I spent a little time over the last few weeks outside of my usual bubble, and here’s something that surprised me:
Much of the world still has not figured out social media.
Really. They are wondering why someone would use Twitter (“Why do I care what they had for lunch?!”). They are paralyzed by the idea that someone might post a negative comment on their blog. They don’t know what LinkedIn is, or how they could possibly use it. These are not fringe people. They are main stream. They work for big companies. They are smart and successful people.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that most (if not all) of the readers of this blog can pat themselves on the back for being ahead of that curve. And this may be one of the clearest areas where the association community can declare itself ahead of the business world. But self-congratulation is not actually the reaction that comes to mind for me. My reaction is more one of relief: Phew! We haven’t missed the boat yet.
Because figuring out the basics of social media will get you down to the docks, but it won’t get you on the ship that actually sails ahead and gets you the amazing results. This revolution is not about social media. The revolution is about unleashing the potential of the human beings inside our organizations and within our communities. The human approach to leadership (as opposed the mechanical one that has dominated the last 100 years) will get us there. Organizations that truly figure out a new way to lead and manage that taps into this power are going to be the ones who sail ahead of the rest, and to be honest, that doesn’t require them to figure out social media first. It’s about human principles, not social media.
So the fact that people outside the bubble haven’t even seen the potential in social media might mean that us “cool kids” are a ahead of the game, but we still have work to do. It’s hard work to actually do leadership and management differently. It’s challenging to actually change organizational culture. But that’s the work we need to do if we don’t want to miss this boat. Don’t rest on the success of your social media efforts, and don’t ignore your competition just because they don’t “get it.” Because they may skip social media and figure out the human part of this revolution first, and at that point you will have lost your advantage.