My good friend Arthur Nelson is a serial entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded over 20 organizations in his career. Some, like AIRINC are businesses, while others, like TERC are nonprofits. But independent of the company or its mission, he’s identified a common thread that binds them all.
“I’ve never started an organization that ended up doing what it was originally intended to do,” he once told me.
Arthur explains that most entrepreneurs begin work on a problem without having the all of the information necessary to build a successful business–information that can only be acquired through immersion in research. Before this immersion, entrepreneurs can only see symptoms. Yet after speaking with clients who are dealing with those problems, the root causes reveal a better focus for entrepreneurs to build their products and services around.
I’ve found that Arthur’s lesson is applicable to corporate adoption of New/Social Media. The only way to get a true understanding of it is through full immersion. If you’ve never maintained a blog, produced a podcast, or participated in an online community, you can’t have the intimate knowledge required to make accurate decisions about its applicability within your company. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many companies do, chasing symptoms as opposed to causes.
Understanding New Media is like stepping into the fog. At first, you can only see the hazy outlines of objects in the distance. Yet by walking forward, additional details emerge. The deeper you walk, new outlines and additional details reveal a scene that you couldn’t have anticipated before your journey.
Take Arthur’s advice. Make a plan and then step into the fog. Head for the muffled voices. Participate with the people you encounter. Soon you’ll have a better feel for the role of New/Social Media within your organization.
Then, make the appropriate adjustments and execute your revised plan.
Photo Credit: ferronj