Earlier on in the week, my good friend, Eric Zigus, put together a rather thought provoking blog post that surely has got me thinking big time about the whole topic of adoption of Social / Open Business and about the different techniques that fellow practitioners get to employ to help other knowledge workers embrace new technologies, whatever those may well be. In Adoption via Peer Pressure? Eric comes forward to suggest that driving adoption through peer pressure, if done properly, could surely help out in the long run. Well, at some point in time in the recent past I may have agreed with him that would be the case, but, if I judge from my own experiences in the last year or two, I am not so sure myself anymore about it. I am thinking we may need to aim bigger, and better, perhaps even more effectively, from driving into inspiring and from adoption into adaptation, if we would want it to be successful.
Over the course of the last couple of years there has been plenty, and rather extensive, literature (along with some pretty interesting and insightful frameworks) shared across all over the place about the whole topic of social networking for business and its wider adoption beyond just the initial wave of early adopters, even behind the firewall with social intranets. We have seen lots of very interesting reflections about its very own adoption as a new kind of digital literacy we all need to start getting comfortable with (to the point where it seems to justify everything to no end, some times even ignoring what matters the most, i.e. business performance); or about its own transformation journey even for managers and leaders (who, if not engaged properly, could surely slow things down tremendously); or about plenty of rather interesting and relevant trends on digital adoption.
Perhaps, even, how social / open business adoption may stink (if done incorrectly); how it may well all be about removing certain roadblocks and plenty of other obstacles, never mind the ever growing list of rather intriguing challenges; how it may well be all about putting people first (technology second); how certain big words like culture, empathy are back into the game (the only game, for that matter, if you look deep enough into it), along with looking into the soft side of things to make it work; how incentivising practitioners may well do it (More on this one later on, I am sure, since it’s been one of my major pet peeves on the topic for a long while now, and I am really glad I am not the only one…); how building it and they will come is no longer going to be good enough at this point in time in order to keep up the momentum making it self-sustainable; how it’s all about perhaps defining a good number of personas to establish some specific roles and responsibilities, to the point where it’s been highlighted how even community managers may be critical for that successful adoption (or rather the opposite); and eventually how social business adoption is a whole lot more organic than what vast majority of people may have thought about all along.
Phew! Social Business Adoption is, indeed, a topic that truly fascinates me to no end, since forever, as you can see from all of the various areas it covers as mentioned above with the different links to plenty, and rather interesting, reads I have gone through over time. And I am pretty sure there are plenty more materials about it out there, all over the place, that I would certainly love to read on more about them, if you care to leave your favourite picks in the comments. I have always felt though it’s right at the heart of the matter in terms of helping businesses provoke their own transformation in order to survive on the Connection Economy of the 21st century, where, as I have mentioned in the recent past, we are transitioning from having lived through the scarcity of knowledge stocks into the abundance of knowledge flows.
But I am no longer certain that (social) peer pressure would eventually help much with those adoption efforts. In fact, lately, I am inclined to think that we may all be much better off if we stop talking about driving adoption and instead we switch over to inspiring adaptation, because that’s eventually what we, social business evangelists, have been doing all along: inspiring / modelling new behaviours, a new mindset, to help fellow knowledge workers adapt to a new way of working by becoming more open, public, transparent, engaged, collaborative, in short, trustworthy, in what we do. And, I am starting to think that peer pressure, if anything, is not going to help much. Rather the opposite. It will re-introduce a behaviour that we are all far too familiar with from previous decades and that we all thought we had left behind for good: (unhealthy) competition.
Over the course of the last few months, specially, since I moved into this new job role as Lead Social Business Enabler, I have come to realise, big time, that adoption is hard, specially, if you move beyond the initial first waves of early adopters and you get a deep touch with reality. Adoption works in mysterious ways. It’s a tough job. It’s an art in need of craftsmanship. You know, acquiring new habits is not an easy thing to do, specially, when your natural inclination is that one of defaulting to what you are used to, what you have been doing over the course of the years, through traditional collaborative tools, whatever those may well be. And on top of that, never mind the massive work pressures most knowledge workers are currently going under, here comes another one: peer pressure, specially, the higher you go into the organisation, that’s preventing those practitioners to experience the main benefits of social networking in a business context. As if they didn’t have enough already!
Fear is a powerful factor that should not be ignored, nor neglected, more than anything else, because it’s the main element that gets added into the mix when embracing peer pressure. Practitioners would always be a bit reluctant to want to enter the digital world, if they would be fearful to try, to play and learn, perhaps even to fail or make mistakes, in case of being ridiculed by that social pressure of their own peers. So what do they do? They switched off, before they even try.
That’s essentially the main reason why I don’t think that peer pressure would help much in our adoption efforts. What you would want to inspire within your organisation is an opportunity to explore, to reflect, to challenge the status quo of how certain things happen at the workplace in order to make things better and improve. You would want to figure out whether you can apply some of your already existing day to day use cases, i.e. your tasks and activities to a new mentality, a new mindset, a new set of behaviours with a not too steep learning curve, so impact of change would still be meaningful. And, as such, I just can’t see how peer pressure could help. I am starting to question whether even healthy peer pressure would help much in the long run, specially, since that innate connotation of competition will be lingering around quite a bit.
