Organisational Naivety

This may seem like a contradictory post given my continued belief that social tools will revolutionise the workplace but I do get frustrated at a common naivety about what this will take.

There are many aspects of organisational life and the work of managers that is tough, really tough. Grappling with the human condition in hand to hand fighting is the lot of many a middle manager and there are some things that are painful and difficult to do – no matter how much you blog or tweet about them. I have had to face grown men, old enough to be my father, in tears about what their organisation was doing to them. I have had to cope with staff involved in industrial tribunals who stretched the line between them and their employers. These things are scary and managers have to deal with them. This is why they get jumpy about suddenly being expected to open up and blog about everything – it is isn’t going to happen.

At least not in the short term.

This is where the real work is. Getting away from the superficial “new shiny thing” characteristic of much thinking about social media and helping it finds its place in the real world. Finding a way through the tough stuff of making things happen and helping the workplace move out of the industrial era into something a whole lot more sophisticated and productive.

This isn’t going to happen over night but it is bloody exciting!

9 thoughts on “Organisational Naivety

  1. Euan the reports today about yet another IT failure in the NHS show that the issue is about change management rather than 'shiny new thing'. The people on the frontline have to be brought with the champions when it comes to understanding why to change. In a world where you and I rather than accept a two hour wait to see a doctor reading ancient copies of readers digest would tweet or facebook about the situation they need to understand that a fast turnaround means less reporting of failure. If the line managers had been able to sell the changes rather than watch as the project was sabotaged then we might not have to read about IT failures. The problem is that many of the people blocking public service change have been employed for a long time and are proud to have 'seen off' a number of changes.


  2. Hi, Euan,great small post beyond the hype, with the roots deep in experience (#socialtree).Just love it, so it not that I try to sell my complete works to you (see below), the title are enough to give you a flavour; but several chords you stroke.regardsgeraldManagers are one part of the social equation – another challenge is the (mental) age pyramid: "How social are Social Media" – just saw your title "Why it is the social in social … – so I have to move on to your next post quickly story of expierence tells more then 10 retweets – that I felt in your post; the roots of the social tree: Media easing the distance between management and employees (in production)


  3. Hi Ian. Yep the thing is it is easier to put in tools or manage processes than it is to manage people. This is actually where I believe the social tools will make a difference because it is the little, apparently mundane, things that let people get a feel for what is changing and why – in contrast to the big managed communication efforts which tend to breed mistrust and confusion.


  4. Too true: it is difficult, no way of getting around that! Dealing with the people side, especially the middle manager engagement is the most difficult, far harder than the C-level work in many instances.


  5. Hi Euan. There is so much learning and sharing going on in the Council around these issues. I urge your readers to check it out. I just reviewed an amazing case study for Lowe's Home Improvement that we are going to be presenting in Boston. Not wishing to spam your comment page, but truly, our members are grappling and solving these big issues every day. We're on a mission to "change the world of work." And, by golly, we're doing it. 🙂


  6. What a calming tweet in the current sea of troubles. What I like Euan about your post is the practicality in how organisations are changing the mindset towards being social or collaborative. Whilst the software in the machines are ready for all sorts of new creative ways of working the software in many peoples heads is far away from this. The true artists in this field are the ones that can take these organisations on a journey towards being open / transparent and efficient without the common fears – loss of control that using these tools could bring. There are so many forces out there that would try and convince us that there is not a better way. I believe there is using these tools for a great future.


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