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Executives and Social Media = Efficiency is Key

November 7, 2012 15inno 3 Comments

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.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Peter Douwes says:

    Lack of time is a common excuse heard among executives when it comes to sharing thoughts about social media and the impact of internet to their business. Many are 50+ and had no urge so far to really dig into the Brave New Digital World that is to become reality and tip the balance in worldwide commerce and politics.

    A publication that was convincing to me as a 50+ manager was 'Meatball Sundae' by Seth Godin. He explains why internet is not a sort of separate instrument or extention to your business but shows how it will structurally be the way business will be organised and run. In fact it IS the way to Brave New Digital World, if you like it or not, if you were born in it or not.

    • Peter Douwes says:

      The latter is true for most exe's. I can easily understand their inner fear and resistance to change within themselves, before be able to stimulate adequate changes within their own companies. Even if they are surrounded by a team of Brave New Digital World Managers. Even if they have Brave New Digital Kids at home that could best introduce them to what is really lying ahead.

      Next to what you proposed already we should tune into the period they were formed as modern managers an how they updated their knowledge. If time is scarce I would add a simple bedside reading book in fysical and digital form that could be their starting point. Imagine a Xmas gift: thin but well structured, relevant as to management issues, with persuasive cases and quotes by innovative peers: 'The ten minute Digilogical Executive'. In this book they are introduced in a humoristic way to the Brave New Digital World they have entered already and coached through very simple steps towards login into a digital platform with an exclusive code, where they find more information, cases, where they can practise and chat, and have access to social media once they are ready for it. Stupid simple but super relevant.

      • Peter Douwes says:

        Over the weekend I read a nice introductory book on how to get involved with social media: 'Get Social' by Jeanet Bathoorn. It was part of a 2 hour workshop where 20 professionals reflected on Jeanet's neat presentation on the topic. We also shared our experiences thought brief assignments in order to get a better feel for the matter and deal with the main question: how can I use this for my personal practise or business. Of course with drinks and networking afterwards.

        In brief, I guess a gradual path, each short and concise but convincing and tailored to the need of the bussy exe's, will have most meaning to get them familiar, involved and more focussed to the benefit of their work and their business.

        How can we pick up this multi media challenge?

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