For starters, I think the word Social must not be put in the wrong context. In the case of social media and social business the opposite of social is not anti-social.
Meaning, a business that is not engaged in social, or is not a social business, is not per definition an anti-social business. It’s just not engaging with its customer base, partners or employees.
Let’s take a look at the definitions of social business.., yes.., there are two.
Social Business #1
Social Business is a concept coined by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus (pictured). By his definition “social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today”.
This is the society conscious version of social business. In order not to confuse the two, take a look at Social Business Earth. This is an organisation raising awareness around Social Business as intended by Prof. Yunus.
Social Business #2
The term social business as I use it, was coined by Peter Kim back in January 2009.
He states: “Social business draws on trends in technology (e.g., powerful mobile devices, widespread availability of high-speed Internet access, low cost of data storage), work (e.g., always-on culture, globalisation), and society (e.g., propensity to share).”
The way I see it, the idea of a social business is a business that stays up-to-date, that stays current. It grows (or shrinks) with the times.
Meaning that when society changes, you have to change with it. When technology changes, you have to adopt it. And when people change, or want to change the way they work (in order to be more productive and happier), you have to consider facilitating this change.
I find this whole lot very confusing. Oh, I understand the terminology and I understand the definitions, but it would be nice to separate them from each other.
Or should we?
After writing my article on Corporate Rebels United I started thinking about these definitions.
The two definitions of Social Business don’t have anything to do with each other. However, when you drill down a bit more, both are firmly rooted in culture.
The one is rooted in societal culture, the other in company culture.
Now, why should these two be so far apart? Surely, when a business draws on trends in technology, work and society, the step to addressing social objectives shouldn’t be too great.
My definition of social business is “the incorporation of technology for the benefit of a more open social construct in order to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences, innovation and open communication between employees.”
Think about it.
The amount of time and effort which is required to achieve a great social working environment where you can become who you want to become is huge.
An environment which is open, social, transparent, honest and respectful… Is that not what we want to achieve, is that not the evolution we need?
And while the big chiefs in the C-Suite are providing the budget, leadership and inspiration for this magnificent change, Prof. Yunus’ vision is suddenly not that distant.
The way I see it is that if you perfect Kim’s social business, Yunus’ social business is not that elusive.
And when you set up a company according to Yunus’ principles, you have to create a culture according to Kim’s definition.
So while the two definitions are miles apart, the actual philosophy behind them is not all that different.
Wouldn’t it be nice to combine the two.
Social business is adopting a corporate culture which enables it’s employees to work in a more open and respectful environment with the intent to reflect this behaviour on society as a whole.
Technology can help with this, but it’s the mindset of corporate leadership and of employees that needs to drive this.
It’s all about people, it’s all about culture.