The NYPD is the latest organization to have its eyes opened with a Twitter outreach campaign. #MyNYPD is the hashtag for their program asking visitors and citizens of NY City Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD?
Sounds great. I have seen authors do the same for readers of their book. Fantastic results.
Not so fantastic for The NYPD.
The department responded on Tuesday night with a statement saying that it considered the Twitter effort successful, if, for nothing else, as a way to provide a space for New Yorkers to communicate their feelings about the city’s police officers. Still, it’s hard to imagine that the department intended for this social-media-outreach attempt to be one that would challenge it to change its standing among out-of-power New Yorkers. via www.newyorker.com
I see many commentators say the program was flawed from the start. They list four or five lessons learned like Conflict is King.
Which is more interesting, a photo of two people shaking hands or someone’s face being shoved into a sidewalk? This question was either not asked, or answered incorrectly, by the creator of #myNYPD. Link
If conflict is king then why are kittie videos so popular on YouTube?
The creator of #myNYPD could have asked that question of everyone in the NYPD and never heard an accurate, in-touch, situationally-aware answer. Why can I assume that? Read the response of NYPD Commissioner:
“I kind of welcome the attention,” Bratton said Wednesday as the negative tweets kept coming nearly 24 hours after cops invited the cyber-submissions. “We really broke the numbers yesterday.” [Huh?]
“Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news,” Bratton said, tossing previous NYPD administrations under the patrol car. “They’ve been out there for a long time.”
Bratton offered one more caveat: “Often times police activities are lawful, but look awful.” - New York Daily News
“They’ve been out there for a long time.”
If pictures tell a story, then these stories have been out there for a long time, simmering and waiting to be shared.
Being fair we have to recognize that part of the role of police is to enforce limits and that always makes a percentage of people unhappy. It is a tough job. I admire them for their restraint and professionalism, day after day, in tough situations.
But this disengaged attitude of the Commissioner, the top cop, the one who sits at the top of this command-and-control hierarchy, radiates through the organization. It says We have the power; you don't. We make the rules; you follow them.
Again, I get it. Police. Enforcement. Not always pretty. Often times police activities are lawful, but look awful. That's where the pictures come in, telling the awful stories, over and over, for a long time.
They're not alone.
JPMorgan tried a similar campaign just after it helped take Twitter public. The hashtag was #askjpm. The purpose was to elicit career questions from econ majors among Twitter's users and Jimmy Lee, JP Morgan's Vice-Chairman, would answer them. The balloon of their arrogance or disconnect with the public was pierced by thousands of tweets. Here's a few favorites from this New Yorker article:
- “Did you always want to be part of a vast and criminal enterprise or did you 'break bad?'
- “Did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?”;
- “What section of the poor & disenfranchised have you yet to exploit for profit, & how are you working to address that?”;
- “Why aren’t you in jail for sending a literal ton of gold bullion to Iran in violation of sanctions?”;
- “When Jamie Dimon eats babies are they served rare? I understand anything above medium-rare is considered gauche.”
Their Twitter hashtag campaigns may expose the divide with its stakeholders in a more raw fashion but they reflect the same top down, we have the power; you don't. We make the rules; you follow them attitude radiates through U.S. companies.
Imagine your organization. If it's an average organization then 70% of you and your colleagues are considered disengaged from your work, sleep-walking through the day. Your going-through-the-motion performance telling your managers and executives Yeah, they're your rules; we have to follow them. That's all we'll do. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, imagine asking your customers to share their photos using your product or service. Maybe we'll put them on our Facebook page, you promise. What kind of photos would you see? Maybe no bloodied faces, shrieking in pain, but how many would end up on your company's Facebook page?
Their settings and context may be different but they will share the same theme: that's the same enthusiasm and engagement and passion and delight that you experience, are allowed to experience, as an employee.
These stories are already told in your financial reports in items like:
- customer churn rate rising,
- conversion rates dropping, employee turnover and hiring costs rising,
- revenue growth slowing
- COGS rising
- cash-flows dwindling
But you're cutting back on training 'cause that's an expense we can't afford if they're just going to up and leave ... so you retain the ones you don't train. Their stories are captured in the reports showing declining market share to a brassy startup whose employees are excited, making things happen every day.
Before you go boldly where most organizations, brave or not, should fear to tread, look at those stories being told each month and each quarter in your financial reports. Ask why. Then ask your employees why.
Granted, this may require an investment in time. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a corporate culture of acquiescence and subservience and disengagement and lagging results. And it will take almost as long to transform that culture into one marked by engagement, ownership, participation ... passing and leading results.
The first time you engage with an employee or a group of your employees will be an eye-opening experience. You see, their stories stored in mental snapshots and saved emails and anecdotes, have been out there for a long time. They earned the right to share them, once. You've earned the right to listen to them, once.
That's part of the engagement process few are willing to discuss. You can't move forward until you've acknowledged the past. Acknowledged not wallowed. And with the average company's disengagement scores at 70% ... there's a lot of past that must be acknowledged, quickly, if companies are to move ahead, grow and lead our economy forward.