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Synopsis Connect!

Synopsis Connect!

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Published by Menno Lanting

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Published by: Menno Lanting on Sep 13, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Winner of the prestigious Management Book of the Year Award
 Menno Lanting
Connect! The Impact of SocialNetworks on Organizations andLeadership
Business Contact, management, 224 pages,February 2010
Connect! describes how companies often neglect social networks despite the increasingimpact networks such as Twitter and Facebook have on our personal lives. Whenorganizations do manage to incorporate networks into their strategy – what the author calls‘Connected!organizations’ – they are often surprisingly successful.This book aims to assist managers and leaders who see the opportunities, but lack theknowledge and experience needed to make a fundamental change. The author focuses on thecultural, organizational and strategic challenges that accompany social networks, rather thanon technical aspects or temporary trends.The book consists of two parts: Part 1 describes the development of social networks,from big (macro-economic level) to small (individual level). Part 2 offers case studies of theuse of social networks in areas such as marketing, business development and customerservices.
 Part 1: Connected!world1. From pyramid to apparent chaos
As we leave the industrial age and enter a new era, many are confused and anxious aboutthe impact of the digital world. The hierarchic arrangement of knowledge and capital needsto make way for the connected!world, in which the boundaries of time, space and money nolonger exist.Collectiveness is the key: collective expression (people present themselves in differentvirtual identities); collective creativity (to control the endless stream of information);collective productivity (people can work together in spite of geographic, ethnic and cultural boundaries); collective power (through unlimited choice) and endless collectiveness (thepossibility to connect with and react to any one, any time, any place, through any kind ofmedium).
2. The rise of social networks
The Internet started out as an enormous pile of relatively static and unconnectedinformation. Web 2.0 shows the real opportunities: people are able to take from and add toan endless stream of ever-changing and open content. They build their virtual identity andinfluence each other through interest groups, profile sites, communication platforms andpersonal websites or blogs. It’s here that people share, produce, play, meet and create, andit’s here that companies can interact with their customers on a personal level.
3. Digital natives and digital immigrants
The connected!world divides society into those who pioneer and swiftly adapt technicaldevelopments (digital natives) and those who don’t (digital immigrants). For natives theInternet is merely a means to communicate, since being connected has become a necessity.As a result they value sharing (even of intimate personal information), contributing (tosociety as a whole) and the freedom to intertwine their personal and their professional life.Immigrants follow in the footsteps of the natives, and by doing so they turn the new andunusual into mainstream.
Part 2: Connected!organization4. The characteristics of a Connected!organization
When people unite themselves in social networks they are able to mobilise a force greaterthan any company can achieve. This shift in power results in a more following andfacilitating role for companies, rather than a leading one. Public opinion can make or break areputation and demands transparency and accountability.A common but counterproductive reaction is turning inwards, e.g. denyingemployees access to social networks. In order to stay or become successful, companies willhave to change into connected!organizations. This means authenticity, transparency,facilitating, giving attention rather than asking for it, trust (in both customers and personnel)and cooperation.
5. Connected!leadership: the required strategy and leadership style
The connected!organizations asks for a new kind of leader, one that has the skills andattitude of a ‘guild leader’ in World of Warcraft: the ability to recognize and combine thestrengths of others. The connected!leader facilitates rather than leads: he/she offers a sharedglobal vision and builds physical and virtual networks where people in and outside thecompany can exchange thoughts. A connected!leader supports ownership, which requirestrust in employees and investing in the development of their skills in the use of social media.Top-down leadership makes way for an organization in which connected!professionals areencouraged to be critical (of themselves and others) and have room to develop newinitiatives in a transparent environment.
6. On the social network strategy
Most companies are still exploring the possibilities of the digital era, while their employeesexperiment with social networks without a company strategy. A network strategy wouldresult in a virtual identity, with which companies can communicate with their network ofemployees, suppliers, customers and any other interested parties. The creation anddevelopment of such an identity is hard, especially for digital immigrants: they are amazed by the candidness and hard-core transparency of digital natives.

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