Facebook: The New Organizational Model?

by Jay Deragon on 01/25/2011

An organization runs on communications. Our economy runs on communications. Our personal lives depend on communications. Everything is tied together or broken down by communications. Social media are communications and to not recognize this is to ignore the very things that connects everything — communications.

Many c-suite executives still view social technology as a medium for marketing or something the younger generation is addicted to. Many think all this social stuff is a passing fad and the media feeds them stories to reinforce their beliefs. Social networking is a productivity drain, 75% of messages on Twitter don’t get retweeted, there is no ROI on social media, there are more risk than rewards in use of social media etc. etc. and the misinformed and misguided throw out every excuse under the sun to not recognize what is happening before their very eyes. What is really happening is that the empowerment of the human network to openly communicate is changing the definition and governance of communications. As a result organizational models, economic theories and our personal lives are and will continue to change forever. As Ripley’s says “Believe or Not!”

What Is An Organization?

An organization in its simplest form (and not necessarily a legal entity, e.g., corporation or LLC) is a person or group of people intentionally and unintentionally organized to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals. Note emphasis on intentionally and unintentionally organized. Whether an observer or active participant in on-line communities like Facebook you should see that people are intentionally and unintentionally organizing around affinities of interest. By the way these are not necessarily teenagers organizing around this weekends parties.

According to Digital Surgeons, 80% of Twitter users are older than 25 (60% for Facebook, close to 90% for LinkedIn).  The average user of social technology is 37 years old.  Bottom line: your organizations  employees use social networks today.  Your employees are members of a different organization called the human network.

So you think your employees are wasting theirs and your time using social networks?  Even though the press wants you to believe that, the truth is people are gaining lots of productivity using social technology. Check out Andrew McAfee’s well documented work in Enterprise 2.0 or the many examples in Socialnomics by Erik Qualman. Social networking is the foundation of human nature and subsequently provides the means to increase productivity which is money .  Consider that President Obama leveraged social technology to “win an election”. Was that outcome meaningful or significant? See this video on how he organized people, influence and money.  Isn’t that what your organization is supposed to do?

Organizational Lessons From Facebook

Look above all the spin about Facebook, social media and whatever flavor of the day the media feeds us and you’ll begin to see a significant shift in the way people are organizing. Remember the definition of organization is a person or group of people intentionally and unintentionally organized to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals. The common goal or set of goals is to engage, connect, learn, collaborate and progress towards common goals. These collective activities represent the emergence of a new organization model which already is out performing the old models.

The people are pulled into these new organizations by the discoveries gained from communications by, between and with other people. Any modern organization would love to be known for the “pull” they’ve created which would attract people, markets and buyers to their value propositions. The fact is that you people are already creating the pull but to a different organization and not yours.  You might ask why? The answer is because your organization isn’t very “social”. Get it?

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