Apr 6 2009
Following on to our previous post on “The Cultural Challenge to Integration” this post examines how social media tools challenge siloed organizations to move towards hived architectures. I agree with a commenter’s assessment that social media needs to map towards the current culture in an evolutionary fashion as opposed to demanding sudden and drastic change. Social media won’t be accepted by an organization if it is a sudden uprooting. Migration offers the best path to change (image: bees on a comb by Indigo Goat).
This change could be classified as part of an overall corporate management shift caused by the information revolution. That revolution has antiquated industrial corporate structures, forcing extended networks of decentralized workforces, suppliers, and distribution networks. So it only makes logical (and linear) sense that our communications would follow suit. The communications movement towards social media has been indirectly caused by the information age, just as human resources has had to move towards talent management principles.
Communications at its core is the exchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by oral, written, or visual means. It is more than just marketing, and in reality by mapping the communications flow within an organization you can see its organizational architecture, workflow and cultural values.
Let’s consider a beehive architecture for a moment. According to Wikipedia, the basic nest architecture for all honey bees is similar: “Honey is stored in the upper part of the comb; beneath it are rows of pollen-storage cells, worker-brood cells, and drone-brood cells, in that order. The peanut-shaped queen cells are normally built at the lower edge of the comb.”
Hives are adjacent to each other, and while their members each have roles, from products (honey) and defenders to mates and rulers, these hives allow for fluid interaction. This a much different mindset than a traditional corporate architecture of silos. A hive architecture allows for fluid information transfer and interaction between roles, as well as more open access to the outside.
Applied, social media can serve as an elixir, a means to ease the process of moving towards an extended corporate hive with empowered edges (above photo: sweet, sweet honey by BotheredByBees). A new structure of enterprise social media means empowering internal & external stakeholders with the ability to communicate (work) more fluidly across an extended architecture and share information.
Social media is not meant to gut the organization or its purpose. Nor is it meant to build individual stars in an enterprise. Instead it should support achieving a better result across teams of people by helping the culture migrate to modern information usage. The end results could be more productivity, better customer relationships, financial rewards and revamped, better policies.
What are your thoughts? I’ve got a third post on the topic coming tomorrow on evaluating processes that hinder social media adoption.
Also, check out the podcast from Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation) and Jeremiah Owyang‘s (Forrester) Web 2.0 Expo panel, “Why social media marketing fails and how to fix it.”
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