Tagged: six influence flows

Attenzi – a social business story

Attenzi – a social business story shines a light on social business that goes beyond the all too typical homages to social media. It’s a relatively short and easy read intended to help readers explore what social business means for their organization, marketplace, communities and career.

The story is designed to galvanize the organization.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll consider aspects of organizational design, business performance management, marketing, public relations, branding, complexity, and the imminent empowerment of the individuals that make up any and all organizations. 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.

It’s free and available in HTML (this website, just keep clicking ‘Next‘), PDF, EPUB, Kindle .mobi, Kindle .azw3 and iBooks formats. And at Scribd. Hyperlinks in the ebook take you to the same section on this website for questions, observations and discussion.

I hope you’ll let me and each other know what you make of it.

Best wishes, Philip Sheldrake.

15th May 2013.

I met Adam Pisoni shortly after finishing the first edition of this book and found someone equally enthusiastic for the wide and deep potential of social business. I invited him to write the foreword, and he kindly agreed. Thanks Adam.

And I met Robin Carey who suggested we publish a second edition, September 2013, in association with Social Media Today. And I invited Robin to help set the scene too … Next

Fifty nine (i)

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.

Fifty three

Building an influence model is mentally taxing. Marcus lifted our spirits: “I’ve been in manufacturing my whole life and often think what a buzz it must have been to have worked alongside Deming or Juran, or to have helped develop the Toyota Production System. Now I know this thing we’re doing here may only have a fraction of the impact, but it feels important. It feels new. It feels right.”

Deming and Juran were quality management pioneers whose work revolutionized manufacturing during the 20th Century, and Marcus’ reference prompted me to brush up on their contributions that evening. I stumbled upon a great quote and emailed Marcus.

Hi Marcus,

Another Attenztastic day!

You mentioned Deming, and I just found this quote by him:

“To successfully respond to the myriad of changes that shake the world, transformation into a new style of management is required. The route to take is what I call profound knowledge – knowledge for leadership of transformation.”

You may not have been able to work with him, but it appears you’re pursuing his enduring vision. Pushing it in fact. We’re at the cutting edge of building that profound knowledge in ways he possibly never imagined.

See you at the eleven o’clock.


Marcus sent back a smiley with a postscript: “How are you getting on with moving away from email and on to the enterprise social network?”


Fifty two

I’m not sure we approached it in the most efficient manner. In fact, let me be more exact, I’m certain we did not. But let me describe how the process did pan out.

We came together in small groups for an hour or two a day for two and a half weeks, and even now I think we could add more detail.

It was as fun and insightful in parts as it was tedious in others. Bob rightly called one meeting to an early close for fear we’d lose enthusiasm permanently, yet we had abundant energy in the next. Marcus said it had been just the same when first approaching business performance management.

We teased out influences, one by one, and by stakeholder group for want of a better place to start. It is the first comprehensive list Attenzi has ever constructed of the ways in which our (as in all Attenzi stakeholders) thoughts and behaviors and decision-making are, well, influenced.

By way of a reminder, here’s those generic Six Influence Flows again.

  1. Our organization’s influence with stakeholders
  2. Our stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to us
  3. Our stakeholders’ influence with our organization
  4. Our competitors’ influence with stakeholders
  5. Stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to our competitors
  6. Stakeholders’ influence with our competitors.

The Six Influence Flows

For clarity, the list wasn’t a photograph so to speak of actual influence happening in real time on a specific date. It was the beginnings of a model of the typical influence flows that are important to the business, either by design or by default.

It recognizes our treatment of data, information and knowledge. It recognizes interactions in person, on the phone, on email, through the media, on the social web, every which way. It recognizes the kinds of market and societal characteristics that influence us. It maps into existing business processes (rather than functions), from new product development to procurement, from recruitment to customer account management, from performance appraisals to supplier audits.

Forty seven (ii)

“How can I put it?” he continued. “Food is life. Food is health. It’s family. It’s social. It’s cultural. It’s creative. And it’s business. It’s everything you describe in your aspirations for Attenzi.”

Now we understood. Genius. I knew immediately that this should play a central role in the new direction for the business, and then Dom double-confirmed the matter for me.

“Do you recall our conversation about Wikipedia Eli, about how communities need a common set of values, held dearly, in order to come together to do great stuff?”

“I do, and I see where you’re coming from, or in fact going to,” I replied.

It seemed so obvious that it was suddenly shocking to consider the pervasive way we all thought about Attenzi up to that point. We generally thought in terms of what it does – the design and manufacture and servicing of kitchen equipment. We had, in that customer-centric way, considered that we gave our customers great kitchen equipment that should delight in terms of quality, usability and value. But we didn’t really think in terms of what it actually does for them – helping them cook great food and everything that this means to them. I’d talked about being in service to others in concluding the away day but the penny clearly hadn’t dropped entirely.

You’ll recall when I first introduced you to Vincenzo that I’d come to think of him as a management guru.

