Life changes, and at times, it changes very quickly. For organizations it can be a game of relentless catch-up as they move to adjust to the benefits – and challenges of technological shifts.
With most people and companies finally getting a solid handle on simple older workplace technology from the 1990’s like e-mail (“Do we really want to put out an all-employees e-mail saying those things?”), other, newer technology in the form of small, high quality cameras such as the Flip brand cameras is becoming pervasive. Besides cameras like the Flip, most mobile phones will soon have video capture capabilities as well – whether it’s live broadcast or simply a recording still needs to be resolved.
Why is this important to you?
It means that anything you say can now easily be video recorded, and uploaded simply and easily to a sharing site like YouTube.com. Hold the camera in some inconspicuous place and you can easily get up to 60 minutes of high quality video to broadcast to 40,000,000 of friends, strangers, employees, or competitors.
It was likely a Flip camera that caught John McCain last year, as well as Congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s latest in an unending series of “unusual” public comments. Steve Ballmer’s stage tirade will pale with some of the things I expect to see.
Some people still assume that material distributed in hard paper copy (which, by the way, can be easily scanned into an Adobe Acrobat pdf, and distributed via e-mail), or stuff that’s shown on an overheads (captured by cell phone cameras) are “safe”.
For those organizations that enjoy the murky and opaque, taking such an approach will be harder work, much higher risk, and less likely reward. Organizations that have a DNA that drives them to do what they say they are going to do will find that their approach will be expected and appreciated, and frankly easier. [Update May 26, 2009 : Also see Businessweek’s Web 2.0 Managing the Tweets ]
So what do you do?
Past experience working with organizations suggests that companies adopt as gospel four simple behaviors – behaviors you might call the “Pure Digital Manifesto” in honor of the Flip Camera company [Self-disclosure: my son Traylor sits next to Anna, the daughter of Flip’s COO in their kindergarten class.]
The Pure Digital Manifesto:
- Mean what you say (and be comfortable if what you say was the headline of a newspaper)
- Communicate what you mean, (organizational tip: and do so iteratively and endlessly)
- Do what you say you’re going to do
- Fess up early and candidly when mess you up
The vulnerability of organizational missteps came up when I met with a colleague from one of the financial firms that has been shedding employees, including him. Not surprisingly – despite public assurances complete with overheads to affected employees to the contrary – side deals had been made with people so that “the deal” was not in fact, “the deal.”
That sort of behavior by firms is one blog post – likely complete with a redacted copy of a document and perhaps a video or two – from Internet exposure.
As Domino’s Pizza could tell you , from their recent expose of back room pizza prep shenanigans, life is hell when your on the recovering backside of negative viral publicity: it’s better to avoid this type of publicity, and the four points noted above should help you.
New Rules is an occasional set of writings focused on changes in norms, culture, or ways of navigating work, organization and careers. More about executive and team coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above.