By Euan Semple
Just as you think new horizons are visible, the destination clearer, the FT publishes surprisingly Luddite responses on the impact of social media. Recent items for example come from Tyler Brûlé’s unexpected and continued blind spot on social media to legal advice sought in the FT Entrepreneur section seeking to exclude staff’s interaction with social media tools at work – fortunately the legal response did advise consultation before implementation of any policy proscription!
By contrast, significant books have been published over recent years which lay down a marker on the use and abuse of new technological connections and the changing face of (global) economic and social relations. For example: Ohmae’s The Borderless World on globalisation, Levine et al in The Clue Train Manifesto on the internet, Ahonen & Moore’s suggestion that Communities Dominate Brands and most recently The End of Business as Usual by Brian Solis on as he puts it the “consumer (r)evolution.”.
The significance of these books is their ability to be both intellectually rigorous (always open to debate, but that is intellectual rigor for you) and bearing the essence of emotional connectivity to the human(e).
It is into to this arena that the delights of Euan Semple’s first book arrive. Euan is characterised on the leaf of the hardcopy as a “one-man digital upload”. His wealth of experience from his time at the BBC, to consultations with major businesses and organizations around the world, is testimony to the experience that he brings to understanding the impact of social media not only in the work place but in society at large. For, as one of the key elements he portrays, is the fact that the strict demarcation between work and home is being eroded. We as individuals therefore have to take a more considered stance on what “life” “work” balance means to us – individually – not according to HR.
What Euan aims to instil from his narrative is the central focus of the “human” per se and then, within an organization. The “tweet” in the title in not of the essence when you come to read the book – more important is his ability to capture the heartfelt core of the social relations we encounter in the work place and the explanation of the confused and generally unarticulated feelings we bump into – whether our own or others when it comes to managing social tools in the workplace environment.
The 45 chapters, each a few pages long, are aphoristic in style with key points at the end of each chapter as a refresher and for recall of the key arguments. Straight to the nub of the problem the first chapter is entitled: “We all need to grow up”; throwing down the gauntlet to the reader to engage with a new and refreshing mood to be found in the book – i.e. wake up and find your voice. Like any good guide this is a hand holding exercise through the highs and lows of how the new media opportunities have permitted the individual to break free of the social constructs we have lived with in the workplace in the late 20th century.
“Dealing with a Boss who doesn’t “Get It” is another example of the author addressing the unasked questions in the workplace. Funny thing is that the boss once spoken to with confidence can actually begin to see their own unasked (& thereby unanswered) questions being brought into consciousness – no bad thing.
For a confidence booster there is the delightful chapter entitled “Unleash your Trojan Mice”. The suggestion is that lots of small initiatives made at small to no cost, will gain traction if the environment is right, a matter of having trust and a little faith. The large scale IT projects where you have to convince all and sundry before action is taken are probably dead in the water before you even start to expend your limited emotional energy. Far better to learn what works – “persuade through results rather than convince people in advance and ask for forgiveness rather than permission.” writes Semple.
What you conclude from reading this book is how generous Euan Semple has been in relaying his knowledge and experience to aid people in their growth and development, as individuals – as self and as individuals within the latest iteration of the social context. Would you give away all your trade secrets? It would seem Euan Semple has. However in the final chapter he begins to address the reason why. The chapter is a reprint of a blogpost he published on his departure from the BBC in 2006 on love, “the force that makes everything hang together.” On a deeper level it is the recognition that the love you give away will only go to replenish your own resources. A fine example then of, “In giving so shall you receive”.
It remains to be seen if the fount of knowledge from Euan Semple’s desktop will provide a sequel . We can only hope so.
Tim Harrap Head of Collaboration, Lye Cross Farm