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The Social OrganizationWhile increasing numbers of organizations are investing in social media technology, few are successfully using it to create value through mass collaboration. In The Social Organization, social media experts Anthony Bradley and Mark McDonald explain how firms can leverage these tools to innovate and solve problems faster and better than traditional companies. The authors provide frameworks and proven techniques that any manager can apply to rally people around a collective purpose; launch an effective collaborative environment; guide collaboration toward meaningful goals; and adapt internal culture and systems to support collaboration as it evolves and helps the organization outperform the competition.

Social media can be used by any organization to enable mass collaboration. But “social organizations” are ahead of all others in ensuring that collaboration delivers value and creates a competitive edge. Becoming a social organization involves the following actions and priorities:

  1. At the heart of a social organization is not social media technology itself but the mass collaboration it enables. Mass collaborative efforts succeed by enlisting the interests, knowledge, talent, and experience of all stakeholders in pursuing shared goals and creating value.
  2. Social media efforts rarely succeed without management guidance and support. Too much management involvement can stifle collaboration, but too little creates significant risk that the initiative will lose its focus and its alignment with organizational strategy.
  3. Becoming a social organization begins with a vision statement. A vision statement serves two purposes: it articulates leadership’s belief in the value of collaboration, and it identifies specific opportunities where collaboration can add value to the firm.
  4. Organizations need a community collaboration strategy to guide their social media priorities and investment decisions. A strategy should identify which collaborative communities the organization sanctions, when and how it will support them, what behaviors will be encouraged, and what benefits the organization expects to receive from the collaboration effort.
  5. In addition to planning and supporting collaborative efforts in general, organizations need to cultivate the individual communities that make up their collaboration portfolios. Cultivating a community requires specification of its purpose and a business justification that identifies its benefits and costs.
  6. While too much interference from above can stifle collaboration, appropriate management guidance is essential to creating a sustainable social organization. Managers must ensure that collaboration works productively, that participants stay focused on its purpose, and that the organization’s broader systems and functions support the collaborative effort.
  7. Effective managers guide the collaborative community based on its purpose, progress, and direction. To provide appropriate guidance, managers should view the community as a group, track progress toward its purpose, continually assess the value of its purpose to the organization, and seek new, high-potential purposes.
  8. By adapting processes and power structures to the needs of the collaborative community, managers make the organization safe for mass collaboration. A social organization is safe for collaboration when all stakeholders recognize its value and potential and all functions are aligned to support it.

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