Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's your fault they don't understand social...

I spend a lot of time trying to convince people about what it takes to understand and get value out of social media.  Actually, I spend all my time doing that.  But long before I spent time trying to spend others to adopt a new data set with new methodologies that add "tangible value" to their business, I was just a simple change agent.  And before that an innovator.  Why is this important?  Because social media is merely something new for a change agent to hang their hat on.  It is the rush of driving the change that gets me excited even more than that tangible value.  And more than the change is learning from others.

I figured I would take a little time to reflect (AND CONTINUE SORT OF) my last post.  Link t>o that post here ==> X.  In this post, I really see that it will take a village of thought to push the final wave over so everyone is aware of the water bearing down on them.  

But that is about the market.  It is not about what you are agonizing with each and every day if you work in social.  Whether you are working in social within a large organization, in an agency selling social services or at a vendor like me trying to implement the change, it is a tough road to hoe.  In fact, it is often downright maddening.  I would bet dollars to donuts that even if you have the so called D (decision) on how to implement your companies social media program, you are still beating your head against the wall fighting to get them to understand.  I will get to that in a moment.  Below is your social media cultural reality in business. I call it a cultural conundrum, and have been discussing it in my travels, but I think this graph that my good friend Bob Ciccone put together frames it perfectly..


Simply put, we as consumer trust social data to make decision, business people don't and if you are selling social in a business environment, then you are going to face this cultural conundrum consistently.  There will always be someone too risk adverse to drive the change.  And those people love to hide behind their way of doing things, the process, the money, the ROI, their power....and the list goes on and on.

I have a number of posts on the politics of innovation.  I have had the privilege of working inside large companies innovating from the bottom, middle and the top with little budget, people or authority.  My experience with the politics of innovation are based on guerrilla tactics and warfare with a major twist of culture based focused.  

To follow up my last post with has everything to do with being humble about what I know versus the market, this post is all about helping transfer that humility with a few simple politics of innovation rules of thumb. 

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #1  :  It's your fault they don't understand

Think about that a moment.  If the graph above is true (which no one can deny it isn't right now), they why can you get people who use social to apply to business.  Because you need to own convincing them, not the other way around.  You need to recognize that those who resist don't get your approach.  They simply don't believe and that means if you own the change you are doing a good enough job helping them understand.  I live this everyday in my quest as a change agent.  I am constantly frustrated about what I sell, but I ALWAYS know it is my fault they don't understand.  It is a principle to live by because it builds fortitude and helps you hone your humility and methodologies.

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #2:  The Concept-Approach Principle

A while ago I was debating with my boss about doing something new and when I left I just couldn't get my head around why he wouldn't do it.  We were saying the same thing, but he wouldn't budge.  Then I realized something very powerful.  There is the concept and the approach.  They are two different things.  The concept is what and why you are trying to do.  The approach is how you are going to get it done.  I realized we had agreed on concept but not approach.  If it is your fault they don't understand, then you need to think about why they might not be moving.  Do you disagree on concept (social is not valuable) or the approach to getting it integrated (what resources, process and actions must be created to make it work)?  Start here and you can save yourself lots of heartache because you can prepare better.

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #2:  Know thy Client

Ever been in this scenario.  You can work with someone on an opportunity that can grow the business by $1B but they are a jerk or work on one that is $100M with a trusted ally; who do you work with?  I learned a long time ago that knowing your client is as important as the growth opportunity.   Too many people focus more on the size of the prize versus the partner.  This applies to your social media implementation goals.  You are trying to get others to buy into new ways of doing things, know who you are going to do it with.  Pick your partners wisely.  Work with people you trust and can build ideas that are simply beyond ROI.  Yes this is critical, but not the end all in change.  Change is about getting people to believe in your idea and then do the experiment.  They will sell it when it succeeds.  You own getting them to see, but they own getting others to see.

I want to keep this short, but if you are really committed to making it happen you have to be humble (as stated in my last post) and always blame yourself when it doesn't go the way you need it to.  

There is a delicate balance between Ego and Humility.  In fact, I would argue that if you are balanced between the two you get Confidence.  You must champion social...it is your job, but if you can blame yourself when it doesn't go well, you will come out the other side way more confident in your ability to make it happen then if you simply sit around saying people just don't get it.

It will allow you to don't just stand there but do something rather than the less preferred way of don't do something stand there....which is why people often fail to make change real or better yet even if it is adopted it is doesn't have the impact you want it to..


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