Social networking advocates often discuss the cultural change required to make the most of social business solutions and systems. There is talk about the shift from a push model of information consumption to a pull mode, which leverages a constant flow of information and knowledge, available anytime and anywhere via a cloud-based social network. This shift enables serendipitous discoveries, uncovers untapped sources of expertise and reduces the time needed to solve business problems. In a pull society:
1. As a network user, managers don’t decide whether someone else is interested in their content; employees do. Managers still need to decide whether employees are entitled to see their content, but that is based on confidentiality rules, not on whether managers think it is relevant to the workforce.
2. Managers have to take more responsibility for keeping themselves informed. They will not have content pushed at them; they have to pull it. Willful ignorance, where they deliberately avoid finding information, is not an excuse.
3. Managers will have access to more information than they can possibly consume, but shouldn’t gorge on it. Instead they should choose what is most useful to help them do their jobs.
4. People don’t wait until they have finished working on something before sharing it with people who may have valuable suggestions to offer.
5. Managers should respect the context in which the author has shared content. If it is marked as “work in progress,” they shouldn’t complain that it seems unfinished and shouldn’t reshare it with other people who should wait for the final version. They should consider it a privilege to have been given early access.
6. Managers shouldn’t resent a comment on their work from someone they didn’t even realize was looking at it. They should welcome the fact that they have managed to solicit feedback without asking for it, and feel flattered someone felt it worth the time to read and comment on their work.
7. If there is too much irrelevant content in the activity stream, that’s the managers’ fault. They need to take the time to make sure they follow people and topics that are important to them and filter out the information they don’t find useful.
Even in organizations with mature social network implementations, some of these guidelines are hard to adopt. But they lead to a more open, social way of working together. Richard Hughes is the director of product strategy at BroadVision. He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com