Can you help me?

I’ve been re-reading Nilofer Merchant’s book Eleven Ways to Add Value in the Social Era. I love this book.

It’s about context for business in the 21st century, creating value via social connections beyond an organizational construct. The organizational construct is the hallmark of the information era, but gets in the way of the social era, she says. I could not agree more.

People ask me all the time if I will help them. About 99% of the time, I say yes. Helping others is my secret weapon to stay informed.

I continue to see examples of just how much organizational structures get in the way of how great business sharing can work. In some organizations, it’s about cross-charging for people time. In my view this can be eliminated with a bit of hard work on compensation. When people within  the same company have a bunch of different P&L’s to manage and each one hits different wallets, it gets complicated.

The natural urge and tendency to share and give time to help others gets disrupted. It’s hard stop being helpful, and wow, can a lack of help cripple an organization quickly. I know a lot of folks who have to account for time in a dishonest way because they spent time helping others, and it’s just demoralizing.

Ms. Merchant sees a day when companies will have to reconcile profit and purpose. I see inability to for many leaders (especially in marketing) to face the fact that NOW is that time. It’s not hard to respect, honor and reward the value of connected human contributors, in theory.

In practice, I see organizations that are still only crawling in an effort to move toward the constructs of truly allowing humans to add value in the social era.

How broken will business have to get before helping each other can become the only way to work?  Will business ever catch up to human nature?

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