December 21, 2011

Life Without Rules

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled Lord of the Flies: The Business Model. Since then, I have recounted my theory on this countless times. It's the story of kids left on a deserted island to fend for themselves. At first, they are celebratory. There are no rules. And then anarchy ensues. We like rules yet we live in a time where some claim they own the rule book.

The premise is simple. The social web is a place where there are no rules or guidelines. Anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection – and there are now over two billion of us – can publish online content.

No, you don’t need to use Blogger, TypePad or WordPress. Comments do not have to be activated. You don’t even have to be on Facebook or Twitter. In fact, you don’t have to read another word of this post. You can just go do whatever you want to do.

The Choice is Yours

You can post content on your company’s website or send emails to anyone you want. It is completely up to you. Google+ will go on with or without you. You don’t need to listen to anyone. It doesn't mean anyone will listen to you but that's okay.

It is rather curious how much online time some people spend trying to tell us the way to do things. This is especially tricky inside a larger organization where the evangelists are screaming (not literally) down the hall for the company to embrace all these cool channels and tools.

People are Listening

Then you have the advocates who are beginning to listen to all this screaming. And somewhere up the ladder you will meet a wallet. This is where the toy may or may not be taken away. These are the people who may or may not agree this activity is valid but will ask very succinctly, why and how long. They want a return on this investment.

Business is not charity. Work is not free. Time is not endless. So in order for ideas, concepts and interactions to accelerate, you may want (not have) to build in some rules – your rules. It is strongly suggested (do what you want) that you create even a rough outline of your company’s digital engagement policy and a set of guidelines for stakeholders to uphold.

Company Rules

After all, you do have schedules and meetings, dress codes and client deliverables to manage. No matter if you are a kitchen table company or running a worldwide enterprise, you have to be accountable to someone. So it stands to reason, your deserted island may need some parameters.

Your rules may not be right for me and mine may not work for you. So instead of telling each other what to do, let's share best practices and see if we can both improve.

Does that sound like a plan?

Kneale Mann

image credit: bikingtoronto | original: july 2011
 
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