I know we don’t need any more buzzwords, but at the same time, HR and corporate organizations really seem to hate calling their internal blog, wiki, networking and collaboration tools “Social” media. There is good reason for this as most organizations are not trying to encourage social behaviors at work, but professional networking, increasing connections, and sharing knowledge. The tag “social” just does not work. What it feels like to me is that these are just digital interactions within the organization, and that’s quite high level, but in addition to the word “social” I personally don’t like the word “media.” To me, media is old school – it’s what I do consume when I pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV. I know that in a strict definitional sense, media is exactly what blogs and wikis are, but media does not allow for the interactive nature of the technology.
A couple of months ago, I took a shot at defining Web 2.0. It basically boiled down to this:
- Web 2.0 helps us connect with each other
- Web 2.0 helps us deliver content
- Web 2.0 helps us receive content
- Web 2.0 helps us organize content
To me, the key is in defining the “us” in each of the above four statements. It strikes me that as I wrote these definitions, that “us” is ambiguous, and it is generally not HR as an organization. Instead, each of “us” as an individual in the organization, whether we are representing HR or not, interacts with all of these technologies that help us connect. This is important because we need to realize in a Web 2.0 environment, HR no longer pushes content out to the employee population. If we have an environment that fosters blogs and wikis and networks and employee status messages, and anything else, then the environment is one where each individual chooses what to pull in to their own span of attention.
HR’s role in a Web 2.0 world is to foster our talent by increasing the connections people make and helping them find growth opportunities on their own through those connections. But once we have enabled that, the employees are largely on their own to make it happen. Our role in talent is to make sure that our total employee base has the right skills and competencies to accelerate the growth of our companies, and once we have fostered a culture that writes blogs and wikis and shares knowledge, that knowledge generates itself through the workforce, not through HR. Our role in HR is to foster a culture where people are excited about continuous learning and have goals associated with learning and development, but it’s up to those individuals in a Web 2.0 world to actually subscribe to blogs and wikis in the environment.
Enterprise digital interactions is not a phrase I’m trying to use to replace Web 2.0 in any way – that would just be silly. However, I think it better describes HR’s role in a Web 2.0 world. It is a tool we can use as another enabler, but it is not our tool – it is the workforce’s tool, and we can only foster the right environment for them to want to use it.