Attenzi: A Social Business Story

Last week I published part one of my thoughts on social business and looked at some of the definitions that exist and resources that are available. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Today is the launch of a novel approach by one of my fellow Social Media Panel members Philip Sheldrake @sheldrake (pictured). He has written a book called Attenzi – A Social Business Story, which is out now and is a refreshing read for many reasons. Mainly because it’s a business book that doesn’t feel like a business book.  I’d rename it The Social Business story because it does the best job I’ve seen to date of defining, educating and informing on the topic.

philipI’ve been lucky enough to read a preview copy and can’t rate it highly enough. I’m going to share the standout parts for me which I think highlight why it’s an essential read for anyone interested in or wanting to know more about social business. I don’t want to spoil too much of it for you, so will just draw on the things that struck me.

The book is described as: “ A social business story which shines a light on social business that goes beyond the all too typical homages to social media. It’s relatively short and easy read intended to help readers explore what social business means for their organisation, marketplace, communities and career.”

The story is designed to galvanize the C-suite and help mobilise the organisation – a situation that I’m sure is familiar to many internal communication professionals.

I like it because it guides readers through what a social business is, in a tangible way by using a fictitious company. Not being an organisation you recognise means you only draw conclusions based on what you’re reading, rather than bringing preconceived ideas and perceptions to the table. I think this enables the reader to understand and ascertain the nuances to help form your own thinking and see it in action.

It’s in an easy-to-read format, and is free too, which is incredible for such a useful resource. I’ll share with you how to get hold of it at the end of this article.

Let’s take a look at what the book is about. The narrator is Eli Appel, CEO of Attenzi, which is a kitchen equipment company, and as he weaves his tale of exploration, discovery, lightbulb moments and mistakes, he takes you, the reader, with him.

The definition of social business offered is…

“Social business is about adapting the way in which an organisation delivers its mission and pursues its vision by designing the organisation around influence flows, connecting: its people, partners, customers and other stakeholders; data, information and knowledge in and all around it…more openly, productively and profitably with the application of social web, big data and related information technologies.”

Philip says: “As the tale unfolds, you’ll consider aspects of organisational design, business performance management, marketing, public relations, branding, complexity, and the imminent empowerment of the individuals that make up any and all organisations. In fact, although you’ll likely be reading the book in a professional capacity, you’ll be noting the implications for your other roles in life too. Perhaps most controversially, the story begins to explore the evolution of the customer-centric mindset that has dominated management thinking for the past two decades.”

Stand out quotes for me are:

  • A collection of information is not knowledge. We must build knowledge from such information by identifying and interpreting patterns. So for this example, we identify the process causing the occasional test failures and develop an appreciation for how it might be fixed
  • We need to focus on getting the right information to the right people at the right time in the right format, and help them translate the information into knowledge in order that they can do their jobs better.
  • Groups of people behave in ways that you can’t predict by studying them individually. You can’t learn much about the termite mound by studying the individual termite, or the traffic jam by studying the car.
  • Everyone is in product innovation
  • What you decide to measure and how you decide to measure it communicates your expectations (this was a particular ‘lightbulb’ moment for me – Rachel)
  • Measurement is important communication that guides performance that delivers strategy that pursues the vision.
  • Some communication is initiated because the communicator wants to find out stuff in order to think or act differently than otherwise herself. A communicator seeks to influence and/or seeks to be influenced.
  • Reputation management does not actually mean managing reputation, and brand management does not actually mean managing a brand. They mean actively attending to the business of influencing and being influenced such that the resultant beliefs or opinions held about us and our products are conducive to our achieving organisational objectives.
  • A long-term vision remains as critical to business success as ever, but flexibility (finding a new course to execute the strategy; operational) and agility (recognising when the strategy needs adaption; strategic) are business critical too.
  • The useful and valuable application of social media and related technologies is considerably enhanced when the associated community shares common purpose and values
  • If you’re in IT, you’re actually in the business of influence
  • Important messages are passed across… and less important ones don’t make it. The same goes for sharing information around the organisation. Whereas traditional business relies on some bureaucracy to determine what constitutes organizational knowledge, this function is delegated to the individual who now determines whether something is worth sharing / passing on or not, explicitly or tacitly.

I also learnt tips for cooking asparagus, but I won’t spoil those…Attenzi

This feels like the start of the social business journey for the reader – it doesn’t end when the book stops. You’re invited to participate in discussions via Twitter @attenzi, to contact Philip directly @sheldrake and to check out the website and G+ community.

It’s free and available in HTML (via the website – just keep clicking ‘Next’), PDF, EPUB, Kindle and iBooks formats. Hyperlinks in the ebook take you to the same section of the website for questions, observations and discussion.

Update 16 May: I came across a great interview with the author, Philip Sheldrake, by Andrew Grill, @andrewgrill, CEO of Kred today, via the G+ community. Hear Philip in his own words discussing the books, trends and how to help individuals realise their full potential and get value back.

If you read my first article on social business, I promised to share my updated definition. Here it is:

Social business creates an environment of connected conversations; empowering and equipping everyone it impacts (internally and externally) to drive personal and organisational success

I hesitated whether to include internally and externally – regular readers will know I think the boundaries and definitions of internal and external communication continue to blur, but for now, that definitions works for me, particularly as it nods to employees and stakeholders/customers. ‘Empowering and equipping’ felt like the right choice as it includes resources, organisational culture, tools/channels and more.

What do you think? What’s your definition? I have a feeling I will tweak and refine this definition as my understanding and thought process continues to develop.

Congratulations to Philip on releasing Attenzi. Do check it out and I know he would welcome your feedback, Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller

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