Don’t forget Social Media in your Digital Transformation

If you’ve seen my YouTube playlist on the market-based view of lean-agile in digital transformation or read my posts on the necessity of operationalization metrics then you already aware that I don’t measure the responsiveness of a brand based on the lead time from golf course to cash, I measure the feedback cycle time from Twitter to production release. This isn’t just a lean-agile approach to connecting marketing with consumer technology, of course, this is about the ability of an enterprise to graduate from DevOps to Hypothesis-Driven Continuous Delivery.

The human body, in all its wonder, is the perfect metaphor that shows how this works. Let’s pretend for a moment that the human body is a post- Digital Transformation learning organization:

  • The hardware of the body = bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, etc
  • The firmware of the body = the endocrine system (hormones), neurological system, and sensory organs (including proprioception)
  • The software of the body = the human mind, in its infinite creativity and imagination

So let’s say you decide to lift a boulder. The software directs the hardware using the firmware, passing along motivating signals and messages – but the boulder is too heavy. You know it immediately, and decide not to hurt yourself. Incredibly complex processes in the golgi-tendon organ, proprioceptive system, and visual cortex aligned spontaneously to tell the mind “don’t try it, buddy!” Despite all that complexity and fuzzy-weighted algorithms, the feedback cycle time is instant.

We can imagine other great examples, like our ability to feel when a basketball is stolen mid-dribble (without even seeing it happen!) causing an instant pivot to find it. When we catch a baseball, the glove prevents us from seeing if we have a firm grip on the ball, and we’re watching the runner on second attempt to steal – but the familiar snap sound of the leather of the ball against the softer leather of the glove, the sting in the hand, and the well-practiced recoil of the arm are fully sufficient.

So why are we so bad at hand-eye coordination in the enterprise?

In dozens of organizations I’ve helped through their digital and lean-agile transformation, the numbers are never “added up”. Deep learning occurs through hypothesis-error-backpropogation; but no one is will to look like their hypothesis failed. There is no experimentation, so there is no innovation.

If the leadership of the company is the mind, it seems like most enterprises have a serious proprioceptive delay.  A strong sensory system combines and related all “the numbers” – the technical metrics (webservice availability, response times, page loads errors), user behavior / product metrics (completion rates, dropoffs, conversion funnels), social listening (not only on social media, but also the chat widget, feedback form, call center, and even UX interviews), and finally strategic KPI and accounting measures.

If these don’t come together, or take a very long time to make sense, the only way to manage coordination is visually – with the mind specifically thinking through each action of the body. That’s alright if you’re competing with players who are similarly bad at proprioception, but you’re guaranteed to lose against the “professional athlete” of your industry.

So don’t treat complaints and requests on social media as a closed dialogue, treat it is a signal from the market; check for information asymmetry. Don’t keep Twitter analytics in a private folder or let your social media analysts sit in a silo. Connect those brand marketers directly to enterprise operations, sales, digital media, and consumer product technology.  The cohesive view of how well the enterprise operationalizes leadership strategy should be a matter of proprioception, not visual observation.

PS – The social-to-production feedback cycle time for Keener Strategy is less than 24hrs.




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