The PEMBAway: Taking Our Showers In Niagara Falls

Next in our series of posts leading up to our OIA Outdoor University seminar on August 18, in which we discuss some of the methods and practices that make us who we are. In this one, we make a case for social communications, and water.

“We do have an account and we check it once per week or so, but so far we don’t see it as a valid way to get anything done.”

- Marketing Report, Major American Outdoor Industry Brand, circa 1996, regarding E-MAIL.

Yep, I was there. I heard these words. I saw the whole room nod in agreement and understanding, and then they went on to the next topic. I’m an early adopter, granted. But we were talking about E-MAIL. How could a room full of professionals not see it – from the start – as a fundamental change in the way that we communicate? I mean, how on earth did we get anything done before it existed?

E-mail is so ubiquitous that it seems as if it has always been here, but this is not the case. There was a point in our collective histories where it did not exist. There was a point not that long ago where we all picked it up and started to use it regularly.

(And then it took over our lives, but that’s another story…)

It seems that we’re at that same crossroads now in regard to what I’m going to call social communications.

For the first time since our ancestors left the campfire circle, we’re not limited to the page or the box in our efforts to engage with other humans. And, maybe for the first time ever, we’re not limited by time nor space in our interactive communications, either. We don’t have to gather wood, build fires, assemble the tribe, and tell stories to get the message out. We don’t have to sit down and write a letter, and wait for a return response. We don’t even have to sit in front of a box at a desk, or talk into a curved tube. The rise of social communications is by far the most freeing thing that has happened to our species since – dang – we started to dress ourselves.

But many folks see social communications as just one more thing to do instead of a whole new way to do things. For as many people who are diving in and using these new tools, there seem to be legions more who are holding back:

“It’s a fad.”

“Nobody important is using it.”

“There’s no way to use it to get real work done.”

“It’s gonna go away, mark my words…”

In these past two years, some of the most challenging conversations I’ve had as a professional have been in regard to social communications. People don’t believe in it, as fervently as they don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, or Universal Health Care. I’ve seen busy professionals, maxed to the gills, completely melt down (yes, to the point of tears) because of the idea that they had to master and integrate “one more thing.”

But what if it’s the one thing that frees you from having ever again to master one more thing?

At PEMBA, we’ve been using social communication tools and methods now for two years. Here’s what we’ve learned: We can communicate and engage with more people more effectively, in less time than ever before; we have a broader reach, we gain greater insight, get quicker feedback, and know more people who can help us get things done. At the same time, we have distilled the overall volume of communication that we as individuals have to assimilate on a given day.

Sound good? We think so.

Sound like voodoo? I don’t blame you if you think so.

We’ll go through the mechanics of the social communication tools we use and how we use them in a later post. We’ll also go through some of our methods in detail and offer case studies during our OIA Outdoor University webinar on August 18.

For now, consider Niagara Falls: Up to six million cubic feet of water flows over Niagara Falls every minute. I don’t know much about water, but I do know that there is no metaphor large enough to contain how much water this is. The best metaphor for Niagara Falls is – well – Niagara Falls.

For most of us, Niagara Falls is also a pretty good metaphor for our electronic communications. We’re crushed under the weight of e-mail, voicemail, instant messages, texts, and the like. The thought of adding more volume to this already overwhelming flow makes as much sense as trying to take a shower under Niagara Falls.

“I’d be CRUSHED!”

But we humans have mastered water, the most powerful force on earth. When combined with wind, water creates hurricanes that can wipe out cities; when combined with gravity and time, it can carve out a Grand Canyon of stone. But every day, most of us wash with it, drink it, deposit our wastes in it; we have it readily available by temperature, volume, location. If water is not within arm’s reach at any given moment, for most of us it’s no more than ten minutes away, most of the time. We can get wet when we want to and stay dry when we must. Water is as readily available to us as – well – water.

The same methods that humans use to master nature’s most potent force help us at PEMBA to manage our social communications. We parse tremendous volumes of it into channels, and from there into pipelines, which we ultimately bring to wherever we want it, whenever we want it, with a select few faucets. We can turn it on and off at will, find a temperature to our liking in an instant, and – unlike most faucets – we can even send things back up the pipeline.

