Book review: “The Now Revolution” (by Jay Baer & Amber Naslund)

This is an interesting book, and if the Authors were ever to read this review, no, I don’t want my money back ;-)

The matter is laid out in seven blocks they call shifts, and the whole idea is to look at what you need to change in an organisation to make it compliant with this new reality of Social Business: Culture, Talent, Organisation, Listening, Response, Crises and Measurement.

I will say once for all, every time a management book touches on the matter of organisational transformation without the appropriate awe for the incredible difficult task of steering any sizable organisation from A to B, I am tempted to close it off, discounting it as superficial. This book is no exception, and while I found a lot to agree (NOT putting it down was a good decision), that is one major gaping hole in the matter, but perhaps it deserves a book on its own which my friend and Change guru Ralf should write one day.

This flaw apart, there is a lot to agree in this book, although as usual I am left with the feeling that it could be shrunk to fifty or so pages wihout loss of content, but this is criticism that is more leveled at book editors rather than Authors.

Shift 1 is about Culture: this is where I was left with a feeling of much of the Change experience missing – I liked especially their analysis of roadblocks (very, very true!!!) but there is no recipe for removing them in a large organisation.

Ditto for shift 2, Talent. It is laudable that they consider identification and nurturing of Talent a key priority (good read for any HR director) but I find myself faced with the real life task of advising clients (and my own organisation) on how to motivate, build career paths, measure performance and design development plans for what is rapidly becoming more than just a handful of kids doing cool stuff on Facebook or Foursquare, and I did’t find much on that.

Shift 3, Organisation felt half-baked: lots of good intuitions, even though I obviosly disagree on the role of agencies; some of the organisational suggestions IMHO would plain not work in a couple of Clients I know, but maybe I am biased.

Excellent chapter on Listening, I bet it draws heavily on ms. Naslund’ experience at Radian6, but unforgivable skipping over the most difficult task in Listening, which is the art of building the Ontology of any topic; granted, no automatic tool can do this for you, but without a deep understanding of how the Ontology is articulated out there, how can you possibly build ANY program that will work? The following chapter on Response is also very good, every organisation should adopt the Humanization Highway concept.

You can skip chapter 6 on Crises without remorse, nothing much to learn that my friend Crisis guru James would not explain in a hundredfold deeper fashion.

Totally, totally loved shift 7 on Measurement: refreshing approach, practical and down-to-earth.

Bottom line, this book IMHO touches on the right hot buttons, and addresses a few of them in a good way. However, perhaps the perfect book on those topics should be written by seven people, in a collaboration effort that draws upon 20 years experience managing for example Crises or Change, and distills that experience through the sieve of deep social media understanding.

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