Organizations Don’t Tweet – Review

Managers’ authority is being replaced by the need to influence, so how will they manage in the future? How do you manage online environments and encourage them to be a productive use of people’s time? Being obsessively interested in what people are doing and asking great questions is the way to help steer their collective energy towards successful outcomes.

The title, Organizations Don’t tweet, People Do – A manager’s guide to the social web by Euan Semple pretty well describes this book. If I could recommend just one manager’s guide to dealing with the network era, this would be it.

Euan is one of those on my short-list of must read blogs, and I was most pleased when Wiley sent me a copy of his book. It covers the full gamut of what is becoming known as social business, from work literacy to collaboration and innovation. Each chapter is short and focused and usually includes anecdotes from Euan’s many years of experience. In spite of the title, this book is not about Twitter, but it is a manager’s guide to the social web, and would be a valuable to asset to every organization I have ever dealt with.

If you only read each chapter summary, this book will still be an excellent performance support tool for managers. Euan and I share similar perspectives, such as democracy in the enterprise or workplace transparency, so it’s not surprising that I liked it so much. However, I think this book has great value for anyone dealing with enterprise social media or becoming more collaborative as an organization.

Chapters like Dealing with a Boss who Doesn’t “Get It” or Heading Into the Great Unknown offer practical advice that can be applied right away. This is not management theory, it’s hands-on. Since the topic of return on investment often comes up from some detractors of social business, here are excerpts from Back to Front ROI.

Quantifying the return on investment on anything to do with increasing intangible assets has always been difficult and social media is no different. But what if we are asking the question back to front?

… In fact I was once offered a Scotsman’s tip on ROI – keep the “I” really small and no one will give you hassle about the “R”.

… As a final resort, consider turning the ROI question on its head. Given that it appears inevitable that the web and social tools are going to become an even more significant part of how we do things, instead of asking me to justify the ROI of encouraging this process – justify to me the ROI of stopping it.

With 45 chapters and 266 pages, there is a lot of good information and shared knowledge in this book. I know I will refer back to it for my client-related work. This book can be read in order or haphazardly by individual chapters, obviously informed by Euan’s hyperlinked writing for the past decade. The book closes with Chapter 45, A word or two on love,  a reprint of the blog post Euan wrote in 2006 as he left his job at the BBC:

Maybe love does have a place in business after all. Maybe more and more of us will start to have the courage to begin to talk about what really matters to us about work and our relationships with each other and to push back the sterile language of business that we have been trained to accept. Maybe we will realise that accepting love into the workplace reminds us of the original purpose of work – not to maximise shareholder value but to come together to do good things, to help each other and hopefully to make the world a better place.

9 Responses to “Organizations Don’t Tweet – Review”

  1. Dan Pontefract

    The book is great. I’m right with you Harold.

    People like Euan (and yourself) have the luxury of writing 100% honestly than, perhaps, folks like me.

    Chapter titles like, Dealing with a Boss who Doesn’t “Get It”, is a perfect example.

    That’s why my ‘must read’ blogs include smart people like you, Euan, etc.

    Keep it coming.

  2. Tim Harrap

    Without doubt Euan has captured the essence of the current work place dynamics by crafting a book which has “heart” as it’s central theme – taking in, refreshing, and feeding out a new. What a great toolkit.

  3. Brian Gray

    In keeping with the preamble to this review, I think that Semple’s key insight is that managers’ authority is being replaced by the need to influence.  Throughout the book Semple delivers useful guidance to leverage social media to achieve just that.

    My one criticism of the book is Semple’s tone and vision, which I would classify as idealistic, and overly so to boot.  Perhaps Semple takes extreme positions as a counterbalance to the other extreme of organizations prohibiting the use of social media altogether or viewing them as a huge waste of time.  Not everyone will capitalize on the promise of the social web because they do not have the capacity, desire or personality to engage and share experience, and organizational structures may not be flexible enough to bear the strain of new ways to communicate to drive action.  These circumstances are not likely to change any time soon, a fact acknowledged by Semple when he indicated that he thought it would be fifty years before the full consequences of the web are reflected in our institutions and society at large.

    All that said, Semple’s book is a must-read for managers, particularly those struggling with making sense of the social web and how to capitalize on it to make organizations and staff more productive, and to improve the work experience.

  4. Joe Parkinson

    After seeing the review I decided to get the book and I was glad I did. It has been helpful with providing thoughts that I have used to help start shaping change where I work. I believe the book’s great strength is to get people thinking about the change that is here, as well as the change that is coming.

    Thanks for the review.


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