Peak Performance Glossary: The Social Framework

Dictionary and Glasses

The Social Framework: A combination of scheduled and informal opportunities to discuss, decide and drive forward strategic execution.

In the Marble Arch laboratory, we have discovered 5 critical components for organizational performance in the 21st century.  Of the 5, one of the most often missing from client organizations is a Social Framework. 

We are often asked “Does a Social Framework mean…”

a)    An internal social networking site?
b)   A fun room with games?
c)    Pizza parties?

The answer is “Sure, but it doesn’t need to.”  What we are talking about is incredibly simple, and yet it takes serious discipline in today’s fast, complex, e-mail-based business world.  Let’s look at another simple and powerful example of a Social Framework outside of the office: the family dinner.

Not unlike your star talent, star kids with homework, projects, SAT’s and sports are so in-demand that one of the first things cut is face-time with parents.  In fact, a study completed at Columbia University found that the more high achieving the parents, the fewer family dinners.  However, in contrast, more family dinners lead to higher performing kids.

Are you and your talented team too busy to connect on a regular basis?  Leaders are looking for continuous improvement, innovation and talent development, but we are rarely seeing the time allotted for these conversations to take place.  Nor are we seeing the conversations needed to ensure strategic goals are on track.  This means that there is no opportunity to calibrate efforts or goals if something is awry.  The only discussion is in December at review time, far too late to rescue results.

A disciplined Social Framework creates the habit and time to:

a)    Assess the current state of goals and calibrate as necessary,
b)   Make recommendations for more efficient and effective ways to achieve results and
c)    Address questions and needs together, diminishing the need for constant short e-mails which suck up time and productivity

Larry Bossidy, known for his work with Jack Welch at GE and later as CEO of Honeywell was obsessed with what he called the “Social Engine.”  He knew that strategic execution was more than creating the right goals; it required consistent, effective dialogue to turn plans into a reality.  The dialogue needed can be both formally scheduled, and informal.  The point is, without regular dialogue, the shared vision and purpose holding teams together begins to fade away.

Below is an example Social Framework we designed with one of our clients for their strategic needs:

  • Quarterly strategic goal check-ins
  • Monthly one-on-ones between managers and direct reports for one-hour
    • Each quarter, one of these meetings is focused on current performance and development
    • The other two meetings are a running, in-depth dialogue to ensure shared priorities and effective execution
  • Weekly team huddles where priorities, concerns and celebrations are shared
  • 2 in-depth workshops outlining how to give highly impactful feedback as well as how to structure conversations around the toughest topics

We recently met with another client and asked their team of high performers, “What is present within this organization when you are at your peak performance and most engaged?”  The answers again and again, were “time to collaborate,”  “time to pre-plan,” and “coming together as a team to face our challenges.”  The underlying theme was a scheduled Social Framework to exchange ideas, solve problems and reach goals.

We leave you with two critical points as you build your Social Framework:

  1. Family dinner studies show that families not used to spending dinnertime together take time for it to become enjoyable and effective.  Give your teams the same patience and discipline.  It will become more and more effective over time.
  2. 21st Century leadership is not about having the right answers, but about asking the right questions.  Make sure that questions are asked to spur dialogue, uncover new ideas and begin to address deep, undiscussed issues.  This simple tactic is a hallmark of a very effective leader.


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