John Thurlbeck reviews: “A World Gone Social –
How Companies Must Adapt To Survive” by Ted Coiné and Mark S Babbitt
For the Luddites amongst us, this book would appear very scary … or rather unbelievable. For those mildly interested in technology and digital development, it will appear startling. For those convinced of the current and potential impact of ‘social’, this will be music to their ears!
Laying out their firmly held beliefs and forecasting the future, Coiné and Babbitt herald the recent dawning of a new business area – the Social Age – which has consigned the previous era to the waste bin of history over the past six years or so … and has brought an end to many of the deeply held tenets and, in their view, ‘hangovers’ of that Industrial Age.
Ted and Mark introduce some excellent new concepts, such as the ‘Death of Large’ – a focus on the need for the agility that nano-organisations can bring to the marketplace, which might spell doom for large legacy organisations. The y introduce their notion of OPEN – ordinary people, extraordinary networks – that highlights the growing importance, underpinned by superfast developments in digital technology, of connectivity at every level, including staff, customers, suppliers, partners, and collaborators.
They emphasize the need flat, responsive and more agile structures, where teams form, perform and disband in line with the focus of their activity. In such structures, fluidity is best enabled through the power of modern technology. Herein rests your welcome to the Social Age – a time when fundamental and powerful changes in the ability to collaborate are moving as fast as the blink of an eye.
Many examples of failures and successes lend strong emphasis to the elements of the Industrial Age that have been simply turned on their head. For example:
- Command and control leadership is being seen increasingly as a liability;
- Increased transparency requires businesses to be more clearly ethical in their behaviour and attitudes;
- Access to knowledge at the click of a button increases the power leveraged by customers, which will only continue to expand;
- Recruiting is becoming more and more a two-way process, as employees open up the corporate curtains and allow prospective employees to peer behind them; and,
- Being nimble and small brings increased competitive advantage, especially in fast-evolving markets.
Most of all, the Social Age requires organisations to increasingly engage more effectively, with customers, employees and partners. Digital technology is transforming these processes and those organisations not keeping pace are likely to encounter severe consequences, if not extinction. As someone who saw the arrival of the first mobile phone – a very large handset and a separate battery pack so large you needed a rucksack to carry it – digitization is revolutionizing the Social Age … and the pace of that change remains relentless.
Having said all that, I cheerfully own the fact that I am a devotee of most things ‘social’. I blog, I tweet; I link in; I Facebook; and I Google+. In fact my list is fairly long, including things like Tumblr, Pinterest, and WhatsApp. I’ve not progressed to Instagram yet, or Snapchat, although who knows?
That said I found A World Gone Social a compelling read. The reason why is simple. Ted and Mark provide an enthralling array of commentary, examples and insight about what has occurred thus far, in six or so short years, and what they foresee taking place over the coming years.
Moreover they also provide lessons to be learned and offer tools and insights to enable you to make your own judgments about where your current practice sits … and how this might be improved. This book is truly about the ‘Age of Influence’, where anyone can build a social platform, develop an audience, effect change, advocate brands, build relationships … and make a real difference … increasingly through their mobile phone, tablet or other smart device or from the comfort of their home or workplace.
As one reviewer I read commented, A World Gone Social is a fascinating road map for today’s fast-changing business environment. If you want to thrive as a leader in this Social Age and truly understand how the power of Social can transform leadership and management, this book is a must-read!
I also believe that A World Gone Social makes a convincing case that the Social Age is not some passing fad, but a revolution in how we do business that is happening right here, right now in front of our very eyes, ears and mouths … in that order!