I guess it’s now a good time to resume my regular blogging activities, once again, don’t you think? After all, it’s been over three months since I last created a blog entry over here and I suppose I am very much overdue on it. Perhaps even more so to share across an explanation of where have I been in the last three months and venture into sharing some additional details on why I have gone through the longest blogging hiatus that I can remember over the last 10 years that I have been blogging along myself. Was it needed? Yes, you bet it was! Why? Well, two words to define it that I can think of, so far, to explain such a quiet period: (re)focus and purpose.
Over the course of the last 3 months there have been several attempts where I drafted a blog post I just kept writing, and re-writing, over and over again, and I eventually gave up on it. It just wasn’t right. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the well known writer’s block that got me stuck. On the contrary. All along, I wanted it to go out and be published. I even came up with a title for it to describe a bit what I have been going through in the last few months: “Scalability and the Power of Letting Things Go“. Then it hit me: it just wasn’t going to be worth it. Well, maybe it was, if only perhaps because of its cathartic power, but then again it just didn’t feel like it would eventually make it. And now, three months later, upon looking back, I’m glad it didn’t. Because, all along, I was just so wrong with it.
It was one of those blog posts where I was angry and rather upset about a good number of different things. Where my own internal rage almost unleashed itself into the unknown. Rather emotional and perhaps even somewhat visceral, if you would want to call it that way. Pretty damaging overall, if it would have gone out eventually. Even more so when plenty of my closed networks strongly discouraged me to publish it, because they thought it just wasn’t me. It was someone else taking over. Someone that I know I wouldn’t have been able to control myself once it went out. You see? That’s what empowering, trustworthy, caring and nurturing networks can do to you, when you least expected, after you have decided to go the extra mile and trust them dearly as if they were an integral part of you: they protect you to death even against your own self.
And I am grateful for that. They all know it. You ALL know it. I am thankful that I listened to each and everyone of them looking into things from their perspective versus just my own selfish and self-destructive one. Yes, self-destruction is what that blog post would have meant eventually. Of everything that I may have built over the course of the last 17 years in this rather fragile digital world. Of everything that I have strongly believed all along on what I have been meant to do with that digital footprint. And then it hit me. All of a sudden, this article I published nearly 2 years ago, under the heading “Reflections from 2011 – Focused and Purposeful Social Networking“, came to my mind as a flashback to remind me of something I may have lost along the way in the last 18 months or so: (re)focus and purpose.
Indeed, upon reflecting through that long period of three months of very rare and scarce external social interactions from yours truly, I realised that all along I seem to have gone off track from my original purpose. It’s been an interesting experience, because it’s helped me evaluate how I would want to re-focus and re-find that purpose and aim back at the original source of the meaning of the things that I do in the world of Social / Open Business. In fact, I think what I have just gone through, perhaps without even realising about it all along (And that’s a good thing, I guess!), is letting serendipity do its magic, once more, and help my purpose re-find me again.
And it looks like it’s succeeded on its own, because I am now, finally, back! Full of that same energy, and passion, all intact as if it were yesterday, 14 years ago, when I first got started with social networking, and with a renewed source of purposeful meaning into wanting to change the world. At least, my world. That’s gotta be a good start, don’t you think? Well, the excitement is there and as I am starting to wrap up 2013, while currently enjoying a few days of holidays, 2014 is starting to look as exciting, nerve-wrecking, mind-blowing, uncertain, chaotic, complex, beautiful and, above all, more networked than ever before!
Quite an unprecedented learning experience overall, I might add…
Isn’t blogging such a wonderful thing? You bet it is! Once again, it’s managed to bring me back from that darker side of things in all things digital that was just taking me nowhere. Oh, my dear blog, how much I have missed thee throughout all of this time!
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.
You know that summer is almost gone when September comes along in full force, work peaks up again a notch or two, and conference month kicks in. Pretty much like March, after the rather long winter months. I am not sure why, but it’s really interesting to see how both March and September themselves seem to be the busiest times of the year, at least, this year, in terms of public speaking and attending various different conference events over the course of a short couple of weeks. So as I get to prepare myself for the upcoming European World Tour I will be embarking on shortly I just couldn’t help get reminded of the power of changing the world through a rather simple, yet, incredibly inspiring action: the sharing of ideas.
Indeed, late last week I bumped into this short article by Michael Hyatt under the suggestive heading “How Your Next Speech Can Change the World“. It’s a couple of years old already (Got to love the Social Web, for that matter, in helping resurface, once again, the true golden gems hidden out there!), but it is totally worth it. It points out to a TEDx East event speech that the one and only, Nancy Duarte, the presentation goddess, put together to help demonstrate how powerful delivering a good presentation can be to excite and inspire your newly found hero: your audience.
In the past, I have been sharing a good number of different articles over here, in this blog, where I have referenced plenty of practical hints & tips on the topic of public speaking. It’s a subject that fascinates me, because there is always room for improvement. There is always something new that you can learn about inspiring others, no matter how seasoned your presentation skills may well be. There is always an opportunity to do better. That’s why, as a public speaker myself, I keep collecting, digesting, reading, learning as much as I can on the whole theme of public speaking, which is why, as of late, I have been enjoying tremendously the good bunch of rather interesting and relevant links on the topic have been shared by folks like my good friend Peter Billingham. Lots of really good stuff in there to keep you busy for a while helping you fine tune your public speaking skills.
I do realise how there are plenty of dos and don’ts for any public speaker, plenty of interesting role models and a whole lot other articles, dissertations, blog posts, various presentations, practical hints & tips, along with lots of know-how, real life, down to earth, experiences in delivering good, pragmatic, stunning speeches, but if I were to highlight and recommend highly a single resource, my new favourite is the one Michael highlighted on that short blog entry from a couple of years ago from Nancy Duarte herself. Why? Well, for multiple various reasons, but perhaps because of this superb quote that I think pretty much resonates with my own experiences with not only the public speaking I have done in the past, but also what I have learned from having attended, witnessed, gotten excited / amazed by the several hundreds of presentations I have had the privilege of experiencing fully over the course of the years. To quote:
“If you communicate an idea in a way that resonates, change will happen“
How empowering and truly inspiring is that quote to highlight how important the sharing of ideas openly out there, through the Social Web as well, perhaps, has been all along? How inspirational can it be that the main obstacle you need to get rid of when promoting your idea(s), your passion(s) is no other than yourself. We all are our very own first obstacle in sharing what drives us, just because we think no-one is going to be interested, nor find it relevant, or because no-one is going to pay much attention, or perhaps because we assume no-one is going to like our very own ideas.
Ether way, if you would want to learn a lot more about the drive behind those ideas, your own ideas, about the empowering inspiration of story, who the real hero is, after all, when delivering a presentation, how critical “meeting with the mentor” may well be, and what’s the shape of a great presentation, eventually, this is a video clip you just can’t miss. Nancy Duarte at her best. Be prepared to be wowed, because you will.
I know for sure it will be totally worth it the 18 minutes that it lasts and I can guarantee you that you will never look at a presentation at a public speaking event the same way.
And that’s a good thing.