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Social Tools Without Social Risks
Joe Ruck, BoardVantage CEO
it’s easy to improve communication­—just open
up access! The problem is that doing so will sacrifice process along the way. Perhaps that tradeoff works in some organizations and at some
levels, but it would backfire painfully at the top.
When you’re charged with the safekeeping of
highly confidential board documents, proliferation of content is not an option.
onsumer social media companies
are getting eye-popping valuations.
Google and Facebook go head-tohead on a weekly basis. No doubt, consumer
‘social’ is hot.
So the question we asked a couple years ago,
how to adapt consumer models to the needs of
leadership teams, is more relevant today than
ever. It was obvious then that social media was
an ever-strengthening force, and it was only
a matter of time before it would play a role in
leadership communications. On the other hand,
there was an argument to dismiss these models
entirely as nothing but a distraction. After all, did
we really expect boards and leadership teams to
spend their time photo sharing?
The second problem was executive role complexity. Rarely discussed, but critically important
nonetheless, it is a reality that executives wear
many different hats. They invariably hold stakes
in a wide range of initiatives. That role complexity, pervasive among executives, is simply not
existent among the rank and file. It is for that
reason that consumer networks and their simple
corporate adaptations may work great at the department level, but have little value at the executive level. Without a richer model to address
this challenge, these networks would never be a
viable option for the leadership team.
Looking around the software market we noticed
some vendors touting Facebook-style walls to improve enterprise collaboration. Those examples
were compelling at first until it became apparent
that they illustrated use at the lowest levels of
the enterprise, and unfailingly, in non-businesscritical situations. Of course, where confidentiality concerns are minimal and the stakes are low,
That is the reason we built the NextGen architecture with the capability to segregate sensitive
communication streams. Inside the platform,
- 1-
ring-fenced TeamSpaces let executives create
destinations for open and direct communication without chancing information leaks. It gives
them focal points for collaboration where they
can share information using a range of traditional (e.g. shared repository) and social (e.g.
feeds) tools. In effect what we’re doing is using
‘social’, not as standalone functionality, but as
an organizing principle. The social paradigm
is integrated at the core of the platform where
a permission model exercises control over all
content and communication flows. This assures
that no content can proliferate outside its permissible boundaries.
At BoardVantage we agree that much of the
promise of social media resides in sharing but,
when applied to leadership teams, it cannot be
done in isolation. The challenge is to strike a balance between the need to share and the need to
maintain control.
»» Typical collaboration and social networking tools are quite effective for group
communication, and often readily adaptable in the lower levels of the enterprise.
»» But leadership is different. Executives
multi-task across different initiatives.
They face a degree of role complexity
that does not exist among the rank and
file. That rules out the use of typical collaboration tools currently used across
the enterprise.
»» The NextGen architecture segregates sensitive communication streams—by initiative—centralizing relevant activity inside
ring-fenced TeamSpaces. This allows direct and open communication within a
secure, team-specific environment.
4300 Bohannon Drive, Suite 110, Menlo Park, CA 94025 Tel: 650-614-6000