I am beginning to think I am making the case unnecessarily complicated for why organizations need to get involved now in digital and social media. Two items I read recently made a compelling case that greater participation in social and digital media is critical for organizations to survive and also made it clear this charge must be led by the leadership team. That means your company’s leadership team must understand and actively support it.

The first article was by Lewis DVorkin, chief product officer at Forbes in the January 2013 issue of the magazine. He addressed their efforts to change as magazine and newspaper readership spirals downward. While the impact on print publications is painfully evident, I argue the same forces are at work reshaping communication in almost every industry.DVorkin is leading the charge at Forbes.  His strategy calls for moving heavily into all types of digital communication and working on brand extensions to maintain a revenue stream. That’s the “what.”  The “how” comes by tearing down the departmental silos that have sprung up among the different groups (advertising, marketing and public relations) as well as among various tools (print media, video, digital, social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).  One can’t be selected over another; you have to use them all in an integrated program with the ultimate goal of engaging clients, prospects and the community.  His second major challenge?  “Getting people to give up on leftover thinking from a bygone era.”   What a great phrase. But how do you identify “leftover thinking?”

That’s when I came across the second article in the March McKinstry Quarterly Newsletter (http://tinyurl.com/almue55) on “Making Internal Collaboration Work.”  A consultant talked about being brought in by a large financial services firm to help them replace e-mail communication with a variety of information sharing social network tools. It was really an internal application of an external strategy of using social media for employee engagement.  Step one was to interview the senior management team.  The project immediately fell behind schedule because the interviewers could not get on their calendars. Why?  The executives were spending 10 hours a day in meetings, primarily for the purpose of information sharing. “So there’s your killer app for the company,” the author said. “They can free up 80 percent of their time by getting out of those informational meetings and onto a collaborative platform where you use the tools of our time to create a high performance organization.”

Suddenly I realized I had found a case study of “getting people to give up on leftover thinking from a bygone era.”  Spending your whole day getting information in meetings doesn’t work in a fast moving social media world. And yet, I realized I was reluctant to let go of those face-to-face opportunities. But thinking they work every time is definitely “leftover thinking.”

So what does this all mean? Whether it’s getting employees to use new tools for collaboration and information sharing, or convincing the leadership team they must engage clients and the community using a range of new channels, we have to each address our own version of “leftover thinking.” Until we do, success will elude us no matter how much effort and money we put into digital and social media strategies. And this new thinking means using and understanding the tools that will ensure our success now and in the future.