I was interviewed recently by Sean Dodson at The Guardian and we got talking about social media as a disruptive technology. I hadn’t given the subject much thought at the time, but I have done since. I have no doubt that social media channels – blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc – can be used to trigger deep and fundamental change inside organisations. They can bypass the hierarchy, boost transparency, stimulate grassroots conversations, identify issues, give the silent a voice, reduce email traffic, trigger action. What’s more, if adopted and championed by those all-important change agents, these tools could help spread the virus of change at lightening speed.
I would place an emphasis on the word can here as social media tools are just that, tools and mechanisms. As I’ve said before (here and here) its all about the culture – give or take issues of physical proximity and access, anyone can walk up to a CEO (they’re only human and at some point in their lives had their parents buy their underwear for them) and discuss any work issues, however, many/ most organisations have a culture/ norms that do not allow that sort of behaviour. Social media may make such a discussion easier but if the culture and norms do not allow it then it ain’t going to happen whether there’s in-house social media or not.
Having said that, how much better do you think most organisations would operate if they had an encouraged that openess as a cultural norm?