I brought William up to speed at our monthly lunch the following day.
“Why do you call it social business then? Why not biological business?”
He emphasized ‘biological’ with a smattering of derision.
“I mean all that fancy computing and number crunching stuff doesn’t sound very social. Actually, it doesn’t sound very biological either.”
I fought an urge to be defensive as he continued: “And I’m afraid none of the other companies I work with, on whose boards I sit, are going anywhere near this sort of thing. They’re discussing social media and social campaigns and social mentions and social sentiment. They’re talking about SoLoMo and social monitoring and running social software internally. Heck, some of them talk about social so much they’re basically social business by saturation.
“But biology? No. Can’t say as it’s cropped up once.”
I was a tire and I’d just been given a hefty kick. I took my time to think, and I was about to say something when William finished his challenge.
“No. Nothing. Nothing about interneurons that’s for sure! Nothing about influence flows.”
This was serious. I felt a heat in my cheeks. I bought time chasing the remnants of Sachertorte and whipped cream around my plate.
I finished dessert and held up my phone: “Dictionary meaning of social.”
I avoided the offering from the website renowned for having more cookies than Nabisco. I found a definition and read out loud.
“Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society. Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others.”
We both reflected on that for a few seconds before I ventured further.
“Good business is about cooperative and interdependent relationships, always has been, yet the humanity was lost when organizations scaled way up during the 20th Century. We want to make those relationships more human again, but the answer can’t be to scale it all back down. We have to scale something else up.