Social Business Change Management…this won’t hurt a bit!

I recently read a good post from Matt Ridings @techguerilla called Social Business: The Right Way, Or The Way That Works?  who was discussing the nuances of how Social Business transformations are impacted by and impact the prevailing culture of an organization.   His point that while Social Business Practioners audit technologies and the various resources\skills off the company in preparing for this transformation, it is critical to also audit the personality, attitudes, and overall culture of a company in preparing for the Social Business Change Management Program.
I totally agree.

Auditing the personality, attitudes, and overall culture of a company before you build such a wide sweeping Change Management Program can be the differentiator in the long-term success of how Social Business is accepted and provides benefits to the organization.

As people can be highly emotional, and have natural hesitation to changing behaviors, it is key to understand how people perceive these changes could affect them.  Social Business transformations touch on components such as Trust, Relationships, Notoriety, Skill Exposure, and Individual’s Perceived Value, so you have to think differently about how your build the Social Business Change Management Program.

But before that, it is important to understand how we build the Change Management program based on what we define that Change Management program to be.  We often hear and use the word “Penetrate” when talking about Change Management effecting the Business Processes of an company, and we know this directly impacts the prevailing culture.

On the surface, the word “Penetrate” is fine, but look deeper into the nuance of the word, and you will find a link between how the Change Management Program is embraced by stakeholders versus how the program is built and executed.

I have heard company leaders speak how the Social Business Change Management program is to “Penetrate” the company to unleash new age of collaboration, innovation, etc….To me that is not the right word to use and provokes a dangerous mindset, although the end result is correctly desired.

“Penetrate” to me means using an aggressive change management style, seemingly meant to bulldoze through any preexisting cultural fabric. This is a mistake in my opinion, and it results in a “active” and worse, a “passive” type resistance to the change!

As every company’s culture defines how to go about building and executing the Social Business Change Management program, we need to think along multiple dimensions if we are going to achieve the long-term benefits of becoming a Social Business.  This does require an initial “penetration” to kick-start the Social Business transformation, but then the Social Business Change Management Program must shift to looking at the level of short and long-term “Saturation” the organization can achieve as it becomes more of a Social Business.

Again, there is a degree of “Penetration”, but that is needed to get started…But we as Social Business Strategist and Consultants need to think more of “Saturation” then overarching “Penetration” when building our Social Business Change Management Programs.

I liken the Social Business “Saturation/Penetration” POV to receiving an injection at the Doctors Office:

– As the “Doctor” (CEO) approaches you with the “needle” (Communicating the desire and need to change the company), you get nervous (resistant, unsure what to do, anxious).

– The “initial pain” of the penetration (involved in meetings, seeing lots of communication, having your current business process modified) of the needle going into your arm hurts.

– Then the “Nurses” (Change Mgmt Leaders, Advocates in the organization) massage your arm, and the pain subsides, but the spot still feels “sore” (unsure what to do next, how it effects me long-term)

– Then the “medicine” (Seeing actual benefits to individuals, teams, departments, etc) begins to saturate your body slowly over time, and

-you begin to see more “benefits & value” (able to work out loud, more engaged, improving your personal brand, etc)..

So in this somewhat silly but effective example, you can begin to understand how the Social Business Change Management Program needs to be crafted.  Each company’s culture is different, but proportionally speaking, the anxiety in changing entrenched processes is common across almost all people, hence the difference is how the “Nurses” triage that “anxiety and pain”.