Since social media tools became impossible to ignore on the internet, knowledge management folks have been worried about how to introduce something “social” behind the firewall. Most are beginning to realize that it takes an unusual senior manager to understand the value of creating strong communities within the enterprise. To be fair, many managers do get the value of strong teams within specific units or departments, but try asking them to transplant that success to a more macro level and they get lost.
So what should a conscientious knowledge manager do when they realize that social media tools are exactly what their enterprise needs?
Jack Vinson suggested recently that the best approach was simply to stop calling these tools “social” and focus on specific real world uses such as “inferred” expertise, real-time status indicators, easy-to-use file sharing, etc. And then, in a response to comments to his post, he wrote: “Our friend Mary would jump… It’s NOT the tools.”
Our friend Mary. That would be me.
And, Jack was right. I’m jumping.
We should just give up on finding a label for these tools. The decision-makers within our organizations don’t care what these tools are called as long as they work. If you want to avoid a losing argument, removing “social” from “networking” doesn’t help as much as you might hope. From a decision-maker’s perspective, networking (social or not) is something you do to land your next job. Now tell me, why would a manager who is not in lay-off mode want to spend corporate resources assisting you with that? As for building social or business networks within the enterprise, many managers view that as a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.”
So what’s the better strategy? Jack pointed to it in his response. Here’s the fuller quotation:
Our friend Mary would jump… It’s NOT the tools. Maybe this is one of the other problems with calling it social networking – that sounds like a tool looking for an application.