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The Workplace as a Social Object

Many organizations—and often those with a strong, well-defined internal culture (firms like Zappos, Progressive, SAS Institute, and Whole Foods Market)—are effectively tapping their own culture as a social object as they implement collaborative internal systems that drive external business success through their ability to outmaneuver and outperform competitors in terms of response and understanding of customer issues.

SAS Institute CEO Jim Goodnight put it succinctly: “Our company culture is a competitive weapon.” Tapping internal culture as a social object around which to unify employees is a powerful way to build a social business. The organization itself—right along with the content its people produce—is thus a social object.

Around these types of social objects, the culture of the company can be made tangible—through discussion, for example—and can be further strengthened through collaboration. Most importantly, “work” as a social object can form the basis for internal employee development and recognition programs, employee-to-customer collaborative efforts, and for the attraction of additional candidates to support the further growth and collective achievement of the organization.

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The culture inside a company has always been a big deal: Plenty of organizational managers and HR professionals have spent countless hours trying to “get company culture right” using employee monitoring software to achieve that Consider the firms referenced at the start of this section:

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Known for their culture, they attract and retain the best people. Given the connected nature of consumers—and the ease with which they can and will share stories about experiences with employees—it’s safe to say that at no time has business culture been a bigger deal than right now.

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