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Is Your Workplace Dope?

Evelyn March
Group Director
BST Global
Are you creating a dope workplace? And by dope, I’m sure you’re wondering if the slang is being used as an adjective, as in: very good. Or if the reference is to the noun, meaning an illegal drug taken for recreational purposes. While the word ‘dope’ carries several meanings, it’s similarity to the word ‘dopamine’ is purely coincidental. But the kinship is undeniable; they both spawn continual reward-seeking behavior. In 1958, the chemical dopamine was discovered by Dr. Arvid Carlsson. Essentially, it is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which controls the stored memory function that tells us we have completed something good, and to repeat that behavior to receive a reward. For patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s diseases, Dr. Carlsson discovered that this neurotransmitter was in declination. His discovery paved the way for science to formulate the utilization of dopamine to lessen the effects of these disorders. Equipped with this core knowledge of dopamine’s effect on behavior, several deductions can be made. For example, dopamine helps us learn things quickly and permanently. But continued releases can cause a ‘seeking’ or addictive behavior. Finding Dope Employees In the business world, we as employers naturally seek out employees with adequate dopamine levels, whether we realize it or not. This is revealed by how well they’ve honed the craft or skill that makes them an employable candidate. Once we hire these candidates, it’s important to continue to excite this neurotransmitter through continual learning opportunities, as it leads to personal and professional successes. But, are there junctures where employers over-excite this chemical reaction? And if so, what are the consequences? A Connected World Take connectedness. Our world is connected. Our employees are connected. And that can be a good thing; after all, collaboration is the precursor to accomplishment. Having employees interact on ideas and problems leads to innovation and achievement. We send emails to those who provide the best input, often adding them to the top of the recipient list. What’s more, it’s not uncommon to see employees send a text or address a social media notification during work hours. We have accepted this practice as social norms that are a by-product of the instant information age we live in. Production Versus Disruption But when we see those email or social media notifications appear, the feeling of being sought after for interaction causes a rapid fire of that seeking neurotransmitter - dopamine. The dopamine rush creates an anticipation of reward that once ignited, the object that gave us that rush can become the object we seek. In this rapid-fire environment, the question arises: are we creating production or disruption? Is the portico to our dopamine rush allowed into work meetings? How many times have you been in a meeting and you or your neighbor glances at the buzzing phone on the table? Or listens with a half-perched ear as they respond to the email that just popped up on their laptop? Is the double dipping of time more productive, or creating a disruption in our ability to concentrate on the task at hand? Could we be the creators of our own oxymoron story by thoughtfully creating fulfilling roles, but making the workplace a dopamine-seeking society that makes one seek more, even when fulfillment is in their grasp? Creating A Truly Dope Place to Work Human Resource professionals have the arduous task of finding and retaining talent. As more employees enter the workplace looking for a career that fulfills an internal purpose, it’s not far-fetched to see talent leave because they just don’t find the work personally fulfilling. It’s time to evaluate if we are arbitrarily creating an environment that dopes employees into wanting more, over just creating a dope place to work. Some things to consider along the way: Make meetings phone and laptop free zones. Think: Does everyone need to be on that email? How about stopping by and having a conversation instead of the internal instant message? Is your training and development environment equipped to fire off the dopamine that spawns the desire to learn more? By creating a people-centric, collaborative learning environment, employees will surely feel that they’ve found the dope place to work. If you’d like to share how you’ve created a dope place to work, we’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Steps to Becoming a Collaborative Social Business

