Luis Suarez spent many years at IBM in knowledge management and social business. Earlier this year, he branched out on his own. He's a popular speaker at conferences and advisor to many about the practicalities of social business.
One of his recent blog posts about social business challenges in the workplace spurred me to respond – something I should do more of (like blogging) but rarely get round to.
Social business at senior management level is not always appreciated or understood. In fact some (many?) actively resist it. I tried to take the management perspective with comments like:
It would be interesting to know how many of the 'resisters' of a top-down mindset are in fear of losing their power?
Perhaps they've acquired it through inheritance, accident, shareholding — anything except merit.
Or maybe they consider that their unique perspective wouldn't be understood by the 'lower orders', even if they were to share it.
When email first came in, analysis revealed that many middle managers were just 'message passers'. People just started leaving them out of conversations and they were exposed and, presumably, moved out of the way.
It's a bit different at the higher echelons of the company. I guess the answer is to find those senior management willing to engage socially and show the non-participants the value (e.g. better understanding of what's going on — in both directions) and see if participation spreads. If it doesn't then 'engagement' should perhaps be raised as an agenda item at board meetings.
Luis' responded quite fully (and harmoniously) and my response to this included:
Agree with you. Including your point on the restrictiveness (ie non-social) aspects of email.
I think that 'effective working' should always be the goal. I worry a bit when the goal is expressed as 'social' anything. Social is the mechanism, not the destination. It's something a lot of 'evangelists' (not you, of course) seem to miss.
He responded again so, if you have any interest in the subject of social business practicalities, I really urge you to add Luis' blog to your list of thought leaders in this area. He's widely known as Elsua, if you want to search for him. (Saves you ending up with loads of footballer hits.)