Friday 6 December 2013

What's in it for Us?




I don’t normally respond to key news items unless they’re very topical to this blog, eg the CIPD’s social media report earlier this week - the mainstream media, and some other bloggers, already do this very well.  And I prefer to mull over issues, tie themes together, and produce something hopefully a bit deeper if more generic a little later on.

However, I thought I should comment on Nelson Mandela’s passing.  That’s partly because I’ve been working in South Africa quite a bit over the last couple of years and feel more connected to events there than I would otherwise.  And partly because his influence is clearly much stronger than most things that come and go in politics and the economy etc.

Having said that, I’m beginning to get a bit fed up on the continual reporting, and agree with the prevailing sentiment on Twitter last night that giving up the whole of BBCs 1, 2 and News to this was unnecessary, and I would have quite liked to have still seen Question Time and This Week thank you very much.

So rather than discuss Mandela I want to focus on one of his qualities that I think applies, or should apply to organisations too.  This is his desire to be inclusive, and even the subservience of his own needs to do so.  I think that stands in stark contrast to what we see in just about all Western business and even public sector organisations today, and is self perpetuated by a lot of what we do and say.

More than anything, this is the omnipresent desire to respond to the ‘What’s in it for Me?’ question.  And whilst sometimes we may need to do this to achieve certain objectives, its central focus within organisations has created a highly transactional environment, centred on selfishness and competition and downplaying co-operation and collaboration which we know is so important in today’s society.

Even most of the thinking around newer approaches like social business still takes this ‘what’s in it for me’ paradigm as for granted.  To me, it often means we’ve lost the contest (change vs current state) before we start.

We’ve got to start trying to get people thinking about 'what’s in it for us?'!  Until we move some way towards that, organisational life is always going to be nasty and ineffective.  Hopefully Nelson Mandela’s life can act as an example of how we need to change.

So let’s forget about the flowers and incessant news coverage, and just get on with business, but thinking about others rather than just about ourselves.


Also see: Ubuntu - changing social thinking (not that I saw much sign of this in the Autumn Statement yesterday!)  And perhaps this one: Team GB’s Golds / On Competition.


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Wednesday 4 December 2013

#CIPDSocial13 - #Missingout or #Missingthepoint? #CIPD on #SocialHR #BraveHR #PunkHR!




Today’s the CIPD’s Social Media in HR conference.  I’m not going though it should be a good day - though there’s not been anything new in the twitter stream so far.  But Dean Royles from the NHS and Matt Burton from Boots (one of my social business clients) in particular should both be great value.  

And the CIPD have also released a research report ‘Social technology, social business?’ questioning whether businesses are missing out by not fully taking up social media.  There’s not much new in here either (so not so much to object to as in their two other recent reports), but I did think this was interesting:

Of course, for this to function requires the ‘right’ people to be users of the ‘right’ social media platforms. A threshold has to be reached within the population inquestion – a tipping point at which it starts to become more convenient to use social media than to avoid it and be out of the loop. In our personal lives, many now feel that social media platforms such as Facebook are indispensable. Politically, we witnessed it playing a role in the Arab Spring (in Egypt and Tunisia this being dubbed a ‘Twitter revolution’), although a rolethat many have argued has been overstated (Alterman 2011). What is the picture for the world of work?


This point about the tipping point is key.  There are tons of people using social media in most organisations today, but to get the greatest value from it, just about all employees need to be committed to using the internal social channels.

Social media needs to go much more mainstream.  I’m not seeing it so much this time, but the CIPD have certainly made a mistake in this in some of their previous social media conferences, suggesting for example that only charismatic CEOs should use social media, which is just rubbish.  (Some people are better communicators than others, but everyone can benefit by doing more and better communication.)

And I worry about the session later on today - #PunkHR #BraveHR - What is #SocialHR?

Forget about the #overkill of #hashtags for a moment (and yes, yes, I know I do it myself) - the combination of terms is just plain wrong.

I’ve got nothing against Punk HR.  It’s not a term or phrase that I’d want to use myself, but I do believe that 1. there is room for a variety of approaches in HR, 2. that we need to move away from best practices towards these varied approaches and 3. that rather than best practices what matters is having an agenda, a bit of ambition, and wrapping HR processes and practices around this.

So although I don’t warm to Punk HR, I’d rather an organisation try to do this, than just copy the same old same old #BoringHR.  However Social HR doesn’t have to be anything punk!  Most organisations won’t want to do punk type strategies and most employees won’t want to work in punk organisations.  Linking them together like this does nothing to attract more businesses of HR people to social media.

And let’s remember the need is for social media in HR to go mainstream - associating it with punk just isn’t going to be helpful.  I know this came up during last year’s conference too and I disagreed with that as well.  The right metaphor isn’t punk rock but perhaps pop (something that appeals to everyone), classical (something that can be part of a traditional organisation) or maybe jazz (everyone doing their own thing but within a co-ordinated frame).

I love Brave HR and have blogged about this here.  The concept was almost first suggested in the #ConnectingHR community and then taken forward by this year’s unconference planning group after receiving my support (though it had been tweeted about earlier and I know lots, though not enough, HR practitioners have been doing it for years.)  But Social HR doesn’t have to be exceptionally brave either (other than being brave will generally help any other HR strategy.)

The use of social media within HR is separate to these two things and to anything else.  Let’s keep it separate and discuss it for its own merits.


But of course, this still isn’t Social HR / Social Business anyway!- which is why I liked @GrumpyLecturer’s challenge: 'Why introduce so me into workplaces where to critique managerial strategies is actions of a non team player?’.

Absolutely.  Social media is an organisation development tool, and like any OD tool, can’t be introduced by itself.  We need much broader, deeper, social change in HR and the rest of the organisation before any business can be anything like truly social.


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