The Social Gap Between Saying & Doing

by Jay Deragon on 09/27/2012

If you say one thing and do another you are considered hypocritical.

The use of social media by organizations accelerates the difference between what they say and what they do. The brands marketing message says ” our customers come first” while under their breath the employees laugh at such proclamations.

They laugh at the hypocrisy because they know what goes on behind the marketing messages, the company says one thing and does another. No marketing message or social media story can cover up what employees know about your company’s ability, or lack thereof, to live up to its story.

Behavior, character and purpose have all become transparent in an era where social means more than just media. Doing now means more than saying.

Nilofer Merchants writes in “11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era“: There are the things that we do. There are the things that we care about. And then there is the story we tell about it.

When those things are in full alignment for individuals, we say they have integrity. When we see them aligned in organizations, we honor their “brand” and “vision.” There is power in purpose, vision, and brand. On this theory, everyone can agree. An organization’s purpose allows people to connect emotionally, it creates relevance in the marketplace, and it provides the direction for what to do next.

Purpose is arguably what distinguishes successful businesses with exponential impact from the rest. Too many 800-pound gorilllas implicitly defaulted to “make a buck” as the thing they cared most about within the walls of the enterprise, but then told a different story to create market relevance.

The Social Era has raised the visibility of this gap between what organizations do and the story they (try to) tell.

Closing The Gap

The Social Era will reward organizations whose culture nourishes “connectivity” rather than division. Connectivity is no longer about “social networks”  rather it is about aligning the organizations purpose with “why” people would want to be associated with the organization.  The “why” has more to do with basic human values that create “real connectivity” such as character, purpose, beliefs and fulfillment.

The gap between the people and the organization isn’t about “what or how” value is created rather it is all about “why”. Why would any member of the human network want a relationship with any organization or person who says one thing and does another?

The heart of the human network simply has difficulty trusting anything or anyone who lacks consistency in behavior, character and purpose.  The only way to close that gap is to reduce the inconsistency of what you say as compared to what you do.

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