I have a tendency to automatically expect that I don't understand things. It seems to be my default position that other people really understand the underlying value of what's coming down the road at us, while I'm just picking up the pieces.
For instance, two Christmases ago my lovely wife gave me a copy of Douglas Rushkoff's "Get Back in the Box", a great book about the real value of being innovative around a business' core competencies, rather than just spending time trying to find ways to convince your market.
So I started to read Rushkoff's latest blog post. In the first sentence he invokes "Back in the Box" and my first reaction was "Oh God, I obviously didn't understand what he was saying. Not really, not thoroughly, not deep down."
"Instead of just buying banner ads or conducting new forms of computerized market research, many of these players are coming to understand that the Internet is a social phenomenon - not a content revolution - and that it offers the opportunity to connect to a real culture and its most competent members in a real way."
"Oh God," thinks I, "why is my initial reaction to that sentence 'what is the opportunity?' rather than 'well it's obvious what the answer is.' "
But then I read further and things started to make more sense. I thought about the kind of interaction and engagement Rushkoff has advocated for years; real, thorough engagement that isn't just a shop front for commodities, and I found myself falling into the article.
"Going “social” online means more than hiring a company to create a ‘white label’ version of Facebook for your organization to chat with customers, employees, shareholders, and others. It means understanding the real value of creating a “transparent” company; it means understanding why sharing and collaborating beat hiding and competing; it means learning to work with unfamiliar measures of success - like how many new unsolicited resumes from people looking to join you come over the transom, instead of just how many “unnecessary” jobs could be cut."
In the end the post turns out to basically be an announcement that he intends to start "practicing what he preaches" by joining a friend of his in a start up company advising businesses how to succeed in social media. The rest of the post however is a nice wake up call that reminds us that we're perhaps not as open as we like to think we are, or should be. It's also a nice reminder that I'm not as dim as I can sometimes think I am.