Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Do You Have A Twitter Account?

Social is not Business Media
You’ve got to be on social media – it’s an ante in today’s consulting profession.  Get your brand out-there.  Get “posted” and “shared”. 

I’ve heard all of these admonishments and I’ve invested in a reasonable digital footprint: website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and others.  However, Twitter has been a sideliner for me.  I’ve had an account since January 2010 but I’ve barely used it.

Framing the Twitter Experiment
Several months ago I was leading a workshop where the majority of participants were “millennial digital marketers.”  I’m always fascinated with how smartphones have become a human appendage; however, this group took it to a new level.  It was constantly being fed by Twitter. 

“Ok” I said, “I’ve got to figure this thing out.”  So, being a disciplined consultant I designed a test.  My assumption was that exposure on Twitter would attract “followers” that would generate new business opportunities.  To this end I framed a very specific challenge for myself with the following features:
  • I would Tweet a “management insight” everyday for three months.  Criteria for the insight were:
    • It had to be personal; based on my experience only; a true “Bud-ism”
    • No parroting.  I would not quote others nor would I re-tweet
    • The insight had to be original and of high quality
  • I would measure success through Twitter metrics.  I wanted to:
    • Double my number of followers, and
    • Exponentially increase my “views” and “re-tweets.”

What I Learned From Twitter
Well I’ve reached the end of my three-month test and the results have been mixed, at best.  I’ve learned a lot like:
  1. There’s no sense posting business tweets on weekends or holidays
  2. I could increase my views by personalizing them, like starting them with “in my experience” or by attaching a photo – personals were best
  3. Although I increased my followers by 50% I wonder about the quality:
    • I got many media, aggregator types of followers who had thousands following them, but their re-tweets never resulted in a bounce-back to me.  The re-tweets just seemed to be filling the Twitter-sphere
    • The valuable followers usually had less than 100 followers of their own.  They seemed to be quality practitioners who were interested in the insights and were my best source of “re-tweets”
    • Some of the best exposure came through my links with other channels such as my followers on Facebook.  In fact, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the business power of Facebook
    • The weekly metric reports from Twitter create a drive to play the game.  The reports provide an incentive to do everything I didn’t want to do.  Specifically, if you want to get re-tweeted you need to name, quote and re-tweet others.  My value to others was the opportunity to promote themselves
  4. My biggest disappointment came from my established contact list.  Although I’ve promoted my Twitter experiment to them – not one of them added me as a follower.  I discovered that most of them don’t have a Twitter account and those that do are passive users

Main Message
My overall take-away from the experiment is that Twitter is not useful as a branding tool for me.  I found that Twitter is truly social media, not business media.  Twitter is full of unintelligible hash-tags, links and re-tweets.  When you're on Twitter if you don’t know what you're looking for, you’ll never find it.

Here’s an anecdote that captures my Twitter experiment.  Several weeks into my experiment I called a friend for some advice.  He worked for a digital marketing company and I used him several years ago to help me link YouTube to my website.  He was one of the first that I “followed” on Twitter.  He puts out 2-3 tweets each day.

When I called him, the initial conversation was confusing.  The fog cleared when he said: “Bud I haven’t worked for that company in 2.5 years and I haven’t opened my twitter account since.”  His daily tweets are parroted feeds from aggregators.

I have learned a lot from my experiment.  I’ll continue to post on Twitter because it’s fun and it challenges me to keep developing my list of precise and concise beliefs about management.  Also, I’m now much more savvy about where to focus my business branding on social media – and it’s not on Twitter.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Change Management – I’m Tired of Culture

Say What????
What is culture?  I read a lot about it these days, particularly as a barrier to implementing change.  Culture has become a curmudgeon.  A general consensus has developed that solving “the way we do things around here” will bring implementation bliss to change management.

My only problem is that the more I read about culture the less I know what to do about it.  It seems that we’re happy defining the problem without giving the specifics of a solution.  Why wake a sleeping dog?

Come on – we’ve got to do better than that.  It’s time that we parsed culture into its essential elements and then offered up ways to change it?  We all know the elements – they’re common to any change readiness assessment. 

Management factors, such as:
  • Organization design – with roles & responsibilities
  • Planning processes – from strategic through business plans to projects
  • Reporting & Measurement systems – for operations & programs
  • Reward schemes – for compensation & recognition
  • Procedures, processes, & controls

Leadership factors, such as: 
  • Setting a vision
  • Inspiring the passion in all employees
  • Communicating authentically & transparently

You can make up your own list but at the end of the day isn’t that the definition of “culture.”  Doesn’t that describe, “how we do things around here?”  Aren’t these the things we’re trying to change so that an organization can alter or accelerate the path that it’s on?

Here’s an example.  Several years ago I was working at Whirlpool, a great company with many great brands; however, at the time resource power & control rested in the vertical operations – those who designed, manufactured, distributed, and sold the durable appliances.  Brand managers worked horizontally to influence changes across these verticals.

For many months my team worked with the Kitchen-Aid brand to develop ideas for product innovations and enhanced customer experiences.  We were neck deep in great ideas & little results.  Efforts at implementation veered off course and generally withered.  At the heart of the problem was Whirlpool’s refined and efficient planning process.  There was a drumbeat that was known and obeyed by all.  Culture was eating change.

Once we figured out that planning was a barrier to innovation the executive team agreed that we could work with the finance & planning people to redesign the planning system.  It took close to a year and involved things such as:
  • New mandates for planning sub-teams to make them more diverse & distribute decision make power
  • Criteria to get change initiatives out of the regular flow of decision making and monitoring
  • Detailed revision of forms that drove the process

In essence we needed to change the rules of the game if we were going to change resource allocation decision.  Culture wasn’t the problem, the disciplined legacy planning process was.

I believe it’s time to expunge the “culture” word for change management.  If change isn’t happening we need to disaggregate “how things are done,” roll-up our sleeves and change the rules of the game.