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Have We Become Anti-Social?

Social media is everywhere, in every industry and on every device. Its usage is astounding, really. Reports document that Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks are not only growing exponentially, they are the first and last places people go every day.

For all of our fascination with social media, I ask, have we become anti-social?

Sit in any office environment and what do you see?
People with their eyes glued to their computers. Alone.

Peer inside most cars on the road and who is there?
A driver. On the phone.

What forms of communication are most prevalent?
E-mail. Texts. Posts. Chat.

Sure, we’re communicating at record rates, but a critical form of communication is missing: Human interaction! You know, good old-fashioned face-to-face talking in real-time.

Nowhere is face-to-face communication more critical than when you are leading a change agenda. Whether it’s a new way, a new idea, or a new plan, experienced change agents practice a proven art form – socializing an idea. Remember that?

No matter how big or even how good your idea is, the best way to get people to try it, let alone adopt it, is to talk about it early and often. Successful change agents practice this anywhere and everywhere – in one-on-one or group settings, in a conference room, in the hallway, over coffee or during a meal.

There is extraordinary value gained when you make eye contact, witness body language, feel the emotion behind what’s said, and observe what’s not being said.

You’ve heard a lot about the transformation PTC was able to pull off in going from a once proud product company that had lost its way to a higher value thought leader in a new, more strategic space. The shift that needed to occur for PTC to have a chance to win was seismic. The forces of inertia holding the company back were formidable.

Sure, the ideas of what needed to be done and how to execute them were smart and powerful. But it was the practice of socializing the idea that won people over. Whether it was the early morning runs, one-on-one or small group meetings, lunches, dinners, or long flights, the art of socializing the new idea was practiced. Even large group settings weren’t one-way diatribes. They were either discussions or previews about early thinking, possibilities, and what might be. Dialogue was encouraged. Feedback was provided. Ideas were refined. So when the formalized agenda for the new way was officially launched, many people were not only on board, they felt as is they were already a part of the change culture simply because they had a voice in it.

Social media is fantastic for conveying information in new, exciting ways. But if you want to drive sustainable change, make time to have face-to-face chats, too. It will make all the difference.

One Comment

  1. Tom Butta says:

    My favorite story on the benefits of socializing an idea is this. My boss at the time needed to review with the CEO the plan for our new, cutting edge, but not profitable, business unit. He couldn't get on the guy's calendar because it was jammed. The standard alternative was to put our thinking in an e-mail. He knew our change agenda needed a live audience to communicate the opportunity behind the risk. When he found out the CEO was flying to California, he not only bought a ticket on the same flight, he secured the seat next to him. Six hours later, our plan was properly and effectively conveyed.

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