How to tell if your organisation is ready for change!

The following is speculation and i can not at this stage back any of this up. However i do fundamentally believe in what i am about to post.

In the current economic climate there are huge pressures to reduce costs and to increase value and this often leads organisations to either announce “radical” changes or even large scale “transformation” programmes. You can see it in all aspects of society and government and it features quite heavily in all political manifestos to some degree.

However how can you really tell if an organisation is really up for “radical” change or “transformation”? There a few ways in which you can do this but i want to suggest a simple measure.

If an organisation is seriously considering the use of Social Software to improve ALL aspects of their business then i believe that they are serious about “radical transformation”

Now i don’t mean organisations who on face value seem like they are doing stuff but when you scratch the surface all you see is one person working very hard to make it work (Long live these people by the way). But i suspect that if they left then the desire to continue would also leave with them.

The reason i say this is because to fully embrace the adoption of social software means that you are prepared to fundamentally review your business strategy, business structure, engagement strategy, communications strategy, knowledge management strategy, workforce development strategy and your ICT strategy. It will mean a fundamental review of your organisations current thinking. This is the radical transformation that will be required to fully embrace and adopt social software platforms.

The organisations who are prepared to do this, in my opinion will be the ones who succeed and not just succeed but build sustainable relationships with staff and customers.

Ok so a simple test maybe but one i believe will give a measure at least as to how ambitious and transformational a particular organisation wants to be.

No more excuses – A commitment to be better at what i do

For reasons i will keep to myself at this point in time I am entering a period of personal reflection and learning. I have started to look back more proactively and make sure that i take notice of my observations and thinking as i go along. The reason is, quite frankly, to help me improve the way i do my job. Part of me feels that i am failing to do my job properly and part of me thinks i do a good, no great job. The truth is i do both at the same time.

I found myself humming a song the other day when i thought about how we might mainstream the wider use of web based technologies including social software. I noticed that i was humming: Rufus Wainwright – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.

The particular part i started to sing was the start:

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when

It pretty much sums up the mood around social media “professionals” in government at present, but i think the issue for this is partly down to the people who are promoting it and becoming by default social media gurus. I am sadly one of those people so before anyone shouts me down i am taking responsibility myself here as well for a failure to really engage the people in my own organisation who can actually help enact change at an organisational level. This stuff really needs to go deeper into organisations. It simply isn’t just about Communications and Marketing.

BUT isn’t this what the social media gurus are all about, new ways to communicate and engage with people, social connecting and reaching out beyond traditional boundaries etc? So why are we not very good at doing it in our own organisations and becoming frustrated at the lack of progress. If this is you, i would suggest you also take some time to reflect about how you have or have not engaged with people and what value you have presented to them?

Well the fundamental flaw in this approach is that –  what change and value am i adding into my organisation if i all i do is network and influence people outside the walls and boundaries of my own organisation?

Now i know am being overly critical of others and myself and there have been some amazing examples of good practice and learning that needs to start getting deeper inside our own organisations to really make that learning valuable.

I do have to acknowledge some major successes here in Devon that i have been involved in: Chief Executive as Social Media/Social Networking Champion, Youth Participation using Facebook and Bebo (this was mainly Katie Bacon), Social Media Policy and Guidelines developed and agreed by key business stakeholders (we have just updated these, so i must post them up to share) and an Internal Social Networking pilot using Blue Kiwi.

But i have failed to realise the benefits of the above and i want to change that. So i am creating a personal charter for business change and i’d like to extend it to others as well.

  1. I commit to engaging and involving key Council stakeholders internally and externally in the design, development and implementation of innovative solutions including the use of social software and social media for increased business value and business change.
  2. I will only do so where a clear connection to business outcomes and objectives can be demonstrated.
  3. I will ensure that a plan for realising the value and benefits is in place.
  4. I will ensure that appropriate risks are acknowledged and mitigated and any successes and failures are shared so that others can learn from the experience.
  5. I accept that technology on its own offers no value and that i must ensure that there is clear ownership of the business change.
  6. Value is a set of measures and is whatever the organisations strategies and operating plans say it is.
  7. I must not refer to myself as a guru of any kind, my role is to guide, support and influence.

None of the above is rocket science and you will probably find similar ones around the web, but i feel that i have to revisit my purpose and question what value i am creating in the organisation. The moment i stop creating and adding value, is the moment i decide to leave. (I hope that is some time in the future if i’m honest, but you never know)

I hope that those of you who are engaged in this agenda are doing and demonstrating some of the above, as that is the only way we can stop seeing social media as a “special set of tools” and mainstream the opportunities and innovation into the heart of Government (Local and National)