A colleague and friend who I regularly chat with, where we bounce ideas and thoughts off each other, is at the cusp of where many folks leading the social charge in organizations are; helping key leaders and stakeholder to build awareness and better understanding of the value of being more social themselves.
Meetings are being set, slides developed, activities, agendas, use cases identified and industry examples to share. This is the expectation. And that is a problem. It’s the same old story, employee comes to executive’s office or board room for a scheduled meeting, agenda set in advance, pitch is made and the executive takes it in, asks a few questions and applauds the effort. Maybe there is change, likely not, and it’s back to business as usual.
This isn’t a new sales approach or marketing campaign. And if it’s also social supported by technology it is also not
a new CMS or bug tracking tool. Yes, software it needs electricity and it is built on code but that’s where the similarities end. Social is different. Social tools work to surface and amplify ideas, answers, and content but mostly they serve to extend and expand conversations, allowing the normally invisible interactions to be visible and this is exponentially more powerful for an organization. Conversation is the undercurrent of all business interaction. It’s omnipresent and eternal. It is also the least understood or nurtured of business elements.
We have essentially buried conversation, the epitome of humanity, under layers of politics, hierarchy, processes, protocols, and technology and my colleague is in the unfortunate position of having to encourage social in the most unsocial situation. How ironic.
Not only is social about transparency and openness it also needs this openness and transparency in order to step out from underneath the weight of traditional business mindsets and gain a foothold.
After initially falling into the trap of business as usual, I collected myself and suggest we lead with social. The alternative, the antithesis of social, is like planting a seed in concrete! This is not traditional business, it’s social business. So rearrange locations with the executive and meet in a neutral settings, a cafe perhaps. Set no calendar defaulted time limit, this is far too important for artificial restraint. Hell, wear jeans and ask that they dress comfortably too, social is casual. Scrap the agenda and see that they leave their title at the door, it will certainly be there when the conversation ends. And that’s really the point of it – Have a conversation, everything else is pomp. You each know why you are there, it’s no mystery. Set aside your presumptions, your status or lack of it and be humans engaging in the most fundamental, historical part of being human; a conversation… and see where it goes.