* This post is by guest blogger, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, (Twitter, @mediasres) the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company. We’re celebrating our 3rd anniversary of this Twitter chat as we explore Social Media, Perception and Organizational Decision-Making this Friday, July 20th, at 5pm BST/12pm ET/9am PT on #KaizenBiz.
In Social Media everything is about perception… but perhaps not in the way you think. Counter to the Marketing and PR “message control” approach to Social Media, what truly is radical about Social Media is that businesses have now a new way to perceive and this changes what they are and possibly influences how they make decisions. This new perception gives them insight into not only the World but also their own place in it. The challenge is how to become aware of this mode of perceiving and incorporate what is seen into new decision making processes.
Organize and organism
There are close conceptual connections between “organize” and “organism” and it sheds real light to consider our enterprises as living things. Living things have an inside and an outside, though the boundary can be subtly blurred. One of the most distinguishing characteristics of any organism is how it perceives the world. For instance that shark can smell blood kilometers away, or sense electrical pulses up close says something about sharks. Bats are both blind but can “see” flitting insects. Perception goes a long way in defining what an animal is, and what is possible. So any business that wants to understand itself needs to take stock in exactly how it perceives, or more specifically orients itself to the world around it.
What are the organs of perception of your business?
An important conceptual analytical tool in this question is John Boyd’s OODA loop. His Observe Orient Decide and Act bears close resemblance to the Kaizen PDCA Shewhart loop, with notable differences. Boyd’s OODA is a consciousness and strategy model that allows us to read businesses as if they are living things seeking to constantly orient themselves more quickly in ever changing environments. The OODA loop in a fuller schematic looks like this:
Essentially it is a feedback loop wherein an individual seeks to identify features and patterns in its environment, and to adapt its orientation as quickly as possible to changes, going through its loop faster than its target environment is making changes. It’s staying ahead of the breaking wave.
Speed of Feedback
One application of the OODA loop that perhaps appeals most directly to Social Media marketing is his emphasis on the speed of feedback. Rather than seeing Social Media as a new channel for company message, it is perhaps more enlightened to understand Social Media as a new mode of perception for a business, a quick-pulse, quick-twitch sensitivity that gives it striking new powers of knowing where it is and cues on how to proceed. Community managers and their spaces are no longer just low-end Customer Service features but have become human hubs of brand intelligence. Self-organized consumer consensuses – whether they be found in data or expressed in conversation – become real-time tea leaves to be read.
The problem with new sense organs though is that you can’t just plug a new mode of perceiving onto the old architecture without potentially causing a fair amount of confusion. One is ever in danger of overreacting to, or more usually censoring out completely the new information. It has no natural place in the modern Marketing business model. Its speed of awareness, the very proximity to the customer or user, do not fit easily into the time frame of long campaigns, or company customs of self-perception. Things can happen in minutes, or days in Social Media and those events can be large windows into a business’s environment and markets, keys to possibilities or dangers not otherwise seen.
Q1 If we think of your business as an animal, how does it perceive its place in the world? What are its organs of perception?
Q2 If Social Media comprises new organs of perception? How does it challenge the way business used to see? What is new in what it sees?
Q3 If Kaizen is continuous & gradual business improvement, how does the speed of Social Media enhance that?
Q4 How does the speed of Social Media perception and decision pose difficulty to Kaizen improvement?
Q5 If your company adopted a much faster decision cycle do you think the role of Social Media would be increased?
Q6 Community Managers are a new hybrid which speaks and listens as the brand. Has their position in the decision process changed?
Q7 What business decision-making roles are most resistant to taking advantage of Social Media perception? How do you bridge this gap?
Q8 If you could imagine a business that is born with strong Social Media perception, what would it’s decision-making process be like?
About the author: Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu, currently based in Thailand, is the Director of Social Media for the Tonner Doll Company. Interests include Social Media ethics and designing social spaces; he considers his work in Social Media an expression of his study of Spinoza.