When entrepreneurship and innovation part company

Continuing on the theme of social media, this article, ‘Why ALL bosses should copy me and ban Facebook from the workplace’ which appeared in the Mail Online last Wednesday, neatly sums up why innovation is actually a dying craft in British industry.

Written by one of Britain’s prominent entrepreneurs, Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis, the article rails against Facebook as a time waster in the workplace. He argues that while ‘the internet has created dramatic new opportunities in everything from marketing to distribution’, it has a downside: namely, an explosion in online activity which has resulted in ‘an orgy of self-indulgence and exhibitionism’ which ‘has polluted the air with meaningless babble and egomaniacal drivel’. This impulse, exercised through social media like Facebook, or Twitter, wastes work time and should be, in the opinion of this entrepreneurial dragon, ‘best kept to free time at home’. ‘In the end’, he says ‘businesses and public services cannot survive if staff prefer to be socialising online rather than doing the job for which they are paid’.

8 thoughts on “When entrepreneurship and innovation part company

  1. You are going to see more of this. People like to call “Rot” when it is clear that the house is not on firm foundations. Personally, FB looked like it had no revenue opportunity (err, I think mark cuban pointed out fb could make a billion a year just opening up to Google). Saying it has no business value is just to downright misunderstand what people actually do. Remember those phone systems that stopped employees ringing numbers that were not qualified ” business numbers”? Remember browsers that were locked down to a select number of destinations? Newsflash: this just in! people called home to see if the kids got home from school; people phoned the taxi company to get a lift home from work; people went to yahoo.finance to check out the company’s stock price to see if it was indeed worth while working for a stock bonus. For hundreds of years people hid the secrets of their trades; their tools, their recipes. It is what protected their income. Control of information was key. Lets just say that dog don’t hunt anymore. People do not work 100% of their time at work, they have just found ways to “administer”, have “meetings”, etc. etc. Opening out relationships, creating new data, continuously finding new sources of competitive advantage is the only game in town, and to do that, you have to re-learn how to lead like a very well organised tribe. IMHO.

  2. Fascinating, but this is nothing new.

    The first clothing factories had rows of sewing machinists facing each other across a central power shaft. Some proprietors so disliked the “idle chatter” that they adopted more complex, presumably less efficient, arrangements where workers had their backs to each other.

    “Whatever presses men together, therefore, though it may generate some vices, is favourable to the diffusion of knowledge, and ultimately promotive of human liberty. Hence every large workshop and manufactory is is a sort of political society, which no act of parliament can silence, and no magistrate disperse.” – John Thelwall, 1796

    1. Excellent points Matt. Really liked the quote and your reference to the first clothing factories is a great illustration of just how unoriginal reactions against new technologies in the workplace really are. This is the thing I find most galling about the passionate advocates and detractors of social media: they both lack an historical memory (the former are more guilty as they are just ignorant or are uncritically caught in a post-modern moment, while the latter are merely pragmatic and reactionary in the sense of holding onto the present or the past). Do you have a reference for the sewing machine example?

      1. Thanks Norman. The sewing machine story is dimly remembered from the excellent Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. I must find a pretext to visit again soon and look up the details.

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