The Fabulous Cannon Of Aha: You Should Know…Lois Kelly

In Change Agents Worldwide, we had a conversation thread recently about how we talk about each other, so that others might know us betterLois Kelly and I agreed to correspond. Now, I have never met Lois in person. So what am I to suppose?

Well, importantly, and this is pivotal to the ideas of social business practice, I do know her through the network, through others with whom I have high trust relationships. This trust, and the value one puts into it, passes between network nodes like a genetic marker. It resonates.

Honestly, this network value is enough for me to say I value Lois. It is an automatic recommendation. But what happens when I dig a little deeper?

Before our video meeting, I clicked her avatar and profile page in our Change Agents network. Immediately, I get something more, partially by what is left out.

There is a close up headshot photo of her welcoming smile and her kind eye (singular). Her photo is cut in half, we see one the right side of her face. This I like, because it makes me wonder: what else? What is out of frame, awaiting discovery?

This resonates. I have long used an avatar of the top half of my face, eyes looking up, searching for something. It is the look of wondering, of seeking and creativity. This is how I hope people see me.

Then there is her “descriptor”: Creatively uncovering, communicating possibilities.

Sure, I’m buying. 

In VUCA times, possibilities are all that are available to us. It is a great place to aim for. I am distrusting of those who have answers all the time. I do know that Lois is a driving force behind Rebels at Work, and I have read a lot of that team’s writing, used quotes in presentations, and been inspired by the simple, direct ideals.Her brief bio includes:

The answers are found by listening and discovering in new ways, with unusual questions.

Lois’ website even has a section called #365questions  – she clearly doesn’t lack for inquiry!

So, I have a start, and plenty of holes. What is missing, what is just out of shot? Turns out, plenty enough for one hour of video chat!

We are all multifaceted, there is always more to us than anyone can know. We should be careful to boil someone down to the bare essentials. So, I shall share what I feel about Lois’ competitive advantage – what I sensed in her that is rare compared to all the other geniuses out there in the world.

I am always looking for a balance in people, how they manage the necessary tension in being multi-dimensional, how they hold themselves in the dance of dichotomy. For me, Lois’ tension is between rebelliousness toward, and relevance to, corporate audiences.

I am naturally attracted to the rebellious side. What’s not to love about someone who

“gets shot out of a cannon every morning”!?

That is a simple enough reason to say “I like you!” Her Rebels @ Work driver is such personal work for her – she has been charging into work for her entire career asking “Why don’t we do it that/this way?”

Early on in her career, that creative, exuberant approach got her into tight spots, stepping on (or maybe laying) landmines, until a senior leader told her, “Get revenue attached to your ideas, and you will be successful.” Madison Avenue beckoned, and the rest is (her) history (to tell).

So, here we have an ideas person. I meet plenty of those, always interesting, often marginalized. Lois is different. She is relevant. She understands organizational politics, she knows when to push and prompt, and when to wait and encourage emergence.

emergence

She can act as an external rebel and she can work to cultivate the internal rebels to develop the processes need for change.  Importantly, she reads the executive to see if they want to engage in the profound underpinning discussions of change or if they want to keep things simple.

Often, the intellectual, challenging conversations (the ones practitioners cherish) will ‘bore them to death.’ So she instead works to unlock the ‘one thing to do to get things moving.’

She leans on her studies of positive psychology and behavioural science – 95% of our decision-making is managed in our sub-conscious, so unlocking that understanding allows leaders to have better conversations about why they like what they like and want what they want.

This search for, and understanding of, relevance in the workplace led her to write a 2005 book (on what we might today call “social business”, among many contentious monikers for the workplace changes we see happening in the 21st century,) about “Conversational Marketing.”

Making it safe for leaders to investigate emergent practices and ready themselves for change, one step at a time, is prescient. Many contemporary #SocBiz visionaries struggle to make their views coherent enough for big business to buy. Lois has it down.

This ying-yang of rebel and relevance is a beautiful thing to observe. It ebb and flows so naturally in conversation, it is a lullaby for change. Is that balance, that interplay, her natural genius? Possibly. But she is also a constant learner too, she is never satisfied that she is done. Hers is a work in progress.

I will finish with a weird and whimsical image, one which I hope Lois will enjoy. If it is spot on, then she takes the acclaim as someone who shares creatively and naturally. If it is off mark, put it down to my active imagination that she was able to stir quite delightfully in a video chat hour that flew by.

