Effective Communication and Social Media – Policy Not Required

Effective Communication

Effective communication matters right? Last time I looked there were roughly a bazillion articles and charts and other stuff available about effective communication. It’s important – we want to know our message is getting out there and being correctly understood, in order that it can be usefully responded to, and/or acted upon. And when communication passes through the filters of different people and teams, these filters apply distortion to the message. Kisu Kisu, or Chinese Whispers if you prefer, is an example of this many are familiar with.

Email versus Telephone

The channel you choose to use also has a bearing on effectiveness. I’ve used some data I found lurking down the back of the sofa in this little home made movie to illustrate how tough it is to correctly interpret a message. I made this little film partly in response to some tweeting coming from the Training Journal Winter Conference yesterday (search #TJ12 on Twitter for the backchannel). I got involved with some tweeting between David Goddin and Perry Timms about whether or not a social media policy is necessary, here are a couple of exerpts from the conversation:

Tweets from #TJ12

Tweets from #TJ12

I don’t think a social media policy is necessary, neither do I think it is helpful or productive. Via the #TJ12 I suggested that examples of where social media policy has enabled stuff would be helpful. Have you got any you can share please?

I believe a social media policy supports increasingly out dated hierarchical models, and I hope this film shows in part why I think this. I also made this film partly because I promised Erin I would make a talking blog post. Sorry for the delay Erin.

Effective Communication – Some Challenges

The tools we use impact our effectiveness.

The filters and hierarchies our words and sounds pass through create distortions, and this is partly why I think it is critically important to Tell Your Own Story.

A social media policy in part seeks to support the very hierarchy that social media is dissolving.

Social Media as an Enabler

If the culture is right for social, it’s a fabulous way to support better work, better business, better learning. If the culture is not right – I suggest you think about leaving social to one side until such time as you can fix the much more important stuff like why you don’t trust people where you work. Fix that, and a social media policy is not required.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

4 thoughts on “Effective Communication and Social Media – Policy Not Required”

  1. Having fun with yammer with one client (not just me, lots of us having fun). No rules, just whoever, whenever, whatever. It’s very work sharing focussed with a little late night banter from time to time. People are too busy to waste time on it.

    I’m wondering whether it’s reflecting the culture, or shaping it – or maybe it’s doing both simultaneaously. In terms of those who are trying it, it’s like an almighty boost on the accelerator of creating shared understanding and relationships. Just about to invite the board. !

    Love the video blog.
    Don’t love policies when they are used to contain free thinking and will, and remove individual responsibility for behaviour, actions and self control.

    1. Hi Meg – thanks for stopping by. Love your point about people being too busy to waste time. If only more employers believed that and in so doing, helped create an atmosphere where getting stuff done mattered more than looking over other people’s shoulders. I hope your invitation is well received.

      Cheers – D

  2. Doug,

    Thanks for this. It got me thinking…

    If I turn the question this raised for me from “Is SM policy necessary?” to “Do people know right from wrong when using SM?”, then I quickly and easily conclude that they don’t. Whether we need a policy is open to question. That we need a debate to learn how to use the power of SM responsibly is without question. Whether we can wait until we have fixed culture is a nice idea but smacks of kicking a difficult question into the long grass.

    I agree that SM is more powerful than email and telephone and even in some circumstances face to face which carries the limitation that you need to be in the same place. However, that SM is extremely powerful is where the problem lies and why I view this as an ethical and moral question rather than one of effective communication.

    We could all cite numerous recent high profile examples where great hurt and damage to reputations and lives have been done through SM. Very often that is because what feels like a conversation, say like one we might have in a bar or coffee shop with a friend, is actually being recorded and is disseminated widely and instantly. To make things more complex, that these conversations are written down traceable and attributable. That turns hearsay into evidence. Its like taking a stenographer to the pub and carrying on as normal!

    The power for good in SM is immense as I have found this year. I try to remember that that power can and is routinely used to do great harm. With great power comes great responsibility.

    A couple of important asides:

    1. All industries are regulated. Some explicitly in that there are specific regulations and bodies that apply them. Financial services being the most obvious example. All other industries are regulated by the law, e.g. for Health & Safety, and the courts.

    2. Hierarchies have more than one application. They are becoming less relevant in some applications but more relevant in others. SM is dissolving some of these uses but strengthening others. A couple of examples:

    • Hierarchies are dissolving for communication and collaboration. This is brilliant. We need to let go a bit. If we have a policy why not emphasise this positive power. Less policy more encouragement.
    • Hierarchies are strengthening and becoming more important for accountability, especially when it comes to the application of regulation and policy. We want our bankers to be accountable, right?

    The use of SM is a moral and ethical challenge. We must discuss it so we can learn to use its power responsibly.

    Do we need SM policy? I think we need a public debate in our national and corporate lives about how we behave on SM, informed by our values so we can go through the process of learning how use this powerful thing responsibly, so avoiding hurt, suicides, fines and imprisonment.

    Some guidance is essential through this process. Is that a policy? Maybe not, but from the silly and often disastrously hurtful and damaging things I routinely see people do, some guidance seems sensible and some rules inevitable, boring though that is. There is no reason why this guidance cant emphasise the positive and well as the negative impacts of the power of SM. Our policy seeks to achieve this balance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *