Just as the modern 24 hour news cycle has changed the pace of government decision making, so Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) are speeding up the pace of an organisation’s decision cycle. Those who cannot keep up may be left out-of-the-loop and ultimately become irrelevant. Managers and leaders must learn to master online social skills before they are simply circumvented by the pace of change.
The introduction of 24 hour TV news channels like CNN and then with internet-based news reporting, Facebook and Twitter et al changed a government’s ability to respond to events and define its relevance. Slow moving leaders had consensus set by journalists and their audiences long before they could even contribute to the debate. Not only did this leave them looking flat-footed and indecisive, but also meant that their influence on opinion declined with every minute they remained silent.
In many ways we will see this same dynamic taking place across the business world as the adoption of ESNs and social collaboration software increases the speed of business decision making. Employees and community members can cluster around an issue and discuss it in real-time extremely quickly and in a way that clunky email or even instant chat just cannot facilitate. Conversations can proliferate very quickly around an ‘object’ - be that a document, dashboard, spreadsheet or performance indicator - and a consensus quickly reached.
We have written before about the power of ESNs to present context for a decision in a very accessible and intuitive format to allow the rapid understanding of the particular situation. The speed of this process - greatly aided by user-friendly mobile interfaces - is critical to an organisation’s ability to keep pace with the lightning speed of today’s highly competitive marketplace.
The concern of course is that if line managers and senior management do not keep pace with this rapid discussion they can be left seeming disengaged and lose touch with staff. The time lapse between consensus formation and ultimate decision making is critical because if too long, a disconnect occurs. This then leads to frustration, conflict and dysfunction.
The solution is simple - upskill. It is inescapable that ESNs and social collaboration will drive the organisations of the future as millennials become increasingly influential in the workforce. Managers and leaders should go on the front foot. Not only should they advocate for greater adoption of ESNs across the organisation but they should de-camp their management style from email to social collaboration. By adopting ESN-use within their management style, managers and leaders can play a pivotal role in an organisation accelerating their decision making and thereby becoming more agile and nimble.
Some of the ways in which managers can bake ESNs into business-as-usual are:
- Use the Technology to stay on top - With careful attention to the use of notifications and settings within the ESN they can literally keep their finger on the pulse of their community
- Social Team Meetings - By using Groups within an ESN to run regular meetings, managers can raise the visibility of the ESN channel for team collaboration, thereby owning the medium instead of being owned by it
- Kill Email - By migrating all email conversations into the ESN, conversations will become transparent and accessible
- Upgrade to the future - By embracing the future of team collaboration, managers can put their own line managers under pressure to keep pace with a new, more agile world of communication. While this can appear threatening, ultimately it demonstrates initiative and vision
Rapid decision making is indisputably a good thing. All organisations recognise that faster innovation and response is at the heart of gaining competitive edge and staying ahead of the game. ESNs can facilitate this in a way few other applications can. But managers who fail to adapt to a new collaboration paradigm will throw a spanner in the works and slow down progress across the organisation.
Just as today’s successful political leaders usually have rapid response units to keep them ahead of the news cycle, managers should begin to drive social upskilling in preparation for the 21st century social business decision cycle.