A Checklist of 11 Business Strategy Points derived from “11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era”

“11 Rules…” is a 2012 book by Nilofer Merchant ISBN-13: 978–1492831426

The following ideas about doing business in a time of constant disruption are arguments that are becoming familiar to the ears of digital natives, but even for us are worth iterating with their several different angles together all in one place. For the slowly-waking rest of the business world a lot more repeating is going to be necessary before the whole picture can start to be appreciated...

I have arranged my highlights based on ideas from the opening arguments of Merchant’s book and pose these as strategy and business model questions which new entrepreneurs and existing business managers need to consider how to answer for their own organizations.

  1. Are you trying to define and work to a single best strategy?
    Organizations cannot have one strategy, but must pursue several experimental strategies concurrently.
  2. Do you design business structures and processes as if things are due to settle down soon?
    As a basic assumption of the business model, from here on in, change is the norm, not the exception.
  3. What organizational capabilities do you have in learning about change?
    The organization must have the capacity to deal with and take advantage of change, but before it has a chance of performing well at that, it must have the capacity to observe, identify, and interpret trends.
  4. At what point do you involve customers in new product development?
    Customers now co-create products with you. All stages of the process.
  5. Are you building moats or are you building networks?
    As a general rule, build networks and communities around your organization. Business power now comes from communities, collaboration, and co-creation, not industrially-scaled output.
  6. What are you doing that involves partnership with other organizations?
    Network-building is not only with your customers and interest groups, but also other organizations with related aims. This is difficult if your organization insists on control and predictability. The problem for many businesses is not only a fear of risk… it’s fear of success: in particular who gets to take the credit for good results. Trying always to take sole credit means your organization will damagingly isolate itself and perform poorly against growing organization-to-organization networks.
  7. Do you have a tacit demographic model for your staffing?
    The requirement for diverse talent means that organizations need to be wholly talent-focused regardless of who brings that talent in… and therefore inclusive about the age/gender/culture/backgrounds of employees. This is performance-orientation not token diversity in hiring.
  8. Does your goal-setting allow goal-changing?
    Business goals are not final or singular, and the organization is better steered by aiming for each next “horizon”.
  9. Does your organization have a social purpose?
    Purpose unites an organization more than products, and a purpose is something social.
  10. What is the most important aspect of social media for your organization?
    The true power of social media marketing is not broadcast, popularity, or a klunky customer service medium, but simply the ability to listen to customers and learn from them.
  11. Is social media work the limit of your organization’s social activities?
    The “social” in social media is more important than the “media”. Social functions of the organization take place beyond marketing and communications work.

The above 11 points are, expanded in my own words, the key starting arguments from Nilofer Merchant’s book which I felt were most universally applicable and important for modern business people to think about. (My 11 points do not correspond to the book’s own “11 rules”.)

Nilofer Merchant’s book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era is useful both for new digital natives and stick-in-the-mud businesses, because she outlines the original pillars of wisdom from “modern” business theory, and shows how they are being dissolved and replaced by better-performing social and antifragile organizations.

Kindle links: http://www.amazon.com/Rules-Creating-Value-Social-Era-ebook/dp/B0097DM41E and UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rules-Creating-Value-Social-Era-ebook/dp/B0097DM41E/