It’s weel kent that Dundee is a vibrant city, and Scotland’s sunniest I’ll have you know, yet one that in a good way retains a village-like feel. Everyone seems to know everyone. Which is a wee bit like social media too.

My two real and digital worlds respectively collided a couple of weeks back when a few keen-spirited and forward-thinking tweeps got together in Dundee Contemporary Arts’ Jute Cafe Bar to discuss our common interest – the launch of Dundee’s own social media surgery.

Joining Morbhen RattrayGordon Scobbie and Jennie Patterson was Gillian Easson and Sandy Thomson. Picking up on that village theme, having never met, Gillian and I learnt that we’d been sitting opposite each other on the train just days before; and there were nodds of familiarity from around the table when Edinburgh’s James Coltham and Leah Lockhart were mentioned in dispatches. It then came full circle when Sandy and I discussed our knowledge of and mutual admiration for Damn Rebel Bitches, a women’s history research group in Edinburgh. They’re everywhere!

Creating communities of interest through use of digital resources to help collaborate and communicate, and connect people, places and passions, neatly sums up what social media is about. That, we agreed, was the point from which we wanted our surgeries to begin; uncomplicated, accessible yet ever-evolving and right for Dundee’s needs and where our Bonnie city is heading.

People, communities and innovation is what social is all about, and given it’s what Dundee was founded upon it makes sense that whatever we do, wherever our journey takes us, those two factors with a sprinkling of local creativity, a long heralded Dundee trait, remains at the heart of what our surgeries strive for.

Desperate Dan

I recently read one of Dan Slee’s blogposts about a brilliant piece of work in the West Midlands, Best by West Midlands 2013 – A White Paper on Social Media in Local Government. It, along with a session I attended courtesy of the digital agency Precedent, got me thinking, a lot. I’ll expand on that another time but one sound bite that is reverberating round my head, and yours soon too I hope, is this:

“Being a digital superhero probably won’t be part of your job description”

I think our socmed surgery team is at the point where we just need to do it – so let’s do it. I blogged before about the key requirements but what is actually really key is people (the surgeons) and possibly devices.

We have the people, if you have space with resources then we’d love you to get in touch. Email marcommskenny@gmail.com or tweet @socmedsurgery or indeed any of those involved. We’ll happily discuss the fantastic potential we believe this small initiative offers.

I still believe there is benefit to developing a plan to help things on their way, however as we all have day jobs and many of us seem to invest in a fair bit travelling for work, there is only so much we can fit in a day (hence why it has taken me a few days longer than planned to get this blogged).

I feel there is a bigger risk by doing nothing than there is of doing something. So pulling that plan together is phase two. Let’s just get the foundations in place. Start small then grow. And do we want to grow!

Make it work
We recognise that to make this sustainable, stable and successful we need to overlap and work closely with a range of local initiatives so we can reach out locally to the right people as effectively as possible.

Gordon cited a good example actually when he raised the new Dundee University MSc in Leadership in Innovation in conversation. Perhaps our social media surgery act could act as a catalyst to inspiring others’ leadership, help people to test ideas out to inspire them to continue innovating? Where does the common ground lie?

That could be from someone trying out social media for the first time to seeking a holistic understanding about digital integration or a social strategy. Importantly, there is no expectation. We all learn from each other.

Indeed how does this fit with existing surgeries and meetups? This may all well deviate slightly from the way in which other social media surgeries were set up. The driving principles are exactly the same but I have a a good feeling about this because the conditions feel right.

Judging conditions of the environment in which you operate is a crucial skill in business. If you fail to lead, don’t rapidly innovate, aren’t agile in the face of demand – you don’t consider the conditions – then you’re at best missing an opportunity to grow.

And while our surgery needs to walk before it runs, we think people in Dundee can benefit from us adopting an innovative approach. To again quote Einstein, as I did in my last post:

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

The diversity of skill, knowledge, talent and range of interests in our wee collective is varied and that can only add to our personal experience in this venture, but most especially that of those who choose to seek our advice.

There was so much to capture from our chat that I have done little justice to what was discussed. I’d welcome others relaying their perspective however they feel comfortable. It will be very helpful.

In the meantime I’m aiming for one of my next blog posts to be announcing the date of our first surgery. That would be incredible, wouldn’t it?

Get involved, take it easy

Cover photo Credit: B4bees via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: neilalderney123 via Compfight cc

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