Sunday, July 08, 2012

Social Media Admirals

In his book, "The Next Decade", author George Friedman talks about the rising power of China in the Pacific ocean. He makes an interesting observation about China's ability to build a strong navy in the Pacific. He notes that technology and resources are not the bottleneck for China. The bottleneck to building a great navy is experienced admirals who can conduct a naval battle with aircraft carriers and destroyers. This is not something that China can import, from another country or develop overnight. Creating such admirals requires long term policy decisions, investment and execution direction from the highest levels of leadership.

Building strong online communities inside large corporations has some parallels to building a blue water navy.  Today, most large organizations  have the resources to buy community software for the entire workforce, because online community or social networking software costs only a few dollars per user per month. 

However, developing social media admirals who can guide communities of experts to execute towards a business goal is key to the success of community software inside any organization. Such leaders cannot be bought for a few dollars. Developing such leaders requires long term talent management investments and policy decisions. For this reason, employee social media implementation projects implemented by IT teams will have very little chance of success. From what I have seen so far, employee social media projects led by business teams assisted by talent management professionals have a higher degree of success. I suggest that you make your social media initiatives part of your business and talent management initiatives, where you have a better chance to identify social media admirals who can lead communities of experts to accomplish business goals.

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