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Like Minds 2010: Permission to act

by Molly Flatt on 01 March 2010

Like Minds 2010 was such an inspiring and idea-packed event that it’s difficult to restrain my thoughts to the short form of a blog post. James and I headed to Exeter on Thursday night and spent the next three days with some of the most articulate and innovative folk working with brands in the social space.

At Friday’s conference, James was part of a panel discussing the controversial ‘How can dying business models innovate through people-to-people?’ and I joined Chris Brogan, Trey Pennington, Kate Day and Kristian Carter to debate ‘Where are the forward thinking organisations going next?’

James on the far left. Photo via Britt_W @ Flickr

Me gabbing. Photo via Ben Ellis @Flickr

Friday’s six excellent keynote speakers (Jon Akwue, John Bell, Jo Jacobs, Olivier Blanchard, Yann Gourvennec and Chris Brogan) each had a unique perspective on the challenges and possibilities of social tools and approaches, but one phrase really stood out for me – permission to act.

One of the themes across the presentations, panels and audience discussions was social media policies: how to regulate, guide or support employees’ use of the space so it becomes an asset and not a liability.

Now, I’ve crafted a few fairly detailed policies for our clients in my time, and I’ve written before about the need for basic regulations and protective processes. But as the conversation developed I discovered that I feel more strongly than I had previously suspected that policies simply don’t work. No-one reads them, and even worse, they exempt people from feeling that they have to think and make judgement calls for themselves.

John Bell‘s emphasis on training (Ogilvy employ an admirable judo-belt rating system) really hit a chord. Experience is so much more effective than explanation. And Olivier Blanchard emphasised how businesses must empower every department to have their own training and evaluation programme so the strategy and execution is custom-fit and sits in the context of a close, evolving team.

It all reminded me of Samuel Beckett’s adage ‘fail better.’ We need to allow employees the freedom to act, and yes, sometimes fail, in the space. A twenty-page policy won’t help. What will is provision of a framework whereby those failures are shared and discussed, so they can become valuable drivers of change and growth.

James blogs with a view from Bovey Castle via Flickr

On the Saturday James and I headed to the beautiful Bovey Castle for the Like Minds Summit, an intense and intensely rewarding two days with nine social opinion leaders from both agencies and brands. I can’t tell you much about it here (and that is very hard for me to do!) because a forthcoming white paper will be distilling the discoveries and best practices we thrashed out over scones., but you can get a sense of the atmosphere from this interview with me Trey filmed on Sunday. More to come as soon as we can share.

A big heads up goes to Scott Gould and Drew Ellis for impeccably organising the whole thing. And now I’m looking forward to the really exciting stuff as we all continue the conversations started at Like Minds over the following weeks. Jump in…

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