During our initial research for The Social Employee, we knew that one of the companies we wanted to focus on was the tech giant Cisco (@Cisco). We had learned that the business had recently undergone a dramatic internal transformation in both organizational structure and its decision-making process, but details on what exactly that looked like remained scarce.
Naturally, we were dying to find out more. And to our great fortune, we were able to speak at great length with Ron Ricci (@RonRicciCisco), VP of Customer Service Experiences, as well as Jeremy Hartman, Director of Applied Thought Leadership. The details they shared regarding Cisco’s transformation were really quite incredible. Not only did their story enliven our chapter on Cisco in The Social Employee, many elements of Cisco’s process helped bolster many of our own themes throughout the book as well.
The “why” comes full circle
Ricci recently posted an article to Cisco’s blog titled “Why the Social Employee is Inevitable.” In addition to his shout-out for our book (thanks Ron!), Ricci also expanded a little more on what drove—and continues to drive—Cisco’s entry into the world of social business, how the company has embraced a culture of social employees, and why these new ways of thinking matter.
As Ricci explains, “There is a galactic difference between alignment and engagement.” He then elaborates, calling alignment “‘what’ you need to do” and engagement “‘why’ something is important to do.” This is a key distinction; it doesn’t matter what you need to do unless you can get your employee base on board with the plan. This concept has been true regardless of what era of business we’re discussing, but it has been especially true in the dawning social era.
“As humans, we are intrinsically curious and innately social,” Ricci says. “If a team doesn’t feel like they are hearing from their manager ‘why’ something is important to prioritize, they will go to the next best source—their colleagues.” In other words, we can’t help but ask why, and they’re going to ask someone so it is to every business’s advantage to incorporate this social urge directly into its decision-making and implementation process. Building buy-in drives innovation, often leading to results that far exceed a company’s initial goals.
Where does the “why” buck stop?
But even if we know the why matters, there are other questions we need to ask. Who has ownership of the why? How does a business incorporate the why into the decision-making process? These are tough questions, but Ricci notes that the tough questions are usually the ones most worth asking. Says Ricci, “You may find yourself answering better and tougher questions, but you’ll be cutting to the heart of the matter faster—and isn’t that the whole point of engagement?” Ricci couldn’t be more spot-on in this observation. Sometimes the tougher questions may make us squirm in our seats a little. Sometimes it isn’t easy to justify our decisions when we’re not used to doing so.
But answering the tough questions is the embodiment of accountability in practice. And that’s why it’s up to management and executive leadership—what we call social executives—to provide the answers to these questions. The why buck must stop at the desk of every manager and executive within a brand’s walls. The social executive leadership at Cisco has mastered the use of social tools to allow their social employees to ask why, and they have made it their mission to never let those questions fall on deaf ears.
How is your brand championing the why within its walls? Share your stories in the comments below!
Below are recent endorsements for The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, August 2013) by Tom Peters and David Aaker on their social networks, but if you want to see more of their endorsements click here.
In The Social Employee, we go behind the scenes with several leading brands—such as IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo—pulling the lid off the inspiring social business success stories that have propelled these companies into the 21st century. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.
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“Great brands have always started on the inside, but why are companies taking so long to leverage the great opportunities offered by internal social media? . . . The Social Employee lifts the lid on this potential and provides guidance for businesses everywhere.” —JEZ FRAMPTON, Global Chairman and CEO, Interbrand
The Social Employee offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the social business success stories of some of the biggest brand names in the business world, including IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.
The brands that leverage their employee base in order to engage customers and prospects through social media are the ones destined to win the marketing wars. This book not only details the astronomical rise of the social employee, but also outlines the innovative methods that leading companies have employed to foster cultures of enthusiastic and engaged workers.
FOREWORD by David C. Edelman, Global Co-Leader, Digital Marketing & Sales Practice, McKinsey & Company
AFTERWORD by Kevin Randall, Vice President of Brand Strategy & Research at
Movéo Integrated Branding, and a columnist for Fast Company