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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant guide to making social media work inside organisations, 22 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web (Kindle Edition)
OK, let's get the declaration of interest out of the way. First, I consider myself a technologist and second I have met Euan, just once, a few years ago at an event where he was speaking. My organisation was trying to understand what to do with and about social media and I was fortunate, subsequently, to be involved in the project that put some of Euan's expertise to good use. We did a few of the things he described in this book but we also made lots of mistakes - classics, all of them. I have also worked in and with many organisations also trying to either exploit or banish social media - all of us could have done with this book to guide and challenge our approach.

'Social media' is a phrase that can certainly get most IT professionals going. Challenged as they are to do more with less, embrace the cloud, allow staff to plug in their own devices and have access to work emails on their iPhones. Then some nutter turns up and starts asking for a corporate Facebook site and demanding to use Twitter, blogs and wikis at work!

Euan presents an interesting take on this scenario. IT Departments, often seen and cited as a barrier to social media use at work are a child of the organisations they work for. As God (allegedly) made man in his own image, so did the corporate hierarchy with the IT Department. Euan presents powerful arguments as to why these structures are fundamentally flawed and explores a number of aspects of normal human behaviour. He considers why the workplace of today seeks to suppress these behaviours; getting us to act in a very dysfunctional way. We substitute management speak for natural language and we use process and protocol to eradicate the risk of an emotional response. We labour long over "dust-covered strategies that paint compelling pictures of a world that never happened." Lord knows how many of those I wrote or contributed to over the years!

So this is not a technician's guide to the social web, such a book would probably be out of date before the ink was dry. "Start small, aim high" is the message. Euan talks of cultural change: "a social revolution made easier by technological change"; not of a technological revolution.

So why, as a technologist, should you read this book? Euan has an important message for us:

"The goal of conventional IT has been to manage information in structured ways that reflect the business models of their organizations. The loose, networked, unpredictable environment generated by social tools is a considerable challenge to them. Indeed if there is a single biggest block to making social media happen encountered by my clients in large organizations it is their IT department."

This is a challenge to which the IT industry needs to respond positively. Euan's book is primarily about people, fundamental human behaviour, corporate thinking, the lost art of conversation and revolution. This book is a challenge and an opportunity, to those of us with the chance to help define the kind of work place the next generation will inherit. I for one would like it to be different from the one I have occupied for most of my career. And, if this is all a bit too 'soft skills' for you and too far removed from the bottom line; Euan closes his book with the assertion that `social computing is capable of taking 25 per cent out of the running costs of most businesses.'

So this book will not give you the answers, but it does ask some difficult questions and will hopefully prompt you to do the same. Available as an ebook or conventional hard cover, it is an easy read with - as Euan himself says - each chapter "intended to be just long enough for a visit to the executive rest room". I read the entire book on a smart phone a few chapters at a time (but not in the rest room I hasten to add)!

I highly recommend this book to those who are already in tune with social media for business, those who think they are and of course to the naysayers who think social media has no place in the world of work.
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