Why Don’t They Get It?

by Jay Deragon on 10/24/2013

Social-Chasm-PostThere are those who believe that winning is a matter of being smarter than the competition. Smarter used to mean to be educated about business issues and having the knowledge of matters on business. Today smarter is taking on a new meaning.

In a connected world of rapid change the new meaning of smarter is knowing what matters. What mattered for a business to win in the 20th century was products, prices and profits. What matters in the 21st century is purpose, people and promises.

To be a smarter business in the 20th century you had to be good at measuring, monitoring and managing the tangible assets so they produced the desired results. To be smart in the 21st century you have to be good at learning to improve upon the intangibles by identifying, measuring and managing them according to the expected results of the stakeholders. The transition in the definition and meaning of a smarter business between one century to another represents the social chasm.  Crossing the chasm requires a change in beliefs. .

The difference in business beliefs represents the “social chasm“. The “social chasm” represents the pronounced difference of opinion, interests, and loyalty to an idea or belief. The challenge is helping leaders “cross the social chasm” is to convince them to believe in something they don’t understand.  On one side of the chasm are the tangible things and on the other side are the intangible things. The problem is business leaders have been trained to believe in results driven by old business models grounded in tangible measures and not a purpose or people and promises that produce the results.

Crossing the Social Chasm

Since the markets are still influenced by old business models everyone is trying to fit the current dynamics into those old models. The “marketing” gurus suggest that the common mistake people make when pitching a social philosophy to senior management is:

  1. Lack of strategy.
  2. Lack of vision.
  3. Lack of execution skills.

Notice that the above list fails to discuss having the wrong belief in what matters to the market. Why would you try to form a strategy without addressing the beliefs? How can you envision something of value if your visions are stuck in old business models or the wrong beliefs that no longer matter to the market? You can execute all day long but if executions are aimed at chasing the wrong things for the wrong reason then the odds for success are slim to none.

What most CEO’s believe is that adopting the tenets of a social business philosophy creates threats to “the corporations” power and control over people and markets.  Subsequently they look for ways to use social media to further their control and yet the “wisdom of the crowds” sees right through those beliefs and rejects  their media, the message and ignores their offerings.  Meanwhile word of mouth about their foolishness travels faster than the sound of a tweet.

The social chasm represents a large ravine between what matters to “the people” and that of “the corporation“. Crossing the social chasm is no longer a compromise for the people rather a needed shift in beliefs of the corporation and all it has believed for many  years. If you don’t think this is true just ask the people.

People are learning new things everyday. Business needs to start learning everything new. They need to start with what their purpose is, their people value and the value of a promise. Such things are intangible, identifiable, and measurable and they create all the results.  Get it? No then cross the chasm and you will.


Tim O'Guin October 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

I keep seeing young people think they invented some new social conscience and are completely replacing older recipes for success. Bullshit! New definitions(words/terms) for old ideas is not new ideas, but simply a rehash of the old with new words. Social media, in its evolving forms, presents an oppurtunity to innovate and lead as new devices always have created these oppurtunities! Big business has always faced evolving technologies and has adapted or suffered. Young people have always replaced the previous generation and some variables have changed with the generations. However, the same basic requirements for business success are still the same from generation to generation. You must have or establish a market demand for your product or service. You must maintain profitability. Business must remain ever vigilant of efficiency, market changes / trends and public opinion to maintain success. Social media began with the printing press and continues to evolve. Success in business still has the same requirements for human entrepeneurial qaulities , wether selling ox carts or solar panels and must continually evolve! Our tools keep improving, building on the advancements of those before us and our own contributions, but the fundamentals for success are the same, as clearly demonstrated now and always before! Only the foolish think they invented these things simply by changing the tools or words! I am not a fan of big corporations or beauracrats who work in business or goverment, they often suppress good people and good ideas, I fear that to some extent, this will always be with us, as a true expression of human nature bound in a system of feudality. Do some people in big business need to address how they spread their propaganda? You bet! Will that change any fundamental requirement for success in big business? Not likely! Some will adapt ,some will fail, but those who adapt to new media outlets, and the new mob mentality that will reguire new strategies, will still be bound by the need for profit and it’s requirements to maintain that. Chasm? Yes it’s always been there…. and always will be there! The mob gets larger, the market grows, the profits still must flow. Does anyone really believe that is new?

Bob Ashton October 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

Couldn’t agree more Ron, no matter from what perspective one is coming from modification to comply is the answer.

Olaf de Hemmer October 25, 2013 at 3:41 am

Toltally agree : welcome back to common sense and purpose in rational thinking and management !
A team of 19 specialists in every field of corporate performance, from strategy to purchasing, coaching … joined to publish a collective book t”Valeur(s) & Management” to present the methods they use to improve Value = stakeholders needs satisfaction / costs at every level.
A new (?) mode?of the corporation is available, and the tools to manage it are too.
Sorry in french up to now : valeursetmanagement.com
Very soon in english on w.a.v.e.s.com, for a Wider Application of Value(s) across the Entreprise System

Ron McFarland October 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm

The new model should not replace the old but support it. All that is needed is modification to match this new communicating environment. Ron in Tokyo

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