Tagged: attenzi

Seventy two (ii)

I won’t tease this apart in detail here, but suffice to say you’ll notice how it assumes the death of the command and control hierarchy of the traditional firm. It emphasizes the opportunity to equip every individual with tools to help them determine and articulate their needs, desires, knowledge, skills and values in ways that are useful in working out how best to come together to do stuff of mutual value.

At Attenzi, we’ve begun to move away from our traditional hierarchical structure to flatter and more autonomous but still very much aligned and accountable teams, looking to our improved performance management capabilities for sensory feedback. Of course, some organizations have pursued this kind of structure before us, but interesting qualities and opportunities emerge in our social business context we think that help make it all happen more reliably, transparently and productively.

Attenzi is becoming a network, slowly but surely.

Perhaps this new vista will require a redefinition of the organization, the firm, but there’s no need for us to think about that in operational terms just yet.

Does this question convey a vision for 2025? Sooner? Later? Ever? Who knows until we get there, but we think it conjures up a fascinating potential and one that can inform progress towards social business in the nearer-term.

(Interestingly, as a quick aside, we get positive reactions to this exacting take on social business from people with viewpoints spanning the full political spectrum, but I’m not going to get all political on you here.)

Now then, I won’t keep you any longer… there’s stuff to be done right!

We hope you’re using our story here to cajole your colleagues to sign up for the ride. And as part of that communications process, if you’re looking for a slidestack that builds up to this challenging question, check out: What, exactly, is social business?

While we’re talking slidestacks, here’s one that effectively sums up the approach we’ve taken and referred to in our story here that enables us to recognize the value of social even when its impact is one or more steps back from the cash register: What, exactly, is the value of social media? It’s what we’ve come to call social business performance management, or just social performance in short.

Of course, I’ll continue to add such comments and links to the attenzi.com website, and hope to see you there. And indeed at a Social Media Today conference.

All the best.

Seventy two (i)

September 2013 update – a big question

It’s just about five months since I signed off the first edition of this ebook to go to press. Now Robin Carey, CEO of Social Media Today, has invited us to The Social Shake-Up conference and it seemed like a good time to publish this second edition in association with Social Media Today, with Robin’s foreword and the addition of this chapter to let you know our latest. (And a new ‘book cover’ to boot if you’re interested.)

I won’t focus here on our operational performance because, well, what would you go away and do with that? Instead, something more useful…

As we’ve talked with more and more people about respective experiences and expectations, it appears that confusion reigns as to the very definition of social business. What does it actually mean?!

So Marcus began collecting various definitions from these conversations, from conferences and off the web. He put them on big Post-It™ notes on a wall in The Nerve Center, and he, Michelle and I found ourselves browsing them one afternoon. We began to move them around. We put them in groups and then found ourselves ordering the groups in terms of what Marcus called sophistication and I called ambition, and Michelle was the first to spot the pattern.

It turns out, to varying degrees, that many of these definitions mean something quite relevant and useful, and any perceived differences can often be explained away as a matter of timing. In other words, some definitions can be seen to describe where we might get to in 2015, say, others by 2020, and some further out than that.

“Where shall we put this one?” I ask.

“That’s a 2020 I reckon. I’ll see your 2020 and raise you a 2025!”

It was 30th May 2013. I know that because I left a quick comment as such on Chapter 44 on this ebook’s website. That comment consisted of a question, and a variation of that question now sits furthest out on our timeline of definitions:

Do you help all the individuals associated with your organization (employees, customers, partners, suppliers, shareholders, etc.) build worthwhile relationships with each other and others, coalescing by need and desire, knowledge and capability and shared values, to create shared value?

About the author

Philip Sheldrake
I wrote Attenzi – a social business story:

  • To convey the essence, potential and implications of social business
  • To help organizations pursue social business
  • To describe what Euler Partners does.

Philip Sheldrake (@sheldrake) is the author of The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age, Wiley, 2011, and chapters of the CIM’s The Marketing Century, Wiley, 2011, the CIPR’s Share This, Wiley, 2012, and Share This Too, Wiley 2013.

He is a Chartered Engineer, Managing Partner of Euler Partners and Board Director of Intellect. He is a special adviser to the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC), and to the Demos Centre for the Analysis of Social Media.

