Social Solutions to the ‘Unexpected’

It’s usually the ‘unexpected’ that creates the biggest difficulties for most organisations. Whilst traditional hierarchies and structures often make it difficult to respond quickly, now, social technologies and more open, networked, cultures are enabling organisations to develop timely and effective solutions when things don’t quite go as expected.

The Center for the Edge, part of Deloitte LLP, highlighted the impact ‘exceptions’ have on the day-to-day work of many organisations. Once something falls outside of the established business process, a huge amount of time and effort is wasted following rigid reporting lines, limiting both the speed at which issues can be addressed and the pool of expertise that can be called on to help provide an answer.

More often than not, the answer to the problem already exists within the organisation, or its extended network. The key to a more effective response system could therefore come from the wider adoption of some of the ‘social business’ tools that enable greater networking and collaboration. Mico-blogging feeds or Q+A forums can be used to ask questions of and get answers from the whole organisation within minutes, whilst detailed personal profiles can enable users to search for and connect with the exact people and specific skills they need to create and deliver the most effective response.

As with any new organisational initiatives, it’s not just about the technology. Alongside the tools, it’s important to develop an appropriately open and  supportive culture – one in which members are encouraged to acknowledge and share problems early rather than as a last resort, where there is a willingness to accept input and help and a widespread understanding of the value of supporting others rather than keeping your head down and worrying just about your own job.

The technology already exists, the real challenge is in changing the mentality. But a few quick wins and positive feedback from those whose ‘exceptions’ are addressed and it won’t be long before more organisations are looking at ways to connect their members more effectively.

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