How letting go can improve corporate culture

Bit2One of the themes in Mack Collier’s excellent Social South presentation, What Rockstars Can Teach You About Kicking Ass With Social Media, is finding ways to shift control to your fans. Mack gives great examples of this, like the Beastie Boys handing out video cameras at their concerts and letting their fans shoot concert videos. Contrast this to the “typical” approach of forbidding photography at concerts. Which is likely to inspire more passion?

Now, take that idea and translate it to WITHIN your organization. How can you better use your INTERNAL fans? I would wager some big bucks, that in most cases, there are people that work for you that are chomping at the bit to be empowered to make things better. What if instead of pulling back so hard on the reins, you simply engaged them in conversations about the direction of the company? What would happen? Here’s what would happen:

You would be more in touch with what’s really going on in your organization.

You would have more, better ideas.

You would have more loyal, passionate employees willing to go to any length to help you succeed.

You would have a stronger, more positive, energized culture.

Your customers would then feel your stronger, more positive, energized culture. They, too, would become more passionate, loyal, fans of yours, and more likely to spread the word. See? Could just turn a negative cycle into a positive one.

So ease up on the reigns, there, Hoss. Stop clinging so tightly to the illusion that you can control everything that you shut out your biggest fans, whether it’s internally, or externally. LEAD. Do so strongly. But collaboratively.

  • Nick Pipitone

    Awesome post. And I just love your obscure reference to Hoss, the curiously more overweight third farming brother in the brilliant Bonanza series starring screen legend Lorne Greene.

  • John Hathaway

    Totally agree with this in principle and try to align *my* world to this.

    But I think a big barrier to this in many organizations is that it takes a lot of self-confidence for a leader to let go. Having a solid, confident leader at the top who acts this way certainly helps to spread that behavior throughout the org.

  • Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)

    Restraint breeds rebellion.

    It’s amazing to me that more managers don’t realize this.

  • Jen

    Well said! I agree that a confident leader, secure in their position, will DELEGATE and let go. Micro-management leaves everybody mind-numbingly bored with their jobs.

  • edward boches

    Letting go is key. Lots of examples from Coke to Madmen. What you describe in Beastie Boys is one of my fave examples of crowdsourcing. That one is less about letting to and more about taking from the crowd.

    • admin


      Great to see you here – thank you. Good point, I can see the distinction. I need to read more of your stuff on crowdsourcing. That said, though, without getting all semantic I would say it takes letting go to be willing to venture into crowdsourcing, and that management that is willing to let go could also essentially “crowdsource” ideas from staff. But, it ultimately goes to the motivation of the person doing the initiative, and I’m sure you’re right about the Beastie Boys. I’ll look for more info on the Coke example that you mention.