As one of the fastest growing networking companies in high tech, Enterasys has produced 3 years of consecutive top-line year-over-year revenue growth, and a net promoter score of 81 – yes, the NPS score is not a typo. In addition, they have grown 25% of sales from new customers and had less than 5% annual employee attrition.
So, needless to say when Vala Afshar, Enterasys’ Chief Customer Officer, (Twitter: @ValaAfshar) started retweeting me I wanted to find out what made him and his company tick.
What Is A Social Enterprise?
Why is Enterasys so successful?
Afshar would say because the company is a social enterprise. Their collaborative and customer focused culture is how they compete and thrive in this highly competitive market. According to Afshar there are 10 steps for businesses to consider as part of their social enterprise transformation blueprint.
But first, what is a social enterprise?
It’s a vibrant high communication, high collaboration enterprise that uses social tools (Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Twitter, Facebook, etc) to accelerate business via connection and collaboration. Because as Afshar says, and I agree:
Do You Need A Social Enterprise?
If you want to:
Then yes, you need a social enterprise. But what’s the ROI? Glad you asked. Here are some of Afshar’s results:
10 Steps To Build A Social Enterprise
Afshar swears by these, and his results above are testimony that the effort is worth it.
1. Define a meaningful purpose
“Management by objectives works if you first think through your objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven’t.” — Peter Drucker
Social collaboration is not about social media. It is about the purpose of collaboration and execution. A strong culture is based on tenants of transparency, accountability, execution velocity, and mass collaboration. Defining the purpose of your social enterprise transformation is a crucial step in accelerating adoption that is closely aligned with your core cultural attributes. Remember: this is not about technology, it is about purpose.
2. Ensure simplicity and user experience is key
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” ― Steve Jobs
A key part of the social technology selection criterion must be “ease of use” and the employee and customer experience. End user adoption of new technology and processes is highly dependent on seamless integration, ease of use, and alignment to existing workflows.
3. Have a ‘social’ executive sponsor
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” — Benjamin Franklin
Social collaboration cannot succeed without executive sponsorship, but not just any executive. The experience, judgment, and influence of the executive are keys to success. The executive must be S.O.C.I.A.L. – sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic and likeable. The executive sponsor must be actively engaged and enthusiastically willing to promote inter-departmental collaboration. Influence and likeability are key success factors.
4. Make social adoption a team sport
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford
Regardless of organizational ownership of social media activities, a team of change agents, representing different lines of business (marketing, sales, services, IT, engineering) must be assembled to drive advocacy and adoption deeper into the organization. Let’s call this team the “Social ELT” – extended leadership team. The ELT must have access to the executive team with full support and recognition of their efforts to increase adoption.
5. Don’t over analyze corporate social collaboration guidelines
“Hell, there are no rules here; we are trying to accomplish something.” — Thomas A. Edison
Hire people you trust and then trust them. The company’s social collaboration guideline doesn’t have to exceed 1-page. Emphasize business uses as the primary reason but recognize that personalization is necessary to fostering trust and willingness to share and connect. Also, give your customers access to social networks.
6. Create social collaboration functional groups
”The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Pre-establish a group of communities representing various functions within the organization. The social collaboration team, including the Social ELT members, who represent various functions, can do this at the beginning. Within lines of business, it is more likely that employees will collaborate. Once comfortable collaborating internally, connections will begin to establish outside the lines of business.
7. Provide “Lunch & Learn” social media and collaboration employee training
“The most important thing about education is appetite.” — Winston Churchill
It is essential to invest time and energy to train employees. This is a training initiative, whereby a social champion speaks to best practices, explaining the importance of collaboration and the how to. This can be an effective “ice breaker” to those who are new to the social media environment and will foster engagement and participation.
8. Measure adoption
“What gets measured gets managed.”… And “Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.” — Peter Drucker
The main purpose of measuring adoption is to celebrate and recognize power collaborators and how they are positively impacting business objectives. Recognize the most followed, the most posts and even potential for training opportunities. The expectation is not to use metrics to force collaboration. Social collaboration is based on encouragement and growth.
9. Recognize achievements
“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” — Sam Walton
It is important for the executive team to participate in social collaboration. The CEO can announce significant customer wins. The CMO can socialize go to market plans and industry awards and recognition. The CCO can share customer testimonials and employee achievements. Recognition and constant communication via social channels is the best method of bolstering the company and the individual employee brand. In the social era, brand is the talent of your employees–especially frontline and customer facing functions—which can massively bolster your company’s brand.
10. Passionately embrace change and have fun
“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Social collaboration is about learning, teaching, sharing, and togetherness, but most of all it is about enjoying the people your work with and the work that you do. Have fun growing mindshare and your business.
Do you have a social enterprise? How is it working for you?
If you don’t, do you want one? What hurdles have you come across in creating one?
Christine Comaford helps CEOs and executives to achieve remarkable results in performance and operational efficiency by combining neuroscience and business strategy. She is a 5 time CEO who has exited her companies with 700% ROI. She is the NY Times bestselling author of Rules for Renegades.