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Social Media Celebrates the Best of Organization Development


Does social media have a place in business or is it a fad?

What should I learn about social media that is not a waste of time or might actually help me?

Should I find time for social media, does it acutally have anything to do with organizational development (organization development)?

A healthy work environment includes:

  • Involvement,

  • Communication,

  • Listening, and

  • Collaboration

telwin amajorc collaboration and social mediaSeems like a short list any organization develompent (OD) practitioner needs for successful interventions.

This is not a blog about strategically adding social media to your work or to your company, it is a look at striking similarities between social media and what we do in OD.

What does OD and social media have to do with each other?  Surprisingly, an awful lot, like: involvement, communication, listening, and collaboration.

If OD and social media have these in common, should a profession that relies on involvement, embrace social media?

In a profession that requires such deep communication, should embrace social media's ability to draw in dialogue?

In a profession so reliant on listening and taking the pulse of an organization, find social media a great way to check progress and monitor change?

In a profession where collaboration is vital to understanding is there suspicion that social media is someone's hidden agenda or coercion?

I worked for a decade [the 90s] in marketing, but for the past 10 years I've been an OD consultant and working on organization transformation, learning, leadership development, and strategic planning.

In 2007 I came upon social media with a marketing mindset, whoa, things had changed.  Instead of interruption or command and control marketing, social media, or Marketing 2.0, looks to contribute and collaborate.

The first rule in communication is, "know your audience".  So why communicate at your audience and not with your audience?

Some things that tie the two:

1)  Social media is about people and about interaction.

"Social media is an online imitationof the interactions that people have offline.To learn more about social media, learn more and study well how people interact offline in regards to the need your product provides a solution for.The more you examine and participate in offline communication, the more clearly you will be able to understand how to leverage social interaction and social media for your product or service."

2)  Social media is about people.  Employee-powered Change

"Unlike past technology shifts, this one isn’t being led by IT departments, but by individual employees like you and me and our need for meaningful and simple collaboration tools. With new enterprise social tools, we can harness the power of real-time social networking to rebuild the workplace and create a collaborative forum where we can be inspired by real-time engagement, real-time innovation, and the strengthening of our workplace communities. It’s a daunting challenge, but an exciting, much-needed one."

Every OD professional relies on communication and usually a change management communication plan as a critical copmonent for any intervention or transformation to succeed.

Social media is about collaboration.

Open Source Social Media:  Community, Collaboration, Freedom

" media is about the basic human right to communicate, organize, and maintain control of one's own experiences. And both address the needs of companies to do more at higher quality with less money. Both social media and open-source software involve communities and are fed by content: code in the case of open source, and media content in the case of social media.Whoever tries to control people's relationships will lose.

"Whoever enables people to create and share experiences that are relevant to them across any website, with anyone, the way they want will win."

Marketing communications has a natural affinity to effective change; after all marketing hopes to motivate action and change management, or OD, hopes to motivate action as well.

The aptly named Influential Marketing Blog's 5 Types of Consumer Generated Marketing Campaignstakes a look at the best user-generated [social media] campaigns across the following categories:

  1. What's your version of ... ?

  2. What if you were ... ?

  3. Submit your creative idea for ...

  4. Tell us ... and you could win

  5. Get funded to change the world

Each one of those questions could easily find itself a part of every OD practitioner's facilitation toolkit for involvment and change.  We all know that picturing yourself as part of the future-state is one of the sure fire ways to build commitment, understanding, and ownerhip.  Heck, imagine an organization change or development project without some variant of these and I'd expect a very high likliehood of failure.

Take a new look at how social media has prepared us for collaborative business and think again on what social media and OD do have in common.

I invite the opportunity to revisit social media to look at what social media affords collaboration.  This for us, as OD professionals, becomes an even more powerful organization transformation tool.

About the author:  Toby Elwin is part of MassBayODLG

What’s the difference between Job Hunting and Internet Surfing?


