KM – Wild Animals!

Unleash your socialization wild animals!

Unleashing “wild animals” usually doesn’t sound like such a great idea. But with a bit of rethinking what those are and where they live, we can address issues that all the Web 2.0 technology never seems to address.

I stumbled upon an interesting blog post by Jim Louderback this morning on Ad Age, courtesy of a connection that I have to a KM’er working in the legal world. And this post was all about the suggestion that organizational social media experts should be replaced with wild animals. An interesting viewpoint to be sure, and I think that he’s got a good point.

Louderback first takes us back to a bit over a decade ago when Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts (or as he refers to them, “SEO-oil salemen”) plied their trade, and as he describes it they would, “parachute into an organization and proceed to spew vociferously about meta-tags, link density, anchor text and optimized site structure.” And we all know how well all that worked.

And so Louderback suggests that today we run into much the same problem with social media “experts.” Social media being the usage of “web-based and mobile technologies to turn communications into interactive dialogue.” That we have had a whole bunch of these “experts” showing up at organizational doorsteps, sharing their “wisdom” on just how to leverage the social aspect of knowledge sharing. The real issue though I believe is more wrapped around the simple fact that if the organization (any organization) lacked an understanding of the organizational strategy and how exactly socialization and knowledge sharing could, would and should support that….in the end what I think these “Socialmedia-oil sales folks” focused their efforts on the IT side of things, particular the IT things that they often also sold from the back of their “snake oil wagons.”

The neatest point that Louderback makes so very well is that with social media (I’d rather think of it as socialization, the “media” side of things just being the enabler) is that as people we should naturally be good at it. That “deep in our genetic core we’re all fundamentally social wild animals.” And that, “Everyone in your organization needs to embrace, enjoy and infuse the social nature of your company, your product and your services.” So Louderback suggests that we replace all the social media consultants with “wild animals” (those wild animals then being the people in the organization).

Points well made, and exactly the same sort of advice that I give.

I really do believe that as in the case of social media, that the day that we begin to think that it is all about using the neat, shiny, pretty Web 2.0 tools as the “strategy” for doing socialization, that we’ve lost touch with our inner wild animals. Socialization. It’s what we should do naturally. And it certainly says a lot about an organization when they believe that things are so “socialization challenged” that the “best strategy” is to simply throw lots of Web 2.0 tools at the problem, in hope that in doing so they’ll somehow solve the real problem.

I do however believe that we do still need the strategists — just not “social media” strategists. Something more along the line with KM strategists would do nicely. Oh yeah, and how about addressing the cultural issues that have kept those “social wild animals” caged for years.

Dr. Dan's Daily Dose:
A fool with a tool is still a fool. Throwing Web 2.0 tools at organizational issues such as the need to socialize will result in few actual benefits. Once again we come back to it — it is all about the people and having a culture supportive of knowledge sharing. Socialization is a critical part of that.
About Dr. Dan Kirsch