You know the saying, you can tell a lot about a person by the shoes he/she is wearing? This is how I feel about glasses. You can tell a lot about a person by the frame of their glasses or whether they are wearing readers versus prescription. I have waited a lifetime for glasses to be cool. With the exception of two years in high school, I have worn glasses for 25 years. The majority of those years, glasses were not hip and associated with being a geek and definitely not a member of the cool crowd. Picture a mini-Lauren with red Strawberry Shortcake glasses half the size of her face. ‘Coke Bottle Eyes’ was the nicest name ever associated.
Over the years, I embraced wearing glasses and started to think of them as my defining accessory. I fondly recall my circle tortoise frames and my Kennedy wannabe glasses. The specs evolved into more than just an accessory. They became the centerpiece, the foundation, of each outfit. I now have eleven pairs of glasses to suit my mood and any agenda. While I am happy glasses are now cool, the hipster look does not appeal to me. Folks are trying too hard. This is exactly what I see reflected in the policy and processes of many organizations. They have these things in place because they are cool and shiny. And just like the hipsters and their specs, most only have the frames and no lens or identified need.
Lens one? Or lens two?
There is no such thing as social media/community lite, but your organization does need to understand why you have the digital assets you have or plan to deploy, how you will participate, and the impact of engagement. Do you need to hunt out the ideal frame for a prescription pair of glasses or will readers suit your need? Identifying your governance architecture and corresponding resources is the only way to determine the framework of the foundation your organization requires. Near sighted? Far sighted? You have to factor the time frame, social media/community maturity and how your initiatives align with the cultural roadmap of your organization.
Last year, I bought a pair of zebra striped cat eye glasses. They are one of a kind, hand-painted frames. I didn’t ask how much they were. I spotted them in the window of the store, tried them on, and five minutes later I handed over my credit card. The frames screamed my name and there was no turning back. The policy and processes of your organization need to scream the name and culture of your organization. Policy and process copied and pasted from another organization’s copied and pasted policy and process will never work in your organization because it does not mesh with the style of the culture. The frame, the foundational elements, should reflect the company mission, vision and values. If that means a pop of color or horn rimmed specs, you need to adapt.
Glasses are an investment. There are so many options to choose. Lighter lenses. Coated lenses. Tinted lenses. The possibilities are endless. Once you have gone through the effort of choosing the style, you want to ensure the fit on the glasses are snug, but don’t pinch the back of your ears. Do the lenses slide down your nose because the weight of the lenses? Are the frames level with your field of vision? The organization needs to test out the policy and processes for the same fit concerns. These foundational elements are not meant to be static, but living, breathing documents, that will expand and contract with the needs and maturity of the strategy and initiatives. Just as you take your glasses into the shop to have the fit adjusted or polished, build in a quarterly review of your organization’s policy and processes.
Embrace who you are as an organization and let the mission, vision and values reflect in each and every aspect of participation on and offline. You may be called names, but you won’t be faking who you are at the core.