Riding the Wave

Catching the wave
Image by: Eric Ziegler

Since a recent vacation to Virginia Beach, I have come to realize the similarities between the fun I had with my family and the approach I take in my current job.  While at the beach, I am not someone that just sits on the beach and soaks up the rays, but rather I go down to the water and hang in the water for hours on end, playing with the kids, body surfing and riding my body board. Over the years, as the kids have gotten older, they have shown more and more interest in riding the waves, just as dad does.  This year was a banner year (and I expect them to continue to enjoy riding the waves). The were more interested in riding the waves and trying to figure out which wave was best to ride.  

I encourage them a great deal - helping them in different ways so that they can really enjoy riding the waves rather than just getting frustrated. With my kids, I took the opportunity to teach them the tricks of the trade on how to catch a wave, teaching them how to body surf and body board.  I taught them how to pick the best wave to ride, which included teaching them how to tell if a wave approaching was good or not and then teaching them how to determine where the wave is going to break. 

As with anyone learning for the first time, they were not successful the first time (or the second or the third ...).  Every day as we played in the water, they were learning and getting better and better at figuring out how to "ride the wave".  And when they couldn't get it after several tries on their own, instead of having them get frustrated, I helped out by giving them a helpful push to get up to speed, or a loud shout "NOW!"

My job implementing Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) solutions and enterprise collaboration parallels my interactions with my kids.  What I find is that employees don't know how to "read the waves".   They are often interested in collaborating and using the E2.0 tools, but they don't know how, when, or which wave to jump on.   Not all E2.0 tools are meant for all business areas, just as every wave is not meant to be ridden.  That is why having someone consulting with different business areas are so important.  The businesses need to know how to start and when to start.  They need to have someone be patient with them, repeating what they are taught and providing that helpful push in the correct direction. Some businesses might be able to figure it out on their own, but the initial interactions is key. Teaching early and often will ensure they are successful.

It is important to remember that everyone is on a different learning curve.   For example, my son, the youngest, is able to understand what I say about the wave, and knows when to start swimming or paddling to catch the wave, but he is not strong enough, and requires that helping hand "push" to actually catch the wave.  Some businesses need that extra hand push to get started.   They require someone to say, "now" and then the extra push to make it real. But as they grow and learn and get stronger, they will be able to do it on their own.   And that is what my team is there for.  To provide them a helping hand, lending our expertise in helping to navigate which wave to ride.