Previously, he built and sold an award winning PR consultancy, developed Europe’s first company based on mashing up Google Maps, and ran Europe’s first digital money service. He was the industrial engineer in a team that won Management Today magazine’s Best Process Factory Award.

Philip is a UK IPv6 champion, having served as a director of 6UK. He speaks regularly, and blogs at philipsheldrake.com.

Euler Partners

Seventy one

So that’s what we’ve been up to and where we find ourselves today.

Dom made an interesting comment last night, a play on Hegel. “We learn from our digital history that we do indeed learn from it.” Time will tell.

But right now it’s time for me to sign off here. It’s odd finishing a story that feels like it’s only just starting, and I couldn’t be more excited. Social business benefits everyone involved. Except the competition.

On that note, I’ll leave the final words to Saket. Well sort of.

“‘Adapt or die’, Moneyball, 2011.”


Read the September 2013 update in one last chapter …


How is Attenzi doing?

We’ve revised our mission and vision and tweaked the statement of our values. We’ve reworked our game plan, our strategy. We’re down the track in terms of redesigning our operations around influence flows, aligning the organization structure and process design to our strategy. There’s a good vibe about the business and people generally appear to be up for it. I credit this important dimension to the care with which we’ve approached internal communications, training and development, and performance management. And of course to the caliber and attitude of Attenzi people.

Have we got everything right first time? No, of course not. Are we maestros today? Not quite. And here’s what appears to be a kick in the teeth – we have more red flags in our scorecards today than we ever did when I joined. But is it really a kick in the teeth, or is it simply representative of the many fine and not so fine changes we’re demanding of ourselves?

And what about the money?

Well previously we were growing a little faster than industry average and now we’re growing a little faster than that. That’s good enough for me this year, what with all the upheaval, and next year is the moment I really believe we’ll begin to reap the dividends of our transformation. It looks like we’re on track to more than double our historic growth rate.

Our profit margin dipped slightly but distinctly for three unnerving quarters, and with hindsight I could have been better at managing investor expectations, but the three since have been our best in recent years. We can attribute this, at least substantially, to our social business endeavors, but that alone doesn’t mean we can yet proclaim social business the new thing. We need hundreds of organizations to embrace social business before we’ll have the stats to know for sure.

Tomorrow I’m hosting a contingent from a company where William is a board member. It’s the fourth such company he’s brought round to talk social business. I’m watching eagerly for progress at these other companies. The team at Lorenz Capital is keeping up to date too as you might imagine and knowledge sharing among the companies in its portfolio.

Sixty nine (ii)

On presenting their joint findings to the steering team, Michelle and Yvonne put it like this. If your organization is unique, with a unique position in a unique market, with unique mission and vision, and uniquely tailored strategies demanding a unique mix of tactics, is it too great a leap of faith to expect the (optimal) blend of communications to be unique and for communications performance measurement to therefore require a unique and tailored blend of metrics?

To put it another way, your digital nervous system will be tailored to your needs, and ours to our needs. Your communication metrics will help you determine if your digital nervous system is performing as planned, and ours will report the health of ours. Consequently, your metrics will inform your investment decisions, and ours will inform ours.

To put it a third way, your people may have a general preference for soft centers and mine for hard (if you recall the chocolate box paradox).

I don’t want to labor this stuff too much, particularly as I want to leave you fired up for social business, but a few pointers in the right direction here will save you from going through all the learning loops we’ve zoomed around. Here’s one last, important but perhaps subtle point on this topic.

I’ve been talking about measurement for performance management here – in other words, identifying metrics that best drive and report progress in executing strategy. (If we work to grow these performance metrics across the board we will improve our business or identify that our original strategy needs revision.) But measurement for performance management is different to analysis more generally.

Communication is complex, as we have seen, and there is much to be learned, particularly in respect to how influence goes around comes around, to providing sensory feedback. You and your tech team may wish to cut and slice your communications data every which way you can in order to distil insight and understanding, but up to a point that’s quite separate to performance management. And I say ‘up to a point’ simply because your analytical work might unearth an insight worthy of translation into a performance metric.

Sixty nine (i)

So, what are our (leading) non-financial metrics telling us, and have we seen an uptick in our (lagging) financial metrics? Let me first get you up to speed on our deliberations about one particular set of non-financial metrics.

