Losing control

During the Q&A at a recent event a senior manager in the organisation I was speaking to said something along the lines of “If we let people begin to use these social media tools then we won’t have control over what is said in public”. I waited a moment then asked “And what will happen then?”

There was an awkward silence then someone at the back of the room said in loud voice, directed at the senior person, “Yes – what will happen then?”

Needles to say an animated and productive conversation ensued.

9 thoughts on “Losing control

  1. Exactly the right question to ask :-). In terms of corporate dignity (if there is such a thing), it is better to caught with your pants down for being the idiot corporate drone you are by your employees than by your competitors, or worse the press, finding out in public that the emperor wears no clothes.Seriously, if something is wrong in the company, management will be the last to find out. The next best thing you can do as a manager is to tap into the raw information coming from your employees. You may not like it but you need to know. What they say in social media is more valuable and honest than the stuff that you want to hear that comes out in meetings. Be grateful for the presently relaxed privacy control. In the not too distant future you will be locked out from the conversation. But it will happen nevertheless.

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  2. I find the hardest part is initiating that conversation. So often in corporate culture even considering an an honest look yields a knee jerk ‘let’s find the simplest answer possible’ or ‘no’ decision. Taking on risk in a way that means ‘some day we may appear fallible’ isn’t something organizations (especially large organizations) are easily open to. Simple fallibility can equate to dangerous litigation in a hurry. The problem with that idea is that we are, even as organizations, humans. We wired to be fallible… frequently. Imagine how BP might consider being open right now, even among themselves. I’m quite sure there’s a political firestorm with mass casualties going on inside those walls.I sometimes think these reactions are less about the danger, and more about the fear of what it may take to accept the danger… accountability, honesty and actions that promote good global behavior over the wealth of stockholders or the C-suite. As our world becomes more transparent we’ll see many things we don’t wish to see. We’re then placed in a position to deal with those ugly things or be branded flawed in some way. That idea plays out on so many levels.. personally, within a relationship, an organization, a community. Learning to navigate our own fallibility is the holy grail in many ways. It gives me great hope to hear the conversation happening more and more often. Give ’em hell Euan.

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  3. Thanks for the great comment Megan. There is no doubt that this stuff isn’t for the faint hearted but the opportunities, both as individuals and as corporations, are so great. I am very aware that I am paid to say stuff that those inside the firewall can’t and if I don’t have the balls to say it then I am letting them down.

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  4. Hello Euan,I’ve been talking up the implications of social media with anyone who’ll listen since I heard your talk at the launch of the iSchool Institute the other week . . .There’s much fear out there about opening up a channel for unregulated comment by employees on matters corporate . . . that this may actually say more about corporate culture than anything that might be bloggedStill early days . . . in any event, here’s a link I came across that you may find interestinghttp://knowledge.insead.edu/contents/networking-social-media-crampton-100513.cfm?vid=415

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