On her website she lists a passion for uncovering “aha.” It conjured for me an image of the Fabulous Cannon of Aha, with Lois, smiling wryly, lighting the torch paper. The customer has three choices at the start of every day:

  • Lois can fire you from the cannon,
  • you can fire her from the cannon, or
  • you can both be fired from the cannon, and she will hold your hand the whole way.

The choice is yours! But here’s the thing: no matter which choice, it will work and it will be fun.

In the person-to-person economy, really knowing people is critical. You should know Lois Kelly. And here are two other people you should know…Simon Terry; and Richard Martin.

This post first appeared on the ←This Much We Know.→ blog.

No Playing With (Social) Fire

How do traditional, regulated industries cope with social engagement? Not so well, as it seems. In a series of two posts, we will explore the reasons that hold those industries back from becoming truly social (part 1), taking Pharma as an example. Between real constraints and irrational fears, various avenues of action exist (part 2) to seize the business potential of social engagement.

Turner_-_The_Burning_of_the_Houses_of_Parliament

Stop dreaming. You will never hear a traditional, regulated industry go for social media with genuine enthusiasm. Even when marketers or IS specialists get it, the rest of the organization generally doesn’t. In the face of social business, incomprehension and distrust are the norm.

A typical example is the Pharma industry. Although digital and social initiatives are not rare any more, to make a new social venture happen is still a painful journey. Cumbersome procedures, lack of management support, misunderstanding of coworkers are enough to quench the enthusiasm of social business advocates. Why? Because many preconceived ideas, fantasies almost, distort the picture of social:

  • “Social is vain”. Social networks are for young people – or people with enough time to lose –, they count for nothing versus real-life connections, and discussions taking place there are futile.
  • “Social is nasty”. Sentiment is mostly negative against the industry and social media gives echo to the nastiest activism of ignorant crowds. Better keep evolving in the familiar world of press releases, press conferences and media trips.
  • “Social is unnecessary”. In many fields of business, corporate people still believe success depends mostly on science and lobbying. For public health related business, the recipe for success would combine relevant scientific data + the support of respected scientific opinion leaders + proper channeling of tailored messages to policy makers. A pinch of marketing, slick visuals, and there you have it.
  • “Social chases away compliance”. Specifically for the Pharma industry, procedures imposed by health authorities are supposedly not compatible with wide social engagement. When you have to report any single adverse drug reaction you become aware of – in just a few hours –, or when any allusion to a benefit that’s not in the drug’s label is strictly forbidden, it’s pretty hard to consider opening the floodgates of social conversation. Imagine thousands of people complaining or speculating about your drug on social channels, day and night, 365 days a year. In the absence of FDA guidelines, how do you manage?

 A wealth of opportunities

But, these are convenient excuses for not trying. The reality is that there is a wide space open for experimentation of social engagement. The benefits are clear: as global PR Agency Weber Shandwick states, social media for Pharma:

  • Allows direct communications with audiences
  • Adds value to patient and physician communities
  • Shapes perceptions
  • Gains insight into patient populations, and
  • Extends important messages

(in 2013 Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma).

No one said it was easy. “But digital health can become a solution instead of a problem if seen for what it actually is: an amazing tool for connecting patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, treatment providers, and institutions with the information necessary to advance public health” says Michael Spitz in an Oct. 2013 article.

With the emergence of collaboration and listening tools, Pharma companies and other traditional industries are starting to enter the game. But few leverage the full power of social engagement. Why?

It’s a mindset (and leadership) issue

Traditional, regulated industries and the executives that drive them are deeply influenced by organization principles inherited from the Fordist era. “Control” is an absolute value, and “risk avoidance” a perpetual motto. Not a bad fit with today’s litigation culture and short-term financial management.

Organizations are optimized for business efficiency, segmented along functions and grades. Processes enable a standardized replication of a maximum of activities, to ensure the predictability of production, quality, and business results.

Human “resources” must also meet the demand for control. Talent acquisition and development are very standardized. As a result, the management and leadership teams are amazingly homogeneous from a gender, culture, education, and social origin standpoint. The “dominant while male” is still the leader archetype.

Such teams are not diverse enough to innovate and promote an authority-driven type of leadership, where being a good element in the chain of command is at least as valued as the in-the-job performance. This mindset stands pretty far from what social business requires.

