Transforming a company into a social business

Philips Shedrake’s previous book, The Business of Influence, was a thorough analysis on the way organizations need to rethink their strategies to take into account the new paradigms of influence and invent a new “social business”.

In just a few days, Philip will release his next book, Attenzi: A Social Business Story, in which he tells the story of how Attenzi, a fictional kitchen manufacturing company, transformed itself into a social business.

As he puts it, “I thought that the natural next steps from the Business of Influence was to look at use cases of organisations having successfully transformed into a social business. The problem is that this use case does not exist yet. So I decided to use the novel format to tell a story that still has to be written in real life.”

In the book, Eli Appel, the newly appointed CEO of Attenzi explains how in 20 months he had to reinvent his personal life following his divorce and help his company become a social business.

The book intelligently weaves insightful thinking on business strategy in the age of social media with a highly realistic account of the challenges of change management and the personal memories of the narrator as he is confronted with the realities of the new connected generation embodied by his daughter Rachel.

“To Rachel, the Web has always existed. (…) Adults have always had mobile phones and they’ve always been smart – the phones that is, not adults”.

Rachel will create her own social business with her teenage friends in order to save “North Street Skate Park” demonstrating how the new dynamics of social influence already impact the lives of local communities. Social businesses are not a fiction.

The book is also packed with strategic and theoretical thinking. Alongside the thoughtful strategic review carried out by his main character, the author takes us through insightful reflexions on the balance scorecard, the future of ERPs and the importance of measurement. Even the German philosopher Hegel gets called to the table!

But, more than anything, Attenzi is a book about change management. It is the story of a CEO who challenges his whole team to change the way they think about their business and their own job, their way of working together and of dealing with customers and partners.

“Going social” is not about launching your facebook page or using fancy words such as Big Data or Mobile, it is about integrating the flows of influence into your daily management practices. “No business can really get to be social in a meaningful and valuable way simply by indulging in social media or by slapping apps onto social devices or by subscribing to a social enterprise network.” Becoming a social enterprise is not about IT systems or fancy platforms, it is about people.

Attenzi, a social business story, meets the challenging objective of being both instructive, insightful and a very enjoyable read. The first paragraph sets the tone “The day was memorable for three reasons. First, Myra and I decided our temporary separation was going to be permanent. Second, my new sofa got stuck on the stairs (…) Third, I got the phone call inviting me to discuss the role of Attenzi Chief Executive Officer. It wasn’t a long call. Just as well. My left hand was stuck behind the stuck sofa.”

The book also provides a great gallery of portraits from the social media consultancy “Social Media Goroorooz” to the better treated management consultant called Saket.

The story of Attenzi is a compelling case for the CEO and CMO who do not have yet an influencer strategy. And it is time they start working on it because it is probable their competitors have already figured it out.

Attenzi, a social business story, is a free book available here as of Wednesday, May 15th.