Accountability and Being Thrown Under the Bus

It's fascinating.  Depressing, but fascinating.

As I sit and watch the UK Parliamentary hearings of the Home Affairs Committee, it's amazing to watch the genteel way that those who know how to play the game so willingly throw their colleagues - and others - under the bus.

The former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (aka Scotland Yard), Sir Paul Stephenson, did so by implicating - but never directly, of course - two of his former subordinates and, oh, possibly, the Prime Minister's senior staff.  Which, of course, keeps that key question alive of what the Prime Minister knew - and when - about those whom he chose to surround himself.

Next came Dick Fedorcio, the Director of Public Affairs and Internal Communications for the Met.  He's not famous or powerful so the Committee members felt free to make sure he stayed under the bus under which he had already been thrown.

Now, we have the previously highly regarded John Yates (aka, in his heyday, Yates of the Yard!) saying that he was no more than a "post box" in order to take himself out of the firing line from the previous two witnesses.

So much for having been seen as a hero.

In Britain, their use of the language is an art form.  Argumentation and debate, in particular.

But it doesn't matter.  Because throwing under the bus is throwing under the bus - and that's what everyone is doing to everyone else right now.  Which doesn't serve justice at all.

The phone hacking allegations against Rupert Murdoch and his News International organization are bad enough.  They caused this hearing to be necessary.  As a result of their reported too close relationship with the police, everyone is implicated.

Granted, a lot of people who should have known better made bad decisions - both public and private sector players.  But the decisions were made - and they're the ones who made them.

It's a sad fact that in the guise of "remorse," "hindsight," and "lack of knowledge" what we're really seeing is a lack of accountability by everyone involved.

And that makes trust harder to establish and maintain than ever.

KevJumba: Putting the Social in Social Media

Listen to the social media gurus - from Gary Vaynerchuk to Guy Kawasaki - and what you'll hear is that social media is all about building community.

That people are looking for connections. For purpose. To be heard. And seen. And acknowledged.

Why else would Facebook have grown to over 600 million users in such a short period? Or Hebbo at over 200 million, Bebo over 113 million - or China's QZone with over 480 million users?

Because in an online, disconnected world, people are looking for human connections.

Watch the social media space, however, and what you see is that - like any business model - it's all about converting those connections into money. Especially as LinkedIn set the tone for over-subscribed, high payout IPOs.

That's why, when a social media superstar like, KevJumba, answers the call from a socially conscious organization, like The Supply Education Group, you see the importance of how social can and should be social.

The Supply Education Group put out a YouTube challenge to KevJumba to teach a class in Nairobi, Kenya. Class 5, to be exact.

In this delightful video, you see the kids of Class 5 doing their best to charm KevJumba. And it worked.

Only KevJumba went one better. Not only did he do that visit - now, with his over 1.6 million YouTube followers in hand, KevJumba has committed to helping build a secondary school in Nairobi so that when Class 5 graduates from their K-8 school, they'll have a high school to attend.

Because at the moment they don't.

So, with that purpose - and making social truly social - KevJumba is asking his followers this weekend as he celebrates his 21st birthday to give $21 each to raise the $50,000 needed to build a school and create hope and opportunity for society's future worldwide.

KevJumba is giving back as part of The Supply Education Group's "Blessed to be a Blessing Campaign" and, in the process, showing just what social media can and should be doing for society.

So what is your social media strategy doing to help build society?  Think about it.

(An earlier version of this post was published on Technorati.)

Executive Messaging: Learning from the LibDems

As I mentioned in my most recent Newsletter, the British General Elections have been called and election day has been set for May 6th.  Now it's time to watch how the messaging is managed by the political parties.

This is always a good lesson for executives.  It's worth seeing how those who are spending inordinate amounts of money work to make their particular case - for themselves as well as for their party.

It's a vision thing.  Not just saying it - but helping others to see it.

It's also a values thing.  By going positive or negative, a tone and direction are set for where the constituency - whether voters or shareholders and employees - understand the enterprise to be going and how it will get there.

And finally, it's a trust thing.  Because when all is said and done, your people - those constituencies again - look to you to determine whether they can trust what you're saying and where you're taking the enterprise.

That's why the new ad from the Liberal Democrats is such a good example of how it's done when it's done well.

It's balanced yet hopeful.  The focus is on the Party's Leader, Nick Clegg, but the language is inclusive and the message is personally directed to the viewer/listener.  There's a sense of movement - including the way he walks through the "litter" of broken promises by the other parties - all going in a new direction.  One in which he is taking them.

It's also low budget.  Probably the biggest expense was getting all the papers all over the streets and then getting them cleaned up afterwards.  (I'm putting my money on all of it being recycled, too - even any computer generated litter.)

What's most important about how this was positioned is that it takes greatest advantage of the fact that the LibDems are:

  • the underdog party (third of three),
  • never taken seriously as a contender for leadership of the country (because the conventional wisdom has always been that it will always go either to the Labour or Conservative Parties), and
  • have a young, comparatively untried Party Leader going up against Leaders who are more experienced and well-known than he.
As a result, the LibDems had to nail a way of getting a larger population interested in doing something more and different than before - trusting in and voting for their Party.

You may have nothing to do with the British elections and even if you have no intention of doing a commercial or even a video-conference with your employees, this is worth the watch.  It's a great lesson in how to get your message across to your people that they're in the right place, that you're the right leader and that it is well worth their time, action and trust to follow where you're taking them and the enterprise.

Clegg and the LibDems succeeding in nailing how an executive can present him- or her- self as a trusted leader.  It will give you food for thought as you consider how you want to message the future of your organization to your employees and investors.