2 Corporate Initiatives that offer Lessons to Social Media
Social Media is a hot topic in the corporate world, but many employees are skeptical of the value it can add to their business. By viewing Social Media in the context of two recent corporate initiatives (Six Sigma and Innovation ), leaders can learn from a historical management perspective of how to implement the radical change taking place around us.
- Organization Ability to Understand Difficult Concepts – My three favorite Six Sigma companies, GE, Motorola, and Amazon spent tremendous resources, financial and human, to embed Six Sigma capabilities across their organization. While the low hanging fruit ripe for Six Sigma may be gone, there is no question that the focus on fixing defects that annoy customers will continue to be critical to organizations. Just like Six Sigma, Social Media isn’t the easiest concept for people to understand (ever try explaining the value of Twitter to someone?) Not every employee needs to understand regression analysis but Six Sigma forced all employees to look at their work in the context of a business proces….which brings me to my next point.
- Business Process is a Common Language between Management and Employees – Leadership doesn’t have the time to understand the details behind every function in the organization. But, Six Sigma tied the day-to-day work of front-line employees to metrics and results that leadership understands and wants quantified. Businesses will always benefit from effiicient processes, but Social Media strategy execution requires rapid iteration and an almost wiki-like approach to the details of the execution.
- Solving Unarticulated Customer Needs – Since the dawn of capitalism, economic value has been created by those who can recognize a customer problem and solve it profitably. It used to be a competitive advantage to have an innovation focused strategy, but it is now a strategic necessity because most companies have adopted a disciplined, consumer-driven approach to developing new products, services, and business models. Social Media strategies and execution must follow the same process in place at innovative companies:
- Ability to Surface Unarticulated Customer Needs – No one specifically said to Twitter, “I need a way to share 140 characters of text in as many ways as possible.” Rather, the founders listened to people who wanted simplicity in communication and openness in idea sharing. Social Media teams benefit from a member who knows advanced market research techniques (like ethnography) to surface customer data.
- Skill to Quantify the Breadth and Intensity of Customer Needs – Just because someone says they need something, doesn’t mean you have to solve it. Social Media teams must spread their customer insights across the organization to solicit feedback and perspective. It’s not always a hard number that measures the need for a solution. But through a diversity of opinion, you can separate customer insights into those that are interesting and also relevant to your business model.
- Generating Ideas that Solve Problems – The IBM commercials made this concept famous. But, a simple ideation session can yield a high number of ideas, few of which have staying power because they don’t solve a customer problem. Social Media teams are prone to adopting fancy technology ideas that aren’t necessarily the solution to a customer problem. However, they can learn from Innovation’s structured ideation sessions that focus creativity on real problems
- Focus on Execution over Ideation – Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article shows historical examples of simultaneous discovery like calculus and the telephone. Simply put, ideas aren’t the magic bullet. A Social Media team needs to understand that tradeoffs between the idea and reality will be required. Execution is typically a function of hard work, so as long as the Social Media team can immerse itself in the details required to execute their solution to an unarticulated consumer need, success will not be lost along the path to realization.
- Strategic Risk-Taking over the Long Term – Innovation requires “big bets” often without an immediate payback to the organization’s goals. Leaders are trained not to argue with the “big bet” principle, but true innovative companies are those that adopt risk-taking and measure management on the ability to take smart risks. Social Media teams should seek to understand management’s commitment to patience and constant re-calibration of goals and objectives based on findings from constant iterative customer feedback.
For Discussion: What other hot-button “management trends” are relevant to Social Media teams? How can you leverage past organization-wide initiatives to better suceed in your goal for change?
In: Leadership and Management, Strategy · Tagged with: innovation, Leadership and Management, metrics, process, sixsigma