How can we make our social enterprises fit for the future?

Blogging, Vlogging and Flogging

A couple of talks on change have recently got me thinking.  We live in such uncertain times at the moment, and it often feels like the rule book has been thrown out of the window. As Bill Gates said, “There will be more change in the next 15 years than there has been in the last 50 years.”

This rate of change can make life seem chaotic, hard to focus and sometimes downright scary (especially for oldies like me!)

One thing we do know is that, as businesses, we need to evolve to respond to these changes, to anticipate what the changes might be (as far as we can) and to be flexible in order to compete.

These are some of the thoughts that have struck me (in no particular order):

    • People have a lower attention span. There is so much information to take in that ‘out of the ordinary’ novelties catch the eye.  We are in the Instagram Generation.  People don’t want to read things, they want to scan and wait for things to catch their eye.  What makes your business different and eye catching?  Can you make marketing collateral more visual?  Can you film something rather than writing it? For example, I have recently published my first Vlog:

  • Technological change is taking us into the realms of science fiction. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, Virtual Reality are all with us and will increasingly change the way that we work; robots will do the more menial tasks and even some of the skilled tasks (where for instance, value judgements and human biases are a disadvantage).  We need to think about what skills will be needed for the future and equip ourselves to become Digital Leaders and support others to change and adapt their roles.  However, the flip side of this is that we still need to focus on the customer’s experience and not get carried away with huge digital solutions (witness the chaos that TSB has experienced this week as customers are locked out of their accounts).  The answer to this is to change incrementally and test as you go.
  • Social media appsBusiness models have also changed – we have seen the rise of platforms such as Uber, Air B&B, Google, Facebook etc. Much has been made of their different style of business – e.g. being client driven, employee self-organisation, flexibility and innovation.  I have no doubt that the old order of hierarchy in business and life is breaking down to allow much more personal freedom.  But at what cost?  Is this window dressing?  It seems to me that, underneath it all, the financial bottom line still remains the key driver. Social enterprises are authentic though and we really need to shout about how we are making a true social difference, our ethics and values (for example, through accreditations such as the Social Enterprise Mark!)

Change is also invigorating as it encourages us to think differently. Prompted by attending a Cosmic Digital Leadership programme (see video below for more details), we are currently thinking through all of this at Social Enterprise Mark CIC and it’s certainly opened us up to a whole set of new ideas.  We don’t have all the answers just yet, but we do know that staying still isn’t an option.