On Chilliwack, Strategy and Social Media

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“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu in The Art of War.

The city I live in, Chilliwack, BC, has announced that they are about to embrace social media. Ok, embrace may be the wrong word; they have announced a social media strategy. I looked at the strategy and couldn’t actually find the strategy. I did find a list of, perhaps not too well informed, tactics.

As Shannon Paul suggests,

• Strategy is not a plan
• Strategy is not a timeline
• Strategy is not a goal
• Strategy is not what tactics you will use to achieve your goal

Strategy is about vision and values alignment. A social media strategy needs to align with an overall communication strategy which in turn needs to align with a business strategy which in turn needs to align with the guiding vision, values and associated mental models.

It gets even trickier with social media because there is an underlying intention or driver with social media. Social media has created and is now driven by a web of inclusion philosophy and in that philosophy the key value is relationship building. Therefore a social media strategy, to be truly effective, also needs to align with that philosophy.

My concern here is that my city really doesn’t “get” it. There is a bigger picture. The emerging view is of a new way of being in the world, of inclusion, transparency, and as Augusto Cuginotti so elegantly describes, of living without a conductor.

Municipal government sees itself as a conductor that leads the orchestra, with the orchestra being the constituents. Perhaps it is that way, to an extent, now. If it is then there are things the city’s conductors can do to make the orchestra more inclusive, more representative, of the population and lead the constituents toward a more resilient way of being in the world. Social media is a tool that can, if applied well, help with that. But it’s going to take a shift of mind to accomplish that.

Of course the bigger question is – does city leadership want that? Is that their vision? What is their vision? Does their vision align with my vision, with the vision, values and mental models of the constituents? These are all questions that could be answered with the help of social media platforms. In fact, that’s how I personally see the role of the city’s elected leaders and city hall.

Municipal government’s role ought to be to create the spaces to listen and to privilege the community’s voices. To do that effectively requires vision, values and strategy all in alignment. It may also require a different mental model than the one that created the current plan. A community driven and collaboratively created strategy to support and inform the social media plan would, of course, be the ideal.

I am hopeful that the city will make a successful move into the social media ecosphere and that they will find role models in the non-profit sector to inform their strategy, plan and tactics. There are lots of groups doing social media well, using it as a tool to create resilient and abundant communities through relationship building. They “get” it, I hope the city does too.

Pdf of the plan is here,  scroll down to page 26. Or read the press coverage here.

In contrast check out this awesome post that seems, to me, to reflect an optimal vision, values and mental models all in alignment.

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