Richard Collin: Avoid thinking in blocks, boxes and silos!

The “Social Enterprise” is the hot topic today at E20 SUMMIT. But what is the idea behind this term? In the advance to the conference I have asked Prof. Richard Collin, Professor & Director of the “Institut de l’Entreprise 2.0 Grenoble Ecole de Management” as well as Executive Partner at NextModernity, about his ideas to this hot topic of the day!

1) What is your idea of the social enterprise?

The social enterprise is the necessary evolution of the enterprise moving from the industrial age model where process is the key lever for productivity (productivity beeing at this stage the “name of the game”) to the information and digital era model where innovation, conversation, speed, engagement of key talents and collaborative technologies are the key lever for value creation

2) What are the building blocks of the social enterprise?

First you may avoid to think in blocks, boxes and silos. Since complexity, uncertainty and speed of change are the fondation of the current context of any organisation, you have to support culture and management evolution together with technological and organisational infrastructure enabling together collective efficiency, social learning, innovation and employees engagement and motivation.

3) Isn’t the social enterprise with more networking and noisy chattering counter-productive to the call for more efficiency in times of economic crisis?

It’s not a crisis ; it’s a paradigm shift. When the future of business is sharing, when you move towards new economic models, when you’re entering in a services and creation economy, you have to ensure the mobilization of talents. As many are saying, it’s the raise of networks with the end of process. And we have to learn how to cope with the challenge to invent the new model of organization. The metrics are no more the same to enter this period where meaning and creativity are more important than productivity.

4) What are the key challenges for the transformation of companies towards the model of the social enterprise?

As a result of many international studies and surveys including the one we have conducted in France with the Enterprise 2.0 Institute from Grenoble Business Mangement School, the key challenge is to overcome the culture and the management style of the organizations. To move from a control/command style and an industrial age DNA towards a culture based upon trust, autonomy, “out of the box” mind is not an easy task!

5) What are your three key recommendations for project leads for tackling this challenging task of the transformation?

The first one is to really understand that the world is changing fast. And to understand that we must be the engineer of the digital age. Second to focus on any projects and solution aiming at mobilizing the potential of the organization to cope with the difficulties to plan in order to optimize the collective capabilities in answering new and unexpected challenges. And third, listen to people and support early adopters, champions, agent of changes and internal entrepreneurs to built the social entreprise fitting the business needs.