Sunday 28 February 2010

Maybe your company is just beyond social

There are certain types of organisations, and only a few are fit for social. Only some others can adopt social, and the rest just shouldn't
I'll say that about 1/3rd of all organisations shouldn't even try to become social in any way whatsoever because it simply is a waste of time - for them

The above image depicts three types of growth: linear (50 x), cubic (x ^ 3) and exponential (2 ^ x).What do they have in common? There's only a way forward, and no going back. Evolution doesn't know anything like growing smaller, one can only grow bigger. Sure we do shrink a bit at the end of our lives, but I wouldn't want to call that 'growth'
The same applies to organisations: their natural growth is forward, better, bigger, bust. Only over an
extensive amount of time will they evolve to smaller sizes, and I believe we're on the verge of seeing something like that happen

Here's what I call my order of organisation:
  1. idea
  2. entrepreneur
  3. company
  4. enterprise
  5. multinational
  6. bureaucracy
  7. faceless bureaucratic institution
  8. extinction
The first 3 stages can be depicted easily: everyday a few companies are formed this way, although nowadays one could indeed have an idea in the morning and a company in the afternoon. Many ideas lead to entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurs get personnel and grow into a company

Such a company can become large: an enterprise. No definition of that in the wiki unfortunately, but then again there's a thin line between a small company (just a "company") and a large one (an "enterprise").
Fair to say that an enterprise is connoted by some form of anonymity: at least half of all employees won't know the other half, possible one employee will only know up to 25% of all employees by face and / or name. And there are even enterprises where that percentage is more like 5%

A multinational is a large company, split across borders in multiple locations: one will definitely know just a small percentage of employees worldwide. One can grow from company into multinational, or from enterprise to multinational, no exact science there. With today's widely available tools and low threshold even a person can become a multinational, for argument's sake. Needless to say that getting to know and keeping known your fellow employees will be hard, across all that distance

A bureaucracy is a different institution. Whereas there can be a good form of close personal contact in enterprises and multinationals, a bureaucracy exists by way of anonymity. To be able to treat each other with bureaucracy, requires a certain degree of carelessness. Not knowing each other helps to uphold that lack of care and respect. Rapid takeovers in succession, frequent reorganisations, internal relocations, all that helps to keep transparency low, anonymity high, and care out of the window. It's pretty much how good neighbour hoods grow into ghettos: when you end up only knowing yourself and your neighbour next door

A faceless bureaucratic institution, a word I used out of anger last week in an email, is the summum of a bureaucracy. It is an organisation where the walls are so thick and the organisational layers so dense, horizontally as well as vertically, that no one has to do his or her job anymore. The entire system is so overgrown that anyone can safely blame someone else because the chances of that someone else being reached in order to verify the story are 0% - absolutely nil.
It's an organisation where anonymity and lack of care have grown into or even beyond the extreme

What comes after a faceless bureaucratic institution? Exctinction. Either bankruptcy and sudden death, or a takeover and being split up, so that the humongous unhealthy life-smothering org is chopped up into a few small, warm and cosy companies where people know, feel for and care about one another, just on a professional level but anyway - it's a new start

There isn't a place for social in all of these organisations

Why is that?

Social media, Social Business Design, it all is about social.
What is social, really? I love the quote from Patrick Brinksma "The more individual we become, the more we become one". My take on that? This is not the individuality where we only focus on ourselves, it is an individuality where we only focus on our Self. And from that true Self we come to be aware, care and share.
That is social, from my point of view
I draw the line at the enterprise or multinational: beyond that lies the point-of-no-return for human organisations. And if you're inhuman, there's no point in being social

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