I was talking to Benjamin Ellis at #SMiB last Friday about the change in culture that is being accentuated by Social Media. Notice I say accentuated by Social Media – the change is not Social Media itself. Talking to Benjamin was a meeting of like minds and confirmed what I’ve been thinking for sometime:
100 years ago, most businesses had a factory-mindset and a production process that was managed. Money was made by fine tuning the production process to either reduce cost, or increase productivity. The production process was a series of mechanics – variables that were minimised to increase predicability and consistency – with human quality control.
Role along Peter Drucker‘s prediction of the increase of Knowledge Workers and skip to today. We now have a decrease in factories and an increase in offices. We have a decrease in tangible production, and an increase in intangible knowledge work. These offices are not run by mechanical processes that can control variables and minimise inconsistencies – they are run by people, who are anything but controllable variables and are inconsistent by nature. But people also have potential to develop, intuition, the ability to learn and solve problems – unlike a peice of machinery.
I think most companies that ‘don’t get it’ don’t get it because they are trying to manage people like they manage production. If you manage people like this, then you are treating them like parts in a factory that must be controlled and standardised. People need to be lead and developed. If you begin to develop a person you access a great resource that will grow, adapt, solve, initiative, innovate, envision, and lead others. These companies, instead, have a factory mindset, not a knowledge mindset. They want to manage people, not lead them.
Even consider Starbucks – leadership at the top of the chain, but by the time you get to the store, it’s just management. There is no leadership, no development, no placing people according to their strengths and working with them to maximise their potential. It’s just plain management of a process, in which humans are treated as mechanics. And it’s the same in offices and companies across the world.
It is governance vs. gudance.
You govern a factory. You guide people.
No wonder these companies have a problem with Social Media. They hide behind “What’s the ROI?”, whilst looking for a way to quality control and automate their Twitter account, out of shear fear that they cannot govern this channel to be exactly how they, The Man, want it to be. Nor do they have the ability to trust their own people to have the potential and initiative to guide a conversation towards a successful outcome of brand advocacy and even financial return.
Guidance requires leadership, and leadership requires influence, and influence requires meaning. And this is what many are lacking.
Working in Church for 10 years, where my teams have been made up of volunteers, has taught me how to motivate without financial incentive. The greatest influence is the influence that is non-financial – because it taps into meaning and purpose.
Of course, this kind of talk is controversial, ahead of the curve, and will probably get a hunk of criticism. But let’s not forget that a generation is growing up in a world where people, not machinery and process, are the greatest resource – and they are able to speak to pretty much any other person in a moment of time. Their working world is going to all be about communication, and the ones who win that game, are the ones who can communicate most influentially – and who can influence without financial incentive, but with meaning.