In his influential book Crossing The Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore wrote of the challenges of moving from our old ways of doing things to new, technologically enabled ones. Sadly many don’t quite make it to the other side and get stuck in some sort of digital limbo, not having let go of previous ways of doing things, but not fully embracing the new either.
Just because you have some new social platform, or aspire to “virtual working”, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to manage situations or invest time in people and relationships. You may need to have less face to face contact but you need to invest more in building online trust and understanding.
Especially in the early days when everyone is finding their feet you need to be obsessive about staying in touch, being as transparent as possible, and stating the obvious at every opportunity. We have all seen comments threads spiraling downwards due to an off the cuff contribution, or people shooting off in the wrong direction due to a less than clear post. Worse still is the inclination to discuss online misdemeanors offline with the risk of that particular back-channel tipping into gossip and character assassination.
There is so much to be gained from using our tools appropriately and exercising our new found skills but it doesn’t just happen. It takes thoughtfulness, focus, tolerance and consideration. Real work.