Web 2.0 is part of the shift away from the dominance of the elite to the innovation of the collective.Social media is just that-social. Blogging, wikis, rating and voting systems are based on the idea that there is value outside the traditional channels of power.
Web 2.0 and social media mean that for teachers a declining part of their job involves telling. An increasing part is listening to the class and facilitating them in having conversations. Teachers should help moderate these conversations and draw new learnings from them. They need to say less of: 'let's open up a book.' and more of: 'let's open up a conversation.'.
The traditional manager is taught to command and control. Web 2.0 challenges that model. I have worked in many European countries. In Scandinavia, management tends to be very collaborative, but the further south you go the more the manager becomes a controller.
In some countries I have heard employees speak of their manager as "Sir." There is not much chance of Web 2.0 succeeding in such deferent cultures. It is, of course, hard to give up control. Even harder when your position brings with it such formal respect.
Companies are not democracies, of course. And social media will deliver little value if it becomes some giant water cooler conversation because not all the best ideas are discovered at the water cooler. Huge quantities of absolute rubbish are talked there too. So, social media and Web 2.0 are not a replacement for management decision making, but rather a support to make better, more-informed decisions.
The naïve tool-centric view of Web 2.0 still exists. 'Just give them the blog and the wiki software and get out of the way' has very limited logic. But it is classic IT-thinking. As if the tool was the be all and end all, and the only purpose of life was to discover the right one. As if it was the type of quill that Shakespeare chose that made him the writer that he was.
I have seen the sad results of intranets where anyone could set up a wiki or a blog. Sure, there were good ideas, but the intranet quickly filled with massive quantities of irrelevant and out-of-date junk. And I have seen countless failed attempts by government websites to 'interact' with the public by launching discussions areas that quickly became ghost towns.
So Web 2.0 and social media still need management. They rarely mature on their own. Discussions need to be moderated and channelled. Processes that allow the cream to rise to the top must be put in place. The bad ideas need to be weeded out.
But the managers are not the only clever people in the room anymore. The room is much bigger and it is speckled with cleverness. To manage in the Web 2.0 world is to converse, to listen, to be honest and upfront, to collaborate, to moderate, and constantly watch out for the trends and patterns that always emerge when many minds mingle and mix in the network.
About the Author
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.