Recently Jeremiah Owyang released the Altimeter report “The Two Career Paths of the Corporate Social Strategist. Be proactive or become ‘Social Media Help Desk’.”
Owyang asked 140 Social Strategists what made them successful. 46% attributed their success to their “willingness to take risks.” One other noteworthy trait, and my personal favorite, was “ability to keep a cool head.”
Owyang’s report reminds us that getting support for social is no easy task. The person who does this has to basically have super-powers. It’s that hard. The issue must be attached from all angles.
Joie De Vivre–Joy of Life (can be found at work)
Last Sunday I found myself at the Samovar Tea Room for the Zappos delivering happiness event. There were a handful of guest speakers accompanying Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and his Delivering Happiness crew. One stand-out speaker was Chip Conley, CEO of Joie De Vivre, also the author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow.
Chip mentioned the Maslow hierarchy of needs–highlighted in his book–in his talk on Sunday. I can’t blame companies for not considering this hierarchy in managing average companies. It’s very easy to forget “the human condition” when you are trying to hit quarterly goals.
Owyang’s report on the “social strategist” reminds that the biggest hurdle in getting wide-spread adoption of social business is not the user friendly software. The challenge resides in legacy corporate cultures.
There are a few companies that don’t have this problem. Tony Hsieh of Zappos gets it.
When I say “it” I mean the fact that companies that recognize this hierarchy of needs see the return. We don’t need fancy consultants or expensive software programs to start experimenting with social. We just need a culture that’s ready.
After the Zappos event last Sunday on the Delivering Happiness bus I asked Tony Hsieh about social CRM. I told him how frequently his case study is cited.
He laughed at me. And he always laughs at me when I throw out fancy jargon generally used by our industry.
The concept “social CRM” is not complicated. It’s very simple. It wasn’t complicated for Zappos because social slid in easily with their culture. There is a culture war going on. And avant-garde leaders–literally meaning “out in front at battle”–like Tony–are changing the world. But most of us are still on the sidelines watching–a result of what is possibly performance anxiety–at the corporate level.
The Dark Side
When I asked an old friend–who was an executive director–what makes people show up for work, he told me fear. I politely disagreed and I still do. Fear paralyzes workers. It is demotivating. How many of you have worked alongside employees who don’t show up for work even when they do?
Knowledge work requires critical thinking, problem solving and focus. Companies with mentally checked-out employees see their sales will fail.
We’ve known this for a few years. A report released back in 2007 noted companies with low levels of engagement saw operating income drop more than 32 percent and earnings per share drop over 11 percent (Towers Perrin).
One of the most cited management gurus in the world is Peter Drucker. I recognize that Drucker, during his time, had very forward-thinking ideas about management of knowledge workers. But the reality is today his management tactics are outdated.
His books don’t consider disruptive technologies.
Advances in collaboration technology throw out many of the legacy rules we are accustomed to.
For example, Drucker encouraged managers to model the military in leadership style. Simultaneously he preached companies should treat employees like volunteers, free to leave at any time. This is counter-intuitive to me.
You are either using fear tactics, or you are not. And those that use fear tactics are not even aware of it—it’s that ingrained in the culture.
It will take more than a few Jedi-mind tricks for change agents and social strategists to convince upper management of the value of social. We are years away from where we need to be in corporate America. Yesterday it was reported that Wal-Mart made 3.5 billion dollars in the third quarter–and most of this revenue came from overseas. With the state of the American economy, social business might save us–unfortunately it’s going to have to be much faster than we are currently moving.
This can’t happen fast enough.