Our intent to understand and harness influence flows demands considerable attention to the measurement of communication, and therefore to media, and this is an area that has consumed more time and effort than we’d originally estimated. It’s trickier than it at first appears.

Performance measurement of communication is dominated by so-called output metrics relating to the content or communication itself, and attempts to determine outcome metrics relating to business success are thin on the ground. A strategic assessment of outputs is impossible however without correlation to outcomes, and even then correlation isn’t proof of cause-and-effect.

Typical output metrics in the public analogue domain include column inches, audience, readership, and ‘opportunities to see’. In the public digital domain the focus is on impressions, number of friends and followers, number of ‘likes’, retweets, clicks, comments etc. You may recall my referring to this sort of thing when describing my meeting with the Goorooz, at least when outputs are considered without reference to outcomes.

And of course there are numerous quantities associated with private digital communications too – for example, who do I contact the most and who contacts me the most? (Personally, for the last three months in a row, it’s been Marcus and Marcus!)

Outputs are relatively easy to gauge, yet measurement-because-you-can-not-because-you-should is a common pitfall when it comes to business performance management. We’ve worked hard to deploy the Influence Scorecard and related guidance (search the web for “measurement and evaluation of communication”) to inform metric design in this regard, and whole books have been written on metrics that might suit your needs.

We wrestled with one particular question – is there a universal measure of communication performance effectiveness?

We’ve concluded there isn’t, as much as it would have been convenient otherwise.

Sixty eight

BB’s “Social Business #Fail Of The Week” is a popular read on our social network in which he documents, with biting humor, his grievances with organizations that don’t appear to be working hard at social business just yet. He refers to them collectively as the Antis, as in anti-social, and the inevitability of their decline (or at least of their current way of doing business) as The Extinction.

He told me he finally appreciates the Balanced Scorecard, attributing that to the simple fact that we now have worthwhile mission and vision. I suspected there was more to it than that and he took my provocation as a theme for his weekly ‘column’. He pursued the theme over a couple of months, eliciting comments and contributions from his colleagues, or “my readers” as he likes to say with a feigned journalistic twinkle in his eye.

This thematic series of posts concluded with a surprising description of social business as BB sees it – a business of the people, by the people, for the people. He made sure to define ‘the people’ as all stakeholders. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to the principles of human equality like this is a powerful device and I’ve made a note on my to-do list to explore the relevance and ramifications of this viewpoint more deeply.

We didn’t know BB had such talent as a copywriter – actually I’m not sure he did either – and Michelle is increasingly tapping this talent.

Sixty seven


The biggest process transformation so far relates to the structural changes I described above. We’ve got quite a bit of it licked fairly rapidly because our technology partner had anticipated some of our needs – it seems we’ve not been the only ones thinking hard about social business.

Obviously we have a very long road ahead of us. The idea that we might collate and synthesize insight and knowledge from all influence flows in combination remains little more than that, an idea. We have greatly expanded our social analytics, measurement and workflow capabilities though, and we’re using our enterprise social network much more aggressively.

In particular, we are tweaking mechanisms for identifying expertise that might have been under-appreciated to date; making communication more open and accessible; seeing if teams might assemble organically; and making it all more searchable (looking for an answer) and discoverable (maintaining awareness).

John is heads down in some vendor communities teasing out best practice that should get us in better shape to execute our vision in the coming years. It should prepare us to take full advantage of the new components as they emerge, and to do so quickly.

He talks a lot about resource description frameworks and linked data, if these mean anything to you. Ask your IT people. Actually, buy them a coffee – they’re your new best friends so make it a good one.

Sixty six


We’re opening our systems – carefully, cautiously, gradually, but definitely. We’ve already had an early win. John worked with the product data management team to open the majority of our product engineering data, much to the delight of New University’s manufacturing engineering department. Some of their post-grads ran our data through some value engineering software they’re developing and came back to us with more than sixty ideas for parts rationalization. We’re still working through the suggestions. The data had been open just eleven days.

An existing supplier was, in her words, having a play. She found we have a need for a product her company stocks. They didn’t know we use it. We didn’t know they stocked it.

We’ve revised our code of conduct, and this revision and its ramifications play a prominent role in the introductory training module. Tom describes it as zero tolerance for anything that isn’t 100% authentic. It is easier said than done however, and we’re now working with a company specialist in games-based learning to roll out a self-directed e-learning program on the topic.