If we are creating an operating program for organizations to be more adaptive to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century with the explicit goal to be a leading, winning organization of the 21st century, the question here is:
How does 'social media', or as I call it, "rich social media" play into my three pillars approach for creating such an operating program?
To fully understand the role that so called social media plays, we need a quick overview of the environment in which it operates.
All organizations, private or public, profit or not, operate in an environment and compete and/or cooperate for resources.
For much of the industrial era economy, this environment was relatively stable. Or, to be more accurate, the perception of the time was that it was stable. (a retrospective look would reveal it wasn't as stable as the perception.) The production of goods and services was mechanized, standardized, the input and output was measurable (or so it seemed), business cycles were long (the horizon was distant), management and organizational processes, systems, culture and psychology reflected the times in which it operated in.
With the advent of the computer and subsequently the 'knowledge economy' (or 'information economy'. these are subjective terms to try describe something that is broader, deeper than we can conceptualize, but serve the purpose of distinguishing the modern economy from that of the old industrial economy.) we have been leaving the mechanized industrial economy behind, and have entered an economy that is much more fluid, dynamic, non-linear, chaotic and unpredictable.
Operating in such an environment necessitates an entirely different mindset (mental model) and operating system, one that reflects biology and living systems. It is very important to understand this is not analogous or metaphorical. We are much more defined by living systems than we are mechanical systems.
Accepting this reality means giving up our idea of what is knowable, what is manageable, what is controllable along with the conventional wisdom of how to operate in an environment such as the one that exists now. We need to think more in terms of leading, rather than controlling, inspiring rather than constraining.
In the industrial economy human capital was considered and treated as parts of a machine, and as a cost. While not strictly conceived of that way today, human capital is not considered with an open mind as to it's massive potential, a potential any organization needs to fully embrace to compete in today's operating environment.
For organizations to adapt, thrive, and remain relevant today, there are three main tenets that need to be understood and accepted:
One--life is comprised of countless interactions among living systems (enhanced by mechanical and socio-technological systems creating a web of systems that is unknowable. This is complexity.
Two--knowledge and information are what separates those that survive and those that do not.
Three--communication and media have forever been transformed by the internet.
These are pretty incontrovertible. If they are, you probably should not be reading this blog, you should close your browser, and move on. I can't help you in any way, shape or form. :) There are people and organizations that may live outside the bounds of those tenets, but they're also unlikely to be relevant in the future.
Accepting these, it becomes inherently logical for people and organizations:
One--to have a conceptual and operational understanding of living systems with a functional systems thinking mindset.
Two--to have a culture of organizational and personal learning to facilitate the acquisition and spread of knowledge and information.
Three--to have a conceptual and operational understanding of the nature and use of the internet and social media.
A tidy little overview like this makes it sound all so simple!! It isn't. Not at all. Why? That answer is simple--we're humans. As individuals, we're complex, and an aggregate and organized, we're even more so.
If this was easy, I'd have no prospects, and I'd be better off sticking to the sensible profession of home building.
Okay! We have a brief and I hope succinct bit of context here, in the next post I'll look at the concept of social media and the internet in more detail.