The Social Business Canvas

by Jay Deragon on 08/26/2010

Many organizations ask “what can we do with social technology?”. The most valuable answers come from thinking beyond existing usage and creating a canvas of possibilities.

Many organizations seek ideas on how to use social technology to generate more revenue. Typical of result oriented thinking many if not most fail to first understand what are the restraints to effectively using social technology. Restrains to improving revenue are always up  stream while the emphasis on revenue is always down stream.

What Is In The Up Stream?

Up stream in every organization are processes, policies, products, services and people all organized, supposedly, to create something that someone else desires to consume.  Consumption starts internally with everyone producing something that gets passed on to someone else to use. In the end everything passed on to everyone is suppose to produce something valuable and desirable for a market to consume. All the internal activities are supposed to be designed to be efficient and effective. The external experience by those consuming what has been internally produced is suppose to be relational, appreciated and efficient. Profits come after all these activities and are largely influenced by the efficiency and effective of the organizational design and ultimately by the end consumers experience.

When business leaders ask “what can we do with social technology?” the answer is anything and everything. However anything and everything must first be examined with an eye towards “what” and “how” your organization currently manages its “business canvas“. A “business canvas” is a strategic illustration of the core issues that drive profits.  However all “business canvases” are now being influenced by all things social and the human network.

The “canvas” below illustrates the critical elements which drive all businesses. To effectively use all things social initial data would have to be gathered for each element then examined in light of finding critical ideas that would satisfy, and exceed expectations and intentions, of the  audience, internal and external. .The illustration below reflects a “canvas” of relevant issues that any business ought to be investigating  before simply jumping into all things social and do so continuously.

What Is Wrong With Your Canvas?

The key elements in the above canvas are fairly straight forward but what isn’t are the “actions” needed to effectively change one’s canvas once you discover the critical elements that drive your business. In order to leverage each element more efficiently one must understand the constraints and remove them as if your future depended on it because it does.  The primary constraints of any business canvas can be categorized as:

  1. Culture of distrust
  2. Bureaucracy constraining real-time changes
  3. Selfish-perpetuation for self preservation
  4. Lies, damn lies and more lies all justified by bad data
  5. Measuring down stream rather than up stream

Social technology fuels the “wisdom of the crowds” who have known and still know of the above “constraints” to the human network. The crowds now share the fallacy of these constraints with friends, associates, competitors and the entire market. Management denies the existence rather management insures the existence.

In a Wall Street Journal article titled “The End of Management” Allan Murray writes:  In recent years, most of the greatest management stories have been not triumphs of the corporation, but triumphs over the corporation.

Management icons of recent decades earned their reputations by attacking entrenched corporate cultures, bypassing corporate hierarchies, undermining corporate structures, and otherwise using the tactics of revolution in a desperate effort to make the elephants dance. The best corporate managers have become, in a sense, enemies of the corporation. The reasons for this are clear enough. Corporations are bureaucracies and managers are bureaucrats. Their fundamental tendency is toward self-perpetuation. They are, almost by definition, resistant to change. They were designed and tasked, not with reinforcing market forces, but with supplanting and even resisting the market. Yet in today’s world, gale-like market forces—rapid globalization, accelerating innovation, relentless competition—have intensified what economist Joseph Schumpeter called the forces of “creative destruction.” Decades-old institutions like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns now can disappear overnight, while new ones like Google and Twitter can spring up from nowhere.

Change, innovation, adaptability, all have to become orders of the day. Can the 20th-century corporation evolve into this new, 21st-century organization? It won’t be easy. The “innovator’s dilemma” applies to management, as well as technology. But the time has come to find out. The old methods won’t last much longer.

The new “social business canvas” is unfolding before our eyes. However to ” see it” one must take the blinders off their eyes and look through the lens of the “crowds” standing outside your walls shouting…”hear us” otherwise you won’t last long. Get it?


jletourneau (jletourneau) August 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm

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Wow, super post by @jderagon! The “innovator’s dilemma” applies to management…The old methods won’t last much longer. [link to post]

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holtcomm (Holt Communications) August 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm

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This was interesting The Social Business Canvas [link to post] #socialeconomy

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b3buy (Business 3.0 Corp.) August 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

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RT @JDeragon: The Social Business Canvas #socialmedia #socialstrategy [link to post] – social business is more than e-commerce

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card4net (card4net) August 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

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RT @JDeragon: understand the constraints and remove them as if your future depended on it because it does….[link to post]

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StarGazon (StarGazon) August 26, 2010 at 7:03 am

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The Social Business Canvas via The Relationship Economy – Many organizations ask “what can we do with … [link to post]

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AllenatCFM (Allen Howell) August 26, 2010 at 7:01 am

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RT @JDeragon: The Social Business Canvas ##socialmedia ##socialstrategy ##socialbusiness [link to post]

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hjarche (Harold Jarche) August 26, 2010 at 6:28 am

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RT @JDeragon: @hjarche thought you might like this The Social Business Canvas [link to post]

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