Posts Tagged culture shift

Just yes or no, thank you.

Posted by on Friday, 20 December, 2013

binary_mcclanahoochieIs social media reducing our critical thinking skills to mere binary this-or-that type choices?

Whether it is gender roles, politics, or any other topic of human conversation, it seems to me that the way in which social media allows us to share our views has relegated the conversation into two buckets: I agree, or I disagree. Through the binary “likes”, we are encouraged to think in simple terms; a single click if I agree, or a comment to explain why I don’t. What is discouraged by virtue of the tooling features is deeper or more complex thought. While many of us retain the desire to engage in this complex discussion, the single threaded nature of commenting serves to drive conversation down a single path which encourages one-dimensional thinking. Lateral thought or more critical thinking processes are being diminished in importance to the deference of group-think and soundbites.

I don’t know if I’m right, wrong, or in-between on this, but what I sense in the social spaces is a growing frustration and chasm split between us and them.

We are in an epidemic of one-dimensionalism and binary thought. That is to say, our society is being torn asunder by our inability to attribute more than a black/white view of each other within conversational contexts. Too often have I seen conversations in social channels quickly veer into a this-or-that discussion: you’re either for or against, pigeon-holed with no grey areas regardless of how deeply we try to clarify. These social conversations only serving to strengthen an us versus them mentality, widening any small divide from mere cracks to broad chasms of perceived ideological differences between people.

Mark Judge touches on this singularity, this one-dimensionalism perfectly in his call to boycott the next Star Wars Film in his blog post here: , (with my own hat tip to Mrs.Campbell for the share on Google+). In his post, Mark discusses how geeks are falling into this trap of only being interested in one thing; that we have lost our broader scopes of interest to the deeper focus on one.

Similarly, Matt Walsh blogged about the power hierarchy fallacy in the way people talk about their spouses (with another hat tip, this time to Suzi Meiger for her share on Facebook):

While I don’t fully agree with Matt in his post (I don’t think he takes it far enough and falls down a bit when basing his post from an assumption of male leadership and two-gender marriages) I think his ideas and intent is closer to being palatable by the majority than most other posts I’ve read on similar topics; that treating people as people, as equals in a partnership where power dynamics can shift and sway, where respect for the individual is tantamount to any societal pressure to behave in a certain way is critical to our future success as a culture.

Like I said, I don’t know if I’m right, wrong, or otherwise, and I don’t know what the answer is to the question at the beginning of this post, but what I do know is that more complex thought and conversations are necessary in order to save ourselves from the pigeon holes and land mines of conversation and interaction via social media. And, if it wasn’t already evident, let’s drop the name-calling, shaming, and dehumanizing words when disagreeing with others. It serves no other purpose than to diminish ideas without actually addressing the problems with the ideas presented.


image credit:  Some rights reserved by mcclanahoochie


Learning Social Business from KM failures

Posted by on Thursday, 17 October, 2013

IMG_2568KM is knowledge management; a term most people who don’t work in KM likely don’t understand, and even those who do work in the field may only have a tenuous grasp of as it is broad in scope and esoteric in meaning. In effect, knowledge management is about the creation, curation, and maintenance of organizational information. Once relegated to documentation and knowledge bases, it now encompasses wikis, forums, blogs, and other social engagement as well.

In my years of working as a knowledge manager, the biggest failure I’ve encountered has been the implementation of quotas as a method to solve a problem of content gaps in knowledge bases. While mandated quota systems will indeed work to generate more  content, we discovered the quality and relevancy of that content wasn’t hitting the mark. The problem we were trying to solve wasn’t that we needed more content, rather we needed the right  content, the right information for our clients available at the right time. Quotas only solved the amount of content, and did nothing to drive creation of relevant and useful content.

The same lesson can be seen in social business today. Where many companies and corporations are mandating social participation and seeing increased activity, they aren’t hitting the mark of being a true social business. While mandates will drive increased activity, it misses the mark like km quotas before it: the right activity is lost to mere quantity. Mandates and incentives don’t drive the right behaviours, only increased activity. What is needed is not more voices in the social media worlds saying the same thing; rather we need the right voices sharing their knowledge for the benefit of others.  Instead of quotas and mandates and incentives we need a shift in corporate culture that is focused on encouraging and supporting the right behaviours: the effective sharing of knowledge and innovation to aid the success of all.

Enabling and encouraging those who have both the expertise and passion for what they do, showing how the right knowledge shared benefits everyone, and creating a culture of openness that not only allows for social participation but sees it as a key part of everyone’s job role will start to shift us away from those old KM failures towards true social success. This is not a top-down need, nor is it a bottom up grass-roots effort any more. Now, more than ever, the entire company hierarchy has a responsibility to drive the right behaviours, to create the right culture that supports the new way of business.

This quote from Brian Solis‘ article on the Death of Social Business sums up the need and call to action quite nicely:

“So while some of us are getting ready to attend the funeral for Social Business, many are pushing onward to what’s next. Whatever we end up calling it is not the important thing. What really matters is freeing every human asset to be free of fear, uncertainty and doubt so they may achieve their greatest potential in life and in work. A connected society is a better society, with mutual benefit from our interdependence making the world more tolerant, more livable and more prosperous.”

Indeed, whatever we call it, we must learn from our past failures and move forward the right way, the connected and human way.



Culture change, innovation, and the necessity of disruption

Posted by on Thursday, 30 May, 2013

IMG_3127-origI was challenged this week to use the word “errant” in something I wrote. This challenge, not surprisingly, came from a friend’s off-handed comment about an errant pickle on my sandwich, meant to poke fun at my own strict sense of what a Cuban sandwich should be and how it should be presented. (I’ll say right now that it was a fabulous meal that I’d order time and time again, but didn’t quite meet the definition of what a Cuban sandwich is. Yes, I’m pedantic, but I can still appreciate a great meal even when it doesn’t quite fit.) She enjoyed the idea, and the word, so much she challenged me to use it…

While I contemplated how to work the word in to my daily writing, I realized that the word itself tied directly in to my work in social business at a strategic and conceptual level, as the connotation of “errant” implies a negative while the denotation can actually become a positive.

Let me explain: Trying to be a change agent is hard. Changing culture is hard. But, what is often perceived as errant behaviour is one of the most critical pieces to accomplishing any success in changing a culture or being truly innovative. It is the dissent, the disruption, that many see as problematic but is critically necessary to break the culture out of its comfort zone and become more open to new ideas; ideas that may initially seem errant, but grow to become better methods or ideologies and ultimately change culture with positive effect.

Errant ideas or behaviour are simply that which stray from what is considered proper or standard. While this can indeed be negative or harmful in some ways, can also be positive and beneficial when thought and consideration is applied with informed intent. By way of example I point to the disruptive technology we know as Twitter: when used with informed intent the service can be an amazing agent for change by allowing perceived errant behaviour and ideas to be organized into an effective force for revolution.

Be it toppling ineffective governments or organizing against corporate greed, disruptive technology and the people who use them are on the forefront of culture change. Without our ability to stray from the standards, we doom ourselves to a stagnant and unsuccessful existence.