Euan Semple’s “Manager’s Guide to the Social Web”

My holiday reading included Euan Semple's, Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social WebIt inspired me to write a review which I'll also submit to Amazon.

Here goes:

SempleBookA simple question mark, for me, symbolises the difference between the old way and the new way of managing and working.

The old way is about command and control and hierarchies while the new is about personal responsibility and networks. The old way was predicated on authority (whether deserved or not) and the new way on inspiration.

The question mark I mentioned represents the difference between being closed (do it my way) and open (how do you think we should do this?).

Given a choice, who would you prefer to work for – someone who bosses you or someone who inspires you?

These, and numerous other thoughts, are what Euan Semple's "Guide to the Social Web" triggered. I reckon that if a book shifts your thinking in a significant way, then it's worthwhile. That makes Semple's book extremely worthwhile. It's a book about management thinking much more than a book about the tools available, although they can't be totally avoided. And it's rooted in practicalities, although you may find yourself resisting some of them. I'd say, "keep an open mind until you've read the whole book."

I'm someone who's been actively involved in social web stuff since just before I first met Euan in early 1985 and I've held several management jobs as well as being a writer and a columnist. (Yes, that's partly a disclosure – I interviewed Euan for a magazine article about his experience of introducing social networking tools to BBC employees and we've stayed in touch ever since. I also mention it to show that I have lived through the old way and the new way and have a certain perspective.) 

I've always, right until I read this book, been a bit wary of Euan's evangelistic tendencies. But he's drawn his conclusions from the university of hard knocks and tends, when conversation time is short, to be long on conclusions and short on explanations. But this excellent book changes all that. It is a book of profound depth which reveals his innermost thoughts on each of his conclusions and practical suggestions while staying humble enough to acknowledge that other ways may suit certain organisations.

He's convinced, though, that successful organisations will all adopt social tools to a greater or lesser degree. This book is a way to accelerate management's insight and understanding of what the social web means and the potential it holds for transforming the workplace. It is not a black and white book that says, "do this, or you're doomed". Semple knows that companies have their own systems and their own ways of doing things and, indeed, that social web tools can be complementary rather than replacements.

It is a business book, aimed at business managers. And it's written in a way that each short chapter is designed to stand alone and can be read on the train, in the bath or wherever else takes your fancy. This inevitably causes some minor repetition, which you notice if you read it straight through (as I did). And, one chapter left me slightly puzzled about something, but this was the topic of the very next chapter. So I was only puzzled for a few minutes.

Have I got any complaints about the book? Well one; I really don't like the white type on a grey background which is used to introduce each chapter. Anything bigger? Hmmm. I wondered why he didn't mention 'search' very much. Then I realised that he's much more in favour of asking questions and getting recommendations than wading through search results of variable quality.

 

The book is 296 pages, it's published by John Wiley & Sons.

ISBN-10: 1119950554. ISBN-13: 978-1119950554.

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