Every morning while I’m getting ready for work, my two little boys get to watch some TV.

My wife and I have decided that a little Disney Channel in the morning is not going to rot their brains, and we limit their TV time to 30 minutes each morning and evening. Today, I asked my three-year-old son what his favorite show was, and I was a little surprised to find out that Phineas and Ferb had replaced his previous favorite, Mickey Mouse. However, it quickly dawned on me that this Disney snub was hardly the result of the fickleness of youth.  Since his exposure to television is quite limited, my son only watches five shows in total. Of the five shows he watches, two of them had already been “favorites” leaving him with only 3 actual choices (so Mickey shouldn’t take it personally).

Of course, I have nothing against Phineas and Ferb (or any of the other thousands of kids’ shows out there), but my wife and I (like many parents) are choosing to restrict our children’s TV exposure.  This is because our boys are still young and lack the skills and experience necessary to make a choice on their own.  Unfortunately, many businesses also seem to operate using this parent/child dynamic within their organizations. While parents impose limitations on their children to protect them, businesses seem to do it out of a deep-seated misconception about competency or possibility.

Traditionally, most businesses relied on their IT departments to maintain any and all technology associated with running the organization. As a result, the IT department may feel that the finance department lacks the experience to edit the website, or that the marketing department is unqualified to engage in social media conversations.  This is a major error because it limits the business’ online participation to only a fraction of their employees. The reality is of course, that many employees possess the skills and experience necessary to engage with clients (and potential clients) using “new” channels of communication.

So, while limiting your children’s participation in media may help them grow, limiting your businesses participation will surely do the opposite. There are more opportunities than ever before online, including additional ways to generate leads and get new sales. Just because your business has always operated on the outdated assumption that IT are the only ones capable of web based tasks doesn’t mean it should stay that way. Of course that is not to say that you should simply unleash your employees on the social world – give them some guidelines (much like we are doing with our children) but allow them to grow a bit on their own. After all, who better to be online advocates for your business, then your own employees? Move your business forward and stop sheltering your employees from technology. You could be hiding behind a wall at your organization and limiting your opportunities.

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