Recognition: How the revolution IS being tweeted | [Abstract]

A little recognition goes a long way

That tiny sliver of recognition gave me the impetus to start looking into something I suspected at first was absurd, and it ended up changing my life. Without it, I might have gone on pursuing my career as a rational manager, continuing to do what everyone else was doing. I might have gone on thinking that storytelling was an interesting and clever trick, but nothing serious.

Einstein said, insightfully, “If at first an idea isn’t absurd, there is no hope for it.” Any really good, big new idea at first is going to seem absurd to the person who has stumbled on it. It takes courage to set aside conventional wisdom, to abandon what everyone knows to be true, and start pursuing a path that you and everyone else think is absurd. And yet a little recognition—even a sliver—can be the nudge that does the trick. Recognition can be the element that makes the difference between major innovation and passively going along with the flow.

What’s interesting is to note how slight the nudge of recognition was. It wasn’t a big fanfare or a public accolade. It was a quiet, private one-minute conversation with someone I had never met. True, it came from someone in an organization I viewed with respect. The conversation was merely a hint that I had stumbled on something that other people thought interesting, something worth looking into. And yet that slight nudge propelled me into action and changed my life, and ultimately, in a modest way, the entire world: unlike ten years ago, leadership storytelling is now a generally accepted part of the essential skills of a leader.

Why Malcolm Gladwell Got It Wrong

I am the biggest fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s writing. But his recent article in the New Yorker, “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted” seriously underestimates the impact of even weak recognition. It was great news that he highlighted a wonderful book like The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, but sad that he got it all so wrong.

First mistake: His argument is that the platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter and Facebook connect people who may have never met.

The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It’s terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.

This is where Gladwell makes his first mistake: “Weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.”

What he misses is that the difference between acting and not-acting is very slim.

Often people have ideas, have passion. All they may need is a little nudge to push them into action.

Second mistake: Gladwell correctly recognizes the weaknesses of networks:

Because networks don’t have a centralized leadership structure and clear lines of authority, they have real difficulty reaching consensus and setting goals. They can’t think strategically; they are chronically prone to conflict and error. How do you make difficult choices about tactics or strategy or philosophical direction when everyone has an equal say?

But what Gladwell misses is that networks can give individual leaders the confidence that comes from knowing that they are not alone. Their ideas may sound absurd, at first glance, but they are not crazy. They may give the innovative person the little nudge that they need to move into action.

Third mistake: Gladwell imputes views to “the evangelists of social media” that no sensible person ever held:

The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960.

No sensible person ever equated friends on Facebook with real friends in person. This is straw man argumentation at its worst.

Fourth mistake: These poor enthusiasts of social media, he writes, just don’t understand:

Some of this grandiosity is to be expected. Innovators tend to be solipsists. They often want to cram every stray fact and experience into their new model.

The same objection has been made to every human invention since the wheel. “Everything is now different!” Well, yes. A certain amount of grandiosity is to be expected. And warranted. In fact, it’s the very grandiosity that we find in Gladwell’s own writing about innovation in The Tipping Point and all his other articles and books. Innovation does warrant some grandiosity.


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Full article:
http://stevedenning.typepad.com/steve_denning/2010/10/recognition-how-the-revolution-is-being-tweeted.html

A little recognition goes a long way

That tiny sliver of recognition gave me the impetus to start looking into something I suspected at first was absurd, and it ended up changing my life. Without it, I might have gone on pursuing my career as a rational manager, continuing to do what everyone else was doing. I might have gone on thinking that storytelling was an interesting and clever trick, but nothing serious.

Einstein said, insightfully, “If at first an idea isn’t absurd, there is no hope for it.” Any really good, big new idea at first is going to seem absurd to the person who has stumbled on it. It takes courage to set aside conventional wisdom, to abandon what everyone knows to be true, and start pursuing a path that you and everyone else think is absurd. And yet a little recognition—even a sliver—can be the nudge that does the trick. Recognition can be the element that makes the difference between major innovation and passively going along with the flow.

What’s interesting is to note how slight the nudge of recognition was. It wasn’t a big fanfare or a public accolade. It was a quiet, private one-minute conversation with someone I had never met. True, it came from someone in an organization I viewed with respect. The conversation was merely a hint that I had stumbled on something that other people thought interesting, something worth looking into. And yet that slight nudge propelled me into action and changed my life, and ultimately, in a modest way, the entire world: unlike ten years ago, leadership storytelling is now a generally accepted part of the essential skills of a leader. Leer más “Recognition: How the revolution IS being tweeted | [Abstract]”