I do not think it’s possible to put a date to when social business became a ‘real’ term in Grundfos. The first official company blog was perhaps done by my colleague Andreas Kolind back in 2008, and the first social collaboration platforms in the form of wikis etc. were also introduced around that time. But a more consolidated ambition and definition covering the ‘Internal’ as well as ‘External’ dimensions of social business did not materialise untill 2012. And for sure, it will develop significantly in 2013! I’ll tell about the internal and external dimensions in Grundfos – including how they interdepend – in a later post!
We did not have a social business policy primo 2012. In addition, the organisation knew that our executive board had not come to a point where major focus could be given to social business, social collaboration platforms, and social media. Hence, every time we wanted to start a pilot project, we were a little bit set back by people saying: ‘We don’t know if our VP/Manager thinks it OK to spend time and money on this kind of project’, or ‘we’re not sure what we can say and do’ and so forth. So, by not having a social business policy, we were haltered in many ways. So we knew we had to do something about it. But the risk was opening up a Pandoras box if we did not go about it right. Fortunately we got the go to produce a first version via the mandate of our Global Working Culture initiative, which was – and is – a group-strategic project. I think you can say we succeeded by starting small.
Some of the best advice I can give any company pursuing a successful social business strategy, is to keep policy and governance to a practical minimum and maximise social empowerment and social business profficiency amongst as many key stake holders as possible. I’m generally of the belief that the risk of most 2012 organisations is doing too little, and that potential wins of motivating people to engage far outweigh the risk of making mistakes. But you do need to want to know what you’re doing. That’s why we had to come up with a Grundfos Social Business Policy. Here it is. It’s lean but terribly deep if you take the time to really read what it says. It covers internal as well as external social business aspects. It holds for individuals as teams. And it is a great piece if you do workshops and take the time to go into each section and ask around the table: So how do you understand this? How will this section influence the way we behave and take action if we want to engage in social business initiatives with our particular team goals in focus? The part I like the most is that Grundfos encourages all employees to engage. But we do not ask – and even less demand – them to do so!
It did take quite a while to finalize and polish up, but essentially we put it together by taking the best of what we knew of and could find from other companies who had taken quality time out of their business system to produce their wordings. So – feel free to copy and comment 😉 A couple of great sources of inspration for this kind of work could be e.g. socialmediapolicies.com by Chris Boudreaux or socialmedia.biz where there are quite a few good examples as well.