Lately, at work, I have got a tendency to attend a whole bunch of meetings, well, not really meetings like these ones, or these other ones, that my good friend Bertrand Duperrin would love to ditch for good (He surely has got my vote, too!), but different gatherings (I am still trying to find a name for them… any suggestions more than welcome, please!) that would be classified as education and enablement sessions, where I spend a good amount of time trying to understand people’s challenges and inhibitors, potential technical issues, business concerns, daily work habits, productivity pain points, use cases they would want to explore further and what not and all along I have noticed how I have shifted the conversations myself away from adoption and into adaptation, because that’s essentially what I am aiming at: helping other knowledge workers adapt to a new way of doing business by opening up and becoming more transparent and engaged to help accelerate their own decision making process to innovate.
And it’s been a fascinating journey all along, because, eventually, the focus is on modelling new behaviours, new ways of interacting, of conversing, of opening up, of helping and caring for one another getting work done, understanding we are all in this journey to provoke our very own transformation, and, certainly, harmful items like competition, knowledge hoarding, corporate politics and bullying, gamification (in whichever form and shape), busyness, extenuating work / peer pressures and whatever else are not very helpful in getting people to adapt to a brave new world: becoming a Socially Integrated Enterprise.
A few months back I wrote about transitioning from Adoption into Adaptation in order to achieve maximum impact to become a successful social / open business. I surely am glad that I am no longer the only one talking, or writing, about it anymore. Fast forward into the end of 2013 and, to me, walking the talk, leading by example, learning by doing, narrating your work, working out loud, challenging the status quo, etc. are plenty of the new mantras that matter in terms of helping inspire such transformation. It’s essentially right at the heart of it, and I am no longer certain that carrying potentially bad habits from the 20th century (like those pressures or harmful items I mentioned above) into today’s business world is going to help us achieve our goals. Let’s leave out all of those different types of (work) pressure(s) and get down to work.
We still have got a lot to achieve and somehow I am starting to sense, rather strongly, that adaptation will be much more effective than adoption. It’s just a matter of adjusting accordingly, because, you know, language matters, after all.
One of the things that I have always enjoyed, and quite a bit, from the Social Web, and the different social networking tools out there, and the main reason why I keep coming back for more, is that no matter how much time may have just gone by, the good content, the golden gems, those pieces of reflection and insight that you know you are going to bump into over time they keep resurfacing time and time again, making the mere presence on social networking tools just worth it on its own. Earlier on this week, I had the opportunity to experience it once more, by bumping into “The Mindset of a Winner“. Perhaps one of the best short video clips you will be bumping into this year on the topic of focusing and pursuing your passion(s) through multiple dips.
It’s pretty remarkable that the video clip is a short interview published on January 2008, conducted by Gerhard Gschwandtner from Selling Power, of Seth Godin and how five and a half years later it’s just as fresh, insightful and relevant as ever. In it, Seth, once again, is at his best talking about a whole bunch of different subjects, starting off with spending a few minutes on what I feel is one of the main issues at all levels we have got to deal with in today’s (business) world: mediocrity.
While the interview may have that connotation of just being relevant for sellers, as that’s the primary audience, I can tell you that it’s very much worth while going through it as plenty of Seth’s relevant insights would apply to everyone out there who wants to escape mediocrity on everything they do, whether at work or in their personal lives, with stunning reflections like this one: “The big win is when you refuse to settle for average or mediocre. […] What you do as a sales person is you communicate emotion. But you can’t communicate emotion and trust to someone if they are not listening and the only people who are going to listen to you are the people who are pre-sold on you, because someone told them about what you do and how you do it.” Just brilliant, don’t you think? Specially, how it applies to not just everyone out there, but to everything else that we do as well for that matter.
From there onwards, it just gets better. Seth then gets to talk about focusing on what you are good at and forget about all of the different distractions that may well be out there enticing you to go into multiple directions making you lose focus of what you should be working on. He uses the example of his blog, which is just a part of himself, as his own voice out there on the Web. That is, his presence, his digital footprint and personal brand for that matter, in contrast to his light involvement on the various social networking spaces out there. His follow-up insights on experiencing multiple dips to keep moving forward is just rather inspirational on its own. If not, judge for yourselves playing the video clip below:
The interesting thing, for me, while going through the interview itself, is how it reminded me of a superb blog post by the always inspiring Valeria Maltoni under the rather thought provoking title of “Why on Earth Would You Still Bother with Blogging?” where you would find incredibly insightful quotes like this one:
“Providing a frame of reference, composing thoughts in an open forum like a blog, publishing a point of view, are more than merely a way to develop a personal channel for getting the word out on what matters in your world.
