This was the headline to a recent story in Forbes.com. A reader followed up by asking: “If this is really going to happen, how will it affect the practice of change management /organizational development?”
Here’s what I replied:
Whereas it is true that nothing lasts for ever, it is also the case that rumours of the death of any channel tend to be wildly exaggerated. Just as the DVD hasn’t killed off the cinema, which in turn hasn’t killed off the theatre, so too is there a place for every communication channel. It is, as with most things, a question of what is the most appropriate in any given context.
With regard to company websites, they are continuing to evolve from basically electronic brochures to interactive sites that can be used both for sales generation and as a media channel. Where they are becoming less successful, however, is for conversations. People are leaving web sites and gravitating either to web space (such as Facebook) or to similar special-interest groups where discussions are focused on specific topics.
And to answer your question specifically, what it means for change management and organisational development is that people will use social media techniques and tools (whether or not they have been sanctioned by senior management) to share information and collaborate on ideas.The result will be a new workplace paradigm based on flatter, non-hierarchical structures where status is less apparent. Today’s citizen is typically a sophisticated user of technology. Just as they are using such tools to topple undemocratic regimes they may soon use them to impact behaviour within traditional command and control businesses. It could be the start of a real workplace revolution.