Harold nails this for me. I have been struggling to understand the blockage that keeps so many from understanding.
Might it be that we are so used to dealing with "problems" that have known and rational "answers"? That is what school is. "Robert" 2 x 2 what is the answer?" This is how we learned what a "Problem" was. We also knew that there was a Known answer or a Known Algorithm that would produce the answer, We also knew that the best people knew the answers and the algorithms. They were at the top of the class and now are at the top of the organizations. They "Know".
But as we all explore the shift from machine to network, we may know the theory but actually how this plays out in practice cannot be known in advance. Just as Columbus could "Know" that if he sailed west he would find land but he could not know when or what it would be like or how to get there in detail.
Columbus had to explore and feel his way there.
Crossing America in 1805 was to truly explore. Off go Lewis and Clark into the truly unknown and unknowable. They could only explore and use trial and error. They did know that the Pacific was west, as Columbus knew that some kind of land was west. But that was all. They did know to take the "right" people with them. They selected the best back woods men. They also had a special person - "Sacagawea". She was an Indian woman with a baby.
What did she bring? They knew that they would be in Indian country all the way. She had two powerful things to add to the strength of the party. She knew many languages and the culture - she could connect the explorers to the locals and vice versa.
But maybe even more important, she was a woman and she had a baby.
This sent out a signal to the system that this party was NOT a war party. For without that, even if they had had a male Indian who could be the cultural connector, they would have all been killed before the meeting!
So what do traditional organizations need to "cross the chasm"?
I think that they need to stop thinking that is is a problem that can be resolved by finding a known answer. That the top person can know.
The top person can give herself a break. She cannot know but she can fund the expedition as Queen Isabella did.
So there is the theory - here are some examples from recent history that I know a lot about because I have lived them.
When I worked with NPR back in 2005 the question was "How will social media affect us and what should we do?"
The great thing then was that No One could know the answer to that question. And if by chance one of us did, no one else would just accept that answer.
So what we did was to set up a process of discovery where it was agreed at the outset that no one knew.
We then set off, nearly 1,000 people, on a number of test journeys where groups "Played" with creating stories about what the future might be.
After 6 months a number of pictures of the future emerged that were consistent. All that you now see as being normal for the new media was nailed by these people back in 2006. It was all novel then and no one had done any of this. But this 1,000 people had invented the key principles and had invented stories about how this all worked in the day to day lives of people. They had discovered the world of social media as it might apply to radio.
I thought, wrongly, that most would then rush off and enact them. But this did not happen. Fear still held many back.
But ALL now had a common picture of what was important. A picture that ALL had co created. So while fear may have stopped many from changing, no one doubted the principles of what they had discovered.
The results? There is no doubt in my mind that, while NPR may now have the political fight of its life on its hands, it knows better than any other traditional media organization how to use Social Media. It has also delivered on them as no other media organization has.
Why? In the project we included over 250 NPR staff so the sense of having discovered the truth was well spread. Most of the key facilitators for the project were the senior executives and members of the board too - so there was no need to "sell" up or down. The majority of NPR had done the exploring themselves and could trust their own experience.
The other organization that has really "got it" is KETC - Now the Nine Network for Social Media - Jack Galmiche, the President was an active player in the NPR project and when he got his new job running KETC in St Louis, he also had the experience of creating the future and so the courage to go for it in TV.
KETC has been through many voyages of discovery. All the staff now have experienced the new. Many are now highly adept. They have discovered this for themselves. No one taught them!
KETC is now the acknowledged leader in the use if social media to augment TV.
KETC is now also a viral infector of the public system.
As KETC trail-blazes, it has worked with other stations. In the Facing the Mortgage Crisis project with about 60 across the nation. They too "experienced the new". The best of them then went for it too and now a critical mass of stations have enough practical exploration under their belt to go for it.
They are about to launch a new nation wide project that will cause the infection to spread further.
I think that this idea of a voyage of discovery is much more helpful that the idea of problem solving.
So selfishly how do you do this? Is there a book or a formula? Is there a snappy consultant who will show you how to do this?
No, I think that what has been shown to work best is to hire a "Sacawagea".
The issue is culture and fear of the unknown. There are no snappy answers. As John Seely Brown says in Harolds post - you have to "Marinate" in the situation.
So if you want to be successful, please think of hiring someone who knows the other native people out there and the new culture. Who is a native of the world that you aspire to go to. Who is less of a guide than a trusted friend. Who you can talk to quietly in the evening around the fire and have her hear you out. Someone who risks as much as you do on the journey - or even more than you. Someone who is safe and who helps you feel safe as you take risks.
I think a know a few of these people!
Read more at www.jarche.com
Social business is about a shift in how we do work, moving from hierarchies to networks. The highest value work today is the more complex stuff, or the type of work that cannot be automated or outsourced. It’s work that requires creativity and passion. Doing complex work in networks means that information, knowledge and power no longer flow up and down. They flow in all directions. As John Seely Brown said, you can only understand complex systems by marinating in them. This requires social learning. Complex work is not linear. Social business is giving up centralized control and harnessing the power of networks. It is as radical as was Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management in 1911.
The potential of social business is organizational survival. Enterprises must be able to share knowledge quicker than before. This requires a shift toward something like a starfish framework that not only allows for independent action but also distributes knowledge through all the parts. Social learning is how organizational knowledge gets distributed. Social businesses can learn quicker.
The main barriers to social business are cultural. People in charge of most organizations today got there by doing things the traditional way of the MBA mindset. They feel they do not need to change and few are willing to give up power and authority, even if it is for the good of the organization.