How to Build an Open and Collaborative Professional Services Firm?

After running 20:20 Social for almost four months, I have quickly realized that finding a unique niche for the firm on the continuum from Social Media Marketing to Social Business Strategy, and putting together the team and the intellectual property to support that positioning, is the less important half of what I need to do.

The more important half of what I need to do involves building a world-class professional services firm that is open and collaborative not only in terms of its internal work culture, but also in terms of how it connects with the external social media ecosystem in India and abroad.

Practicing what you preach is easier said than done. The pressures of defining an offering, putting together a team, and building intellectual property, even as you are finding and serving your first set of clients, are real and substantial and it’s tempting to narrow your focus down to the next one month, or three. The good things is that I have resisted that temptation so far.

So, here are some good things that we are already doing –

1. We are building an open work culture.

All of us sit together in a big hall, and all the three “private” rooms in the office are used as public spaces. So, the entire team sees Dave, Upasana and me working hard and enjoying it. We don’t need an open door policy, because we don’t have any doors; all we need to do is to turn and talk. The work space is an important aspect of work culture and, even though we didn’t start with the ideal work space, we are getting better with time.

2. We are building some serious intellectual capital.

I recruited people at 20:20 Social primarily for their ability to learn quickly, and everyone in the team is on a really steep learning curve. Each person in the team has a mandate to become the (in-house) expert in a specific aspect of the Social Web and we’ll publish a series of position papers in Q4 2009 to share that expertise with others. Dave and I have already published a position paper on ‘Social Business Strategy’. Expect three more position papers later in the week, on how activists, celebrities and news organizations can use social technologies.

3. We are learning in public.

Everyone at 20:20 Social has a blog and I encourage them to do their research in public, make mistakes in public, learn in public, because that’s what you do on the Social Web. Already, almost everyone has defined the scope and methodology for their research reports. Do visit the 20:20 Social blogs and share your feedback with the team.

Even as we continue all the good work we are doing inside 20:20 Social (and with our clients), I want us to do more to help the social media ecosystem in India become stronger. I made a small start sometime back by compiling a comprehensive list of social media agencies in India and Dave is working hard to activate the Social Media Club in India. Help us by adding to the list and joining the Social Media Club and tell us how else we can help.

I am co-founder of social business strategy company 20:20 Social. In my previous avatars, I have held senior marketing roles at the Tata Group, taught social media at Georgetown University, and co-founded Vote Report India. Do read my bio and consider interviewing me for a story, inviting me to speak at an event, or asking me to help you with your social business strategy.

Related posts:

  1. Top Ten Frequently Asked Questions on Building a Social Business Strategy Firm in India
  2. Announcement: Gautam Ghosh Has Joined 2020 Social to Build our Enterprise Practice
  3. Cool Digital Agency or Serious Strategy Firm?

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