Finding Your Social Center

Finding balance is one of the first lessons for a dancer.  As someone who is compelled to move, I remember resisting the commands of my ballet teacher to stand still in one place and focus on core muscles that I was told would improve my balance.  The instructor would remind us to locate and engage our core muscles to maintain a strong center (related to center of gravity concept).  As I matured (and completed a high school physics class), I appreciated this lesson so much more. With a strong center, I realized that I could push my movements outside of my comfort zone.  I could move my arms and legs wildly without falling flat on my face as long as my extremities were connected to a solid center.

The concept of a strong center has interesting applications outside of dance.  A strong center maintains connectedness across disparate parts.  Dachis Group has observed one of the major frustrations of large companies is the fragmented state of social – each department going out on its own, developing different social tactics, using different social technologies – all guided by different principles and no common strategy.  Each department is like arms and legs moving wildly out of sync in different directions.  This decentralized structure lacks the important connections between systems that leads to an intelligent network.  At some point, the stress and strain of uncoordinated social systems will cause the organization to flail – like a dancer attempting multiple turns without ensuring arms and legs are aligned and coordinated with the central body.

At first it may seem to go against everything social represents to centralize social.  The power of social is in the ability to scale the sharing of information without anyone owning or controlling it.  What I have learned in my work with clients is that centralizing corporate social strategy, policy and training does not mean social is owned or controlled.  Instead, centralizing governance means creating a solid command center to lead the organization and help connect the dots.  The edge of the organization can therefore operate with autonomy but still maintain connection and coordination with other parts.  Otherwise, the brand is at-risk for social chaos:

  • social intelligence is siloed which prevents a centralized view of the customer (internal)
  • fragmented experiences and mixed messaging confuses and frustrates customers (external)

While the goal of social business is to distribute social responsibility for scale, the organization starts to flail if it doesn’t operate from a strong center.  This social center, also known as the social business center of excellence (SBCE), is a cross-functional team that guides innovation, strategy, policy and training for the organization.   The SBCE consists of representatives from each department who come together to collaborate on corporate vision, strategy, policy and training so that ownership is shared and distributed across the organization, not owned or controlled by a particular department.

Below is a visual of how a social center governs while empowering the edge of the organization to take accountability and responsibility for executing.

So many of us are eager to dive into social tactics.  The forward motion of execution feels good.  Conducting an audit of properties and initiatives, answering the ‘why,’ establishing charters and policies feels like we’re standing still.  We resist standing still under the pressures from executives to move the needle and report the results.  But taking time to establish a strong center is what’s going to allow large companies to manage multiple moving parts in a way that provides more momentum and power to support the desired results.

Take a look at how your organization is structured for social business.  Do you have a social center guiding and coordinating the edge?