I am fan of vegetables…not just the lovable pop culture staples (raw carrots w/ranch, baked potato), but the hardcore, traditionally scorned, green vegetables. Although their deliciousness can be a divisive topic, few deny they are an important part of a balanced diet and essential to a person’s healthy development.
Disagree?…stay with me anyway – relevance to your organization can be found shortly below…
I credit my parents with my personal affinity for the fresh and green. With my older sister, my parents took the “You can’t leave the table till you’ve eaten all of your peas” route. It turns out Kristin is almost as stubborn as my father, so by the time the vegetables were choked down and everyone had been fighting for a few hours, it left a literal and metaphorical bad taste in her mouth. She’s picky about vegetables to this day.
Mom and Dad tried a different method with me. I never had to stay at the table till my veggies were eaten – but they did ask that once every six months I give the vegetables I thought I didn’t like an honest try. I couldn’t just make a predetermined decision, stick them in my mouth and spit them out quickly. I had to take a few good bites and really give them a chance. If I did, I was off the hook.
Little by little I came to like the idea of trying new things, and enjoyed the vegetables more and more. I believe this same technique holds true for new media and organizational leadership. It’s our job to guide and inform, not to force ourselves into what everyone else is doing.
As a business developer for MediaSauce, I meet with and speak to a variety of groups, in varying industries every week. Between and within vertical markets, there is a wide spectrum of understanding and adoption of online tools. Rapid Change, Industry Regulations, Technology Infrastructure, Liability Issues, Privacy Problems, Leadership that sees little revenue potential in new tools, and budget constraints are all cited as reasons for avoiding commitment to online as a communications strategy.
If your organization or industry requires that you be more cautious, or you are a later adopter, that’s ok! Organizations in every phase of innovation adoption have good reasons for being there, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each phase. However, much like vegetables, a great online presence is a vital part of a balanced communications strategy and is essential to organizational growth. It is good for you to be connected, and it is something any organization can learn to leverage.
Champions of new media sometimes hurt their cause by forcing the issue within the group, especially in organizations that are slower to embrace new technologies. Their reaction is to list others’ success stories, and when challenged with organizational bottlenecks the value prop doesn’t directly translate. The trick (like with food) is in the context and presentation.
I encourage you to facilitate a high level conversation around the growth of online communication and how it will continue to affect your organization. Every six months (or more often if possible) bring your leaders together with the objective of simply having an open-minded discussion about the implications of an interconnected, online world.
The goal is to honestly consider costs and risks of pursuing something new, AND weigh them against the opportunities for success and potential for revenue growth. Think about some of the ways that you can use new tools to create relevance and value in everything you do. Consider the costs of maintaining status-quo. These are the conversations that connect and resonate with executives, board members, and organizational leaders.
What will be the outcome of these conversations? I can’t say. The reality is some of the available tools still will not taste right to your organization and that is ok. But, if you are approaching the conversation around costs and benefits, and making an effort to do so regularly, great steps forward will be a natural outcome.
Be careful though, or you may find yourself pleasantly surprised as a new fan of asparagus, organizational transparency, or Foursquare.