Business view: From weak social networks to real social system power

Joachim Heinz


A system is a great thing. I love to think in systems. Systems can be small – for example a coffee-machine. You put water and coffee-powder in. Some seconds later fresh coffee comes out. Systems can be huge – the weather is a system too. Well there are many more inputs than a coffee machine needs, but there is also an output – rain, sunshine, fog, storm.

Companies are a system too. There is a lot of input (customer demands, markets, raw material etc). Then the company is adding value (hopefully…). The output of the company is a great product or service that customers can buy. If the customer does not buy the stuff, the system dies and will be replaced by another system. Simple but true this theory is.

Let´s stay with the business perspective. There is a big challenge upcoming for every business: The world changes faster than ever, driven by global networks and global communication. The result is a business environment that is something like a brain. So companies now need to connect with that brain. That is very difficult if your company is set up as hierarchical machine. Or even worse: If your company is set up as a command-and-control like “stone”. This structure cannot be connected with a brain – neither on input- nor on output-side.

Männer im ZahnradSo the question is – how can you transform your machine-like setup of your company into a vibrating brain-like network, which is able to react very fast to “input” from the fast-changing markets and build output, that makes your connected customers cheer out loud?

So your company is a machine, and this is as said a system. Your company is made of your associates, managers, processes, guidelines, organization and technology. Maybe there are some more parts of the machine, but these are the main building blocks. And the oil for this machine is communication – restrictive top-down, with the function of oil where needed on the machine and hidden in millions of emails and documents on restricted and thus useless (internal!) shares.

In order to change and improve things, for the last 10 years more and more companies invested a lot of money in social networks to improve their internal collaboration. Companies tried to achieve more transparency and very often failed. They asked for internal crowd sourcing, but internal structures blocked good ideas. Today it seems that technology won´t help alone.


Business TechnologyLet´s have a again a look at the system. IT technology is only one out of six building blocks of your company. You need to transform the other five building blocks too; otherwise the power of the social network just has no chance to raise. As we talk of the six building blocks associates, managers, guidelines, organization, processes and IT – you now understand, why it is so hard and challenging to become a real social, connected company. Because you need to address all the other parts, too. We talk of an operation on the open heart.

So what are the advantages in case you achieve to transform your company into a modern, networked and social organization? The biggest advantage: Your company will survive. Don´t laugh at me – heavyweights like Kodak and Nokia did not transform and now they are gone – in no time!

But there are much more advantages of becoming a connected company: Associates with responsibilities will show a greater engagement. Transparent communication enables transparent knowledge access. Self-organizing teams speed up collaboration. And guidelines which foster trust shorten decision times. Isn´t that a terrific place to work at? Yes! So start today to build your social system and release the power of networks in your company.

Why open communication is key success factor for social business

Joachim Heinz


Communication matters – seems to be a simple truth, but by entering social business communication is brought to a complete new level. Why?

Lets paint an easy picture to make clear where the point is.

ImaginDripping crude oile a traditional company with a traditional hierarchical setup. For communication you have eMail and, in case the company is an advanced one, something like an intranet. And of course a static internet websites. Driving internal communication follows a simple rule – comands are given top down via eMail, daily work is done in the same style. Thats it. Communication habits always follow company culture. In case of a traditional culture, communication is like oil for a machine – only put exactly there where neccessary. Normally this fits to a company culture where information often is locked away.


man pushing interface But with social business, the culture hopefully shifts towards a network. And so tools for communication and collaboration do, too. Now lets imagine a social business as being a     huge brain. Every employee and leader being a brain node. And communication being not sparsely used oil anymore – but highly used neurotransmitters. Simply: brain fuel. And for this brain fuel there needs to be a new principle in place – transparency. Without the clear statement towards more transparency from top management, the brain has no communication fuel.  But if teams learn to share information more open, the brain begins to works. Then a social network makes sense, otherwise not.


Pics: 1/© peshkova – 2/© valdis torms –


The only important factor of good leadership

Joachim Heinz


Climbing team struggles to the summit.Having a deep look into my partnership with my wife I see that there is one very special item that makes the connection very strong and reliable: It´s trust. With trust I can rely, with trust I can let go, with trust I can talk about problems.

Now lets have a look on business side and here on leadership. Lets talk about trust and why this one factor is the most important one. I dive into some important leadership aspects with the perspective of trust.

Enable your employees – As a good leader you care in a way for your employees so that they get enabled and do their job without your interference. In order to achieve this you have to have trust in them – and if you let them do, they will do it much better than you ever might tought of.

Share your resources – As a god leader you share your resources like money or business contacts. Why not giving access to an important contact directly to a project member instead of hoarding it and being a unnesseccary proxy? Have trust – your business contact will not be away because of just one visit. And your teammember will be happy to do it alone.

Communicate transparently – As a good leader you act as transparent as possible. Well thats not always the truth but the rest can be shared. Why not sharing personal business targets openly? Because somebody might counteract against them? Or if you miss your targets somebody will blame you? No. You will see that transparent communication will end up in a mass of followers that support you much more than you ever thougt. Have trust, give it a try.

Finally nothing is perfect and there will be situation where the given trust was not a too good idea. Here i prefer doing the same on business and private life – sit together on some coffee and talk about the problem – it will be solved of course, trust me.

© Greg Epperson –