Defining The #Social Era Organization

by Jay Deragon on 12/12/2012

Everything seems to be getting redefined. The economy, our culture, our families and our organizations. These new definitions are changing the meaning and context about:

  • How we organize
  • How we strategize
  • How we work together
  • How we create value
  • How we deliver value
  • How we sell and market
  • How we create economic value from our business models
  • How we compete
  • How we fulfill our purpose
  • And most of all how we think

The redefinition process has been underway for the last ten years and only now are things beginning to make sense. What is emerging is a new definition of “how organizations and people” can do better in the Social Era than ever before.

Nilofer Merchant writes: It’s helpful to call this new context the Social Era to emphasize a point: while in the industrial era, organizations became more powerful by being bigger, in the Social Era, companies can also be powerful by working with others. While the industrial era was about making a lot of stuff and convincing enough buyers to consume it, the Social Era is about the power of communities, of collaboration and co-creation. In the industrial era, power was from holding what we valued closed and separate; in the Social Era, there is another framework for how we engage one another — an open one.

Here’s the simplest way to define the Social Era. The industrial era primarily honored the institution as a construct of creating value. And the information age (inclusive of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 phases) primarily honored the value that data could provide to institutional value creation. It allowed for greater efficiency to do the same things that were done in the industrial era. The Social Era honors the value creation starting with the single unit of a connected human. In this framework, powerful organizations look less like an 800-pound gorilla and more like fast, fluid, flexible networks of connected individuals — like, say, a herd of 800 nimble gazelles. via Traditional Strategy Is Dead. Welcome to the #SocialEra – Nilofer Merchant – Harvard Business Review.

Re-Defining Strategic Value

In the #Social Era strategic value will be redefined by the intangible capital an organization creates, shares and continuously improves. Historically business strategies were designed around tangible assets with little emphasis of the intangibles as strategic differentials.  The #Social Era is no longer about machines, materials and labor rather it is about technology, people and collaboration from the outside in then inside out.

Understanding and leveraging intangible capital will be the strategic focus of #Social Era organizations. That alone is huge change in the way yesterday’s leaders think and what they think about.

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