Better the devil you know

Organisations fear the apparent messiness of internal use of social tools. They fear the possibility that people will waste their time. They fear the risk of dissent and disruption. These fears are raised and articulated in this article from Oliver Marks.

I would refer, yet again, to the wise words I once heard Vint Cerf utter about the Internet, namely that it is just a thing. If you don’t like what you are doing with it is a reflection of you as an individual, an organisation, or a society and those are the things you have to deal with. The same is true of intranets.

Isn’t it better to see our problems and disfunctions and be able to deal with them rather than have them hidden and festering? Isn’t it better to find out who your corporate morons are than have them sneak up on you unawares? Isn’t it better to be able to see, quantify, and deal with your time-wasting and manage it. Isn’t it likely that these tools can make the job of management easier rather than harder if we just embrace them and understand them?

10 thoughts on “Better the devil you know

  1. Euan – absolutely agree with your point, but have a caveat. Just implementing social does not work either. The organization has to have a clear idea of what it wants to achieve by using it.

    Without a clearly conceptualized, executed and measured objective, social will always be considered a waste of time. Also, we employees will then use it only for our own individual objectives, which may not necessarily mesh together or with the organization.


    1. I agree with the first point. Just putting the tools in is never enough. They don’t run themselves. People need to engage with them and use them for productive ends.

      And this is how you achieve your second point. If management engage with the tools and use them to achieve your "clearly conceptualized, executed and measured objective" then it is more likely to be robust, sustainable, and bought into by the rest of the organisation. Something that rarely happens in normal circumstances.

      As to your last point about individuals not meshing with the organisation this is the crux of my post. This is the case now! It has always been the case. Pretending it is not is easier when you don’t have these tools to see it!


      1. Fair catch on my last point. Was meant the way you point out. We can see these things only with a planned strategy.


  2. Fear is rampant in the corporate walls. Many years ago it was fear of the telephone in the workplace. Wouldn’t that impact productivity when employees made personal calls during work time? The biggest challenge we have is the focus on the technologies rather than what they can enable in the business. The hype of social media gurus has made common sense not that common. As you say, it’s about people …


  3. Weren’t these same fears raised about another social medium called the telephone? And it’s tough to find corporate morons when hidden in private conversations.

    Nice article, Euan. Thanks for sharing.


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