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This is my personal blog which I began in February 2001. I called it The Obvious? when I wrote anonymously and chose the name to reflect the fact I have to overcome my inhibitions about stating the obvious!

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Immoveable objects

I am often asked by clients how to deal with people who block their attempts to bring the social web into organisations. I still have the emotional scars from dealing with the same sort of people myself, so I remember the feelings of frustration well.

I didn't understand it fast enough but the most important lesson I learned about dealing with these people was that they suck energy. By even dealing with them you give them power. Instead of focussing on moving things forward you get dragged into dealing with their resistance.

But remember you are not going to "convert" everyone and nor should you try!

The way to deal with this is to find ways to route around them. Isn't this the way the internet was meant to deal with obstacles? Instead of clashing antlers find a way, or more often than not many little ways, to allow them to keep thinking what they think but do what you have to do anyway. I always have the image in mind of nature re-populating concrete industrial landscapes. Roots and shoots emerging through cracks and weaknesses in the apparently solid structures and gradually weakening them until they crumble.

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Reader Comments (5)

You are, of course, advocating a form of corporate social jiu jitsu, eh Euan. I did just that for many years at Rocketdyne, but it is a little bit soul sucking. Two decades of pushing that rock uphill was quite enough for me. It's one of the many reasons I jumped at the chance to take an early retirement package. I do believe a change was imminent, but mostly as a result of the drastic changes in the U.S. Space program. Now . . . if only I can find a client or two who really want the rock on top of the mountain.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRick Ladd

Fine post Euan, and I'd love to see that metaphor in fastforward
Ron Tolido wrote a splendid post on the Business Prevention Unit (http://www.capgemini.com/ctoblog/2009/11/business_prevention_the_missio.php) which is well worth the read and laugh

Large organisations are like feudal kingdoms, scattered all over the place with fortresses so many that you can hardly pave roads in between. I see Social sprout those roots and shoots though, and slowly witness conscience surfacing in organisations again - slowly

On the pragmatic side: I use what I call "consequence questions" to lure those people out of their warm nests - "What if that would happen?", "What would be the upside to that, and what the downside?", or even "How would that harm your daily business or people"

Drain that energy back!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMartijn Linssen

I love the consequence questions Martijn. Bit like my previous post about the ROI of stopping social media.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEuan

Of course, this is not always possible. Sometimes there is no choice but to negotiate with those immovable objects. I find that taking small, palatable steps can help you achieve your outcomes - it just takes longer.

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGavin Heaton

Love the "nature repopulating concrete landscapes" metaphor Euan. Chris Corrigan and his crew at the Berkana Institute have been working on a model of 'emergence' that fits nicely with this - will share when you are in Melbourne.

Also reminds me of the Open Space principle 'Whoever show up are the right people' - work with where the passion is!

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Brown

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