In modern management practices there is a term and process called Catchball which originated from a planning process known as Hoshin Kanari. Catchball is defined as:
“a communication process in which parties engage in a series of information exchanges about the means for achieving a particular objective. The purpose for the exchange is to build consensus around the best approach for achieving an objective. Catchball is based on the belief that the best approach will evolve from the back and forth exchange of information between the person who is responsible for achieving the objective and the persons who will be most influential in achieving it. The secondary benefit from using catchball is a higher degree of commitment to achieve the objective.”
Most organizations develop strategies at the top but fail to engage from the bottom up. Most of the strategic data required to define a competitive strategy lies within the last points of interactions between the customer, the marketplace and your employees. Unless you have a process to catch that data for strategic insights your conclusions will likely be wrong.
Now think of the social web has nothing more than a huge medium that enables the “catchball” process to work with entire markets, customers, suppliers and employees. If your organization were to take advantage of the medium they would learn more from the process in a few hours then most learn in years.
The benefits to applying a “catchball mentality” is that by engaging communities leaders and influencer’s in the process of strategizing “social initiatives”, you begin to develop a learning organization and your brand benefits from the ideas and opinions of the community of influencers. Organizational learning allows a company to adapt to market changes and trends and grow in the process. And, in some cases, help reduce the risk of negative spin. Without the ability to learn and to be social as an organization lends itself to being criticized by the very communities of people it intends to serve.