The social vs process debate makes no sense


It started with a remark from a friend, a few weeks ago :

There’s nothing social in this project. Only good old processes

I clearly understood what he meant but, in some ways, I was not comfortable with that. There was something like a mistake in the underlying assumptions.

In the first times, “social” within companies (social computing, networking etc…) whis caricaturally and simply opposed to processes, the ladt symbolizing the formal and structured side of the enterprise versus the informal and unstructured activities which are the field of social sotware and the related practices.

So “social” would preclude process and vice-versa. I don’t subscribe to this manichean point of view that causes many misunderstandings and doesn’t help to do anything constructive. As a matter of fact, social does not only enrich processes but it’s also a kind a process by itself.

As I said a few time ago, formal and structured production, which used to have have the role of the whipping boy in the “things 2.0 vs old practices” debate, is and will remain the heart of any organization.Central but not sufficient. In an economy that relies more and more on the use of intangible, on service customization and on the complex articulation of multiple expertises, taking into account the need for being able to overcome any process failure is mandatory. This will need adhoc teams and operating models in ordrer to get to a result….that will be used to execute a process. Something like a still… and like every good ongoing improvement process. Social and processes are complementary, the first enriching the second.

In the other and, adopting social practices and softwares doesn’t mean that people will be rushing about in all directions all day long. If we have a closer look, people in a social mode follow a kind of collective process.

– Sending out signals : document, report, tell, share

– use what the others sent : search, appeal

– enrich what the others sent.

The whole as an ongoing loop.

As a conclusion, we have to be aware of not mistaking working with unstructured datas and working in an unstructured way.