TechCrunch has a handy list of pros and cons of CEOs engaging in the dark arts of blogging. They’re a little pedestrian and sometimes off-message (where did don’t micromanage your staff come from?) and I’m not sure whether they get to the real point.
Because the real point is not whether the CEO is a writer (another off-piste point) (though goodness, how anyone gets to run anything without a certain fluency in the QWERTY dept is a mystery, though it has happened) – it’s the cardinal principle we discussed in the CIO context: executive leadership is first and foremost about engagement, immersion in the culture of tomorrow’s markets; and, very specifically, in the emerging digital-social culture whose dimensions and implications we presently grasp only vaguely, but which is the thresshold to whatever happens next. In other words: Unless you are personally engaging in social media, you should get another job. By all means blog about your hobby and tweet about the weather, but immersion can’t be replicated.
Of course, the defensive posturing that still characterizes a lot of corporate thinking on internet use in the workplace has to go. One reason it is still so influential lies precisely here: At the top there is still remarkably little facility with these media, and therefore understanding of their value (and also where the problems are likely to be met). Chicken and egg, indeed.
Seems to me that 100% participation is needed. No?
I think you hit on the reason why there’s a lack of engagement when you say SocMed is the “threshhold to whatever happens next”.
People who lack that vision — and let’s face it, our C-suites are rife with people who do — are invariably going to see SocMed as only what it is TODAY: namely, something for the marketing & (maybe) PR departments to exploit, because “all the kids are on the twitter”. What upside could there be to anyone within their company other than those departments sharing content on social media? It’s a minefield if someone says the “wrong thing”, or inadvertently shares more than intended, right?
Right, of course. But it’s also something that we are just seeing the birth of, for better or for worse. Those who aren’t familiar and fluent with it now risk getting left quickly behind in the near future. For any intelligent executive, that should be worth the risks. Maybe Rupert being on Twitter will wake some of them up.
Thank you. People in top management roles are often there precisely because they work well with established systems, and they tend to be risk averse. These were proper qualifiers in Fordist days but their relevance and utility have declined. The pace of change has now rendered them disqualifiers, but it will sadly take some more Kodaks before that has worked its way through the culture of our leading companies. The social media issue is both symbolic and substantive.