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March 26, 2017

The Next Innovation in Social will come from (wait for it) . . . HR

By michaelpace on October 3, 2011Herd Cats button

No, not some hybrid formation of technology from Hashable and Radian6 or something of the like, good ol’ Human Resources.  Yes, Human Resources.

Of course, new technology will continue to flood our lives in alpha, beta and full rollout versions, but they are mostly all incremental changes or consolidation of features.  Marketing departments and agencies will stretch our imaginations with fantastic ways of looking at products and services.  However, the most powerful innovation of the next generation should/will come from Human Resources.

The tools are only as valuable as the people using them (a hammer swung does not make a carpenter).  Human Resources focuses on the organization’s most critical asset: people. They are one of few departments with horizontal reach across organizations, goals and culture.  They also can be the catalyst to possibly the most important innovation of this era – THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.

The Social Organization is a company/business whose majority of people use social business competencies, social tools (media), and social processes to achieve higher quality internal and external results more efficiently.  The power of the Social Organization is in the exponential leverage of diversified relationships and the speed in which information can be transferred.  A non-social organization uses more one to one conversation, limiting the accuracy and relationship distance information can be communicated.  Think of the telephone game as a child; one to one conversation, often inaccurate and limited in distance (or viral ability) by how many people are willing to wait or listen.  A social organization provides information to multiple people simultaneously, provides easy methods to share internally or externally or both, and allows for iteration in a shared space.  It is like the difference between trying to catch something with a 50 ft. rope or a 50 ft. by 50 ft. net.

3 examples of the difference in power of the Traditional Organization versus the Social Organization:

Brand Advocacy: Theoretically, the strongest brand advocates should live inside the company or organization.  A highly social organization will be able to reach more people, reach more people who are influenced by the sender, and deliver all with much greater efficiency.

social organization

The Social Organization reaches 87%+ more people with only 10% of the original population.  The same number of associates would equal a 18.75X difference (1,125,000 in reach).  Do you know of any one move that can change metrics by almost 20X?

Recruiting: Traditional recruiting primarily uses websites to pull in attractive potential hires, and often scoops up high amounts of unqualified wastes of time.  A pull model, it’s like a the Death Star’s tractor beam sucking up everything from Millennium Falcons to space junk.  Social recruiting leverages the relationships of your associates to find potential hires matching your cultural fit.  And by having large numbers of separate people from separate departments, you also reach a more diversified candidate pool.

Research & Development:  The most known example of a Social Organization leveraging social competencies and process to improve R&D efforts is Dell, and their IdeaStorm Community.  This community leverages the resources and thoughts of their enormous customer base to help identify future enhancement and product ideas.  Dell is able to iterate with the end customers on what those same customers would want.  I like to reference a quote from John Hagel’s Power of Pull “There are a lot more smarter people OUTSIDE your organization than IN it,”

The Social Organization is more of a cultural shift than a project.  It requires massive amounts of change management (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) to be effective.  Just getting everyone to have a Twitter account or LinkedIn account will not transform your organization.  All that will end up happening is a bunch of silly looking Twitter eggs passing your company’s latest press release to each other.  Associates need to become socially competent, both individually and for social business.  Human Resources is in a unique position to help transform a culture, and they have the greatest opportunity to make the greatest impact on business in general.

Is your company a highly Social Organization?

How has Human Resources played a role in social competency development? Use of tools and processes? Social cultural shifts?

Photo Credit Blogging4Jobs

About mpace101


  1. 11 Comments

    In my organization it’s not so much the concern about getting into trouble, it’s just that many didn’t grow up in this decade and it’s foreign. And they aren’t writers, they are engineers, so they don’t seem to know how to step out and write blogs, or tweet ideas, or share in any way other than face to face or one on one emails. Any advice to help change the culture?



      Depending on what kind of engineers they are, they may be comfortable in working in shared spaces like wiki’s or other platforms that have a “real time iterative feel”. You may want to introduce them to Yammer, an internal twitter like tool. If you are a Salesforce customer, their product Chatter is also similar. Either way, they need to see some of the value. You may need to push content that is directed to a specific place that you want them to play in. For example: provide an article/post you think is beneficial, and ask them to comment on it but in a safe way (could even be through email to start, but may be move them over to a community next. It’s really not easy for people to change HOW they work. Trial and error my friend.

  2. 11 Comments

    This is the truth. My business has the technical capability to be an excellent Social Business, both from an internal and an external support lens, but the big battle is with respect to the internal culture change. Much of the resistance comes from people simply being afraid of “getting in trouble” for Social Media activity. That translates into reluctance to participate in internal discussion.

    The other hurdle we have is simply in getting people to share what they know and do cross-organizationally…the stovepipe aspects of many businesses are difficult to remove.

    Fortunately, elements of our HR team (notably Recruiting) are on board already. I’d like to see a greater emphasis on internal social business than we’ve seen, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.


      The analogy I use for people Chris is “it’s like a scuba diver spinning a battleship”. Just any other change management people need to be aware of the value, desire it, learn, do, and be reinforced by leadership. Much of the problem is the leadership haven’t had their “AHA” social moment and do not fully understand the value beyond “oh well, everyone else is doing it so we should too”.

  3. 11 Comments

    Dead on, Mike. Particularly the last part resonates for me – the evolution to a social business is a cultural shift and in many companies the HR dept. are the keepers of company culture. Getting HR focused on developing these competencies is a great way to move down the path.

  4. 11 Comments


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