Social Business Failure #3: Ignore Others Who Have Done This Before

UPDATE: Join the discussion already in progress on G+

Let me be clear, using “social business” necessitates working in a new way.  And unless you do it, chances are you won’t fully understand it.  You MUST participate to “get it.”

You may understand this, but those who you may work for probably won’t.

Too many people think they get it and feel satisfied with their decision to ignore social technologies and working a new way.  During the E2.0 Conference a number of us met with Sandy Carter, VP of Social Business & Collaboration Solutions for IBM.  She told us that some executives have decided to “opt out.”  Clearly they don’t get it, even though they think they do.

This is like my kids who want so badly to drive.  They see how effortlessly my wife and I drive, they think they have judged the situation correctly and can drive as well.  But when they finally get behind the wheel, the game changes.  All the stimulus is overwhelming: the amount of pressure to apply to the gas or brake, where to look when, how quickly to turn the wheel, when to change gears, when to use the turn signal and change the radio volume at the same time as making sure they stay in the correct lane and don’t crash into the vehicle in front of them.  Suddenly, the chance for making a mistake skyrockets.

Even more dangerous than those who opt out of social business are those that think they get it, but don’t, but still want to move forward on their own without help.  Why?  If/When they fail, they may blame it on social technologies and not go back or it will put a sour taste in the mouths of the employees or customers.

Trust me, those who have been in the business for some time have made the mistakes and can help you avoid them.

Yet I still find myself going to organizations who tell me they are going to try to do something without asking if it will work.  For example, one organization said to me, “We are going to have an IT fair and there we will ask people what they think of social technologies.  From that we should find some pretty interesting information.  Then we can move forward.”  Not a horrible idea, but when the IT fair is 4 months away, it has been done before in the same mother organization and I could have told them exactly the feedback they were going to receive, they will have just wasted six precious months of non-delivery to their employees.

The lesson: Don’t try to do social business by yourself. Ask others who have done it before.  They have some experience and knowledge which may be able to help you.  They have seen what works and what does not – how to recognize and avoid the roadblocks and how to recognize opportunities you may not be able to see.

In reality, this advice could go with just about ANY aspect of business. It isn’t unique or new to social business.