A Hunter's Survival Guide - Part 1

If you are out looking for work, you know you aren't alone. There are hundreds of OD Practitioners and Consultants looking for work in the Greater Boston Area. So, are you still surfing the internet looking for work, or are you really on the hunt? Here are a few success stories from my own experience, as well as additional suggestions from others in Organization Development. I'll add additional stories as we go through the summer, so check back and update us as you try things out.

Volunteer with your local professional association, like MassBayODLG!

Have you been to a number of networking events but not finding yourself making meaningful connections? Consider signing up to volunteer with a local professional association like MassBayODLG where you can create some deeper relationships and really get to know the other professionals active in your community. It can help with references or just getting to know other people in the community down the road. You are volunteering in your own field - an area where you are likely already passionate.

And you have the added opportunity to pick up new skills while working with a professional group. Maybe you have some experience redesigning evaluation materials. Or, you could become an expert at social media marketing. Perhaps you really like organizing events and you don't often get the chance to put those skills to use. Or maybe you have always wanted to learn how to redesign a website. All professional associations need help, and you could be just the person they have been looking for. Think of this as the opportunity to finally get to pick the projects you get to work on!

You may even get a mentor out of your volunteering experience. I know a number of people who have developed lifelong professional relationships from a volunteer experience. Consider that this might be a great chance to interact with someone who you wouldn't normally meet at a networking event based on their schedule or location.

Really, you never know until you try. So give it a shot today!

About the author: Kristine Dunn is part of the MassBayODLG

Sales, Finance, and Human Resources, Only Room for 2 at the Table


Without an understanding of how your project impacts either sales or finance, you have very little justification for budget.  You have to make a case for your salary or contract and it is easier to get either if you can trace directly to sales or to profit.  Because without a pet project you're either in or you're out.

There are really only 3 swim lanes in business:  sales, finance, and human resources.  All jobs fall within only these 3 swim lanes, or functional areas.  Unfortunately, only 2 of those 3 functions are considered business drivers:  finance and sales.  The 3rd, human resources, a support function, a compliance function, and a cost center.

You can't have a business without sales and you can't stay in business with financial acuity.

Just look at some job categories and the reality of where they align:

  • marketing < sales
  • accounting < finance
  • operations < finance
  • IT (internal processes) < finance
  • IT (market data) < sales
  • public relations < sales
  • supply chain < finance

Sales gets the dollar and finance maximizes the profit margin of each dollar and until human resources ups their stake in the game human resources is largely relegated to support, compliance, and supply.

All the talent management, learning and development, organization behavior, human resource business partner, recruiter, chief human capital officer, chief diversity office, chief learning office, human resource generalist, and organization development cabal; we are in a war for limited attention, limited resources, and limited involvement until we make the clear case that we (you) do drive sales results or that you (we) do drive financial performance.

It's your job to make a valid case, each and every day, on how talent drives business results; strategic recruiting is a direct link to sales; and that motivation drives financial performance.  If you can't make the case you are not business partners.  Worse, we don't deserve a seat at the business table and will never be invited to the business discussion.

I don't have a prescription, but I know the only way to be a business partner is to understand finance and understand that when human resources does not contribute to sales it's just a cost center.

Time for human resources to know that their place:  either driving sales or compliance and transaction.  If it is compliance, that is a perfect map to be outsourced and outsourcing, of course, increases margins and that gets us right back to finance... 

So, if you want to talk business then learn to talk sales and talk finance; know the industry drivers for each; and frame all your projects, programs, or efforts in maximizing sales and/or maximizing margin.

Human resource ROI is a sexy topic bring up, but without a sales and finance frame it's only putting lipstick on a pig.

Knowing finance is as easy as asking what formulas are used to evaluate projects:

  • Net Present Value?
  • Present Value?
  • Internal Rate of Return?

Whatever the formula do yourself a favor and learn how to calculate your impact, it is rarely more than addition, multiplication, or division, so there is no advanced math to be intimidated with.

Otherwise don't be surprised if the contract or project is canceled. 

About the author:  Toby Elwin is part of the MassBayODLG, you can find out more about him at his website or on @telwin

For more information on organization development's impact on business, check out last week's MassBayODLG meeting from Julia Geisman:


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