During a session for an executive group at a large, international company last week, I asked the executives what it would take for them to embrace social media.
One thing on which there was a general consensus was that they would like to use social media in ways that could make their organization more efficient. This goes for processes and functions in general – marketing, customer service as well as innovation. Well, this is probably as expected for executives given the current difficulties. Efficiency beats opportunities.
Another interesting discussion was whether you gain a helicopter perspective and provide the proper framework and conditions for social media to become an efficient tool without having personal experiences with social media. We reached the conclusion that you really need personal experiences. It is not enough to ”just” hire people with the right mindset, skills and let them take care of this.
Unfortunately, executives do not have the time needed to gain this personal perspective on social media so they often run into a Catch 22 situation as described in this blog post. So in the context of innovation, the innovation leaders must educate upwards in order to get the executives up to date.
One way to do this is to let the executives become inspired by other executives – their peers – either by showing them examples and success stories from other companies or by arranging sessions in which they can share insights and experiences face to face with executives that have already been through similar challenges.
Another tool could be a mentoring program in which digital residents (usually younger people) give the executives an introduction to social media.
The idea of educating upwards is taking hold among corporate innovation teams, but it is fairly difficult and we lack good cases on this. Let me know if you can share other ideas on how to educate executives on social media issues.