Our clients love the idea of socialising strategy, rather than merely communicating their strategy. They understand the distinction between socialising and communicating strategy. When they are socialising their strategy it makes a big difference to how they think about, talk about and test their strategy.
How does socialising strategy differ from communicating strategy?
Well lets start with the phrase “Socialising strategy” (Or “socializing strategy” for our US cousins). Its interesting how this immediately puts a different emphasise on what is happening. It is no longer about getting the message out (Communicating). It is about the social impact and the conversation within groups, and amongst people, about the strategy.
Socialising strategy suggests that the strategy becomes part of a conversation amongst people that has a life of its own. Individuals are owning a part of it, talking to each other about it and adopting and adapting what it means for them.
Socialising strategy also suggests that it becomes part of the social fabric. It is part of the way people work, what they do, what they say, how they behave, and what they believe.
Socialising strategy suggests it has a life of its own amongst those people.
Socialising strategy is far more that repeated communication
So you told them about your strategy, told them again, and then again once more for good measure.
But here is the rub – they still don’t get it. Their behaviours, language, actions still are not reflecting the new behaviours, language or actions that you were hoping for.
Now I could trot out clichés about the biggest mistake in communication is thinking that you have already communicated. However all that would happen is that you would tell them again. Now how is that going to help. It that worked they would have got it the first time.
So what do excellent executives do at this point?
They focus on something completely different. They think about “socialising their strategy”.
Now just for a moment think what that means? You purpose is not simply to communicate your strategy. You have to socialise it? It has to become part of the social fabric of the organisation. It becomes a way of thinking and acting. It becomes how people talk about it.
Imagine the strategy being discussed, debated and explored on Facebook, LinkedIn or next to the coffee machine. Imagine people posting their thoughts about it on their websites. Discussing it with their friends.
Imagine you wanted to change a your neighbourhood? How would you go about it? Imagine you wanted to change the way people interacted? What would you do?
- Socialising your strategy is a shift of emphasis and a change in the way people think.
- Socialising strategy demands that you do something deeper and more significant than merely talk.
- Socialising strategy requires a more thorough, intensive and even obtuse approach to getting the message out.
- Socialising strategy causes executives to change how they think about the problem.
Just try it for a while – I think you will be surprised what a difference socialising strategy your will make. You can read more about how to socialise your strategy.
Socialising strategy is not (simply) about social media
With all the emphasise on social networking, Facebook, Linkedin, WhatsApp etc. etc the phase on every one’s lips is “Social networking”. But this is such a narrow view of socialising startegy that it just confuses and obscures what is important about socialising strategy.
So how does socialising an idea apply to socialising strategy?
It is interesting how this phrase seems to convey so much more that communicating strategy. It also gets beyond the glib phrase “Culture” to a far more specific meaning than, “We want our strategy to reflect our culture” or “We want our culture to drive our strategy” With “socialising strategy” we are describing how it becomes a part of the way people work and think and behave.
It is also a more explicit instruction to management. Rather than suggesting managers need to “Communicate the strategy” (which is an action for them), they are responsible for “socialising the strategy” which is a response from other people. In other words, instructing a management team to “Socialise their strategy” means that the emphasise is not just on communication, but on how people respond to the communication and behave as a result.
I write a lot about socialising strategy in my book, Communicating strategy: On reflection, I should have called that book “Socialising Strategy” in the first place, but you can’t change a title once you have an ISBN Number.
Things to think about when considering socialising your strategy
So here are some questions.
1) How would you test whether your strategy has been socialised?
2) What will you see and experience if your strategy is socialised?
3) Who are the key influencers in the social fabric of your organisation?
4) What social networks and social systems should you exploit?
5) How to get across the compelling emotional and rational story of the strategy?
6) What do you now have to do to socialise your strategy?