It’s All About Collaboration


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Regardless of how you want to spin “social business,” “social enterprise,” “social collaboration,” “enterprise collaboration,” or any other new term that comes along, it always comes down to collaboration. At the end of the day that’s really what this is about, it’s not about being social it’s about being collaborative and applying collaborative technologies, strategies, ideas, and concepts to how businesses operate today and in the future.

What we are now calling a “social business” or a “social enterprise” are far cries from what these concepts and terms were created to mean. They have been marketed and spun to death to take away from their philanthropic meanings and have been intentionally mutated like a virus into something that is being sold to organizations with promises of…improved collaboration.

The term “social” is simply coming from “social media” but now stuck onto other more “business” sounding phrases. You can imagine why it can sometimes become a bit frustrating when I keep hearing about and reading about “how to become a social business” when in the back of mind I’m thinking, “who the heck cares about being social? we need to become collaborative.” The world “social” itself doesn’t really imply any type of business value, in fact it implies the exact opposite with casual chat, bantering, and playing around with tools such as Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand I’ve always believed that “collaboration” has inherent business value, it’s about two or more people working together to achieve a goal.

A social business was first defined by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus as a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today.

A social enterprise is defined as an organization that applies business strategies to achieving philanthropic goals.

I should point out that I include myself in this mix as well. I mean after all it’s a bit tough to go against the grain when you have large companies pitching the concept of “social business,” with seemingly endless marketing budgets. So honestly sometimes I’m a bit torn between going with what I believe in vs going with what everyone says. Of course employees at most of these companies are going to stick with “social” anything because that’s what their paid to do. I’m exposed to so much content around “social” something that sometimes it’s hard not to even doubt myself.

Deep down I like to think that regardless of the jargon anyone uses we all fundamentally believe that collaboration is the impetus behind what we are all talking about and trying to create, after all I truly believe that collaborative organizations can make the world a better place.

This was one of the debates I had when naming my book. In the end I settled for “The Collaborative Organization” because that is what I really believe this is all about.

Curious to hear your thoughts, observations, frustrations and viewpoints. I know I’m not the only one with these thoughts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jacob Morgan
I'm a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and futurist who explores what the future of work is going to look like and how to create great experiences so that employees actually want to show up to work. I've written three best-selling books which are: The Employee Experience Advantage (2017), The Future of Work (2014), and The Collaborative Organization (2012).


  1. Jacob, I share your sentiments a great deal.

    Social used to mean societal. Not using social networking/media.

    Collaboration used to mean working together to achieve a common goal. Not using electronic tools.

    Now it’s all munged up into one big mess. Some vendors are using terms like “social collaboration” to hedge their bets. (I wonder what unsocial collaboration looks like. )

    But it’s probably Facebook more that any software company that has created this social = online networking shift. And to be fair, isn’t it true that Twitter has helped make the world a better place by putting pressure on oppressive regimes?

    I’d like to think (maybe it’s a hope or dream) that people will realize there is a difference between real friends and “friending” someone. And that “social” and “collaboration” won’t lose their richer meanings as we use new technologies. Time will tell.

    Prem has a great take on this issue at Rethinking “Social” in 2012.


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