Are Professional Tennis and the NFL Making a TOP Management Failure?
In the last couple of days both the NFL and professional tennis governing bodies have made proclamations regarding how their players and officials (and families, etc.) will, and will not, use social media. The Associated Press reports "The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel will be prohibited at all times." The US Open Tennis Championship has signs up with the following header, "Important. Player Notice. Twitter Warning." Andy Roddick, for one, is not impressed, "i think its lame the US Open is trying to regulate our tweeting.. i understand the on-court issue but not sure they can tell us if we can't do it on our own time" -- sent via Twitter. A TOP Management Failure is one where organizational decision makers error by not considering all aspects of the foundations of organizations: Technology, Organizations, and People. Technology: In this instance, the governing bodies are clearly considering the technology attributes of social media use and not liking what they see. The Tennis Integrity Unit notes that the information provided could be used as "inside information" and relate to the "Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules." They are thinking about the technology and possible detrimental organizational outcomes. Organization: The organizational aspects are broad reaching. These include: the internal organizational mechanisms that were used to make the decisions; the implementation mechanisms, for example, getting the word out and letting the parties understand the consequences; and the mechanisms of enforcement. There are also organizational boundaries to consider. Others report that individual football teams have banned, or tried to ban, fans' use of social media at practices by banning cell phones and laptops. These organizations have a right to manage their facilities (e.g., you can't bring in your own alcohol), but these are complex issues when you are talking about multipurpose technologies and a particular behavior. Laptops don't send tweets that bookies might read, people do. (Apparently the Colts even tried to prohibit reporters having paper notebooks at practices, but quickly changed their minds.) TechDirt shared this additional perspective on organizational boundaries, "What if the ref's job during the week requires the use of social media?" People: This aspect may be the simplest in this setting. In TOP Management, the people aspect relates to the human component -- the basics of motivation, perception, and the like. I can come up with a variety of issues that might matter (e.g., habits, perceived "need" to tweet, psychological contracts perceived regarding personal versus work space). I don't see these as being bigger levers in this instance than the organizational issues. Some organizational changes are too complex to rationally parse and effectively address all at once. Nobel Laureate Herb Simon noted that people have "bounded rationality" in that we cannot rationally process all the information all the time. For complex changes, TOP Management may mean to create small wins starting with the big levers, checking the feedback, and moving ahead. Don't bite off more than you can chew -- or at least more than will let you credibly predict the outcome.