It has all the signs…
Imagine a process, or discipline, that can call itself an “industry.”
For instance, let’s say there are a couple of factions in this emerging industry that are almost constantly at odds with each other. One side has always done things one way – the other side has always done things another way.
And a third group emerges – they have their own ideas, and they are dead set against the normal ways of doing things. They are the cowboys – and cowgirls. They are going to win the overall battle – because they’re the loudest and most boisterous. Not necessarily because they know the most stuff.
While they can argue, disagree and have spirited debates, it is obvious that, for their industry to be successful, they absolutely have to work together.
What Industry Am I Talking About?
The “Turnaround” Industry, also known as “Corporate Renewal.” Circa 1999.
I was there, in the middle of it all. I had a “cup of coffee” as the Director of Public Relations for the Turnaround Management Association, circa 1998 and 1999. And I watched this battle unfold – between three distinct groups that made up the membership.
Group One: Bankruptcy Attorneys. Staid and by the book, their mission is to follow the rule of the law and make sure that assets are redistributed accordingly. Don’t piss them off.
Group Two: Asset-based Lenders. They want to know two things: what do you have as collateral, and what are the odds you will pay back a loan. While you’re at it, don’t piss them off, either.
Group Three: Turnaround Managers. These folks were unknown a few years prior to my arrival. And there were a few “Turnaround Artists” who gave the moniker “Turnaround Manager” a bad name.
What is really interesting, as I think of the parallels between Social Media Marketing and Turnaround Management, is how there were no absolutes.
Really – it wasn’t as simple as ticking the Yes box next to “Did you turn that business around?” There was always a complex give-and-take between the groups.
And the objectives would differ in each case, meaning the strategy could be markedly different. Boil down turnaround management to its essence, and you get one of my favorite questions.
What business problem are you trying to solve?
Which is why it is an apt discipline to compare to Social Media.
You’ve got the three groups – Ad Agencies, PR People and Social Media Marketers.
They can argue and complain; they can claim that they were here first.
Or they can work together and answer the “What business problem are you trying to solve” question.
Go forth and turn things around.