I recently spent a few lovely days with my friend Mark Schaefer at his home in eastern Tennessee. While it wasn’t a business trip, we did invariably stray into conversations about our work. One thing that completely took me aback, and frankly worried me, was that my friend..who works in roughly the same industry that I do…and who follows my posts…was stunned at some of the things that I’ve been working on for the last few years.
I don’t mean clients or projects, but the effort to actually figure out at a very deep level what types of approaches, methodologies, and tools needed to be built to solve the challenges facing organizations today. As an example, he had no idea on how far we’d progressed our thinking and more importantly our tools on how to effectively assess culture and organizational dynamics.
You’re Doing It Wrong
He very tactfully, and kindly, suggested that those things needed to be brought to the forefront and that we weren’t doing a very good job of that. And you know what? He’s right. We’ve spent a great deal more time talking about the challenges that organizations face in an attempt to demonstrate that we understand and relate to them than we have making it clear that we have real, tangible, methods of tackling those challenges *today*.
Sometimes you can be so close to the problem, and so entrenched in it, that you just assume everyone knows about all these cool whiz bang things you can do. So we’ve got some work to do in that area, but as G.I. Joe says “knowing is half the battle“.
Cheerleaders vs Players
That brings me to the title of this post, and another discussion we had. Primarily about how there are so many people in the social media space who are struggling to find their place now that the industry has matured past the point at which people need all the rah-rah cheerleaders. Social media has moved into its rightful place as a change agent, but also as just another tool in the proverbial toolbox. Those people who were amazing at explaining the power of social, but who lack deep backgrounds in business, marketing, etc. are struggling as we move into this next phase.
I’ve always said that there are
“People who want to change the world, and people who want the world to change”.
The tie between the first and second parts of this post is that cheerleaders and motivational speakers and authors are very, very good at wanting the world to change. Their job is to try and convince that world that it needs to change. Make no mistake, I’m not disparaging them. We badly need that at a certain part of the maturity cycle of any new thing. Nor am I saying that big, bold ideas don’t have an impact. But to actually change the world you have to get your hands dirty. You have to deal with invention of new methods and tools. You have to suffer the politics and the frustrating pace.
It’s the equivalent of commenting about how horrible our political system is and how you would do it better if you were running things vs. you actually running for office. These things can work hand in hand. Maybe those comments spurred someone to run for office. That’s a great thing. But my conversations with Mark left me feeling like what we need at the moment is a lot more people running for office and a lot less people cheerleading their opinions. I say that because we talked about “Who would you recommend to a company to accomplish x, y, z task….” and that list of people that we would stake our own reputation on to actually go and *do* a project was very, very small.
Cheers to all you world changers,
Matt Ridings – @techguerilla
Chief Innovation Officer, XVA Labs