2 Years Building Political Support

April 24, 2015Comments Off on 2 Years Building Political Support

8 years ago, a digital consultant was hired by the United Nations to explain how we should do digital engagement. 

His reported explained we needed to merge PR and Fundraising into a new digital department, with a head of digital co-ordinating joint social media messages across all our platforms.

All staff needed to integrate social media into their roles. We needed to recruit a couple of new digital engagement specialists. 

I'm not sure anyone read more than that summary. 

A project like this would require the PR and fundraising teams to like each other, one of the department heads to cede to the other, all staff to find the time for something they didn't value (back then), and the hiring freeze to be cast aside.

It would require various people and departments with divergent interests to divest themselves of dozens of projects in the pipeline and focus on this. 

It would take 2+ years to gain the political support to make this happen. Another 2 to make it happen. Even then it would be hard to sustain that momentum with high staff turnover. 

My bugbear with much social business advice is it focuses on the ideal, singular examples, and not the harsh reality. It's never possible to transplant what worked in one organisation to another – the differences are too big.

What gained internal support at one organisation won't work at yours. Employees clash, turf wars are real, time is limited, budget is restricted. 

If you're going in to an organisation to build an internal community today, your job isn't to highlight everything they should do. They'll highlight why they can't, feel bad, and disassociate themselves from you.

Your job is to highlight everything they can do. Your job is to figure out what's possible. Your job is to nudge them, one step at a time, ever closer to the ideal.

You might just find, as you take one step at a time, momentum builds in your favour. 

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