I was out at dinner the other night with some ex-colleagues, and one of them, who reads here regularly, apparently, wanted to know how I actually find the time to maintain a blog. When thinking about the question, what occurred to me was that anyone not finding time to blog is actually doing themselves (and their organisations) a disservice.
As a side note, those who’ve been reading for a while know that I usually write on the Tube on the way to the Bank (via the gym, the other part of my early morning routine). Today, these words are coming to you from somewhere between Earls Court and Gloucester Road tube stations. Apparently, there is some kind of broken signal or something. Probably I shall have time to deal with my inbox as well as write this post.
As a second side note, and for international readers, I have to tell you that the London Underground (the Tube) is a fantastic thing. Being an underground railway, it is generally affected by snow in Winter (don’t know why), by heat in the summer (the rails bend),and by leaves on the tracks in Autumn. In Spring, you can usually get a decent trip out of it, if you’re lucky.
Anyway, regardless of where the time comes from, the question at dinner made me wonder whether people really understand the upside of all this effort online. For a conservative institution, all this social media is an internal game changer, and that is the real point.
For starters, this blog lets me reach out to other banks. I’ve had lots of banks come through to London to visit us, and the value of those visits is extremely high (for both parties I hope). A case study in my (forthcoming) book from Caja Navarra on civic banking would not have happened, for example, if this blog didn’t exist. They reached out to me to tell me how they’ve put the customer at the centre of their proposition in a remarkable way.
Inside the bank, lots of powerful people read this blog, for which I am grateful. Of course, I’ve been in trouble a few times with some of the things I’ve written, but here is the deal: through this blog, the bank and I can experiment with what is, and what is not acceptable in public social media. We are learning how to handle people with personal brands. And we have enacted various policies to govern how others can use social media as well.
And here’s another thing. There’s always this fear that whenever anyone speaks in public, we’re in danger of giving away the game to competitors. But I’ve found that when you keep things secret, it actually takes much more effort to get things to happen. Talking about things creates the reality. Doing social media has made a lot happen here at the bank.
Naturally, there’s a personal angle as well. Besides being highly rewarding, social media lets us – as innovators – avoid what I call the Curse of Incumbency. The Curse is the situation where stakeholders turn to outside consultants rather than relying on internal knowledge. There is quite a lot of validity in this, by they way. Consultants have the advantage of seeing how many institutions work. But through this blog, so do I.
I’m so surprised there aren’t more bloggers from banks. Perhaps the time is coming though. The reality is that doing this – as part of my job – makes my other job so much easier.