Eduardo Niebles
Manager Director
BST Global
How important is social business to your organization? When asked this question by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, more than 70% of executives in the professional services industry said social business was important or somewhat important to their organization today. Each year, we learn of more and more companies around the world that are transforming their organizations and creating value through the use of social networks, software, and media that enable connections between people and information – or, what is more commonly known as social business. But as this trend continues to grow, major challenges are emerging. In addition to the absence of a strong business case and too many competing priorities, the lack of an overall social business strategy was among the top barriers identified by social business executives in the Moving Beyond Marketing survey. Currently, there is an overwhelming number of social business best practices, tools, and processes available online – a quick Google search of the phrase yields more than 1 billion results. However, before this complex organizational change can take effect within your company, you must first develop a clear strategy to guide the process. As you explore the opportunities of this global trend, use these steps to make the social business path easier to travel:   1. Learn the terminology. The phrases social technology, social media, and social network are often used interchangeably. However contrary to popular misconception, they do not mean the same thing. Begin your process with a clear understanding of the different terms: Social technologies are the tools and systems that connect people and information, regardless of time and location. Social media are those places where people come together in a digital environment to create and share information. Social networks are the accumulation of the people you know, and the people they know, as well as how you all are connected. By understanding the differences between these terms, it becomes clear that a social business must encompass all three to succeed – first, by activating your networks, then by leveraging media and technologies to foster business value.   2. Establish a clear objective. Determine what you are trying to accomplish with your social outreach. For example, are you looking to improve informed decision-making by creating seamless working teams that act on real-time information? Efficiently solve organizational challenges using social technologies that allow you to quickly canvas your network for additional input and insight? Or gain knowledge on emerging trends that present new business opportunities? Avoid the need to start big, or have grand plans – focus on specific objectives that recognize the value of working in a digital ecosystem (and how you will measure your success in achieving these objectives).   3. Understand your customer and market. Determine who makes up your audience. Will your network include employees? Customers? Partners? Or some combination of the three? After you determine whom you are seeking to reach with social, learn about what engages them in this digital economy. What are their likes? Whose tweets are they following? How do they perceive your organization?   4. Identify your influencers. Look within your organization for the individuals that are digital natives. Who is already active in promoting the organization via connected devices? And how can your organization combine the content these influencers are sharing with the content that your organization is creating?   5. Select and/or develop your technologies. Identify the social media sites already in existence that can be embraced within your organization. Or better yet, conduct a survey to identify social media sites that your employees are already using for collaboration. Can you leverage blogs, LinkedIn Groups, or Twitter chats? These channels are aimed to encourage commentary, engage your network, and facilitate the sharing of quality content. And for those looking for additional security or features, building an internal social technology may be preferred over using public social media sites. Over the next two years, Gartner predicts that 50% of large organizations will have internal social tools. However, the research firm also estimates that through 2015, 80% of social business efforts will fail in achieving intended benefits because of poor leadership, an overemphasis of technology, and the lack of a company-wide social business strategy. To ensure successful implementation of a social business initiative, it is imperative that leadership understands how their people currently work, whom they work with, and what their needs are to improve those processes. Has your organization taken steps towards becoming a social business? If so, what has your initial experience been like?

What is Social Business?

Eduardo Niebles
Manager Director
BST Global
Tweet, Like, Pin, Comment, Share. Repeat. The pervasiveness of social media in our everyday lives is undeniable. From keeping up with close social ties to reviving dormant relationships, nearly 75% of all online adults use social networking sites, according to the Pew Research Center. And it should come as no surprise that this number is only going up – eMarketer projects that the global social network audience will reach 2.55 billion by 2017. What began as a means for people to connect, share, and embrace information in a community network through sites like Facebook, YouTube, and China’s Qzone has rapidly evolved beyond personal use into the era of social business. But, what exactly is social business? By now, you may have heard Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’ concept of a social business that purposefully seeks to solve major social problems like poverty, education, and health care. Surely this is a noble endeavor, but one that should not be confused with the topic of this post. The social business that I am addressing is one that uses social media to develop new forms of communication and collaboration – where organizations are creating their own internal social networks and leveraging information gathered from social for competitive advantage, business intelligence, insight, and value. A social business is not an organization that has merely combined social computing and social media attributes like Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts to their processes. It is one that promotes and encourages the notion of collaboration through social among its employees, partners, and customers to create business value. So, what makes a social business? There are three distinct characteristics:   1. Engagement The empowerment of the individual is fundamental in a social business. It is about allowing employees to engage with customers, partners, and their peers in ways that establish a network of collaborating communities. These communities can add valuable insight from multiple directions to solve major business challenges.   2. Transparency A social business looks to capitalize on the view of one version of the truth by removing all boundaries (e.g. disconnected databases, disjointed business management systems) that would prohibit collaboration. It takes advantage of the massive amount of business intelligence coming from different sources, and directs the right pieces of information to where they can be most useful in helping capture new business opportunities.   3. Agility A social business also harnesses the ability to capture and provide real-time information in order to anticipate how markets are evolving. It leverages the ability to instantaneously provide the most current information to employees so that they can make informed decisions with customers regardless of time and location. Furthermore, the use of mobile and cloud technologies to complement your social strategy deployment ensures that your community is connected whenever and wherever they are.   Whether leveraging existing social media sites or developing custom internal communication networks, many organizations that have implemented social business concepts – like the American Red Cross and Nestlé UK, for example – are seeing benefits that go well beyond facilitating collaboration to the realization of major organizational objectives. Take, for example, the recruitment of talent. The 2014 Moving Beyond Marketing survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt social business sophistication was at least somewhat important to them when selecting an employer. The same survey found that 83% of maturing social businesses are using social to improve leadership performance and talent management. The infographic by MIT Sloan Management below highlights even more benefits maturing social businesses are realizing. Becoming a social business is an extensive internal process that takes much consideration beyond simply what technologies will be used. What social media sites do you currently use in your personal life that you think could be leveraged within your organization? Share your ideas in a comment below.