Published on: July 29, 2014by Michael Sansolo
It’s a number that never found its way into a single page of an eight-part report stretching hundreds of pages. Yet in many ways it may offer up the most insight on the world of change…
As regular readers of MNB know, I am research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council of North America, which just concluded a four-year study of social media. In the course of the eight-part report we examined countless angles on the world of social media from the very basics of what it is through the approaches businesses need take.
I’d like to think a lot of what the report contains (and you can download it for free here) is pretty significant. However, council member Jerry Golub of Price Chopper Supermarkets in upstate New York recently added one amazing finding.
Golub determined that only one member of the council was younger than any member of the consultant team we hired to do the study. In fact, that one council member was younger than exactly one person we worked with at the Integer Group.
And that matters. As Golub said, social media is a topic that required the wisdom of the younger generation. Keep in mind that social media, as we know it, is only 10 years old.
That means for most leading executives the incredible force that is Facebook or Twitter has only recently been part of their world. For many it is only something that came to the fore in the past four or five years and certainly isn’t part of the skill set any CEO developed in his or her rise to the top.
For younger staffers though, it’s been part of their world through college and into their first jobs. They are growing with it. There were countless times during our Council meetings when the personal experiences of our consultant team - whether their number of “friends” or activity on various sites - would take our breath away.
Golub’s point was dead on: in a new world, age and experience matter, but don’t outweigh everything.
Another telling example of this was offered up on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" a few weeks back, when correspondent Jessica Williams did a typically sardonic expose on the challenges African-American women have with their hair. The report was tied to a recent change in military standards that a number of black female service members say would make their life and hair impossible.
Now be honest: do you really understand this issue? Unless you happen to be a black woman, the answer is probably no. I know I never had a clue about this until a few years ago when an African-American co-worker detailed for me the painful process of getting braids sewn into her hair. My hair may have all kinds of on-going problems, but nothing compared to what she told me.
We live in such a complex world we simply can’t know everything, which annoys us. There was a time a top executive could have an amazing range of knowledge of the challenges facing all levels of the company. Not any longer.
Today there are constant technological advances that none of us can possibly track. And the increasing diversity of our society and our workplace means there is a growing list of issues that we simply cannot personally understand.
Our circle of advisors has to get broader, or our knowledge base will almost certainly get smaller.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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