OK, I’ll jump straight to the point. “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive” by Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt is a fabulous book. It dares us to look at project communication as something exciting – a way of tapping into the unique skills and experience that each of our stakeholders bring to the table.
Rather than just constraining our thinking Iron Triangle, these guys challenge us to look at the people that we work with, understand what they bring and tap into their ideas and energy.
This is not an instruction manual about “how to do Social Media” – there are no chapters on how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google Plus. Rather, it’s a pocket guide about leading your business in a new, dynamic social environment. It’s a bold, brash “call to arms” – a challenge to leaders to look at not just the way they do business, but also the way they think and engage with others.
If you have ever thought about, or are responding to digital disruption in your company or marketplace, then the central ideas in this book will resonate. Digital disruption is transforming the way that companies engage with clients and suppliers, around the world. At its heart, the transformation is about reshaping the client experience so that we form immediate, personal connections with our clients – a radical shift in the client’ value paradigm. No longer are companies telling clients what value will be provided (“we’ll sell you this product, take it or leave it, and this is what it will do for you”); in the digital marketplace, clients are connecting to companies from anywhere in the world and expecting immediate, customised experiences that reflect an intimate understanding of their priorities and needs.
This matters because digital disruption is not a passing fad – it’s a tectonic shift in the global marketplace and is reshaping the foundations of how business is managed and change is delivered. Companies are now challenged to understand how their environment has changed and rethink the way that they manage and deliver change outcomes.
Coine and Babbitt channel this paradigm change and call on companies to get on board – quickly.
The authors’ starting proposition is both simple and profound – the old “industrial revolution” methods of command and control leadership are, thankfully, redundant. For businesses to survive, they need to embrace the emerging “social revolution” which arises from the transformation of the client experience. Our clients, stakeholders, suppliers and partners are no longer passive; they are claiming their voices, speaking out and seeking engagement on their terms – faster and more personal. The authors argue that companies who fail to recognise these changes will struggle to survive.
Coine and Babbitt are not interested in “seeing who can get the most likes” or “who has the most followers”. The power of the “social revolution” comes from the way we drive engagement with our clients – both top-down and personal. If we understand this and shape the way we think and act, we stand poised to benefit from an exciting, ground-breaking way of working.
What a powerful idea!
The OPEN model (“Ordinary People, Extraordinary Network”) sits at the heart of this book and helped make the earth move under my feet!
OPEN taps into the power of social networks – the idea that regardless of who we are, we have an extraordinary network of social knowledge and goodwill at our fingertips. Our networks give us a wonderful platform from which to leverage our social connections. In my opinion, this model alone is enough to set this book apart.
I’ve long felt that the power of social networking is in bringing people together around common interests and sharing ideas. Coine and Babbitt take that a step further and argue that by tapping into our networks, by “relentlessly giving”, we have the power to “crowd source” anywhere, anytime.
This is gold for anyone in a leadership role – it shows that we have an enormous pool of talent and expertise at our fingertips, that by engaging with our people at a personal level, we are able to leverage their expertise and goodwill – faster and deeper than ever before.
Need a question answered? Need a particular task completed? The social leader knows that far beyond sharing dinnertime selfies, their networks give them a platform from which to share ideas, break new ground and respond to their clients and teams in faster, more personal ways than ever imagined.
Coine and Babbitt recognise that this is not a fad but rather, is a new paradigm that is constantly evolving and maturing. Far from it being too late to get on board, the authors make it crystal clear that we simply do not know where this social revolution will take us and that the journey has just begun.
Their message is simple.
You can no longer run a competitive, efficient business without becoming immersed in the social revolution.
You cannot get the best from your employees without hearing their voices.
You cannot engage deeply with your clients unless you respond to them in real time.
You cannot be competitive unless you can get your thoughts or products to market quickly.
You cannot gain and retain the respect and trust of the market without being transparent and responsive.
Why does this matter to project leaders? Because the drive to faster delivery, personal engagement and global supplier networks means that we need to rethink the way we connect and communicate with our stakeholders.
To respond quickly, we need our teams and stakeholders to be switched on, emotionally committed and ready to engage. Coine and Babbitt provide a roadmap to improving the way we connect with our project stakeholders – allowing us to tap into their skills, ideas and energy.
Our clients, stakeholders, suppliers and partners are no longer passive; they are claiming their voices, speaking out and seeking engagement on their terms – faster and more personal. Project Leaders who fail to recognise these changes are doomed to go the way of the dinosaur.
I originally read “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive” when it was published in 2015. It had an earth-moving type of effect on me at the time and has worked its way into my project management practice, particularly with respect to the way that I tap into my stakeholders’ individual experiences and expertise.
Fast forward to today and I’ve just dusted my copy off and read it a second time – it resonated with me as much now as it did then and I feel inspired to reprise my 2015 review, updated to correct a few grammar glitches.