A Loud Shout-out to the Newest Bzzzzzzword: Social Business Design


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This has been a common conversation for me over the last 5 years or so…

Most People: What is it that you do again?

Me: I help companies operate and compete in a knowledge-based economy.

Most People: Huh?

Me: I work with companies on their learning,development, knowledge management, innovation, marketing, HR and other processes to help them do business now – which is much different than how businesses have ever operated in the past.

Most People: [blank stare]

Me: I’m a consultant.

Most People: Oh…I know what they do.

Although the above is exaggerated I’m not naive enough to think that the label ‘Social Business Design’ will cause the conversation to be too much different than it is now – but I strongly applaud the team at Dachis Group for coining the term and providing a rallying cry for a whole industry [software suites, authors, consultants, etc.] of folks that will contribute to transforming organizations for a landscape that has no boundaries and relies on relationships, ideas, conversations, knowledge and all things intangible.

Social Business Design may become the next buzzword but I think it’s a simple yet eloquent and descriptive term for the results required to compete in a knowledge-based economy. So much so that we’re incorporating it in our communication about Orbital RPM’s offerings.

And while I lend credit to Dachis Group and Altimeter Group for energizing this arena I also thank and credit the following fields for their work in what I feel provides the foundation for a transformation to operating socially [representative honorees shown in brackets – there are way too many to list]:

  • Social Network Analysis [i.e. Rob Cross/Cross Networks Analytics, Valdis Krebs]
  • Value Network Analysis [i.e. Verna Allee, Value Networks and team]
  • Systems Thinking [i.e. Peter Senge/Pegasus Communications, iSee]
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology [i.e. Kurt Kraiger]
  • Organizational Design [i.e. Peter Drucker]
  • Scenario Planning [i.e. Art Kleiner]
  • Organizational Learning/Knowledge Management [i.e. Etienne Wenger, John Seely Brown, Jay Cross]
  • Leadership Development [i.e. Reg Revans, Steve Kerr, Michael Marquadt]
  • Workspace Design [i.e. Frank Becker, Charlie Grantham, Jim Ware, Camille Venezia]
  • Innovation [Peter Skarzynski, Rowan Gibson, Clayton Christensen]
  • Social Marketing [i.e. Charlene Li, Peter Kim]
  • Social Software developers/vendors

Combining insights from these [and other] fields brings a comprehensive solution to organizations wanting to become social businesses. The timing is right to combine the best of what’s new [i.e. web 2.0 & social marketing] with age old approaches [i.e. communities & action learning] that will help with this transformation.

This is what we’ve been doing for the last 5 years. Now we have a name for it.

Jacob McNulty
Orbital RPM
Jacob McNulty is President of Orbital RPM, which helps clients use social business design to position and compete in a knowledge-based economy. Previously he was Director of Learning and Development with ELS where he focused on implementing learning solutions for Fortune 5 and Inc. 5 companies.


  1. Thanks John – to be honest I wasn’t aware of the Social Business Strategy phrase (#sbs) until your comment and a few tweets I saw today. I’m not heavily invested in either but a phrase that gets at harnessing and making useful the knowledge contained within an organization’s workforce, suppliers and customers is what I will support.

    Social CRM seems to address only the customer aspect of that [and comes with tech baggage] – #sbs feels more encompassing to me.

    When I read the Dachis description of #sbd it reflected how I talk about our offerings – if #sbs does as well then I’m all for it.

    Jacob McNulty


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