Social Media – A culture shock

By Hanns Kohler-Kruner posted 04-08-2010 16:47


Ever since we started talking about Social Media the discussion about culture and how to get workers to use the technologies in a meaningful manner has been ongoing as well. It seems almost like as if only a major move or shift is necessary to get people to use these tools and methods to communicate and collaborate and use them effectively.

I disagree with this statement and its conclusions. It is not about culture, but rather about the individual user or worker in an organization. Users that do not use Social Media tools in their daily lives, play with these tools and see the advantages of a Google Docs service or a similar tool, don’t play around on Facebook, mess with their twitter streams and use sites like Posterious to aggregate their feeds are initially not going to use similar tools inside the company either. This has nothing to do with age or culture: this is down to the individual user and their ability to adapt, change and move forwards. Friends that I presumed to be into these things have only just now joined Facebook, don’t understand the use of Twitter, Wikis, or Blogs and find the suggestions of Social Networks about whom they should befriend very obscure. No mandate, no change management, no incentives will make them move quickly and decisively into this new way or working.

Not all battles in this field can be won, so let’s stop trying and instead give people working tools that they can do their jobs with rather than getting carried away with ‘collaboration’ and ‘paradigm shifts’. A working tool that meets a user’s need is still far more useful even if it does not support dynamic interface changing and streaming status feeds from a dozen different networks into one coherent chaos. There still is room for tagging, and it does not have to be social, it can be very much mandated and strict like a taxonomy or a formal metadata strategy.

Yes, employees should be happy and satisfied with their jobs, but they also have a job to do, and experimentation with wikis and corporate blogs should be left to the willing individuals until a real business case can be made for the widespread use! Only recently I was reminded by a client that at the end of the day, productivity is the thing that counts the most when measuring success. I want to explore some of these points a little bit more in some of my next posts, because although I am very much a huge fan of Social Media and firmly believe in its potential, we must remember not to throw out the baby with the bathwater or the toys out of the pram or whatever expression fits your cultural background.

By Hanns

#collaborate #changemanagement #socialmedia #socialnetwork #culture