Every Independence Day I read the Declaration of Independence. I don’t tire of it. Each year I get goose bumps as I read it. The clarity of voice in our founding fathers in the historical document is simply amazing.
This year I got to thinking, what if Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers had the opportunity to blog? What if the Internet had been invented in the 18th century. Rather than Thomas Jefferson distributing the scroll of paper (after Congress approved it August 2, 1776) announcing the independence of the 13 colonies, he (and many others) would’ve blogged about becoming independent from mother England.
And, what if the Declaration of Independence was drafted as a document in Google docs shared by the committee of five who drafted it: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is credited with the authorship of the famous declaration document which was “inked” into an official scroll document to be distributed throughout the land and delivered to mother England by ship.
I don’t need to be reminded of how fortunate we are to have the technologies we have at our fingertips. Reading this historical document on July 4th every year serves to remind me how blessed I am to be an American and how lucky I am to be alive during this time.
Our military men and women serving us bravely in far away lands communicate with their families with webcams across the Internet. The citizens of Iran have been communicating with the world using mobile devices, Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The Iranian authorities have been unable to completely prevent citizen journalists from essentially playing the role of uncensored media to the world.
Similarly, some business executives have not yet awakened to the capabilities available to their customers, employees and competitors using these commonplace technologies.
Just like long haired ponytails were the popular culture for men during the time of our founding fathers, the modern day popular culture is for people to “tweet” their sentiments about your new product announcement, or your decision to layoff 20% of our your workforce, or merge with your largest competitor, or (fill in the blank). Whether your company is public requiring disclosure of every substantial event, or private, the current culture is that everything is public on the social web.
The Internet makes this possible. The culture of transparency makes this popular.
Does your CEO resist this culture? Does your chief marketing executive resist this culture? Does your chief sales executive resist this culture? Does your chief financial officer resist this culture? Does your chief people officer resist this culture?
Are You Swimming Upstream?
You know the cliche “swimming upstream.” What image do you get when you hear that cliche? My visual is a salmon swimming fiercely against a river current. They do it yearly to spawn but you can’t help but wonder why they do it. Only a few make it. The odds are so against them. Why not “swim with the current” and get there faster?
That’s the question I ask when I encounter business executives who resist the new social web. These are the executives who know social networking is here to stay but think it’s a waste of time for them and their employees.
Business executives who abstain from engaging their buyers on the web where their buyers want to be engaged are risking their future. If their employees get it, it’s only a matter of time before they seek employment elsewhere, or worse yet their competitors will engage their customers in the culture of the social web and capture market share.
If Thomas Jefferson had access to the Internet I don’t think he would’ve abstained from using it to write and distribute the Declaration of Independence ahead of time. I bet it would’ve gone viral. Don’t you?