If you are on the Internet you’ve heard about the social web. Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and the list goes on, are generating a number of books on how to use social networking as a marketing and public relations tool.

By far the best book I’ve acquired to date is “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (2008) and I’ve only read the first half so far.

It focuses not just on the technology which is changing quickly, but the patterns underneath the technology. Most importantly they cover a number of methodologies for determining which groundswell tools would be appropriate to reach your target audience.

In the planning process discussion they emphasize that the most important choice you have to make up front is how you want to interact with your customers. Choices include:

  • Listening
  • Talking
  • Energizing
  • Supporting
  • Embracing

The approaches for interacting with consumers apply equally well to business interactions and interactions inside your businesses for a very simple reason… ultimately the relationships are with people. Once you make the decision and move forward, the new relationships (directly with your customers) can potentially change your entire organization so be prepared for that. Think big and start small.

From an agile development perspective embracing the groundswell seems to align well with the spirit of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Ultimately more open and honest communication with your customers and employees should lead to a more healthy organization, business or software product.