Big Social Requires Big Trust

You know the part I struggle with, although I totally get and support the social org movement (agile, responsive, connected, open, etc) is the elephant in the room — Big companies still driven by quarterly numbers. People are still generally treated like expendable cogs, and power structures inside most companies still look the same as in 1975. So sure, try growing large scale collaboration, connection, working social until the next layoff cycle reminds every employee that the more dominant “Work Culture” wins again and reminds leaders that it is a huge shadow over any org culture efforts they may be working on.

The Work Culture transcends any one business. It can be summed up as “no big trust”. I’ve written about this Trust being damaged at a macro level before. But don’t think there isn’t any trust at all though, there is but it’s more like “little trust”. It comes in the form of team relationships and often manager-employee ones as well. “little trust” isthe trust used to get work done. Multiple generations however have seen corporations spit out employees whenever shareholder value is at risk. Workers have learned directly or indirectly of their extensibility and that leads to short-termism and passionless clock punching. Every new hire who has been burned or knows someone who’s been burned is like a reluctant boyfriend or girlfriend with an inside voice saying “don’t commit he/she will just hurt you.” Companies are not turning that around with ping pong tables and Denim Friday’s. So with little trust, only little social survives. But without big trust, big social will struggle. Why bother narrating work, connecting across silos and sharing liberally ones knowledge when the benefit is only to the organization you have a wary eye on? Yes, social tech will get used to get work done but until companies redesign and build true trust over a long period of time, I’m afraid wide-scale, social tech augmented, openness and transparency will sputter.

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