If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free

Enterprise 2.0 finally has a fight song.

While reading Andrew McAfee’s discussion of the key criteria by which to judge whether a collaboration software deployment meets the requirements of E2.0 and Alexander van Elsa’s post on how old-fashioned business models are holding back Web 2.0,  I found myself thinking about the importance of user independence, as well as the related importance of management, IT, and knowledge management trusting their users, removing the safety wheels, and letting their colleagues work with minimal constraints.  And that’s when I remembered a song that really should be the E2.0 fight song:  “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free.”

For those of us who manage employees and systems in risk-focused businesses, this level of freedom can be downright terrifying.  Over time, many managers have come to believe that unless employees are severely constrained, they will be a danger to themselves and the organization.  If that really is true, don’t we need to take a closer look at our recruiting practices and internal training methods?  Clearly, they are deficient.

You can find an interesting analogy in child-rearing.  There are few of us who would let a toddler play with matches.   However, there comes a day when you do need to teach a young person how to use matches safely.  And then, you leave them to it.  There may be the occasional burn, but most of us do master this task.  And so it is with social media tools.  We definitely do need to provide training on responsible use and reasonable expectations, but after that, leave users free to explore and create.  It’s only when you lift the stifling weight of anxiety and control that you discover just how creative your colleagues can be.  And that’s when the power of social media tools finally becomes evident to all.

If you’d like to see a video of a great live performance of the E2.0 Fight Song, here’s your link: Sting: If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free

[Photo Credit:  Creativity + Timothy K Hamilton, Creative Commons license]

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