The uptake of Social CRM is not evenly spread, and the reasons for that got me thinking back to a day long ago and in a distant part of the world. I was university age, and had only recently taken a year off from studies that would eventually stretch to a four year break. I was on the edge of a large and serpentine outdoor market crammed with stalls filled with just about every fruit, vegetable and meat, and flowers and… well, the list is fascinating but likely only to me. It was early morning and I was indolently sipping thick coffee at one of the stalls. The owner, or his cousin, sat down next to me and we fell into talking about the long and protracted conflict that was then engulfing his land. In those days, 30 years ago or so, there was talk of a cessation of fighting and eventual peace. As a naive Westerner I asked him what he thought were the chances. He looked at me without hesitation and said that he, too, was optimistic that in 50 years there would be a chance for peace. When I saw that he was without irony or sarcasm, but instead earnest, I asked him, “Why only in 50 years?”
“No, don’t misunderstand, when I say ’in 50 years’ I am very optimistic. First my generation has to pass away, and then my children who grew up in war must grow old, and only their children who did not grow up in conflict have a chance to reconcile.” I’ve never looked at change management since then as anything but a long and steady arc, rather than a big bang.
When I am inside of organizations today, talking about Social CRM and integrated interaction channels, it feels like the business is in one of these protracted conflicts. The Old Guard covets their traditional market channels, marketing campaigns, and funnel-filling, and they see the modern day Jacobins as fomenters of trouble. (See the Reign of Terror if you don’t catch the reference.) The old channel masters own the majority of the budget, and have the deepest ties to the line of business heads.
Try this out: go to the head of marketing this morning and say, “Hey, Boss, I am going to focus on Seesmic to see if we can better understand our new campaign.” First, see if he/she can spell Seesmic. See if they have been to Seesmic.com (in case YOU haven’t, it is http://seesmic.com/) or have ever heard of it. The point is: they haven’t, and you are a threat, and they feel it even though you are a nobody to them.
So what is a body to do? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em. That is true about bedbugs. But for your manager, or her managers, you need to find great stories to help them ‘get’ what you are saying. My daughter always just grabs the iPad or whatever gadget it is away from me and says, “LIKE THIS. UHHHH.” And gives it back. Well, that is funny. But your leadership might need something more subtle. You know how to do it, but you chafe at the idea: Make them look REALLY SMART. It’s ok. Somewhere they know it was your idea. You will be rewarded. Or you will go somewhere else where innovation and loyalty are.
Take the long view, while taking many small steps now.