Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Open business models and a diversity of meaning – 5

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 12, 2011

This is my fifth posting in a series on open business models (see Business Strategy and Operations, postings 130, 133, 137 and 140 for parts 1-4.) I started a discussion of corporate culture in this context in Part 4 where I discussed what corporate culture is and how it tends to react to change per se. I began a discussion of implementing change in the face of corporate culture there and continue that with this posting. And I start today’s discussion with a “Who” question. And I write the following in terms of working in a large, complex organization where the challenges here would be greatest.

One of the topics I have discussed in Social Networking and Business is the concept of a social networking taxonomy and in a fundamental sense, this posting is about applying the insights you can gain by learning who plays what types of role in a community as it connects together through social networking.

• Who are the active networkers in your organization, who seem to know everyone and who everyone seems to know or at least know of?
• These can be hub networkers, and play a central role in the social networking within some functional area, department or division. They may be boundary networkers and be actively connected in more than just one such local community. They may be boundaryless, or promiscuous networkers and simply know people everywhere throughout the organization. Both networking inclination and opportunity enter in here, so people whose work brings them into contact with a wide diversity of colleagues from throughout the business may be in a much better position to actually develop that boundaryless reach. Who do people in your business know and speak with, and listen to?
• Network with them to find the people you have to win over, to the extent you have not already identified these people yourself. This definitely includes the long term keepers of the corporate history and culture as cited in Part 4 but it can and does often include people who are more oriented towards advancing through the system, and who have their own empire building, change oriented agendas in mind too. This can include a range or official and unofficial decisions makers, with unofficial including people who may not make the implementation decisions, but who still schedule things and who can facilitate or delay them in practice.
• Enlist allies for change and the ones who can help you in both securing a buy-in and in getting new approaches implemented and tested out.

I find myself thinking of problems I have seen with mergers here, where both sides of any merger have to change and accommodate and regardless of what name goes on the new and combined organization. Problems develop when the right people are not brought into the process, and as allies for change. This same set of issues applies here too.

And focus on promoting change that would reinforce the positive core of the corporate culture that is in place, making more fundamental change where decisions are made and processes followed through momentum and without actively supporting the good of the business. That statement goes way beyond the scope of simply opening the business up and in this openness can be seen as a necessary step to any fundamental change. And with that, I connect this series to others I have been posting to recently (e.g. my series on Virtualizing and Outsourcing Infrastructure as can be found in Business Strategy and Operations.)

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