Google CEO Larry Page made a bold move to encourage his team to get social. This is remarkable and the responses so far are surprising.
Probably the most remarkable aspect is the fact that a Fortune 500 CEO puts a stake in the ground and declares being social is a strategic objective of the company. While other company leaders even prohibit the use of social media, Page turns the ship around by requesting to be more social. Many people, including myself, predicted the same behavior like with Internet, Personal Computers or Telephones in the past: The new technology was banned because of the fear of distraction, companies even invested hard dollars to ensure the use of the new technology was banned – then a few years later the same people spend hard dollars to encourage their teams to use the new technology and catch up with the rest of the industry – nothing has changed.
Google was accused to be very non-social, not approachable and it was hard to do business with the company even if you wanted to. I feel it is a remarkable shift to require the team to do what the rest of the market expect a business to do. The sheer size of the incentive is remarkable in itself.
The responses however are very surprising. Obviously employees who prefer to stay away from the world, hate to deal with customers and rather be busy with themselves don't like it. There has been quite a flood of comments on the various posts so far. But what is really surprising is that even a blog like GigaOm states:
"Dear Google: You Can’t Threaten People Into Being Social"
How bizarre is that? There is a CEO who tries to fix something that is really broken and now that isn't right either? So what do you expect from a Google CEO to do? Just be an idiot so that others have a reason to hate them? Give me a break.
Those who decide to not care about social have obviously a right to do so. But as a company depends on being more social has the full right to motivate their team to do what is in the interest of the company. If this is no longer acceptable – maybe we read the history of Russian Economy between 1945 and 1995 – we are all equal and the government determines what we do.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press the privilege to read and write became everybody's opportunity. Of course many decided not to learn reading and writing.
Having "connections" was a privilege for the longest time that differentiated successful business people from the mediocre dealers. That has changed too. Of course, everybody can decide to not participate in the social shift our society is going through, but every business leader (at least I hope so) has the right to hire and keep teams that are best for their respective company.