Social networking is not always convenient. Our networks can be large, small, and many are in niche areas of interest but in all we’ve historically driven for miles, run in groups, flown to new cities, met in questionable venues and navigated personality differences to connect with the people that matter.
The inconvenience of connecting with our network is never so great to dismiss them, we work at what brings us value. Social tools are our new places. We comment “in” and post “on” no differently than when we meet “at” or go “to”. Our new places for social interaction are equally numerous, unique, and sometimes as difficult to traverse. Yet after clearing the initial hurdle of a new social technology, we happily find our people and learn to move within and between new tools no different than we do new physical locations.
Organizations though, forever looking to catch lightening in a bottle and corral an advantage, provide their employees approved “places” to use for this activity, often a single place like an ESN. This of course is typical of business as usual and is equally unnatural, as are most organizational decisions which aim to control and guide human behavior. Hierarchy though is no match for Wirearchy. Technology affords us the opportunity to extend our relationships and conversations further and expand farther than ever before. These actions should be encouraged by employers not discouraged, as today an employee’s value is in the quality and diversity of their connections.
Real knowledge doesn’t exist within us but between us, in our conversations
No doubt some enterprise social tools are used successfully for sharing and learning on the inside, but much of what influences this sharing and learning came from the outside and this is where organizational leaders miss the mark. By trying to drive people to a single location and expecting community to flourish and innovation to follow is a mistake. The organization needs their “place” to be in the mix of places but not sit above them all. Encouraging relationships to form with diverse people, ideas, groups and in different places presents the greatest opportunity for organizations and individuals today.