What Do Dexter and Enterprise Social Networking Have In Common?

Peering around the corner of the dark church, she witnesses Dexter – her own adopted brother – plunge the knife straight into the chest of his kill.


The finale has been an exclamation point for my husband and I. We spent the last 7 days making roundtrips to Blockbuster (yes, they are still around), eager to complete Dexter Season 6 – the adventures of a blood-splatter analyst by day and serial killer by night we have come to love.

We’ve learned that two year-old Dexter has witnessed his mother’s chainsaw death and was found crying in a blood–filled shipping container. We’ve empathized with his decision to curb the dark impulses to the code of Harry (only kill murderers and always discard the evidence). We understand his helplessness and root for the hero within.

Throughout the years, I’ve watched the show on the edge of my seat hoping and wishing that someone close to him would know the dark truth. Every season, I cringe at the chance that Dexter’s soul will be laid bare, at the same time I yearn for the day that someone meaningful will find out about his Dark Passenger. And now that time has come.

This means the show will never be the same. This means the stakes have been raised. This means, the show has entered a brave new world.


Similarly, in the sphere of Enterprise 2.0, the show has just begun.

Even though the social and 2.0 movement has been around for nearly a decade, and even though “Enterprise 2.0” was coined six years ago, Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter Group posts survey data showing that only very few highly organized companies are using social media as a strategic and holistic solution across the entire company. In his article about Baselining Social Business Maturity, Dion Hinchcliffe says, “In other words, a lot of useful work has been done but most of us are only getting started and we know it.”

Let me take a step back and tell you about the kool-aid I’ve been drinking – Social Business and Enterprise Social Networking (ESN).
Get your coffee. Grab a seat.


Today, organizations are typically organized in a hierarchical structure.

However, the reality is that this is how we really get things done.

Organizations are adapting to what Dachis Group calls the Social Business Design framework where verticals, business lines, departments and all their connections are highly distributed, collaborative and agile.

“Social Business Design is the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process and culture. The goal is improving value exchange among constituents….

Technology, society, and work are all changing at breakneck speeds. Businesses that seek to create and capture value from these changes must harness opportunities at their intersection, the hub of social business.”

Dachis Group, Social Business Design, October 2009


In order for companies to take advantage of emerging technology and to become more socially calibrated in process and culture, enterprise social networking (ESN) allows three main components of every organization to function as an ecosystem.

1) Customers
2) Employees
3) Partners

ESN is simply a technology platform for communication and learning. It allows for centralized approach to leadership and management. It aligns stakeholders around activity streams with the familiarity of Twitter and Facebook. For example, a salesperson chasing a pursuing a big win with American Express might use this platform to: update senior executives at headquarters; work with the marketing department to deliver the perfect pitch; stay connected with other colleagues who’ve transacted AMEX deals in other service lines around the world.

Main Benefits of an ESN– to increase productivity and efficiency by:

  1. Increasing collaboration
  2. Curating and retaining knowledge
  3. Reducing volume of emails and unnecessary meetings
  4. Identifying and finding experts
  5. Empowering employees

With this concept in mind, I conducted a high-level diagnosis on what this process and the use of the technology reveals:

  1. What do enterprise social networks assume about the way businesses are?
    1. Businesses are having trouble keeping pace with technology and work changing at breakneck speeds.
    2. Businesses function as part of a system comprised of dozens and perhaps hundreds of smaller ecosystems.
    3. Employees approach work with a social and collaborative mindset.
  2. What do enterprise social networks assume about the way businesses should be?
    1. Customers, employees and partners communicate on a ‘need-to-know’ basis – anyone and everyone needs to know, all the time.
    2. Better empowered employees lead to better engaged customers and better connected partners.
    3. Data is ubiquitious. The businesses that learn to create new knowledge and to collaborate on the newfound knowledge will advance in their success.
  3. What do enterprise social networks make possible?
    1. Crowdsourcing – community support achieves objectives
    2. Flatten hierarchy – Line staff and higher-ups can connect and communicate around relevant content
    3. Empowers C-level execs – championing collaborative innovation is not something CEOs are delegating to their HR leaders.
    4. New media benefits organizations internally, not just customers and partners
    5. Problems are identified faster allowing for customer issues to be prevented
    6. Information silos are broken down
    7. Relevant information is bubbled up – surfaces ideas and expertise
  4. What does enterprise social networks make impossible?
    1. Long gone are intranets that are static and difficult to search
    2. Heavy reliance on email and one-way communication.
  5. What new forms of culture are created in response to this enterprise social network?
    1. Information overload presents a challenge for businesses to filter relevant data to users
    2. Deriving meaning from data – the ability to distill valuable insights from the flow of information.
    3. As social media tools become mainstream, the gap between between IT and Marketing and IT and Business narrows
    4. Sunsetting legacy structures and looming change management issues
    5. Shift in measuring the value users get from participating versus measuring the potential for conflicts that users perceive.


Altimeter Group published a report, Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networking that depicts ways that ESNs can deliver value to social business that public social networks like Facebook or Google+ do not.


As Brian Solis shares in his article, “Everything begins with investing in a culture of employee and customer-centricity where ESNs and social networks in general become enablers for a new vision, empowerment, supported by defined outcomes and rewards. Yes, it’s part technology. But, tools only take you so far. It’s the philosophy and eventually vision and leadership behind the implementation that serves as the foundation for internal engagement.”

The exciting news is that I’ve been able to put this into practice at my workplace. In my next post, I will share my experience in using a platform like ESN to facilitate adoption of another tool – an enterprise CRM….and all the lessons that come with it.

To fans of Dexter — “there are no secrets, just hidden truths beneath the surface.” Season 7 here we come!


One thought on “What Do Dexter and Enterprise Social Networking Have In Common?

  1. Shirlin – This is a great post! I love the images you used at the beginning to convey the difference between how a typical company hierarchy looks and how things within the workplace are actually accomplished. This brings to mind a few questions. Do you think it’s possible for the older generation to adapt to this new style of workplace communication? (i.e. the generation that’s not comfortable putting anything “online,” sharing anything publicly, or even using social networks) What do you perceive as the top three roadblocks for achieving 100% participation in an ECN within a traditional company culture? If not 100% participation, what do you think represents a good percentage for participation, and how does even a small percentage of overall participation make sense?

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