We have all experienced it: a meeting room full of people from sales, marketing, finance, support functions, suppliers, advisors, as well as the BIG BOSS. Most of the people in the room speak from a position of knowledge and awareness of the subject matter because they have been living the topic for the last few months.
On the other hand, “the Boss” has had a million other things to deal with and he only has a few minutes to dedicate to the topic in question. He listens for a while and finally shuffles in readiness to speak; the room grows quiet, the eyes turn to face the Oracle, he speaks, uttering a few unremarkable remarks and proffers his opinion.
Now, the race is on as to who will speak next in support of what “the Boss” has just said. One after the other, people who had differing view points suddenly re-articulate their views to make sure they are aligned with the Boss. The meeting concludes with the newly defined direction and the day is carried!
The Boss could be 100% right in his conclusions, he could have given a new insight that no one had thought of but; he could also be so utterly wrong! But who is going to say: “The King has no clothes”? That’s what you might call the “Power of Hierarchy”.
This is also true outside the corporate world; I am sorry to say. You see it on chat shows all over the world. Most of the guests are celebrities; nothing wrong with that, they can be highly entertaining with their singing, dancing, jokes and anecdotes. But, with full cooperation of the sycophantic host, they suddenly go off on a tangent and start to lecture on topics they are less qualified to speak about than your average taxi driver. The frenzied audience applaud their insights and astuteness! Recently, a young actress (we all know who she is) spoke at the UN about gender inequality and the newspapers went in to a febrile excitement about the things she said, which would have sounded at home in a school debating society. The “Power of Celebrity” and name recognition overwhelms the media coverage at the expense of the wise, thoughtful and pertinent comments of many more qualified people.
As for LinkedIn; on daily basis I get recommendations to read a stream of articles by mostly, yes mostly “INfluencers” and occasionally by electronic media savvy writers who manage to embed in their articles or the titles of their articles algorithm-catching words, names or phrases. When I go and read some of these articles, I come across some very good stuff, some average and some, quite frankly, are below average in terms of content, relevance or penmanship. Because of the biased promotion by LinkedIn / Pulse, such writers have readership that runs in to the tens of thousands, “likes” that run in to the hundreds, as well as dozens and dozens of comments which are often better written than the actual articles.
On the other hand, as I navigate round the otherwise excellent LinkedIn website, I come across really brilliant articles by relatively unknown writers with so much insightful and astute contents. Their readership however runs into hundreds at best because LinkedIn has not seen fit to promote their articles.
I stand to be corrected, but I rather doubt that staff at LinkedIn or Pulse actually read all incoming articles before they urge us to read some of them. They couldn’t possibly have done, judging by the shallow and anaemic contents of some of these articles.
Please do not run away with the idea that this is a case of sour grapes on my part or that I do not value what Jack Welch or Richard Branson and other business leaders have to say; on the contrary, I would travel far and pay well to go and listen to these incredible men and women, taking note of what they have to say. However, these people do not have a monopoly on wisdom and occasionally, just occasionally, they say things that are best forgotten. I suppose it is like our parents who often give us excellent advice and impart with words of wisdom. Occasionally though, our mothers and fathers come up with spectacular lemons!
So, editors of LinkedIn and Pulse, please make an attempt to read what the great and good are writing. Also, try and reduce the number of “prescriptive” articles which claim to give solutions to complex issues in 3, 4, 5, etc. easy tips; some of them insult our intelligence.
Finally, don’t forget that ordinary Joanna may have something worthwhile to say and her article should be promoted alongside Jack, Richard, Liz and Bill et al. Promote good contents irrespective of who the writer is.
LinkedIn is an excellent website; please protect it from going tabloid.
Can some one give me a hand down from my soapbox please?