Sorry I haven't been so active on this blog lately.
Why? Well, it's all going pretty well -- no news is good news, right?
Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the platform continues to grow, and grow, and grow.
But recently, a new initiative got kicked off that's poised to take our company's social media proficiency into a much higher gear.
And it's just a bit scary ...
The Challenge Of Executive Engagement
Put bluntly, we don't see a lot of VP-types on the platform. Some of them are lurking -- I know it -- but I don't see them weighing in, sharing thoughts, starting discussions, etc.
I suppose I could write a few posts on why that might be.
And, I suppose one could debate that excessive "executive engagement" might put a bit of a damper on what's turned into a freewheeling, open, transparent discussion on literally thousands of topics.
But I am of the mind that -- ultimately -- we'll need our more senior management to engage a bit.
Why This Is Turning Out To Be Important
First, we need our leadership team to be very aware of trends that affect our industry. Web 2.0, social media, social computing, et. al. -- well, it's a big trend. It not only affects what products and services we'll be offering, but -- more importantly -- it directly affects how we'll offer them.
Second, as a new way of doing things (whether behind the firewall, or externally engaging), it's a powerful and potent tool. It'd be nice to have everyone understand what that tool is capable of.
Third, as the "keepers of the corporate culture", the cultural aspects that are brought forward through the use of social productivity software (transparency, openness, engagement, etc.) are good ones.
And, of course, when they figure out how to master this stuff, they'll probably find themselves far more productive in the getting-things-done department, which I'm finding is working pretty well for me.
But the biggest reason -- by far -- is that our leaderhsip team really doesn't get together that much to build relationships, discuss stuff, share best practices, etc. And, when we do, it's usually in a huge meeting room with lots of presenters on stage -- hardly the ideal environment for dialogue and discussion.
Wouldn't it be great if we could discuss company strategy and execution -- as a team -- on-line, when we had the time and interest?
The Big Idea
Jack Mollen, our head of HR, is a pretty visionary guy. Way back when, he was one of the key sponsors behind this social media proficiency initiative I'm working on now.
One of the more important and visible things that Jack's team does is run Executive Education for the company. Traditionally, this has taken the form of a well-produced 2 day off-site around a few key issues the company is facing.
We get the context, we get to work together as teams on exercises, we get to debate and discuss and share -- all very good stuff.
But it could be better. Imagine if we grafted social media concepts to this program?
Maybe have the teams review -- and discuss -- the material and issue before ever setting foot in a meeting room? Or keep the discussion -- and the initiatives -- moving forward far after the event?
Eventually, maybe the focal point of executive education becomes the online discussion, and the physical meetings just reinforce and enhance the online experience.
Better yet, we can all put more energy into acting as a team, simply because we don't have to clear our calendars for two days to do this -- we can fit it in when and where we have a few moments.
Simply put, Jack wants to build a "executive leadership community" at EMC, using this platform.
When he approached me on the idea, I only had two words: "I'm in!".
A bit scary, but very cool, don't you think?
Strategic Benefits Are Everywhere
If we can pull this off -- even partially -- think of the goodness that could happen.
We'll get a leadership team that directly understands what this stuff is all about -- because they'll be using it themselves.
We'll probably see a different flavor of management style emerge (Leadership 2.0?) over a reasonably short period of time.
And -- best of all -- we'll have a executive leadership team that directly engages with each other -- on an ongoing basis -- around making EMC more successful.
But This Is Gonna Be Hard
One challenge is that this is being driven by HR. They're great people, but we might need a more senior executive sponsorship model to get the party going.
And, when I say "executive sponsorship", I mean a few people with big, honkin' titles getting on the platform and driving a few discussions. A hands-off sponsorship model won't work here. That might be hard for a few people.
Our first round of topics and content were largely things that HR wanted to talk about. Some of it's interesting, some of it less so. For this to be successful, the discussions are going to have to reflect the needs of the community, right?
And, let's face it, this is a new environment for most of these people. It's going to take some coaching and push-pull to get people to open up and start contributing.
But I think it's going to be worth the effort.
And even if it's not 100% successful, we're going to learn a lot in the process, aren't we?