Great conversation at Social Media Breakfast Twin Cities last week sparked an idea for me. The discussion was around how organizations use social tools and platforms “behind the firewall.” Many interesting topics and issues were raised. But for me, I keep coming back to one question: Is this all about business?
The obvious answer: Yes. But, I think it’s a little more complex than that.
Here’s what I’m getting at. As more companies start adopting social tools internally in an attempt to collaborate, innovate and work more efficiently, we start to hear a lot of pushback from middle management. People are wasting time online. They’re not doing their jobs. They’re not getting things done!
Those are valid concerns, no doubt. But, provided we can address those issues by better managing our workforce (those questions are really a management issue, not a social media one, right?), what are we really worried about here? That folks will discuss personal issues online? That they will talk about their kids, their interests outside of work, their real lives? That they’ll talk about topics–work-related or otherwise–that they are passionate about?
Wait, isn’t that what we want them to do?
I mean, I know we want employees to work online. Brainstorm new ideas for the organization. Communicate more efficiently. Manage projects online differently.
But, isn’t a big piece of this relationship building behind the firewall, too?
Aren’t businesses, at their most basic, all about relationships?
Isn’t their tremendous value in employees building relationships across organizations? Sometimes I think we get so stuck in our silos, we forget how smart we can really be if we put our collective heads together and tackle our business challenges TOGETHER.
Think about it. Do you really think the innovation function at any large organization has all the answers? Of course not. They need help. They need to take advantage of all the brains in the organization. Social tools give organizations one great way to do that.
And, it all starts with relationships and trust.
Note: Photo credit of yuan2003 via FlickR Creative Commons