I have just finished reading a new book by Philip Sheldrake that looks at social business. I’ve been a fan of Philip’s writing since his first book, The business of Influence, and this book does not disappoint.

The book was released on Wednesday, May 15th, and I was lucky enough to secure an advance review copy which I read in one sitting over the weekend.

It is fair to say that Philip’s book is like no other book on social I have read – in a good way. 

Instead of 100+ pages filled with personal views and predictions, Philip has created a story about the journey of a fictitious kitchen appliances company called Attenzi (complete with a back story), and the personal journey of the company’s CEO Eli Appel from becoming a business, into a social business.

On launch day, I grabbed Philip for a quick interview at the Hospital Club in London.  You can watch the interview in full below.

As I have been saying in my previous keynotes, and blog posts on social business, much of the work required in becoming a social business is centred on the cultural and structural changes required.

Quoting from Philip’s intro:

Attenzi – a social business story shines a light on social business that goes beyond the all too typical homages to social media. It’s a relatively short and easy read intended to help readers explore what social business means for their organization, marketplace, communities and career.

The story is designed to galvanize the organization.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll consider aspects of organizational design, business performance management, marketing, public relations, branding, complexity, and the imminent empowerment of the individuals that make up any and all organizations. In fact, although you’ll likely be reading the book in a professional capacity, you’ll be noting the implications for your other roles in life too.

Perhaps most controversially, the story begins to explore the evolution of the customer-centric mindset that has dominated.

Philip has also created twitter handles for the main characters CEO Eli Appel (@EliAppel), COO Marcus Wallinger (@MarcusWallinger) and @Attenzi.  Let’s hope we see some engagement from these characters when the book is out.

You can see who has pre-read the book by simply looking at who is following these accounts already.

I really like the approach Philip has taken, and he has even woven in some personal pain and introspection from the main character Eli as he deals with his divorce, and how proud he is of his socially savvy teenage daughter, Rachel.

Importantly, the book is not a how-to and it does not suggest sites and platforms to use. Instead, it spends quality time building on the realisation by Eli that his business must change rapidly to stay ahead of the curve.

The subtext that I appreciated was the subtle cultural and organisational changes that are required to get everyone on board for the change required to become a social business.

At just over 100 pages (and many pages contain only a few paragraphs), I easily completed it in just one sitting.

As explained by Philip

sheldrake-portraitI wrote Attenzi – a social business story:

  • To convey the essence, potential and implications of social business
  • To help organizations pursue social business
  • To describe what Euler Partners does

The book certainly does this – and more.

I’ll probably read it again soon, as i am sure I have missed many of the finer points that Philip has embedded in his book.

The book will be available from lc.tl/attenzi from Wednesday 15th May and I recommend that you download and read this if you have anything to do with social media or social business.