Peter Drucker once observed that information technology has been way too focused on the ‘T’ and not nearly enough on the ‘I.’ Boy, have we been feeling this way ourselves as we try to make sense of our place in the world of Twitter, Facebook and other social-media sites.
Take last Friday’s post from our blog, the Drucker Exchange, which explored whether the era of “maximizing shareholder value” may be coming to an end. By some accounts, this was our most popular post in a long time, ringing up 1,397 views, according to Google Analytics. It also generated a not-too-shabby 98 tweets, Twitter showed.
Yet, at the same time, a leading service for tracking social-media activity called AddThis, reported that the post received only two tweets. And Google Analytics indicated that it garnered no tweets at all.
For us, the mixed messages have been a useful reminder of Drucker’s insight that more and more measurements—what he sometimes called “controls”—don’t necessarily provide greater clarity. “More controls does not give better control,” he wrote. “All it does is create confusion.”
So what’s the right response? We decided on three things:
First, we were conscious of not allowing the confusion to distract us from the task at hand: making sure the Dx illuminates today’s headlines with Peter Drucker’s timeless wisdom.
Second, we decided to weed out those data sources that aren’t up to par. This required going back and adding up tweets by hand, as well as spending hours on the line with tech support to better understand where these various counters are working—and where they’re not. (For the record, Twitter’s tally of 98 was correct.)
Third, even as we’ve started to get a better handle on the data, we’ve recommitted ourselves to refining how we measure, interpret—and, most important, act upon—our social-media results. For as Drucker wrote: “Strive for perfection in your work knowing that it will always elude you.”
P.S. This Letter From Claremont marks the retirement of our bimonthly newsletter, The Window. We’ll still write to you every other month, but in a format we hope you’ll find even more convenient and engaging.
P.P.S. There’s a wealth of exciting news from the Institute that we’d be remiss if we didn’t share, at least in brief: Herman Miller’s Curt Pullen is our new Board chairman; bestselling author Marcus Buckingham has just joined our Board; “Drucker on the Dial,” our monthly show, just won an award from the Public Radio Exchange; and select posts on the Dx are now available in six languages besides English.