For what do we get paid in a social business?

John had worked four weeks on the proposal.

Days, evenings, some weekends and even two nights. Finally, John and the team heard the words they had been fighting for so hard: We have decided to award you our business. And then – even better – …the solution you have suggested is more complete and smarter than your competitors and you have also done a better job of presenting the benefits our company will reap by choosing you and your solution.
Time to celebrate!

A week later, after the first turmoil of getting things started, John thought it could be a good idea to share the winning proposal with his colleagues through the social intranet. First, he hoped that such a strong proposal could help colleagues elsewhere win even more business. Second, John, who was a nice and empathic fella, wanted to save colleagues some trouble and hardship in creating proposals for similar deals from scratch. After all, he knew very well how unhappy he and his family had been with his workload during those four weeks. Finally, he realized that sharing the proposal would build his reputation as an expert in this field and as a good salesguy. Win – win – win!

But, first he needed to cleanse it from confidential information, client identifiers, financial details etc. It took him two hours to do so. But then he shared the file and posted about it in a couple of forums and – of course – in a status update on his profile page. (He added a couple of relevant tags to his profile too, while he was at it, by the way).

Over the following weeks and months, colleagues around the world re-used John’s shared proposal, tailored it to their needs and managed to win several deals around the world, spending only half the time and much less weekends and evenings in doing so. How many millions was it worth for the company?

What did John get out of this? Indeed, his reputation got a boost and people from near and far asked him for supplementary information. Flattering, but time consuming. He probably spent another day’s worth of time on answering such supplementary questions over that period. Still, John thought of the good business he helped the company to make and the gratefulness from colleagues who could work so much smarter than he had been forced to do.

But apart from some thanks a million in mails, chats and over the phone, what did he get out of it? Did it show on his pay slip or in the appraisal by his manager? Not at all. On the contrary. His manager said John, you winning that deal for us was great. But since then, you seem to have lost focus and keep chatting away with colleagues across the world. But out business is here. Our department is measured on the profits we generate from our clients in our local market. Not on some deal in Farawayland. We’ve got to keep our eye on the ball, you know.

Social Business brings fundamental changes to the way we reward our employees

For ages, workers’ pay has been based on what they produced. Number of widgets produced, seams welded, kilos of produce, hours worked etc. Our pay has been in direct relation to what came out of our hands or our time worked. Only very few people have been paid for what came out of their heads: artists, writers and maybe a few others.

But Social Business breaks this direct relationship between our effort and the benefit to the company we work for. Our shared knowledge and experience can mean so very much more to the entire company than our original effort actually did. But – and this is the tricky part – we are unlikely to know where or when those benefits are generated and there is no good way of tracking the benefit to the company from what an individual has shared. At least I haven’t seen any, yet.

So, HR folks will have to work out new formulas to reward us for what we bring to the table.

And suppliers of social intranet software or other software manufacturers will need to come up with ways of identifying re-use and benefits reaped from shared knowledge

If they don’t, luddites will keep coming up with the same excuse for not collaborating and sharing: What’s in it for me really?

It will be most interesting to see what they come up with.

Social Streaming Music, adding another dimension to the social web

I admit it, I’m a Spotify addict.

I have always loved listening to music and have a rather eclectic taste, I think. My Spotify playlists contain a great variety but with a certain lack of Death Metal, Opera and Country. If you find that among my playlists, I blame my kids.

Probably the first music service I used was Pandora and I still love the concept of the music genome project, but when faced with copyright issues a couple of years ago, Pandora chose to exclude all of us outside of the US from using their service.  I strongly suspect Pandora management regret deeply today that they didn’t persist in the fight to cut through the legal rigmarole. By excluding the rest of the world, they left the field free for others to build their strength and later to attack Pandora on their home turf.

Instead I use:

All of them are more or less straightforward internet radios, but Spotify is more. They have managed to get embedded in social networks left, right and center.

First and foremost, there’s the Spotify integration with Facebook. Provided my friends and I have linked our Spotify accounts with Facebook, I can “eavesdrop” on their playlists and get inspired by what they are listening to right now. Becoming aware of the music taste of your friends adds another dimension to the friendship. It helps you discover new music and artists, and get reminded about some that you have forgotten about too.

This way, I have both discovered and rediscovered great music. I have also found an old friend from high school who is the first to display a more eclectic taste of music than mine. He has opera and heavy metal too.

On top of that, you can send – of course – links to both tracks and playlists to friends and followers on both Facebook and Twitter, and within Spotify itself of course. There are independent sites for sharing playlists and recently Spotify have taken the venture into the platform space and open up for others to write apps within the infrastructure itself. On top, they have added, even more recently, a player for embedding on websites to play Spotify tracks within your site, as I saw on Mashable the other week.

What will be next?

Hopefully an agreement with some of my old heroes; The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa.