Recent network conversations, some I’ve been a part of and others I picked up on, have led me to question who really gets all this discussion around social business and organizational social networking. The first was prompted by seeing Alan Lepofsky engaging his network with tweets like this:
Later, I joined #H2HChat which focused on a book about “Human to Human” and social business. I left feeling a bit disillusioned in that a conversation that would appear to be about human nature and behavior was ultimately about tools, making me further wonder who really gets this? Furthermore the articles and posts I read share summaries of data and research into business and where things are trending. Anonymous survey and high-level discussions are happening but who is having granular conversations that provide level-setting information and the frameworks for change?
Finally, in some 1:1 texting with my sister-in-law, who reads my blog but doesn’t really move in this “social” space, gave me a fresh perspective as she is honestly intrigued and raised some good thoughts/questions. She texted:
… for a company to make a mindset shift I can only imagine that there is a high level of skepticism from employees. Like… Why is the boss being more open, asking for ideas etc? Am I going to get a pink slip if I collaborate with dead beat Dave, how will I get ahead? More to your overall message I think mindset shift requires not only personal growth but also a community acceptance.
I suspect many people (leaders, managers, and workers) feel and think this same way. Social business doesn’t even have a clear definition for them let alone a reason to be pursued or a clear path to that end. It appears to me that I am having a lot of conversations about this subject with people who generally get it. However I want to have more conversations with the others, outside of these circles, the ones who don’t get it or don’t care. It’s time to hear from the voice of the people (vox populi), the “Man on the Street” about this topic.
Euan Semple, author of Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do, has said that Change Happens One Conversation at a Time, so with that, I plan to embarking on some personal work to gain perspective. I look to physically sit down and talk to anyone who is curious about these ideas, terms, notions. I want to listen and if I can, offer some ideas or at least points to ponder. My first opportunity is coming up with a VP at an organization I used to work for. Another in the works is with a more traditional Director of L&D, and a third is with a Human Resources leader at a defense contractor. All are going to be local and face-to-face over coffee or lunch. Although I’m not really sure the best way to start these conversations, I do like how my sister-in-law began our chat with “that’s a good question.” So maybe that’s what it needs to be – a good question put out there that one feels they must learn the answer to. What then is that one question around this central idea of social business? Maybe it will appear in my first meeting or it could be as simple as “what do you know of social business?” I look to share here what I am learning, what it means, and how it can move the conversation forward.