Is The “Social Era” Hype?

by Jay Deragon on 09/19/2012

Smart people are quick to call “all things social” hype because sometimes smart people filter everything through what they know rather than what they don’t know.

Nilofer Merchant wrote a post in HBR titled: Traditional Strategy Is Dead. Welcome to the #SocialEra and the article spawned lots of reaction and even some unfounded criticism.

It is interesting to observe the arguments for and against the positions articulated in the HBR post and the authors promotions of her new book  11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era.. Those in agreement with the positions seem to believe that business indeed has become unusual and thus business models, organizational structures and philosophies must change.

Those critical of the ideas seem to think “social” is over used and hyped to sell something to an audience looking for meaning. To ignore the implications of “social”, or whatever you’d like to label it, is like saying the economy really hasn’t changed.  Old strategic development models have become more about a system of planning than a process for thinking. Planning without the right kind of thinking is useless. The Social era is about thinking differently.

If you don’t think the implications of an open, transparent, connected marketplace of buyers who are now influencing suppliers more than ever in history  represents an era of transformation, call it the social era, then stand by and watch your world change. Business models, relationships, the workforce and enitre markets are learning to adjust to a new era where unusual is now usual.

Six Points of Transformation To The Social Era

Nilofer Merchant sums up the “social era” best with her six points of transformation:

  1. The Social Era honors that value creation starts with the single unit of a connected human and then continuing to explore it as a juxtaposition vs. traditional era.
  2. In the Social Era, organizations can do things entirely differently if we let social become the backbone of their business models.
  3. At the organizational level, we will shift from hierarchies to networks and thus free “work” from “jobs”.
  4. At a human level, power will be distributed instead of centralized in the hands of a few, which will allow groups to self-organize through shared purpose .
  5. At a philosophical level, this will mean a shift from closed and separate approaches to open and connected ones .
  6. At a symbolic level, the shift is from being the 800-pound gorilla to a herd of 800 gazelles, where communities—made up of singularly unique individuals—create value.

The “Social Era” is not about the labels or the examples rather it is all about the philosophical shifts. If the markets beliefs change then everything serving the market must change.

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