Authenticity, connecting capacity, appetite for complexity, flexibility with hierarchical codes, collective and inclusive leadership, empathy with all types of interlocutors… are enabling skills in today’s social economy, and what precisely is still missing within the traditional industry.

 

In our next blog post, we will propose solutions for regulated industries to embrace social engagement, based on experience and observations. Your ideas are very welcome, feel free to share!

In the meantime, if you haven’t done it yet, take the test 🙂 How wired are YOU for social collaboration?

Classifying a Community

Photo by Eric Ziegler

Defining categories of communities can be done in many many different ways: e.g.  by size (small, medium, large, humongous), types of people in the community (internal employees vs. external clients vs both), etc.

There are so many different types of communities that to be honest, it can scare away even the hardiest of requester for a new community. Last week I talked about the first step that must happen with requesting community managers, setting expectations.  Inside that post, I mentioned that some well intended requests come without knowing much about what a community could do for them.  So to help them understand what is available, I have often used the following examples to help the types of communities they could build

  1. Pushy Community – Not much of a community, but still there is the need for them in enterprises (hopefully rarely).   Success is defined as people reading the information)
  2. Interactive Pushy Community – This is the first real level of a community, where the push of information is accompanied with the ability to like, rate, and comment with the posts.  The community can’t post new messages, but they can interact with what is posted, allowing them to engage with the content and the content creators.  Success is defined as people read the information and interact and engage with the content. 
  3. Interactive Community – The community is built so that the community members interact with each other, collaborating on documents, asking questions, getting answers, and sharing information with each other.  Sometimes email is used to get the community re-engaged or to get the word out on the most important of information.  The success of the community is defined by people almost fully interacting and engaging in the community and occasionally relying on tools outside the community to interact with each other. 
  4. Collaborative Community – The community is built so that the community members interact solely using the collaborative tools available, collaborating  interacting, engaging with each other within the community. Success for this community is when the community members use the tools available to exclusively collaborate with each other and do not use external tools to collaborate.  (e.g. no email).
  5. Inter Collaborative Community – The community is built much the same way as the collaborative community, but instead of just collaborating within the community, the community members collaborate inside the community and with other communities and groups.  This community knows they are successful when each of the community members are always using collaborative tools in their day to day interactions.
You can classify communities how ever you would like.  In the above examples, I have laid out some examples of types of communities and how the communities would work, with the hope that when I describe these to an unknowing new community manager, they can pick a type and drive their community to success. 
How would you classify communities to a new community manager?  Would you use the same descriptions or would you describe them differently?  If you used the above example, would you add or subtract from the list?  For each of the above types of communities, what would you say make these communities successful? 

from Eric Ziegler’s http://zag.zig.us blog http://zag.zig.us/2013/11/classifying-community.html

Setting Expectations

 

Photo by Sarah Ziegler

A friend and I were recently talking about adoption. Specifically we were talking about the adoption of tools that help build enterprise communities. One idea we discussed that I haven’t read that much about is:

        Setting expectations.

While I know this idea is not new, I have not heard much about the use of setting expectations for Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business or adopting enterprise social networks. For example, as a people manager, if you have read it once, you have read a million times. To help guide your employees to ensure they know what to do, you need to set expectations with your employees. If you don’t the manager is at a higher risk of not getting the best performance out of each employee.  This is an oldie but goody. But why don’t we use this same idea in the enterprise for adopting enterprise social tools?

I find that for some people, they just want to create a community because their peer has one (the me too syndrome).  Others have good intentions but don’t know where to even start to build a vibrant community. In both situations, neither have defined what expectations they have for their community. In both situations, instead of just allowing them to create the community and have it fail, the requester needs to clearly understand their goals so they can use the technology to meet their goals.

So, step 1: get the requester to define their hopes and dreams for the community they want to build.  Have them define how do they see the community working. Have them, articulate what their goals are for the community.  Work with them to design how the community will work. The key to the success, is to get them to set their own expectations for the community and then have them work to have their community meet that expectation.

While setting expectations are great for the community, one of the keys to ensuring the community is as vibrant as desired, the community manager must communicate what expectations they have for the community to the community. In addition, as the community grows, the community manager must influence the community to meet those expectations, while being willing to reset their expectations and adapt to how the community grows.

Setting expectations are crucial, being influential and flexible is equally important.  But then again, isn’t that the recipe for success in almost all situations?

from Eric Ziegler’s http://zag.zig.us blog http://zag.zig.us/2013/11/setting-expectations.html