Stand for something and work on backing it up over time“
that she then develops further under “Why bother with all the blogs” with perhaps one of the most descriptive, helpful and reflective reasons as to why blogging still matters. To quote:
“They are an opportunity to shape a conversation about topics that matter right now — whatever we call this moment, whether the age of conversation, or real time something, or collaboration, the path to useful is a path to usefulness.
Sticking with topics also allows you to explore ideas and develop new thinking. In most cases it goes beyond that. A blog helps you keep track of what you said about how something would develop. And that is incredibly useful to understand how you got to where you are today”
So perhaps that’s what blogging is after all. An opportunity to experience plenty of dips on multiple topics of interest that you can reflect upon at your own leisure, so that, over time, while you develop your own blogging voice and style, and you keep building on your own digital footprint, you get to understand what your focus area(s) may well be, find those strengths that keep you moving along, and stick around with them, so that at some point in time they become you, you become them, without having to fall back into that world of mediocrity that’s just destroying everything we have ever believed in and built over time.
Yes, I, too, “refuse to settle for average or mediocre”. And that’s probably one of the main reasons as well why I keep blogging on a regular basis, i.e. to reflect on these golden gems that one keeps bumping into, but also as an opportunity to share, out there in the open, what my passion(s) are and what drives me to work day in day out. Why? Well, because, amongst several other things, the alternative, that mediocrity, is just too ugly to bear.
Yes, indeed, I refuse to settle for average or mediocre. And you?
It’s rather interesting to ponder how, over the course of years, us, consumers, have been asking traditional industries to move on with the times and enter the 21st century (of the Digital Era), so that they could embrace and apply different business models, than those they have been operating under over the course of last few decades, to make themselves profitable again, in order to meet, at the same time, their potential new reality: a smarter, interconnected, mobile, always-on consumer force.
Of particular importance and relevance is the massive fight the Entertainment Industry has been putting together all along, where, instead of making that transition, it has consistently made things even more complicated and worse for their main constituents, i.e. us, consumers, to the point where they have tried, repeatedly AND unsuccessfully, to even criminalise both our behaviours and ourselves for something that in most cases is even part of our constitutional rights: that one of sharing our culture with others.
The fact they have never succeeded is perhaps a good indicator of how things may have changed in the last couple of years as they are starting to come to terms with the fact that they no longer control us (they never have) and that, instead, they would be much better off eventually handing over such control towards those who seem to know better not only what we are consuming, but also how, with whom, when, where and for what purpose we are consuming that particular piece of content.
Some times you eventually need to have some trojan mice. People who can disrupt the system from the inside out strongly enough to provoke a stir and continue to challenge the status quo. Specially, if you keep seeing how very little things have changed from the outside after all of this time. Essentially, no matter how many zillions of times people may be telling you about needing to change and adapt with the new times, stubbornly enough, you keep moving your own way ignoring those wise words of wisdom. Till it might be just too late.
Well, Kevin Spacey is the trojan mice of the Entertainment Industry. A few days back, he gave one of the most inspiring, noteworthy, and refreshing speeches (for the keynote James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival) that I can remember in a long while. So much so that it was one of those rather mind-blowing dissertations that you would probably watch this year in terms of taking upside down an entire industry that kept refusing to move on with the times and that, eventually, will need to give in and relinquish control to that group they wanted to the least… their audiences. At the risk losing them, for good, otherwise.
Now, as usual, I am not going to spoil the contents of the nearly 5 minute long highlights that have been shared on this YouTube video clip about Spacey’s speech, I would rather encourage you all to take a look, watch it through in its entirety and then make the switch into a pure corporate environment and you will see how scarily accurate it is in terms of seeing that reluctance from various different industries to enter the Era of Open Business, the so-called Connection Economy:
My favourite quote, you may be wondering, right? Well, without any doubt, this one:
“And through this new form of distribution, we have demonstrated that we have learned the lesson the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it and at a reasonable price and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it.“
Or also this other one that I am sure would resonate with those folks who have been following this blog for a while, as we have talked about this very same topic on a rather regular basis over here. To quote:
“[…] It’s all content. It’s just story […] And the audience has spoken. They want stories. They are dying for them. They are rooting for us to give them the right thing. And they will talk about it, binge on it, carry it with them on the bus, and at the hairdresser, force it on their friends, tweet, blog, Facebook, make fan pages, silly gifs, and God knows what else about it. Engage with it with a passion and an intimacy that a blockbuster movie could only dream of. All we have to do is to give it to them“.
I guess folks would now understand why I am such a big fan of services like Spotify and, most importantly, I suppose now people would understand as well how change in the (Digital) Era of Open Business, most of the times, doesn’t just necessarily need to come from the outside, i.e. from those outsiders who seem to know better than you what you are doing on a daily basis as part of that business transformation. Some times, it’s just right there, inside, right beside you, watching over your shoulders, …
Thus, do you know who your trojan mice are? Can you find them within your own organisation and empower them to become those catalysts of change, pretty much like Kevin Spacey has done for the Entertainment industry?
In case you haven’t, hurry up. You are running out of time. You may as well start looking around right away, as they may already be disrupting your business, without you not knowing it …
Remember, they are now in control…