Coming Ready or Not: Social-Media, Crowd-Sourcing & Knowledge Management Strategy

A blog by Martin Erasmuson.

Linked is a fascinating Social-Media story about the on-going confrontation between authorities and Native Americans at the Standing Rock Reservation, on the border between North and South Dakota.  Regardless of your political leaning, or your support or opposition to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline behind the protest, Social Media has had a significant impact on events and ‘news’ coverage at Standing Rock.

Like me, you’ve likely not heard of the Native American the 1972, Raymond Yellow Thunder incident or "The Longest Walk" protest in 1978 (I had to search for ‘Native American’ incidents for these examples).  But if you’ve been following US news and/or social media, the current Standing Rock Reservation has been prominent; at least compared to past protests.

There are lessons here for most organizations.  Back in April I wrote a blog ‘Fire Extinguishers and Social Media’ where I discussed how most organisations are leaving their response to Social Media to chance, or it is reacting suddenly with into ad hoc action when something crops-up.  I’m confident that aspects of the successful Social-Media campaign kicked-off by supporters of the ‘Standing Rock Reservation Protest’ will become compulsory-reading for future KM and Comms students. 

This is another example of the dynamic, continuously changing landscape of the Knowledge Economy.  While the ‘We’ll see what happens’ approach might have worked in the distant-past (pre-2000), it is failing in the ‘Coming Ready or Not’ dynamics of the Knowledge Economy of the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution

Most 20th century approaches relied on anticipating or knowing what will happen, or what will be required and having the information or a contingency plan for that.  A key aspect of this emerging world is uncertainty and continuous change; no one has a clue what is going to happen.  This tends to be troubling for us ‘Baby-Boomers’ (born 1946-1964) or ‘Gen-X-ers’ (born 1965-1980) who are now typically in charge of the KM Systems and Communications Strategies organisations are relying on to adequately respond to that continuous change.

The ‘Gone-Viral’ nature of Social Media is now typical of the general business environment.  Rather than relying solely on corporate KM systems, organisations must create a culturefor discovery of the information they need, when they need it.  That needs to work in concert with deep agile capability to VERY quickly pivot resources to respond to (name today’s crisis here) along with a heuristic, ‘good-enough-is-perfect’ attitude. 

In many ways US General George S. Patton (1885 – 1945) was before his time.  He would have thrived today with his: “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week” attitude.  And his quote encapsulates the strategy today’s organisations must adopt to survive and thrive in an uncertain business environment.