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The Bottom Line – Transparency and Trust

The BBC show The Bottom line has been well worth a listen for a long time but this weeks show was particularly enjoyable. The three guests were Richard Harpin CEO of Homeserve, Nick Wheeler – Founder Charles Tyrwhitt and Charles Cohen of Probability Plc

The discussion was around Marketing and Mess and the marketing part of the discussion was illuminating. Each talked about their approach to marketing and there was some interesting war stories about bucking trends and ignoring conventional wisdom, and one which indicates why data protection was brought in! At one point the discussion moved to the role of Social Media and I was pleased to hear that the consensus was that Social Media is actually so much more than marketing and a statement that those who treat it as just another channel will get it wrong. There was also an acknowledgement that it takes time and effort, and simply farming it out to a third party for a monthly fee is a mistaken approach – I agree entirely. But perhaps the most significant point for me was the acknowledgement that social media is much more about transparency and how this is forcing a change. Quite so Social Media and the mindset that underpins it are the path to the Social Business built, to a large extent, on transparency and trust.

This transparency has three major aspects to it in terms of the implications for organisations:

Firstly Expectation – Increasingly organisations will find that a certain level of transparency is expected by employees, partners, clients and customers. Failure to adopt and adapt to this has quite profound implications particularly in the area of trust. Trust is hard won and easily lost but of immense value. As Nick Wheeler pointed out as a company that does 70% of its business on line, it’s not something you can ignore or play lip service to, you will get found out in the social media age. Trust will play into loyalty and sustainability and should not be underestimated.

Secondly Opportunity – This transparency challenges many long held management approaches, and that process can be unsettling to some. But at the same time by unlocking stale thinking and accepting a changed paradigm, many new opportunities become possible for leadership, insight, knowledge generation, innovation and collaboration. Cultural change often lies at the heart of improvement and this is more easily achieved with trust.  Social business requires the effective adoption of the social media ethic across the entire organisation, inward facing and outward facing, but the dividends are worth it.

Thirdly Assets – Embracing the Social Business model will yield benefits in ways that are not envisaged at the beginnings of a change programme. The extended relationships and trust bonds that develop are intangibles assets that will generate value in many ways. Nurturing and acknowledging the value of those assets will be a key factor in success.

I tend to catch up with the Bottom Line on the World Service but of course it is accessible as a download and through the listen again function.

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