Donald Trump’s tweeting is phenomenal. It shows off the strength of social media: on the one hand, the direct and authentic communication between people; without intermediaries, filters and interpretation. On the other hand, it shows the heightened transparency and accountability, as tweets from years ago can still be found and assessed easily.
Companies have not embraced this change yet. They talk about authenticity and transparency like most mainstream politicians but mainly use social media as yet another broadcast channel.
Companies are still behaving like ‘the establishment’ – talking about democratic organisations, ownership and participations, but trying to maintain the status quo, to control the message and to smack some more social media policies and website usage restrictions onto their employees.
They still refuse to treat people like self-determined individuals, instead of seeing them as assets or as purely revenue-producing entities; now even using ‘wellness’ and ‘health’ as a way to control how people behave outside of work so they are more productive within work.
Introducing People to People (P2P)
One of the key things that need changing is how businesses classify themselves and the markets they serve. It’s commonplace to describe a company as being, or operating, in a business to business (B2B), a business to consumer (B2C) or a business to employee (B2E) environment. However, B/C/E have one thing in common, they are people. As a minimum, companies should advocate a ‘business to people’ (B2P) approach. As an ideal, companies would embrace a ‘people to people’ (P2P) approach – at its core, the business itself is made up of people.
The B2C, B2B and B2E approaches seep into each other and are fusing into P2P solutions. This can be seen in marketing as I described some time ago in “A supermarket of talent”:
“Hiring managers are perceived purely as a business representative instead as an individual following the same buying decision making patterns as consumers. It therefore also makes absolute sense to direct more of the brand-building budget towards the hiring manager and move from (or merge and enhance) a B2B approach to a B2C approach.”
This was a valid starting point (though not often found in companies), however, I didn’t go far enough as I then still distinguished between B2C and B2B. More importantly, I didn’t question and change the first ‘B’ – the business itself – when this is the key change.
Taking a P2P approach simplifies a lot of things (caveat: I am not saying simple = easy or dumb). Here are a couple of examples:
- There is only one brand instead of several (employer, consumer, etc)
- Social media policies and website restriction don’t need enforcing
- Brand building is based on data collected from employees instead of time-consuming and inaccurate focus groups and persona creation
- Promotion, Product, Price & Placement (or Communication, Customer Solution, Cost & Convenience) are replaced with Participation, Performance, Package & Personalisation
- Databases (candidates, consumers, prospects) can be amalgamated into one as they are all potentially the other
- Language can be simplified yet can be still nuanced, as we are talking about and with people
- Information can flow more easily and supercharges collaboration not only between departments but also between internal and external parties
- People can’t hide behind BS, as it requires genuine knowledge to be clear and precise, yet nuanced and flexible
- Functional silos are overcome and specialities will be combined to solve problems
- Distributed leadership can finally be used as intended – full ownership of how to react on a team level. Command and control will be used as intended in the first place
- Performance will finally be detached from results. Performance reviews become coaching conversations.
Treating everybody as people makes complete sense and unlocks enormous potential, especially by removing artificial and stifling bases of controls.
If you’d like to discuss this concept in more detail or discover more about our approach, please get in touch.