My use of social media can, I think, be best described as naive but improving. The purpose of entering into the virtual world for me was quite specific. With others, I was beginning to apply the Vanguard Method in health settings for the first time and wanted to share learning and create curiosity amongst people for a unique approach to change that has evolved over 20 years of application in the private sector and 10 years in the public sector.
My use of #hcsm is fairly limited. I have a blog, a Twitter account and use LinkedIn, but that is pretty much it, although the blog does link to other Vanguard resources. The purpose of using social media was three fold:
- create curiosity in the use of the Vanguard Method and the changes that are being achieved
- stimulate a new and credible debate on how to address the pressing issues facing health systems in the UK and globally through a mixture of story telling and evidence of change within a strong theoretical framework
- provide some insight into how leaders might start to understand their organisations as systems and how, as challenging as it might at first appear to be to apply systems thinking methodologies there is a practical way to do this
What it has helped with is to create connections that previously didn't exist. I feel like I have made some very good virtual friends whose company I enjoy, even if I don't know them! Although I am aware that I tend to link with like minded people.
It has helped me learn. Both in terms of what is important to people and how they define what "good" looks like as well as the generosity with which people share their thinking and work.
It has also shown me how it needs tending and regular contribution to which can be time consuming. You can see how for some people it is a natural environment and how they can produce work of incredible quality. But better to turn up to a party with a bottle of wine rather than help yourself to what your host has to offer, even if you are not sure that anyone will drink it.
It has also proved to me that most people turn up to work wanting to do a good job, but the system often manages to prevent them from doing that. And I really like the fact that i can join in a conversation with anyone from anywhere in the world regardless of their position - an opportunity that is particularly helpful if you remember that the fact that you don't get a response is nothing personal.
I enjoy using social media. It remains a source of fascination seeing where in the world people are reading the blog and it has been an incredibly helpful way of getting almost instant access to a wealth of knowledge as well as insight into the pressing matters of the day. I also know that it is creating an opportunity for people to learn about a different way of doing things, whether or not it feels relevant to them.
But it doesn't change the fact that the best relationships are personal, ideally face-to-face and developed over time. For all the perceived benefits of being able to share and communicate with people through virtual media, actual physical contact wins every time in my book. The temptation is "digital by default" as it seems so easy. The reality should be "people on purpose" because that is what matters.