I'm preparing for a customer meeting later this week, and in looking through some of the presentations available to me in our internal deployment of IBM Connections, I found Alistair Rennie's presentation from Enterprise 2.0 last month. The presentation isn't online, though Luis Benitez made some comments about it here. One of the slides was one I had not seen before, but it really resonates with me:

Image:From Alistair Rennie’s Enterprise 2.0 presentation: "The enterprise itself is changing forever"

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Northwestern University MBA students about social business. They found it hard to believe that the tools they use to communicate with friends every day would help them in the business world, but we had a great discussion, full of examples. I even talked about a recent case where Words with Friends became a social business tool -- most of the people I play with (and who beat me mercilessly) are IBMers, and in one case, one told me in the game chat about a candidate I was about to interview. That really changed my attitude about the call with the candidate the next day.

I never really put these words together before seeing the chart -- "leadership by connections". This isn't about the raw number of connections, but rather the influence level upon those connections. I have been flattered and humbled to see my Google + circle inclusion rocket up by crazy numbers over the last ten days, while approaching 5000 followers on Twitter, over 3000 subscribers to the blog on Google reader, 400 likes on my new Facebook page, etc. The raw numbers are nice, but what's even nicer -- and more valuable to me as a leader -- is the level of engagement on those connections. Things I post generate comments and discussion, retweets, shares, likes, and more. This blog is coming up on 50,000 valid, non-spam comments. 50,000!

Even more important is the depth of those connections. When I think about the key thought leaders and influencers in the Lotus community, most of those individual on the IBM Champions list or on PlanetLotus or on the other channels are people I consider friends. How different a world this is than a decade ago, where IBM chose consciously to portray a "faceless conglomerate" on the market -- instead of the tens of thousands of unique voices we have today. That is where the "digital reputation and individual brands" plays out. When I first started blogging, an early entry was an oblique reference to Ambuj Goyal being named as general manager of Lotus. Within hours, someone inside IBM was admonishing me for the blog entry, "we don't want to make celebrities out of IBMers". Today, we celebrate the individual brands of thought leaders across our organization, and the mindshare they generate for IBM in the industry at large.

Anyway, I really like the message on this slide. It really explains why "social business" is so much more than understanding the use of public social networks to reach customers. The practice of social business is about using the right individuals and teams with the right information to take the right action, quickly and authoritatively. That is the way we work today, successfully, and it is so much more comfortable than the old ways.

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