Sunday, 27 May 2012

Pen pals as the killer argument

I was helping one of my sons today with a piece of homework, which involved writing an essay addressing the statement "social networking websites have reduced possibilities to form real relationships", or words to that effect. Thinking about it together, one of us came up with the point that in the days of pen pals - arguably a precursor to social networking - people got to 'know' each other remotely, and if/when they met, felt they had a relationship already.  This insight seemed, at a stroke, to debunk two points often claimed about social networking sites: that they are somehow uniquely about computers and the internet, and that they are the first instance of attempting to substitute the 'real' for the virtual, as far as relationships are concerned. 

My son went on to mention other benefits such as one-to-many conversations and near instant responses, but we both felt the 'pen pal insight' was something of a killer argument against those claiming that real relationships are being killed off.  I suspect I might be using it in a professional context before too long.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Clear purpose, or see where it leads?

At the Social Workplace Conference the other day a number of presenters emphasised the importance of having a clearly defined purpose for your social business initiative. I found myself nodding in agreement.  Today I started reading Euan Semple's book "Organisations Don't Tweet, People Do", and found this recommendation:

"Don't have a clear idea where you are headed.  The more fixed you are in your aspirations for your ecology the less likely you are to achieve them.  Be prepared to go where people's use of the tools takes you and enjoy the ride."

On the face of it these two views are contradictory.  They might not be - and I can guess ways in which it could be argued that they aren't - but as I proceed with Euan's (very readable) book I'm going to be looking for answers to that point.

Senior managers who don't 'get it'

I had the experience not so long ago of discovering that a senior manager not only didn't 'get' the point of a social intranet, he was positively hostile to it.  He valued face to face communication very heavily and saw workplace tweeting and blogging as the pied piper that would lead people away from it. I did my best to bring him round, with arguments such as it's not a replacement, it's a supplement; that it enables people in remote offices and who work from home to feel involved, and so on.  I succeeded to the point where he dropped his opposition and allowed his team to work with me to implement it. 

The social intranet took off, or seemed to.  But this person never contributed anything.  I also noticed that nor did the majority of his colleagues on the senior team.  My fear is that by working round him (and them) rather than truly getting them on board, I introduced a social intranet that will forever be stunted in its growth.  It will remain OK to talk about social and/or non-controversial business topics, but serious business-related discussions - particularly where controversy is involved - won't happen.

I'm still not sure what the right course of action is when top level support isn't really there - work round, or make getting that support the first and paramount goal?

Blog re-boot time

I've been neglecting this blog for sometime now. I've use the excuse to myself that Twitter is my new preferred place for self expression and networking with others, and that blogs are maybe a bit passé.  I knew it wasn't really true, but couldn't really face getting started again on the blog.  It felt a bit daunting to try and think of the appropriate words of wisdom.

Well, that changed today, and the trigger was a tweet from @themaria , who talked about the same issue, and how a different perspective changed that for her.  Incidentally, I don't know her and had never heard of her until today, but her tweet had been retweeted by someone I follow.  Serendipity Twitter-style.

So that's the kick-off!  There will be more to come.