders must constantly develop the capabilities and competencies of their teams.  Great leaders make those around them better, but they can only do so by coaching, mentoring, trusting, and ultimately giving their teams space to learn and grow through direct experience.

 

“Great leaders make those around them better.”

 

These are five crucial reasons why the most effective leaders often take a back seat:

 

1. To Develop New Leaders

Successful companies cultivate leadership at every level of the business, so rather than creating a workplace dominated by a single powerful figure, companies must encourage new leaders to rise from within the ranks.  Executives must learn to recognize when employees are capable and motivated to fill leadership roles, allowing them to take charge in order to help them develop.

 

“Successful companies cultivate leadership at every level of the business.”

 

2. To Learn

No matter how successful a team leader may be, he or she cannot be right all the time.  The best leaders know their weaknesses and seek guidance whenever they are out of their depth. Whether that means following the lead of someone else within the business or seeking professional development resources elsewhere, good leaders recognize the need for constant learning.

 

“Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.” –Warren Bennis

 

 

3. To Better Allocate Resources

Avoid the Nightmare of the Email Blind Carbon Copy (BCC).

Zombie

Beware the BCC

I’m not sure exactly when or why the blind carbon copy (BCC) was invented, but I have seen it misused, misunderstood, and misfired too many times to count.  The BCC allows you to write an email TO some people and BCC others.  The people you send it TO don’t know that others are secretly on the BCC line.

Most email problems with the BCC start when an email is written to a few people, but others are blind carbon copied.

“Trust is built with consistency.” -Lincoln Chafee

DANGER: REPLY ALL

The first and most visible problem with the blind carbon copy is when someone who was BCC’d hits reply all. Now the people who were on the email (in the TO or CC lines) are alerted to the fact that they were not the only recipients.  I’ve seen this backfire more times than I can tell you.

Unlike most email mistakes, this one is bigger than most people think. Why?

 

DANGER: REPUTATION RISK

It reduces trust.

It diminishes your brand.

It raises unnecessary questions.

It makes others question your motives.

Let me share a few examples.

  1. A few years ago, I received an email from a colleague. I was on the cc line with two other executives.  The email was addressed to a single person on the TO line.  Two hours after receiving the email, someone hit reply all and made a comment.  Now I wondered why this person was blind carbon copied on the note.  It made me question the motives of the sender.  If someone has to pause and question your motives, that enough is reason to not use the BCC.
  1. A lawyer is BCC’d on a contractual question with a supplier and mistakenly hits reply all with a question.  All of a sudden it escalates an issue to serious status when it may have been a minor disagreement.  The recipient now believes that there is a major legal issue at stake.  Instead of working through the issue, it was held up with that person’s legal counsel.  The entire matter became embroiled in a legal dispute that was unnecessary.  Yes, this happened.
  1. A salesperson sends an article out about an industry trend and BCC’s someone who works for a competitor.  The person was an old friend, and the sales representative meant nothing by it.  But now everyone wonders why you would send something to the competition.  Yes, this happened.

 

“Men trust their ears less than their eyes.” -Herodotus

 

DANGER: WASTED TIME