The Social Business Power Struggle

I just read a cracking post from @hjarche, entitled Collaboration is a means not an end, what touches on some of the tough cultural, organizational, and structural challenges that are going to face businesses as they make this transition to a social business. I particularly enjoyed the post because it touched on some of the thorny subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with technology; subjects such as collaboration vs. cooperation, transparency, democratization, power & value redistribution, etc.

For businesses to be able to truly leverage the power of “social” (collaboration, cooperation, transparency, democratization, …) we all know that its critical that social/collaborative services are integrated into the fabric of doing business so that its eventually just “business” and not “social business”. We know that the act of being collaborative (or cooperative, to reference Harold’s article) should become second nature and not something we have to consider as an option. Culture is the other point that we frequently raise as a challenge (which it indeed is). However, what I infrequently hear people talk about (as its perhaps the thorniest of subjects) are the challenges of democratization and power redistribution.

Collaboration & cooperation levels the playing field across the organization, and has the potential to disrupt the entire power structure. If “knowledge is power” and knowledge is now redistributed across the organization, what happens to power? And with this redistribution of power, knowledge, and ultimately value, how do the organizational processes morph to handle this new reality? In this new social business how will people by managed, measured, and rewarded?

These organizational challenges are likely to be the most difficult to address, however address them we must; whether its by evolution or revolution we’ll just have to wait and see :-)

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