For the last two years, I have done blog posts on what I call my anti-resolutions for the year. Many bloggers publish their predictions, personal resolutions and highlights around the end of the year. So I won’t. If lots of people do something, that usually is a good enough reason for me not do it.
Instead, I want to talk about my anti-resolutions for 2011.They are “anti” in a couple different ways. The main one is that these are not things that I intend to do, but are hopes and polite suggestions about other people. That is much easier, and an idea that seems to be catching on.This is also what analysts usually do; we rarely do stuff, but we comment a lot on what other people or organizations should do or have done.
Most of the resolutions are also “anti” because they describe something that I hope won’t happen rather than new things that should happen. I am generally not a negative person, but there’s a lot of undesirable activity going on out there. After reading this, please stop it. Thank you.
- Stop saying things are dead.
I thought that I dealt with this in a blog post last year, but it seems some people weren’t listening. Every week I read somewhere that Twitter is dead; Facebook is dead; Hyves is dead. Secrets are dead. About the only thing that can really be read from one of these pronouncements is that whatever is being discussed is most certainly not dead.
Concepts in the social media space rarely ever die. They get less popular, fade from attention, morph into something else; but rarely die altogether. Even if they do, it is tedious to talk about how something that most people think is popular is actually dead. If it were really dead, then no one would be talking about it anymore, now would they? It’s as if bloggers get extra points for being the first to jump on the coffin. I find it unseemly, as well as boring.
- Please don’t keep saying that microblogging is about telling everyone what you just ate.
I see this over and over again, that Twitter is full of narcissists broadcasting what they ate for lunch. This particular dig is usually a pretty good indicator that whoever says it does not use Twitter very much.
I cannot recall the last time I read about what someone ate for lunch on Twitter. I am sure that it happens, but if that is all someone tweets about, then they would be boring and no one would follow them. That is one of the best things about Twitter when compared to real life: it is pretty easy to avoid the boring bits. I don’t see those tweets because I ignore the people that I find boring. You should too.
- Stop assuming that everyone wants to use social media.
I have read several books and seen many presentations that enthusiastically proclaim how there is a huge pent-up demand for social media, that everyone is just panting to share, comment, tag and link.
It just ain’t so.
The biggest issue I see enterprises struggling with is convincing people to use these new facilities. They expected that once the facilities were made available, all users would grab them and run with them. Instead, they find that most people never try it, and a few kick at the edges a few times before going back to what they were doing. That’s because what they were doing is what they call “their jobs.” If it is not made clear how social media will make individuals’ lives and jobs easier and more pleasant, they won’t bother. Aside from the relative few who see this immediately, most people need a bit more guidance and cajoling. That’s the hard job in front of every social media proponent who wants to scale their projects beyond the pioneering Happy Few.
- Stop assuming that social media will change everything.
Too many social media proponents breathlessly state that nothing will be the same after the social media maelstrom passes over us; that the way we work, play, and interact will fundamentally change, that all of our processes and work patterns will be unrecognizable.
Ho hum. Heard that before about so many things. Didn’t happen then, won’t happen now.
Don’t get me wrong. I love how social media has changed how I work, and love talking about how it can improve processes, and the way people work. But it won’t change everything. Nor should it; it doesn’t need to. Quite a bit better or even a little bit easier is certainly enough.
- Don’t think that your biggest challenge is to get your chief executive to write a blog
Eager social software organizers often feel that if they can only get the CEO to blog regularly, then everything else will fall into place. Top-level validation and executive buy-in certainly can help, but if a senior executive needs to be convinced to blog, he or she probably won’t be very good at it. With a great deal of work, it is possible to learn to blog effectively, but it’s difficult to get your boss’s boss’s boss to do this. It’s usually better to get someone lower in the organization who is attracted to blogging and more likely to be good at it.
- If you leave me a voice mail, tell me what you want.
I know I will be having a bad day when I receive a voice mail that says something like “Hi. This is Mphrlwysiz Affmrrhl. Can you call me back when you get a chance?”
I am pretty sure that their name is not actually Mphrlwysiz Affmrrhl, but something phonetically similar. Now I have to figure out how to get back to them, and what they want. Since I am often calling while juggling luggage on the way to the airport, it could take several calls back and forth before this interaction gets completed.
I live my professional life by email. It is great at conveying information, and handling the request right away. With mobile email, I can do this on the fly as well. I understand, however, that some people prefer to talk to other people, to make contact, explain the context. Fine. Just tell me what you want though, so that we don’t have to bounce back and forth too long.
- “Lose” and “loose” are different words with different meanings. Do not mix them up.
Look them up if you have to: Lose and Loose
- Don’t leave obvious, essential features out of your product.
With my Blackberry, I had to choose between wifi and a camera. The iPad ships without a camera, on a device which is perfect for video conferencing. The rims for my snow tires don’t come with hub caps, so the salt corrodes them. Every device needs its own specific power cord and connector, and they never include extras.
These features are all so obviously desirable, why leave them out? I know what you will say “To get us to buy expensive ‘accessories’ and the next version when it comes out.” But it ticks me off. Please stop it.
- Stop saying that something New is no different from something Old.
I have heard it before. Email is not that different from a fax. Mainframes had email and instant messaging decades ago. You could buy stuff to be delivered from a catalog long before you could do so from an e-commerce Web site. A wiki isn’t that different from a Word document with revision tracking on.
Sometimes these observations are correct. But who cares? The truth is that e-commerce is creating millions of new businesses, and changing the way that people buy, no matter who did it first. Email shapes the way we work to an extent that faxes or telexes never came close to achieving. Tracing the roots of a supposedly “new” development can be interesting. Unexpected similarities can expose different ways of looking at new developments. But if the goal is to squash the new thing back into a corner where it can be safely ignored, please don’t.
- No one should “Reply all” to more than ten people.
Yeah, that would be nice. I live in hope.
I guess I must be grumpy this year, since I made it back to 10 anti-resolutions. Last year, I only could think of seven. Grumpy is no way to start out the new year, however. I certainly don’t feel that way as I start into 2011. I think it’s going to be a great year, although it could always be a bit better.
Happy New Year, everyone!