Facebooked?

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Andreas Nau: Once we’ve settled down and got used to it, all these fears and anxieties will vanish. Like “Oh, they can see my face! Oh, three people can’t badmouth a hotel that brings us at TUI 15,000 guests per year; three people are going to blast a huge hole in our income!” In my opinion all this is going to level out. We can see this happening now: in the beginning the branch was jittery about companies putting up rating portals in the Internet. But nowadays these portals are balancing out. It’s now the case that hotel owners and even travel organizers can post a rejoinder and in any case other guests post their own corrective comments to a bad review. I believe that the danger will regulate itself.

Klaus Doppler: But doesn’t that mean that when I open up an online rating for employees in my own company and say that in future management, collaboration and communication will all be rated by these instruments – doesn’t that mean that I don’t have to fear that every comment placed will be negative? Doesn’t that mean – unless I’m a real old bastard! – that things are going to balance out?

Andreas Nau: Absolutely. Unless you’re a total control freak and that species is certainly not extinct.

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Otherwise I think that these instruments give people incentives to take responsibility for what they say. If leaders are willing to listen to criticism, I think that this ability significantly enhances their position. People accept that you can make mistakes and are ready to listen … because you’re always stronger as part of a group than you are by yourself.

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Facebook is the perfect tool to get such a process rolling.

Klaus Doppler: By the way, if you allow in-house platforms, wikis or social networks in your company, would you write under your real name or an alias?

Andreas Nau: Both. I’d naturally hope that many people would write under their real names because then you’d probably have a direct opportunity to answer them and it would also show that you have a corporate culture where people don’t need to be afraid of speaking their minds. But obviously there are also a few things that you can be more open about if you’re writing under an alias.

Klaus Doppler: As we know, Mubarak was toppled by Facebook. What if you were to say “We’re going  to open a wiki about the role of management in our company.” Would the works council agree or would it say – sorry, can’t be done? Or would it say that it couldn’t sanction such a move because it would be a violation of personal rights?

Andreas Nau: That depends on the particular works council and how receptive it is to trying out new ideas. But actually it would help to develop communication between management and staff and even – why not? – with the customers.

Klaus Doppler: Do you really need to ask the works council in the first place?

Andreas Nau: I think the online platform’s a brilliant idea. I’d just go ahead and do it.

Klaus Doppler: Could you test what happened?

Andreas Nau: We sure could! We have monthly meetings with people of similar minds – let me put it that way. And in these meetings we discuss technical innovations and what needs to be changed. Earlier on   it was usually the case that we’d take these ideas to the top where we had real allies who believed in what we were doing – only they were powerless to actually implement. So at some point it all simply vanished from the agenda. Such a forum would be an ideal channel for spreading these ideas throughout the whole company and not just to one or two affiliates.

Klaus Doppler: That means putting on the pressure, releasing pent-up energy and seeing what kind of waves are created.

Andreas Nau: And perhaps then – no, not perhaps, for certain – some great business ideas would come out when people simply start to talk to one another. You can see this kind of thing happening in society and this is the direction we need to take with our products too.

Klaus Doppler: Opening up these floodgates is a fantastic idea! Some people of course are going to have a heart attack when the first postings come through! But you’ve just got to let it all take its own course and in any case such you always find such reactions in companies. And people will simply learn to live and deal with such an instrument. Do you know of any company in Germany that’s done something similar?

Andreas Nau: In November last year there was a meeting of the alumni of the Business Summer School where we discussed the case of Synaxon AG, based in Bielefeld. Their management team had introduced a wiki where everybody could put in their own ideas about reshaping the company.

Klaus Doppler: Right, even the most sacred hallowed company principles were not exempt from scrutiny …

Andreas Nau: Exactly – and it worked! Frank Röbers, their CEO, wondered in the beginning what the outcome would be … and right from the start everything went well. No misuse, open constructive criticism, high employee participation. All in all a very positive experience!



Leadership Must Walk The Talk!
(Martin Spilker)
A Wake-up Call For Despots (Lee Bryant)
Rien ne va plus! So Let’s Start A New Game! (Peter Kruse/ Thomas Sattelberger)

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