Charlene Li in her book Open Leadership: how social technology can transform the way you lead explains how social media has changed the way organizations must lead in the future. With Facebook, twitter and blogs, the customer is king and can reward or punish a company by pushing a button. I know my wife will not book a hotel until she has read a number of customer reviews. In fact, she will not stay in a hotel that has had negative reviews on yelp or other customer review websites.
How does a company adapt to the new rules of social media. According to Charlene Li, a company can best adapt by becoming an open organization. Open organizations engage in dialogue with customers and employees. Decisions are explained and ideas are sought from all stakeholders. Li has developed an openness audit that helps leaders to evaluate how open their organization is (Li 2010 p 45)
The company I work for is very open to explaining decisions to employees, customers and stakeholders. The ABHOW website is well developed and is transparent with financial information and strategic plans. One area ABHOW can improve in would be to hear regularly from its CEO. My wife worked for an organization where the CEO wrote a two page letter to all employees regarding major projects he was working on and trends the organization was facing. I was always impressed by the consistent information that came from their CEO.
The next area of the audit talks about updating. In open organizations, leaders use social technologies like blogs, video blogs, and microblogging or collaboration platforms to provide updates. American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW) uses these technologies in a minimal way. ABHOW has a MyABHOWintranet for employee information and resources. ABHOW and Seniority (for profit Management Company of ABHOW) use monthly newsletters that are not interactive with customers or employees. This is an area that could be greatly improved.
Conversing is another aspect of an open organization where stakeholders are encouraged to dialogue and engage with the organization. This is a weak aspect of my company. At this point, the reasoning has been to discourage talking about our organization in a social media context as well as not wanting to employ a person to manage the social media conversations. We have a social media policy and procedure that explains to employees how to engage in social media appropriately and how to share grievances privately and not publically. Nothing is mentioned about engaging in a proactive positive manner promoting our company. We do have a third party marketing company who monitors negative comments about our organization.
I believe the company I work for has a good positive image in the community and an open organization value and strategic plan would go a long way to engage our stakeholders in a positive and powerful way.
Li, Charlene. Open Leadership: how social technology can transform the way you lead. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2010.