The Hare, the Tortoise and the Jackass of Social HR

I tweeted a joke hashtag last week.

@dpontefract: I’m proposing a new hashtag … #e20socbizhrtechedtechentswfutureofworktchat … that just about covers it

In retrospect, perhaps I wasn’t joking.

What’s going on out there in vendor land is rather interesting. What’s going on in our organizations is equally intriguing.

On one hand, we have vendors from the larger technology companies and spaces (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce et al) snapping up HR technology companies whilst other smaller cloud-based companies continue to sell themselves as the “social business” or “human capital cloud” saviour.

I am fond of SuccessFactors at the moment. (an SAP company) Under the tutelage of Vishal Sikka and Sameer Patel (amongst others) it seems they are listening to the needs of its customer base and the HR space in general by actually evolving social software such that it’s not a shiny object rather it’s becoming what Sameer calls, “social glue“. This is an important distinction from simply dropping social media or collaboration tools on an organization and suggesting it’s now more collaborative by virtue of wikis or blogs. Who cares, that’s not enough.

And that’s where we begin our metaphor for the day.

To those social business, collaboration, HR technology and Enterprise 2.0 software vendors — on-premise and/or cloud — that continue to flog features versus behaviour change, your hare-like attitude is becoming annoying if not alarming.

There are far too many organizations listening to the hare preach about the virtues of collaboration features only. “Get these collaboration tools into your organization as quickly as possible because your employees need to start blogging and creating wiki’s,” says several hundred vendors today. I wouldn’t be listening to the hare for it’s the tortoise that is my torch-bearer. The hare wants to sell you licenses. The hare is quick to depict features and functions. The hare is burning out.

The tortoise, on the other hand, might be viewed as ‘slow’ right now, but she is eloquently amassing a vision that weds organizational culture, engagement and behaviour to the technology to improved business processes, results and outcomes.

I don’t care if conversations in a micro-blogging platform are threaded, per se, I care what micro-blogging can do to help culture, engagement and behaviour. Start there first Mr. Hare and you will act more like the Tortoise. This, in my opinion, is a good thing for you to begin doing.

My bet is on the Tortoise. Whatever ‘Social HR Technology‘ company, outfit or division that is methodically building out the behaviour change needed by so many organizations today will win the race. We are simply at the end of the beginning; the hare is out of touch with the reality of today’s organizations. And sadly, too many organizations are listening to the hare versus thinking through their behaviour change first.

And what about the Jackass you ask?

Sadly, it’s those within the organization itself who are both blind and deaf to the wave that is cresting their culture. They ignore the behaviour change needed whilst doubling down at the jackass table remaining ambivalent to the equally pervasive tsunami of social collaboration technology possibilities in their midst. They’re out there; a sea of jackass drones causing harm to their employees.

These are the type of leaders within organizations who simply wouldn’t understand a joke like #e20socbizhrtechedtechentswfutureofworktchat

Do you?


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Dan Pontefract | dp at danpontefract dot com