It turns out social business isn’t so new. Great restaurateurs have been doing it for centuries. OK, not quite as we’ve defined it here – not the heavy focus on information and communication technologies and science and scale and agility and openness and data acquisition and knowledge management – but playing to the communication norms of their times and situation, in their authenticity being plain to see and their quality being evident to taste; in reality unavoidably being perception.

They know their suppliers and their regular customers in a way that other businesses have lost with scale. Their restaurants are both workplace and home from home.

The first three of the influence flows (between the organization and stakeholders) are real-time and palpable: empty plates, or not; happy diners or not; good tips or not; repeat custom or not; great teamwork or not; loyal staff or not; a profitable night, or not.

The fourth, fifth and sixth influence flows (between competitors and stakeholders) are apparent too: through daily word of mouth; through eating at their establishments; by looking through windows; by monitoring reviews.

Above all – although it does sound kind of odd to write it down and, if I’m honest, perhaps a bit, well, soft – it’s all very human.

I called Dom and Jigya a taxi at 1am. They were the last to leave. As I prepared for bed I realized I didn’t know much about the company’s founder, Attilio Enzo. I’d heard reports of boundless energy and enthusiasm. He’d come close to losing the business at one point. His photo hangs in reception. And he’d passed away in 1990 a few days before his 70th birthday and a month after the company launched its first product range for the home kitchen. That was all I knew.

I wondered if he’d ‘got’ some of this stuff, and whether business had just knocked it out of the business, if you know what I mean.

Forty four (ii)

How might we go about socializing the enterprise?

We need to improve our understanding of influence flows first off, and our facility to think and behave in these terms universally (as opposed to just in marketing and PR). And develop our assets accordingly.

Sarah commented that the Balanced Scorecard approach considers how best to develop three types of assets in improving an organization’s capabilities to execute the strategy. They are human capital, information capital and organization capital. The first needs no explanation. The second refers to IT capabilities, and the third to the leadership, culture, teamwork and alignment of the organization and activities to the strategy.

So, it seems logical that we might consider the process of becoming a social business in terms of developing the human, information and organization capital appropriately.

We thought about ‘influence flows’ as a strategy that we can run through the normal strategy maps and Balanced Scorecard process. But then we noted that the flows of time, money and materials weren’t strategies, so why would influence flows constitute a strategy per se. Rather, strategy is defined as identifying those processes that the organization decides it should do better than the competition in order to secure it the advantage it desires in the marketplace.

In short, focusing on influence flows isn’t a strategy, determining which influence mechanisms and processes to improve is.

I was excited about where this was going but time was flowing by. So, with an hour of the day remaining, I asked who’d like to go out to dinner that evening, if they didn’t have prior commitments of course, to seize the momentum. Everyone was up for it and I made a reservation at Vincenzo’s. But we weren’t done at the hotel just yet.

Saket introduced everyone to the Influence Scorecard approach, which, like the Balanced Scorecard, is a management approach rather than a yardstick per se.

The Influence Scorecard can be considered as a subset or augmentation of the Balanced Scorecard containing all the influence-related objectives and metrics extracted from their functional silos.

Once a company’s influence strategy is defined and influence objectives articulated – by each of the six influence flows and by stakeholder – influence flows can be drawn explicitly in the enterprise strategy map.

Sarah asked if the Balanced Scorecard was a prerequisite of the Influence Scorecard. Saket replied that any organization that hadn’t yet implemented well defined and disciplined business performance management wasn’t yet in the best position to socialize the enterprise effectively. And transitioning to social business cannot be accomplished in a week or two; it will take place over a number of years although strategic value should be derived each and every quarter if the process is managed well.

ACTION: Sarah, Yvonne, Michelle to work with Saket and learn more about the Influence Scorecard.

Forty two


You have been influenced when you think something you wouldn’t otherwise have thought or do something you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

The report then documents the idea I’d put forward in the planning meeting – about the ‘i’ of IT really being the ‘i’ of influence. So we’ll skip down to Saket’s first major contribution of the day.

Organizations have invested in ERP systems since they emerged in the early-90s, and their preceding technologies before that. Enterprise Resource Planning is all about using IT to track the flows of time, money and materials. However, with the advent of social media and related technologies, and with the extension of today’s social monitoring and analytics services, we increasingly have the nascent facility to track the flow of influence.

Saket described six influence flows:

  1. Our organization’s influence with stakeholders
  2. Our stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to us
  3. Our stakeholders’ influence with our organization
  4. Our competitors’ influence with stakeholders
  5. Stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to our competitors
  6. Stakeholders’ influence with our competitors.

I remember BB asking for an explanation of “stakeholder”, although that didn’t make the final report. Perhaps it should have. A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in an organization or something the organization is involved in – a customer, shareholder, employee, local resident, etc.

Saket summed up the value of tracking the flow of influence: “The ease and effectiveness with which we can manage and learn from influence flows is integral to the process by which customers, citizens and all stakeholders interact with organizations to broker mutually valuable, beneficial relationships.”

In plainer English, it’s central to doing business; always has been, always will be, except now we can be better at it, more scientific, more joined up, more disciplined.