Friday, May 18, 2012

What "Professional" means in the age of Social Media

A new definition of professional behavior is developing in this social media-driven world. I think the table below captures the dynamic clearly. Where do you see yourself on the continuum of professional behavior? Are you leading the pack, keeping up with developments. or lagging behind? What does this changing dynamic portend for our country, our economy, our families?

Original table appears in the Harvard Business Review Blog

How clearly one sees the divide between Old and New professional behavior might be a function of one's age and experience. In my personal case, as a field grade Army officer, I am positioned between the younger company grade Captains and the more senior General Officers. In my observation, junior officers uniformly exhibit the New Professional ethic. What is interesting to me is that the Army is so resilient and so adaptable, that the majority of General Officers are also embracing social media. The Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Ray Odierno, tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook. 

Where I see a rub is in some of the old-school field grade officers, who mistrust social media--and often fer very good reason! They prefer secure email for a private, auditable record of communication. I get that. With all of the privacy concerns surrounding unwelcome advertisements via data hounds supporting Facebook and Google, I certainly get that.

My perspective as a career Army officer is one dimension of the professional divide. I am also a family man, so I think a personal divide applies. I am a Dad to two teen-aged daughters, with whom my primary means of communication is the sound-bite of an SMS text message: the kind one must delete daily to prevent one's phone from "clogging up." How impersonal and remote that feels to me! At the same time. I have parents who prefer phone calls, so I call my folks who never text and text my kids who never call, and spend the rest of my time in the in-between. 

If you follow that generational communication trajectory I just laid out, where does it lead? What does it portend for our country, our economy, our families--our world?    

I have no clear predictions to offer but my thought is this: I aim to remain relevant. I see the decision to stop at least trying to keep up as akin to death. Everything living changes. 

Please read Allison Fine's excellent blog post HERE

H/T: Scott over at Nestler Analytics.