Social Business is not about Social, it’s about Business. And that’s not always a good thing.

I need to get this off my chest, then I’ll stop with the rants… it’s just been bugging me for a long time.

You see.., I think we’re missing the point. And not by a little bit either. We all know, or should know by now, that the way we live in a non-sustainable society. Meaning, it will end, probably in a very dramatic way.

social business is not about socialSocial Business is probably the best opportunity we have to create awareness and generate responsibility. People need to live more consciously, more awake. But, we’re missing the point and with that, a golden opportunity.

Wind Turbines

A metaphor then: You must have noticed these huge, ugly, noisy mastodons, polluting our horizons and beautiful views.

Although their net-energy is positive, I can’t help thinking about the motivation for building these things. In Holland, in the Flevopolder, farmers get paid to put them up, it’s a hideous sight. The landscape is littered with hundreds of turbines. Different in size and strewn all over the place. There is no ecological motivation behind this.., heck, there is no ecological motivation behind the whole Flevopolder, it’s all economical.

Where I live now (the south of Belgium), a councilman was pushing the placement of a wind farm nearby. Although he didn’t have the authority, and no wind study was made for the location, he almost succeeded in starting the project. Anything else than personal gain is difficult to imagine.

Focussing on generating and storing energy locally (in your home or neighbourhood) is much, much more sustainable. But that would mean, giving up grid connected, chargeable control. And that’s not going to happen.


Talk about a prominent place in society. The biggest supermarket chain in Holland (again Holland? Yes, I’m Dutch, remember?) has replaced it’s “Organic” label for “Pure & Honest”. Very smart, “Organic” is a protected label in The Netherlands. You cannot put it on a label unless it really is 100% organic.

Now that ‘they’ don’t have to worry about the label, they can promote “Pure & Honest” as “with extra care for people, animal, nature or environment produced, grown or bought”. This is, of course, not true.., sadly. All sorts of taste enhancers, E-numbers and animal unfriendly, bio industry elements are found in the products.., and that’s just the things we know about.

They pretend to be social, but they’re really not. Despite their obvious responsibility.

Social Business

By now, I’m sure that many companies implement Social Business to gain an economical advantage. And yes, that’s important. It’s why you run a business, to make money. We have to please the stake- and shareholders.

And companies that sell “Social Business” need to turn a profit too. So, the one is sustaining the other, economically speaking. Both missing the point on real sustainability and societal responsibilities.

I’m generalising here. I’m sure there are those that really do have the individual in mind. That believe changing the every day goings on of employees could make them happy and more engaged in the company, resulting in all sorts of benefits for that company.

And yes, “happy” and “engagement” are quantifiable emotions. I’m sick of people saying these are unrealistic, unmeasurable and non-business terms. They are very real, they are very human, and they also have a very real impact on a business. A happy employee is an engaged employee, an engaged employee is a productive employee. H+E=P

One simple way to quantify this is to just ask.

Talk to them, find out what they think about the company and how it could change for the better.


As with the “organic” label in Europe.., the label “Social Business” should be protected. Social Business Consultants should be certified through an open source qualification program. Proven knowledge and motivation.

“Social Business” is hyping at the moment and companies are sticking the label anywhere it can stick. Either, so they can sell it, or so they can claim to be one. But, SocBiz isn’t a hype, it’s a very real evolution. And if you don’t get it right, say you only focus on a piece of technology, you won’t get there.

If becoming a Social Business prevents your business from expiring, than you can’t just focus on the economical gain. Heck, economical gain and a higher ROI are (very beneficial) by-products of a successful change. They’re part of the plan of course, but not the driving force.

People are.

Mea Culpa

I’m a Social Business Consultant. And when I need to advice a company, the bottom line is, of course, the unavoidable issue; the ROI has to be met.

But, I just love the philosophy behind the whole thing. I even consider myself a Corporate Rebel and I truly believe Social Business can have a (very) positive effect on society. But in order to that, we need to focus on the right elements of Social Business.

Call it societal gain over economical gain. I know.., I know. It’s so scary, letting the reigns loosen up a bit, transferring responsibilities, trust employees or citizens to do the right thing, very scary. But, if we keep fooling them, and we keep fooling ourselves, then we’ll simply won’t get there. We’ll simply never be able to create a (truly) sustainable society.

And if we can’t do that, there is only one other possible outcome.., societal collapse. And it wouldn’t be the first time either.., every other society before us has collapsed, no exception, none have survived the Test of Time and the Trials of Men.

We now have the knowledge and the technology to turn it around, to do it right.., just for once.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Microsoft’s New World of Working

Office 365 is a result of a philosophy coined by Bill Gates’s white paper “The New World of Working“.

I was made aware of this philosophy by a friend who’s working for Microsoft. It was a side of Microsoft I had never seen before. It’s a philosophy which didn’t fit into the image I had of the company.

A monopolist who’s always late to the party and thanks its existence to the dependency they so successfully created through their office products.

This is an unfair assumption. Microsoft Netherlans


Microsoft has come a long way. Especially Microsoft The Netherlands, now the “Lighthouse” division, it leads the way into the new way of working. Not just for their partners and clients, but for other Microsoft divisions too, across the globe.


They started the journey of rehabilitating themselves into a Social Business in 2005(!).

CEO Theo Rinsema asked the question if they were living up to to the “The New World of Working” envisioned by Mr. Gates. The answer was ‘No’.

Rinsema, like a few other CEO’s before and after him, stood on stage during an event and told it’s employees that they would start a journey together. And like others before and after him, he knew where he wanted to end up, but had no idea on how to get there. He asked everybody at Microsoft The Netherlands for help. Mind you, even Steve Balmer had to green-light the transformation.

Now, 8 years later we can see the results of this journey.


One thing is clear. Transforming your business into a Social Business takes time and a whole lot of patience. 8 years running and still they’re learning, developing, innovating and honing their plan.

Over the past decade, software has evolved to build bridges between disconnected islands of information and give people powerful ways to communicate, collaborate and access the data that’s most important to them. – Bill Gates, 2005

Because of the transitional nature of business in general and social business in particular the innovation never stops. Especially if you are one of the pioneering companies. Granted, there are more companies going at it, IBM and GE are two prime examples, but they all started from the same place, an old classically structured business with a top down mentality, there was no map available.


Things are different now, maps are available, some with detailed guides on how to get you where you want to go. But, social is a custom business. Even the better books have to take into account the differences in culture, size, budgets and commitment. It’s not just a change, it’s an evolution.

Microsoft’s New World of Working

And people who live this new world of working realise this. They see what’s at stake, what needs to change and what the impact is on the individual.

People like Michiel Hoogenboom who passionately shared the story of his journey with Microsoft NL. Starting with the mentality that he had to be at his desk at 09:30. 5 minutes late was reason enough be asked why he was late.

Now, he leaves home after peak traffic, stops by a colleagues’ home for a meeting before heading to the office. Which he leaves before the afternoon peak traffic (a really good idea in Holland, especially between Amsterdam and Rotterdam).

The new home on Schiphol was designed with this revolution in mind. Nobody has an office, not even Theo Rinsema. Flexibility is the key here.

After diner and spending time with his kids he opens his laptop and is instantly connected to his entire office environment. Able to edit and share documents, call or chat with anybody who’s online, and e-mail of course. All through a secure connection, all in the cloud. Office 365 is the technology that enables the people.

The people are the core and Microsoft is People Ready. Obviously it works, read more (Dutch).

Het nieuwe werken

I’ll let Theo Rinsema explain Microsoft’s The New World of Working: