As I reflected on the recent attention being given to being agile – on the basis that volatility has become a way of life (for example Accenture’s Outlook and the McKinsey’s Quarterly), the ever increasing competitive rivalry and strict financial controls, I revisited some of the change management literature and considered how best to exploit Social Media to improve the effective implementation of change. My sense is that in agile environments our change journeys feature too many plateaus. As we reach each one we see another uncharted climb ahead of us.
How could better use of social media to:
- help us see the climbs earlier?
- progress up the learning gradient more quickly?
- validate whether we are indeed on the right journey?
In considering the use of insights from social media, I recognize that since these reveal the voices of only a sub set of our people, they are not be a substitute for information from other sources – not least first hand evidence gained by managing by walking about. (In my youth I had the privilege to experience the immense value gained by Managing by Walking about during a tour as Aide de Camp to a Royal Air Force Commander in Chief. I saw how much people really valued contact with “the big boss” and how much we learned. For example I remember a very junior person asking us why we were wasting money getting “Linoleum” fitted to rooms in married quarters so that squares of carpet could be used rather than just fitting carpets. Needless to say this was changed!
With the wealth of data in our social media my hypothesis is that providing some structure will help expose insights and promote management action.
Back to the future
As many current Leaders are familiar with the Kotter’ 8 Step change process, Porter’s 5 Force analysis and Peters and Watermans.’ McKinsey 7S, I will use these to illustrate this thinking.
Consolidate the data your social media initiatives are generating
Segment this data to provide insights on the factors shown above
Filter this data to focus on factors most relevant to the position your change initiatives have reached on the Kotter 8 step process
Seek to understand the positions taken in the social media postings
Walk about your enterprise using the insights you have Steps 3 and 4 to help engage staff in conversation.
Listen hard to the points people make to you
Reflect on the conversations you have had – how do they inform your assessment of your Competitive Position, other external factors and the strategy, skills, systems, structure, style and shared values you need to succeed in the constantly evolving marketplace
Feedback to all your “sources” on what the enterprise is going to do differently
Review steps 1 to 7 and consider how they could be improved.
Amend you procedures for steps 1 to 7 and repeat.
I believe that implementing such a process will not only improved the effectiveness of your management of change, it will improve organisational agility and also help demonstrate the value of investments in social media.