Many dinosaurs roam the organizational landscape, complacent in their daily routine, unaware of a new threat to their existence, one that will wipe them out if they don’t figure out a way to evolve and adapt to embrace it.
Hyperbole aside, I’m talking about social media, new media, communities, or even Web 2.0, whatever you want to call it.
Three recent items caught my attention and touched on this idea:
“Take Your PowerPoint And” — BusinessWeek
“Unconferences turn the plodding, predictable business gathering inside out. They’re a hybrid of a teach-in and a jam session, with a little show-and-tell mixed in, and they are attracting hundreds…”
“Craigslist Founder: People Who Run Printing Presses ‘Screwed’ ” — Editor & Publisher
Newmark told an all-too-knowing audience that this is a time of “creative destruction” and that he has a “great deal of sympathy for people who run the printing presses. They are screwed.”
Frequent recent discussion in For Immediate Release podcast — Neville Hobson & Shel Holtz
Discussion about professional organizations, and the development of free communities (MyRagan.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) as networking alternatives.
So what I see here is three examples of organizations that serve a particular audience. Three groups that are being challenged by one external force, the rapid adoption of easy-to-use social media tools. Web 2.0 if you will.
It makes sense, to me as a user. Heck, why would I pay thousands of dollars to attend an educational / networking / professional development conference when I can attend an ‘unconference’ for free? Would you? Why join a professional network when you can get much of the same value, again, for free?
I’m looking at this and thinking that the value provided by these tools and events compete with any value delivered previously by traditional organizations and communities.
This is a logical evolution. Online services have already changed the shape of many brick-and-mortar businesness, and invented many new business models too! I had my last set of business cards printed by moo.com. I visit bookshops and music stores less as I order more from online sources, and am continuing my education by taking online courses through an accredited university. Physical presence is not necessary to meet my needs.
But that’s old hat now. What is new is the development of online communities and services that leverage the power of the crowd. Some people call this ‘crowdsourcing’.
I think of it as active communities of committed people, creating new value in a way that disrupts the traditional model that organizations have used to provide value to their members.
This diminishing value will result in declining memberships (I may not be joining some organizations), unless these organizations recognize that someone has moved their cheese.
To quote from that esteemed tome on change management, Who Moved My Cheese:
- Change Happens
- They Keep Moving The Cheese
- Anticipate Change
- Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
- Monitor Change
- Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
- Adapt To Change Quickly
- The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
- Move With The Cheese
- Enjoy Change!
- Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
- Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
- They Keep Moving The Cheese.
So, these organizations will have to figure out how to change to remain relevant to their audiences or members. Or they risk becoming extinct.
They must change, and that’s where the grand adventure lies. Exploring the facets of change, discovering the new ways an organization can serve its publics.
There lies the challenge, and the fun. Yes there are risks, but they can be managed with due diligence.
Given that, how would a newspaper make itself relevant in this new age of citizen journalism, where stories are developed by citizens with a blog, and no traditional journalistic credentials. What happens when photographs are freely available with Creative Commons Attribution licenses on flickr, what happens to the staff photographer and his trade association? Do they lose relevance?
What about other organizations, what about yours? Do you work for a Dinosaur?
** Update **
Just saw this lovely Diesel Sweeties cartoon that eloquently sums up.