Control May Be An Illusion, But Chaos Is Real

Whenever I speak with a government agency or often with larger, Fortune 500 corporation I hear “Oh, we don’t allow social media in or organization…”  Ah, yeah…

I was working as a nuclear engineer at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state when email first hit the scene and we were told ‘We will never allow email at any of our facilities because people could just email top secret information outside and even to the Russians”.  When cell phone first became popular, they were outlawed also because they didn’t have control over their use either.  Then it was the Internet and now it’s the dreaded “social media”…

Every time there’s a new technology for communicating introduced, there associated fear.  And whenever there’s fear, large organizations try to ban it, turn the other way, and hope that if they never talk about again, maybe it will just go away.

Emails, cell phones, and the Internet are still here and consistently being used in large corporations and in government facilities.  The smart organization didn’t hide from it, they embraced the new technology, studied it, and then developed a plan to control it.  The smart organizations that first understand social media and put in place guidelines for its proper use, will be ahead of the curve and save themselves a lot of energy and resources trying rid themselves of technologies that are inevitable.

When I met with Intel the mega-chip manufacturer here in Chandler, AZ, I asked how many of Intel’s employees were blogging on an internal blogging platform set up and monitored by Intel.  The answer was 0.  When I asked the more generic form of that question, how many Intel employees are blogging about Intel outside of Intel, the answer was 6,000+.  Now, they and many other organizations who were waiting for social media to simply go out of style, have the daunting task of trying to reign in, control, and now monitor 6,000 separate blog sites rather than having control from the beginning.  Employees will blog with or without their company’s permission.  They will also surf the web, whether its on the company computer, or on their web enhanced Blackberry, or other web enhanced cell phone.  Employees will use their cell phones.  Employees will still socialize, congregate, and communicate whether the company approves of it or not.

Smart organizations will recognize this, find the right speaker / trainer / consultant to help them better understand how social media works, like me ;), and develop a strategy and implementation plan that will satisfy both the needs and desires of their employees and their own goals in a more controlled environment.  Of course we all understand that control is really an illusion.  But while control may be an illusions, chaos is a real.  As Confucius said, trying to achieve this type of control is like trying to squeeze sand.  Your hand may be full of sand, but the more you squeeze to get tighter control, the quicker it slips through your fingers.

Lon LIVE !