We have been raised in a culture that teaches us that all it takes to change the world is a lone individual, armed with virtue, honor, and the determination to stand against adversity. Examples surround us in the mythos of cultures around the world: Moses; Confucius; Christ; Buddha; Abraham Lincoln; Thomas Edison; Susan B. Anthony; Mohandas Gandhi; Sun Yat-sen; Martin Luther King; Cesar Chavez; Che Guevara; Mother Theresa; Lech Walesea; Steve Jobs. All changed the world through their own efforts.
Or did they? Think about it for a minute, and you realize that each of these heroes did not bring about change single-handedly. Instead, they created movements that changed the world.
And so it is with our companies. Unless you work alone or in a small enterprise, you cannot cause real change on your own. You have to create the motive, the impetus, and the desire for immediate change. In short, you have to create a movement.
In his video “Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy,” entrepreneur and bestselling author Derek Sivers offers us a hint at what it takes to start a movement. Take 3 minutes right now to watch the video.
Two Leadership Parallels
As Sivers points out, like “dancing guy” we too can gather a crowd of enthusiasts to bring about change. We can do that by inciting courageous followership, and by staying focused on what we want to accomplish.
1) Courageous Followership:
Sievers states that “The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.” It isn’t enough to lead others in adopting collaboration technology: a new passion-inspiring social toy shows up every week. We must build communities and leverage social tools based on what drives genuine business value.
For example, you might think that an embedded discussion forum is just the thing to create a virtual community. But is that really what everyone wants or needs? Would a simple file sharing system that eliminates fat emails and makes documents readily accesible work better?
The mark of a courageous follower is a willingness to dump his or her own vision for an approach that makes everyone’s lives easier. They see past their own passion and base their actions on what others want. They choose experimentation over force-it-down-the-throat implementation. They seek to use what engineers call “the minimum viable product,” offering the simplest, most basic system, testing that, and either enhancing it later or dumping it for a better one, and then building from there.
2) Focus on the Movement:
Get over yourself and your role. Sievers emphasizes the “importance of nurturing your first few followers as equals, making everything clearly about the movement, not you.” In the same way, encouraging colleagues to embrace social tools requires us to focus on the what we are trying to accomplish, rather than fixate on a specific tool (or on the promotion we’ll get for doing this right.)
Our experience and that of others proves that adopting social technology within a company is about inciting a movement that colleagues can own and leadership can support. Because we are trying to enhance the way people communicate, collaborate, develop products, and remain nimble in the face of growth and change, we have to start inciting passion, not falling in love with technology.
Join the Social Business Movement!
David and I would like you to join this social business movement by chiming in on the following two questions:
1) What Works: Where are you seeing social technologies successfully adopted in your firm for internal communications and what is driving the success? We’ve outlined some suggestions to get you started under this “Social Works!” heading.
2) What Doesn’t: Why are you encountering problems in adopting social technologies in a business relevant manner? Again, if you are looking for suggestions, check out these “Social Shortcomings” blog posts.
So what are you waiting for?! Join the social business movement!