Some – maybe most – who are reading this understand already. For those who don’t, we’ll go through the mechanics of plumbing a social communications pipeline in another post, soon.

Until then: Don’t be afraid to get wet. Dive in, the water’s fine.

For the first time since our ancestors left the campfire circle, we’re not limited to the page or the box in our efforts to engage with other humans. And, maybe for the first time ever, we’re not limited by time nor space in our interactive communications, either. We don’t have to gather wood, build fires, assemble the tribe, and tell stories to get the message out. We don’t have to sit down and write a letter, and wait for a return response. We don’t even have to sit in front of a box at a desk, or talk into a curved tube. The rise of social communications is by far the most freeing thing that has happened to our species since – dang – we started to dress ourselves.

But many folks see social communications as just one more thing to do instead of a whole new way to do things. For as many people who are diving in and using these new tools, there seem to be legions more who are holding back:

“It’s a fad.”

“Nobody important is using it.”

“There’s no way to use it to get real work done.”

“It’s gonna go away, mark my words…”

In these past two years, some of the most challenging conversations I’ve had as a professional have been in regard to social communications. People don’t believe in it, as fervently as they don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, or Universal Health Care. I’ve seen busy professionals, maxed to the gills, completely melt down (yes, to the point of tears) because of the idea that they had to master and integrate “one more thing.”

But what if it’s the one thing that frees you from having ever again to master one more thing?

At PEMBA, we’ve been using social communication tools and methods now for two years. Here’s what we’ve learned: We can communicate and engage with more people more effectively, in less time than ever before; we have a broader reach, we gain greater insight, get quicker feedback, and know more people who can help us get things done. At the same time, we have distilled the overall volume of communication that we as individuals have to assimilate on a given day.

Sound good? We think so.

Sound like voodoo? I don’t blame you if you think so.

We’ll go through the mechanics of the social communication tools we use and how we use them in a later post. We’ll also go through some of our methods in detail and offer case studies during our OIA Outdoor University webinar on August 18.

For now, consider Niagara Falls: Up to six million cubic feet of water flows over Niagara Falls every minute. I don’t know much about water, but I do know that there is no metaphor large enough to contain how much water this is. The best metaphor for Niagara Falls is – well – Niagara Falls.

For most of us, Niagara Falls is also a pretty good metaphor for our electronic communications. We’re crushed under the weight of e-mail, voicemail, instant messages, texts, and the like. The thought of adding more volume to this already overwhelming flow makes as much sense as trying to take a shower under Niagara Falls.

“I’d be CRUSHED!”

But we humans have mastered water, the most powerful force on earth. When combined with wind, water creates hurricanes that can wipe out cities; when combined with gravity and time, it can carve out a Grand Canyon of stone. But every day, most of us wash with it, drink it, deposit our wastes in it; we have it readily available by temperature, volume, location. If water is not within arm’s reach at any given moment, for most of us it’s no more than ten minutes away, most of the time. We can get wet when we want to and stay dry when we must. Water is as readily available to us as – well – water.

The same methods that humans use to master nature’s most potent force help us at PEMBA to manage our social communications. We parse tremendous volumes of it into channels, and from there into pipelines, which we ultimately bring to wherever we want it, whenever we want it, with a select few faucets. We can turn it on and off at will, find a temperature to our liking in an instant, and – unlike most faucets – we can even send things back up the pipeline.

Some – maybe most – who are reading this understand already. For those who don’t, we’ll go through the mechanics of plumbing a social communications pipeline in another post, soon.

Until then: Don’t be afraid to get wet. Dive in, the water’s fine.

2 Responses to The PEMBAway: Taking Our Showers In Niagara Falls

  1. avatar Brad Werntz

    Seems as if somebody else was up late last night, blogging about similar issues: To put a finer point on this very topic, check out Olivier Blanchard’s piece When we were social: Proxy Medium Darwinism 101.”

  2. avatar Brad Werntz

    Here’s another recent article on excuses that small business folk use to avoid diving into social media, this time from Inc magazine.