How to Design Social Business Systems For Engaged, Social Organizations

by cv harquail on June 23, 2011

Organizations are social — they always have been.

But, organizations have rarely been designed intentionally to help us flourish as social beings while we work together.

Neither our analog systems nor our digital systems have been designed to help us bring more of our social selves to our work together. But, it’s not that hard to design technologies that support our needs to be more humanly social as individuals and as organizations.

Small changes smartly made, and big changes founded on key insights, can get us closer to fully social organizations.

201106222053.jpgIf we want to design technologies and digital work systems that can foster, enable, activate, cohere, and catalyze our social human selves, we need to ask:

How can this system help users express who they are?

• How can this system help users say what they need to say, and be heard where they need to be heard?

• How can this system help users take on new authority and new responsibility, while finding new situations and new ways to choose, decide, and act?

• How can this system help users find, affirm, share, inspire and collaborate with other people, directly and indirectly?

• How can this system help users clarify and pursue a contribution to others that is both individually and collectively meaningful?

We Can Proactively Design Our Social Selves Into Our ‘Social’ Technologies

Too many technologies have ignored these questions, and so we’ve had to exploit the gaps in these systems to create identity, voice, agency, community and purpose.

We could continue to work around these lamely ‘social’ technologies, trying to be more fully ourselves in spite of these systems. Or, we could transform the tools we use at work to that they help us flourish as social beings.

We can proactively re-imagine our technified work coordination systems, by asking, answering and extending these five questions.

As we construct systems that intentionally bring out our identity, agency, voice, community and purpose, we will build organizations that are truly, humanly, social.


See also:
Systems of Engagement: Technology for Social Organizations
How Social Media Affects the Organization Itself: Post Roundup
When Will “Social Business” Become Social Change Business?

image: Blue ship detail from springm / Markus Spring on Flickr

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