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Uncovering the Agile Elephant

At our social business event back in September, during Social Media Week London, we could feel something in the atmosphere.  A mood in the room, a sense of excitement and change.  Digital disruption is happening at a rapid rate.  Everyone’s business model is under threat from the move to digital across all industries.  The average Enterprise has to change or get leapfrogged by a newer, more nimble competitor.  Being average won’t cut it any more That got us thinking. The us, is Alan Patrick, …
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At our social business event back in September, during Social Media Week London, we could feel something in the atmosphere.  A mood in the room, a sense of excitement and change.  Digital disruption is happening at a rapid rate.  Everyone’s business model is under threat from the move to digital across all industries.  The average Enterprise has to change or get leapfrogged by a newer, more nimble competitor.  Being average won’t cut it any more
That got us thinking. The us, is Alan Patrick, Janet Parkinson and I – the team formerly known as Patchwork Elephant (we’ve got a new name now).  We all met last decade at London’s Tuttle Club and have been crossing paths, working together and talking around the intersection of business and social tools on a regular basis ever since.  The eight different perspectives presented on the future of social business at that last event, combined with the resultant reaction and discussion, along with the commentary we see on our favourite blogs pushed us in to action.  We have some strong opinions around the social business topic.  About the thought leaders, companies and practitioners that are getting it right, and around the many social media agencies, consultancies, bloggers and approaches that aren’t.  We wanted to start something that could exert some influence, focus discussion on what works, what doesn’t and what’s next?  What could that be?  We also see the opportunity for helping business adapt and change and move beyond business as usual.   

For our previous social business events we’d used the idea of the Patchwork Elephant to describe the complexity of the problem – and to highlight that solving the problem is the elephant in the room.  It didn’t take long to decide what we wanted to do, but it took us a while to decide what to call it.  When we did come up with the name it became obvious, seemed right, and the Agile Elephant was born.  Obviously the name echoes the Rosabeth Kanter and Louis Gerstner books on making big business dance, as well as that elephant in the room, and most importantly the parable of the blind men and the elephant – they all see something different.  We add agile to those concepts – in terms of our thinking, but most importantly in our approach to the processes around development and deployment of the solutions we have in mind.

That has explained the why, here is the what.  We are starting:

  • A social business consultancy with a difference.  The three of us have been in business for a while.   We combine decades of experience of business management, strategy, operations, sales, marketing, human capital management, communications, enterprise software, social media strategy and monitoring, business analytics and research.  On top of that we have been working with social technologies since their inception.  We know how to put them together and believe social works best, adds most value when it is at the heart of the business process.
  • We’ve published a Manifesto.  We’ve been talking about applying social tools inside business since 2006 (or before) and we are no where near realising the potential for real social collaboration to make business more effective.  We need a roadmap to set us on the right course.  We need to think differently and to change culture.  We’ve encapsulated that in 13 theses – have we got it right?  Let’s discuss it!
  • We are in the early stages of putting on The Agile Elephant Conference.  We want it to be different from the many other events talking about social business.  It will focus on business process and return on investment.  We hope to find a really cool venue, and have really cool speakers – Jon Husband, Euan Semple and Stuart Lauchlan are all on board, but we have plenty to do to to find sponsors, get the venue booked and assemble a world class, social business agenda.  We hope it will happen end of March or early April.  Our friends will help.  Our progress will be posted here.
  • Part of our aim is to create an open community of customers, partners and practitioners to spread the word. One of the ways we’ll do that is to put on a regular monthly meetup to talk all things social business.  We have a framework in mind that takes ingredients from London Wiki Wednesdays and CloudCamp.  We need to find sponsors so that we have free beer, wine and pizza.  We’re calling it Agile Elephant in the Room, and we hope that it runs monthly from the 2nd Wednesday of next month, probably in the Hoxton area to begin with.  More news in the next week or so as we thrash out some details (and pull in some favours).   

The Elephant is up and running.  As Alan said in his post, anyone who doesn’t realise they can be agile hasn’t seen them in the wild, or seen what they can do.  Your thoughts, suggestions, help, support are all welcome.  I’m a big fan of The West Wing so…  What’s next?

photo by questionforthekeeper
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