“Dear visionaries, – I don’t give a f***.”

By | October 21, 2010

To succeed with digital media, we need meaning. That sounds big, but it means to operate with a clear view in a clear environment…

Futuristic Lifestyles – the role of digital media in future societies is one of the tracks of WBF. I’ve written a piece about New Media Analphabetism some time ago – it’s still one of my most read postings. I tried to demonstrate the (future) importance of digital media as one of the main tools to cope with daily life and business.

Much of that is still valid. But in my current thinking, I frequently add another dimension: Handling the tools is very important. What’s even more important is: We need meaning. We need a reason, a purpose, a goal to do something – especially if we want others to contribute and participate.

Don’t get me wrong. Doing something for curiosity is a very valid personal reason. But in most cases, your curiosity is not something that will motivate others. And that’s what teamwork, collaboration and, in a business sense of the word, productive use of digital media is about.

I’m focusing here on the business related use of digital media, particularly in a corporate environment. What are potential changes in the near future, and what’s the way towards them?

When you’re in the business of rolling out digital media in the enterprise as a kind of change agent or enterprise 2.0 evangelist, there are probably two main buzz areas you are currently confronted with.

1) Do something. Anything. Thats what consultants and analysts say. You should start something, you should train people, you have to experiment, you have to make sure you’re not getting behind. Thats like saying: “It’s important to eat. But you have to breathe, too.” I consider it as a placeholder for: “I have no idea, either.”

2) You’re not doing good. Thats what the consultants and analysts say, too. “…Talking about the Enterprise 2.0 ‘evolution’ we also have to distinguish between the E20 reality and the E20 visions – as defined by the evangelists in this field. For the E20 reality I would say that (…) the projects around the topic of Enterprise 2.0 are not yet spinning the big wheel (…) The visionary notion of E20 is already defined on a wider scope – including the transformation of the business model (aka Open Innovation) and the integration of the customer and partner in collaborative approaches (aka SocialCRM). But for the most E20 practioneers these approaches are out of their scope”, posted the organizers of the german E2.0-Summit as a discussion starter.

Dear visionaries, – I’m a visionary, for some maybe an illusionist and a passionate theorist myself, but as a practitioner I say: “I don’t give a f**k”

Does that sound rude?

I have two things to say:

One: Praising a vision and blaming reality is a nice idea; personally, I like the reverse-Marxist approach behind it. But it does not really fit too well to nowadays business practice, especially if it comes to funding projects in the enterprise environment.

Two: I’m acting – and that shapes reality. I’m doing small steps towards a bigger vision, but what I’m selling is not the vision – it’s the small steps. Nobody likes to pay for potential; you get paid for what you’ve done, not for what you could do.

But once they started to pay (which could also mean support, understand, use), I noticed that decently introduced digital media develop huge influence, also in previously unfertile areas. The big change is not that it takes only a few clicks to set up an internal network with members from Hongkong to Kiev who can organise themselves.

The more spectacular changes are

  • that middle managers who got it are now more 2.0 affine than trainees (who would be generally supposed to be more familiar with online media)
  • employees don’t think of the communications department as boring corporate wording watchdogs but as speeding up business
  • and most important: employees think “no problem” instead of “omg” if they have to organise collaboration in an international process

That’s one way how I expect digital lifestyles to develop. Why lifestyle? – Understanding meaning as a driver creates a sense for responsibility, independence and values. Thats my vision.

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