Tag : Gary Hamel

Social media expose: the passion problem


Social media is exposing a problem in business: many, many employees and customers don’t care much about the business; they’re not flocking to  join Facebook fan pages, participate in employee communities, add comments to blogs.

Take a look around and you’ll find the evidence everywhere.  After all the worries about what employees might post,  working for months with legal to get guidelines in place, and putting that corporate blog and Facebook page in place,  there’s a thunderous echo of nothingness.

The reason? Most people are just not that into their companies.  Sure, their companies may be good places to work, opportunities for professional advancement may be decent, and the company is probably a responsible corporate citizen.  But the passion is missing.

Social media is exposing a significant business problem: bland corporate cultures.  I would suggest that we should be spending far more time on the culture problem than on social media. Of course, the more you spend on the latter, the more vivid you’re likely to see the cultural issues.

In most corporations processes, rules, and values, e.g., integrity and  truthfulness, are clear and understood, but people don’t care about  the company with their head and their hearts.  (Do companies even use the word “love” or talk about feelings?)  The primary reason for this lack of passion is because companies’ purpose beyond making money is unclear.  There’s no meaningful cause or purpose that everyone in the company is together aspiring to achieve.

Pick your study or expert and you’ll see the quantifiable value of a strong corporate culture.

  • Financial growth/profitability: Companies with strong cultures returned 1,026 percent for investors over 10 years compared to a 122 percent for the S&P, according to the business school authors of  Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit From Passion and Purpose.
  • Speeding change, adopting new strategies: “You must create a culture  that motivates people to execute the strategy — not to the letter but to the spirit. People’s minds and hearts must align with the new strategy so that at the level of the individual, people embrace it of their own accord and willingly go beyond compulsory execution to voluntary cooperation in carrying it out.” Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. (Notice the head and heart term again?)
  • Bringing humanity to work: “What we need is not an economy of hands or heads, but an economy of hearts. Evert employee should feel that he or she is contributing to something that will actually make  a genuine and positive difference in the lives of customers and colleagues. For too many employees, the return on emotional equity is close to zero. They have nothing to commit to other than the success of their own career. To succeed today a company must give its members a reason to bring all of their humanity to work.” Gary Hamel, Leading the Revolution.

We’ve heard so much about the potential of social media and enterprise 2.0 to bring  people together in new ways to brainstorm, collaborate, build deeper relationships, eliminate barriers, bring new ideas to market faster.

But if people don’t love your company, don’t expect to reap the big benefits of social media.

The good news, however, is that most companies have a bigger reason for being, a purpose more significant  than simply growing financially.  Someone just has to step up and lead the charge to uncover that purpose and focus the organization around it.

It could just be the most rewarding challenge of your career.

Humanizing diplomatic communications

What was remarkable about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Asia last week was that it showed an innovative approach to diplomatic relations and communications. Rather than just the formal meetings with dignitaries Clinton showed a much more human communications style, both in style and actions, making time to speak at universities to talk with female students, to appear on a popular television show,  to go to church.

Clinton told reporters that she is determined to make a connection to people “in a way that is not traditional, not confined by the ministerial greeting and the staged handshake photo…I see our job right now, given where we are in the world and what we’ve inherited, as repairing relations, not only with people.”


Better yet, the previously overly cautious, overly messaged Clinton, has seen the light about the value of straight talk.

Mark Landler of The New York Times reported on Saturday: “Mrs. Clinton raised eyebrows among journalists and analysts with a frank assessment of how a succession struggle in North Korea could undermine talks over its nuclear program. She said she was baffled by the reaction.”

“Maybe this is unusual because you are suppose to be so careful that we spend hours avoiding stating the obvious,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I think it’s worth, perhaps, being more straightforward, trying to engage countries on the basis of the reality that exists.”

This straightforward, human approach to communications is what all people are craving — in foreign relations, in government, at school, in business. In fact, one of the effects of social media has been to amplify this desire.

Gary Hamel recently posted “25 Stretch Goals for Management” on the Harvard Business Publishing blog —  summarizing a two day summit of business leaders tackling the topic of how to reinvent management.  My favorite goal, which underscores Clinton’s recent style, is #24:

Humanize the language and practice of business. Tomorrow’s management systems must give as much credence to such timeless ideals as beauty, justice and community as they do to the traditional goals of efficiency, advantage and profit.”

Mrs. Clinton has come so far in changing her leadership communications style over the past two years to be more real, more human, more direct.  Now let’s help our business leaders do the same so they can be more inspiring leaders vs. merely effective managers.