When I was in school, Michael Porter was totally hot among the professors that taught leadership. He came up with the five forces of strategic leadership.
The combination of microeconomics and strategy was groundbreaking at the time. A generation of company leaders are steeped in it. They can recite Porter chapter and verse, and often use buzzwords in their relaying of company goals, achievements and challenges.
Porter’s five forces are still the bedrock of competitive analysis. However, since the dawn of social networks, interacting with the five forces is changing rapidly. Businesses that don’t interact correctly risk becoming dinosaurs.
Initially, the two forces I would concentrate on are Supplier Power, Customer Power, and Substitutes. That’s the easiest place to use social networking tools to make a difference.
Even though ubiquitous social networks are now de rigueur. They are still brand new on the scene. There is a lot of bull to them, but utilized in the right way, they have the power to help CEO’s create greater shareholder value for their company. What piqued my interest was this article on how SuperValue ($SVU) is utilizing Yammer to create a corporate culture for a merged company.
Supervalu, which owns brands such as Albertson’s in the U.S. Northwest and Shaw’s in New England, was created through a series of acquisitions, so the company was looking for a way to foster better communication and a sense of shared culture.
My first thought was how do companies that use Yammer avoid groupthink? Since it’s impossible to remain anonymous, how does someone dissent from the corporate party line? If a company uses Yammer, it’s critical that the company monitors the dialogue so that communication is open and free. They could unknowingly be squelching good ideas from their employees.