Brass Tack Thinking - Change Is Sexy, Until It Costs“I’d like to better use social to build my business.

But I don’t want to spend anything because we don’t have a budget, and we can’t cut anything else. I don’t want to have to hire anyone or spend any extra time on this, and no one else can take it on right now, so we’ll need to outsource it or perhaps put the intern in charge of it. We like our culture the way it is and don’t see anything wrong with it, and we’ve always done things this way so we’re not really keen to change any of our processes or people. Some rhetoric around developing a positive culture would be great, but we really don’t have any intention of putting any of that into practice if it involves significant effort or any kind of substantial change that might disrupt the way that we work or how we work with our customers currently.

So we’re really looking for some free strategy guidance, but we’d like to reserve the right to reject it outright if it feels uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We’d like some viral content that’s easy and cheap to create, and we’re really not interested in investing any time or people long term on this. Just looking for some some proven, guaranteed best practices that we can implement immediately, get immediate return on, set on autopilot, call ourselves “social” and not worry about integrating into the rest of our business because we’re looking for a quick win here that doesn’t really require much from us.

Can you help?”

I’m dripping with sarcasm here, but I’m not kidding about this being an amalgam of far too many of the discussions I still hear at events, or inquiries I get from companies that want to “be a social business” because they read it in their favorite business magazine or blog, but haven’t the slightest interest in doing what it might take to become one.

Truth is that we are adept at quoting business legends about the importance of change, of evolution, of investment and reinvention of our business models in order to stay current if not ahead. Until we actually need to do the work in our own organizations. Because it’s much easier to read about or talk about in a leadership retreat than it actually is to do, every day.

If you’re truly interested in evolving and growing your business, be it with social or otherwise, you will likely need to:

  • Spend money
  • Make personnel adjustments
  • Invest significant time
  • Manage difficult and long term change

Or all of the above.

We all want to be better at what we do. As businesses, we either want to grow revenue, increase value to shareholders, deliver better products and services to our customers, further a cause, or some combination of all of those things.That isn’t accomplished by some quick-witted Facebook campaign.

If a short term marketing gimmick is all you’re after, that’s fine (and it’s still going to require investment). But if you are really trying to adapt your business to the demands and pressure that social communication and culture is creating, and ensure that you’re integrating social horizontally as well as vertically, it’s a long-term play – think years, not months – that will require you to commit effort and resources, and embrace the discomfort that comes with change.

If those things don’t interest you, you aren’t ready to be a social business. That’s the uncomfortable truth. Change is a sexy idea, until it costs. But the result of that change is what eventually defines you and the future of your business. The companies investing in their business models will win, every time.

The brilliant news?

There are businesses doing this. One step at a time. With careful thought, evaluation, and yes, investment. They’re devoted to the future of their business, the evolving expectations of their customers, and the ever-changing culture inside their own walls. They’re working hard every day to understand the implications of all things social and ensure that they become part of the fabric of their company, not just lip service they’re paying to the latest fad. They’re letting social become the lever for true business model evolution that will carry them into a new era.

That means there’s hope that the discussions above, too, will change and adapt, and eventually disappear altogether.

There isn’t an easy button in the world that can do that for us.