Social, it has to be more than learning…

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I have been wondering about Social Media for the past few weeks now, a blog was brewing, and then bloggers and tweeters I follow started to challenge the use of social media and the communities they are part of. Neil Morrison (@neilmorrison) in terms of what the HR community were doing with social media and challenged them to see it more than a tool for being social with one another. Sukhvinder Pabial (@sukhpabial) challenged people to use social media in learning and development.

I have been using Linkedin and twitter for a number of years now, and twitter has been responsible for exponential growth in my professional knowledge, my grasp of current affairs as well as introducing me to some interesting and kind people with whom I have connected. All good stuff, but for me, there too has to be more.

My “aha” moments have come from seeing a couple of software applications, that in my mind, seek to employ the wider principles of social media. One was a application called Small Improvements that brought the principle of real time feedback and “likes” to the process of performance management. The other was having a project management application Project place demonstrated to me. Projectplace adds another dimension to project planning and Gantt charts by using social media to share information in virtual project rooms, “like” peoples work, ask questions and collaborate together.

Both of these applications seemed to capture the potential of social media, but got me thinking about the workforce revolution that was needed to really use such tools. Whatever the tool, I believe we still have a fundamental issue with people’s readiness to enter real dialogue, to be interested in the views and opinions of others, to challenge constructively, and to advocate their personal viewpoints with confidence. I do believe that social media has the potential to accelerate this, and I can see from my 14yo that his generation are hungry for social media and communicate in ways that my generation never did. My experience is that they are much more aware of their thoughts and feelings and willing to share them. (That might of course be a narrow snapshot!).

So whilst we have a lot of people buying into the potential of social media, and I see this across a range of disciplines and professions, there are clearly a lot of people who are not. Therein lies our challenge. For me it is not just about getting people on twitter or other tools, but what we really need to do is to build, encourage and reward behaviours that facilitate understanding others, being open with our thoughts and feelings, and seeking to influence and collaborate with others to achieve better outcomes.

That is the prize.

If we can focus on that prize, then we might just create high performing individuals, teams, organisations and economies.

Who’s responsible for bringing about this change? We all are!


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