Monthly Archives: June 2012

The one with the wrong era

I envy Don Draper… (from Mad Men)

Not just for the good looks, creative talent and his very attractive wife but for the fact that he worked on Madison Avenue in the 60s. It looks such fun – drinking, smoking, lots of socialising and even someone who takes your hat and coat in the morning to hang them up. OK not so much the hat but you get my point.

If I think back to when I was kid, my Dad worked in a senior purchasing role in Civil Engineering. He went to every sporting occasion he wanted (and saw Gareth Edwards go over in the corner in the mud), fought off gifts at Christmas and his expense account was a thing of beauty. Not a code of conduct or an ethical sourcing policy in sight!

I have come to conclusion I live in the wrong era!

These random thoughts were pinging around my head earlier this week but were brought into sharp relief by a blog post written by Gareth Jones. It’s called ‘Conversation is the new currency’ and it makes some impassioned and fairly bold assertions about the value of conversation to organisations. I am fortunate enough to know Gareth and his commitment to this topic is unwavering even though I on occasion drive him nuts with my requests for evidence or case studies.

Having read through and reflected on his post I have come to conclusion that I firmly disagree with Gareth (and not just on the fact that conversation is potentially the biggest source of business value) but specifically on it being the new currency. It is my belief (and I have no evidence or case studies either) that conversation is the oldest currency in organisations. What we are trying to do now is replicate something that used to exist in the past but has been lost in the waves of change, productivity improvements, downsizing, technology, expansion, relocation and globalisation.

If we go back to my Dad, he regularly went to the pub with his colleagues and stood around and chatted – not because they were on a corporate retreat, a team building day or because it was being paid for by the business – they just went to the pub. Business networking was not a load of uptight people exchanging business cards (or adding each other to Linkedin) it was Round Table which entailed a good deal of partying, dancing, travelling and some significant community and charity work. His dinner suit didn’t only come out for awards dinners and the people he did business and worked with became his friends (and one of them my godfather).

I do agree with Gareth that we need to focus on communication not on engagement. In the same way that Chris Shambrook talked about the need to focus on performance and not result. We need to consider how people are going to feel connected to the people they work with not just get a score of how many of them do. However you go about achieving that I think it’s worth bearing in mind that all we are doing with social media (and other solutions) is trying to replicate the oldest of situations – a group of people standing around talking.

As for me, I’m off to dream of being Don Draper…or maybe just to dream of Joan. Have a great Thursday everyone!

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The one with the crowdsourced research

Every business should be social. Everyone should be forming into empowered communities and revolutionising the way the business operates. Innovation should come from everywhere. Being social is JUST good business. Businesses are boundary-less and customers and employees should be talking openly.

Anyone else heard stuff like this? Those are just the statements I’ve seen in the last 4 days. Unfortunately when I saw them I didn’t realise I was going to write this so I can’t tell you who they came from but they are all from Twitter.

I know lots of people who are very passionate about social media and the impact it can have on organisations and they range in their fervour from the table thumping ‘if they don’t get it they should just join the Amish and move out of the way’ to ‘if they don’t get it then that’s cool and I can take advantage of it’. Whilst these people are often impassioned the conversation doesn’t always get to the ‘why’ and how one could build a compelling argument for undertaking fairly significant organisational change towards the mythical ‘Social Enterprise’ at the end of the rainbow.

Then I had an “Italian Job” moment and this post is the result of that idea….

My idea is to ask anyone and everyone to share either research or case studies on the success of social within organisations. The definitions of success can be varied across commercial, engagement, innovation, collaboration or anything that would make a compelling argument to someone with positive intent towards social but needs evidence to get them over the line. I will happily follow-up on any links, journal articles or similar. I have full academic library access at present so happy for them to be in expensive journals. Points will be deducted for case studies based on organisations that have started as social but there could be some interesting outcomes so deductions will be minimal 😉

I will share any content I manage to pull together with anyone who comments on this post (as long as you put your e-mail address in the e-mail field) but thought this would be a good opportunity to use the wisdom of crowds to try to gather something empiric to help the impassioned folks (and me) make a compelling argument. What I have in mind is information that you could present to someone who has the ‘in God we trust, everyone else bring data to the table’ mindset and convince them. No big ask then!

It will also be an interesting crowd sourcing experiment and my sense is it will either fly or be the least commented post ever….up to you really!

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