Social Media Blackout

At a recent social gathering of neighbors, as the children found their rhythm of play and the adults could finally open a beer and talk amongst ourselves, it dawned on me that we didn’t have much new to say to each other. It isn’t that we aren’t interested in one another’s’ lives, in fact, quite the opposite. We are so well connected over Facebook that we already know how the other person’s work and personal life is going, what they did last weekend, and who’s coming for Thanksgiving. Which leads me to question: Does the world of social media need its own blackout rules?

I’m a social media junkie, and if you are reading this, chances are you are too. I’m on Twitter and Google+ for work topics and general newsgathering and then on Facebook for keeping up with friends and family, where I am as guilty as anyone for sharing pictures of my kids and pets. This is truly a wonderful way of staying connected to our distant friends and family and allows everyone to be “in the loop.” But this a communication medium is also being used by those of us who are separated from each other by only a backyard, a driveway or a short bike ride. Our electronic messages in “public” are taking the place of conversations in the neighborhood. .

We have all read about the perils of over-sharing on social media fromThe Huffington PostCNNThe WSJ and countless other news outlets, and I’m not trying to cure that malady. I’m proposing that like a professional sports league, experiencing all the drama and joy of your life is something better experienced by your friends in the company of others, live. Perhaps we should think of social media as a non-real-time communications method; one used for sharing compelling articles and more batched or periodic updates. None of your friends probably needs to see an instantaneous picture of the snow falling outside your window, especially if they can see the same snowflakes falling outside their windows!

To be clear, I’m not suggesting an actual break from your online interactions any more than I would suggest the NFL stop playing. But perhaps if we did a little less sharing online in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, our conversations over pie could be more engaging and humorous instead of simply recounting what we saw on someone’s Facebook page.

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Change Doesn’t Have to be Reckless

The following was originally posted on the Avaya site here and then again at the CIO Collaboration site here.

Four years ago, I knew where I would be today. I was young(er) and naïve(r) and thought that I could control my life and the changes that would come my way. Then my wife and I got the joyous news that she was pregnant with twins. Once we recovered from the news and assessed the situation, we had a plan: we would both continue to work. We found a daycare just minutes from my wife’s office so that she could nurse throughout the day with relative convenience. As I said, we had a plan. But you already know where I’m going with this don’t you? Plans, well, they change.

Soon after our beautiful boys were born, my wife’s entire division was laid off at the office. We took this as a sign confirming that she should stay home with the kids. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, bless her soul, had been living with us five days a week just so that we could survive. When she couldn’t keep up the two hour commute, we started living with her part-time. Before we knew it, we were living with her full-time and I was now a full-time remote worker. We learned the value of having family around and fell in love with our new hometown. In only 2 years, our lives had changed in ways we never imagined. It was crazy and unpredictable but worked out in so many wonderful ways.

Similarly, change in the workplace is often (or seems to be) unpredictable and sometimes reckless. As leaders, we have the responsibility to foresee the drivers of change, perform due diligence, plan a transition, execute the plan, handle any hiccups, call it done, and then start looking for the next change on the horizon. Above all else, we are responsible to adopt the change in a way that increases the value of the organization. We’ve all seen examples of successful changes and those that were less than ideal. Was the re-organization done based on facts in order to meet a real business need, or was it based on speculations and smelled of empire building? Was the process change driven by a kaizen event of those who do the work, or by those not familiar with the subject? When done with the right information and for the right reasons, change can be used to drive real incremental value in an organization.

This of course also holds true to technology investments. IT leaders should not make changes to their infrastructure or services that they offer to their users on a whim or as a last-minute response to an unanticipated shift in their users’ needs. Your changes don’t need to be reckless revolutions, they can be planned evolutions. Avaya is here to partner with you in planning how your services evolve. Think of Avaya as that trusted advisor who has seen countless others go through this and can help you avoid the pitfalls. We can assist in thoughtful roll-outs of:

Where do you think you and your organization will be five years from now? You can’t know for sure. All you can do is be diligent in your planning and adapt as life throws you those curve-balls. But don’t stress too much; some of these reckless changes can result in some of life’s greatest blessings