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Euan Semple

Transformation or Tinkering?

This is the title of the talk I am delivering this week at HR Tech Europe in Amsterdam. It came from a tweet that I dashed off in frustration a few weeks ago: “Do you want transformation or do you want tinkering?” Why the frustration? Because there is much talk of the potential of social tools to bring about change in business, but not much evidence of real impact. 

Even if people have embraced social platforms, and appear active, a lot of the energy is still soaked up by “busy”ness. Reading case studies, choosing tools, deploying tools, measuring tools, writing reports about tools. But how much change is actually going on? How much have they got to grips with people? The messy, scary, unpredictable business of truly connecting with people and enabling them to really adapt and change often deeply held assumptions about work.

The real benefits of social in business should be huge. Not just a trendy new communications channel down which to push content, but a robust platform on which to have work-focussed conversations and get things done. Not just an “employee engagement” palliative, but something that has a productively disruptive impact on the business.

But for this to happen, people have to want it. They have to understand what they are getting themselves into. They have to be willing to give up their familiar ideas of work and embrace something radically new. This is especially true of those promoting the use of these new tools.

Too often, when I ask clients how their social media platforms are doing in their organisations, there is the following exchange: “No one is using them.” “Are you using them?” “No I am much too busy.”

The sort of profound change we are looking for in our workplaces happens one person at a time, one conversation at a time, and for their reasons not ours. This calls for a different approach to management and a shift in our understanding of work. This doesn’t just happen. It takes real work. It IS the real work.

To find out more follow #HRTechEurope or say hi to @euan or @contentqueen at HR Tech Europe this week. If you’d like to talk about how we can help your organisation benefit from more social and collaborative ways of working, email



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