The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Social Enterprises
Author Steven Covey died recently. Covey was the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, one of the most influential business books ever written and a book which took pride of place in my bookshelf for many years (At least, until it went AWOL during a house move a few years back).
The “7 Habits..” was focussed on the character traits and behaviours that are key ingredients in personal success. These 7 good habits are also very applicable to effective social enterprise solutions. With a nod to Covey’s contribution to the business landscape, here’s my ‘social’ take on each of the 7 habits:
Author Stephen Covey
1. Be Proactive
Knowledge workers want the same peer to peer connectedness within the workplace that they get from public social tools outside. Don’t let pent up demand for social tools lead to staff frustration. In these days of ubiquitous, cloud-based tools, impatient knowledge workers will eventually find their own way to get social capabilities into the workplace and while this is not necessarily a disaster (staff communicating is after all a good thing!), ‘rogue’ social initiatives will ultimately lead to IT management headaches and even data sovereignty issues. Be ahead of the game and start planning your social strategy now.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Covey says that all things are created twice: first comes visualization and conceptualization, then later the actual, physical creation. Great social initiatives don’t just happen. They are planned. They are guided by a vision and strategy: What will your organisation look like as a ‘social enterprise’? How will it different? What will a day in the life of a typical worker look like?
3. Put first things first
Putting first things first means giving priority to important matters first and urgent, but less-important matters second. It is easy for the project team to get bogged down in coping with urgent demands for ‘critical’ stuff. The trick to avoiding this is to first know what IS important. You should already have a vision (see the second habit), so now that you know where you’re heading, the next step is to build the roadmap that will take you there. Your social roadmap is a sequence of prioritized activities, such as the release of social capabilities like rich profiles, activity streams, communities, recognition. Most importantly, your roadmap will inform your stakeholders of what is most important and what will bring the most value.
4. Think Win/Win
Covey described Win/Win as when: ”All parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan.” Sometimes particular departments (I’m talking to you marcom, HR and IT!) try to keep a social initiative to themselves. The fact is however, that a social initiative touches all parts of an organisation. It needs multi-disciplinary cooperation and engagement to succeed and there are key groups within any organisation that should be gotten involved.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Active listening is the key to being a great communicator and it’s a vital skill for those who wish to implement a social solution that gets user adoption. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science – ask questions, talk to the business, conduct surveys and polls. You need to engage with the stakeholders to find out what THEY want. With that insight in hand, you can roll out your solution in much greater confidence that it will get the user buy-in.
Synergy comes from trust and cooperation. In the fourth habit I talked about engaging with the key departments. Now we extend this engagement to the wider group of stakeholders – the users themselves. A social enterprise thrives on connection between workers; on the creation of a complex network of interconnected workers, sharing ideas and knowledge. The synergies that flow from the social enterprise can also help the social initiative itself, whether from planned activities like crowd-sourcing and ideation, or perhaps from the general flow of discussion. As Covey says, it’s about ”opening your mind and heart to new possibilities, new alternatives, new options.”
7. Sharpen the saw
Every now and then you need to take time to renew, hone your skills and learn something new. This is important as a general rule, but it is vital in the social enterprise space, which is developing and changing at a breakneck pace. For those charged with leading social initiatives, reading the latest books and blogs, attending industry events and other self education should be part of the routine.
(One last word about Steven Covey to close this article: His contributions to business are impressive enough, but it says a lot about the man that he died as a result of residual effects of a mountain biking accident..at age 79!)
I will be presenting at this forthcoming (FREE) briefing in Melbourne on 7 August, on the topic Getting Social: A 5 Step Road Map to Becoming a Social Enterprise, All welcome!
Your chance to test drive Newsgator social tools plus tips on how to launch your social business journey . Register now!