ME2: Social Collaboration Myths

I just had one of those “I’m writing an email and I really should be sharing this more broadly!” moments…so I thought I would write a ME2 Tuesday Edition since I’ve been a ME2 slacker lately.

The questions I was posed had to do with concerns over the use of various enterprise social collaboration tools, which is natural. I don’t fault the questions nor the questioners, because this is new to folks and if you haven’t experienced it first hand yet, probably difficult to recognize.

These same concerns are being asked at all enterprises that are investigating the use of social-based platforms to do business. They are great questions to ask, and gladly I had some data to provide some comfort. The primary questions asked were the following:

  • Will people spend too much time and not get their work done?
  • Will people misuse / abuse the technology to say inappropriate things?
  • How do we make clear that these tools are for “business use” only? And will people be able to make that distinction?

First, let me start by referencing this Andrew McAfee Harvard Business Review article – “Shattering The Myths About Enterprise 2.0″. It covers some of the concerns listed above. Specifically the information around Myth 1…and here’s my personal summary of that myth:

Myth 1: E2.0’s Risks Outweigh the Rewards
  • Risk perception: “What if people post hate speech?”, “What if people criticize leadership strategy?”, “Don’t these technologies make it easy for valuable information to seep out of the company?”, “Won’t employees use the collaboration software to plan social events instead of for work activities?”
  • Why these risks rarely come to fruition:
    • Attribution of content is the norm in business social collaboration software, not anonymity.
    • Sense of community amongst participants results in quick community reaction to abusive use of the platform.
    • In addition to organizational leaders, community leaders with earned influence can shape fellow employee’s behavior within the platform.
    • Many people have been active in public online forums and have learned how to act appropriately in online / transparent contexts.
    • Compare to email which is mostly private. Contributions to an ESSP are monitored by the entire workforce, thus the temptation or false sense of security to conduct inappropriate communications is less. If anything, this could lower the risk of non-compliant virtual communication.

Next, in terms of limiting usage to “business use” communication only…I offer some caution. While we don’t want this to become viewed as another “Facebook” for employees, encouraging and allowing some interaction that is fun and non-work related (but still within the rules of conduct policies) is a good thing. It helps the virtual environment thrive by building relationships, which then encourages more comfort in business-related sharing.

It seems every company example I have read about that has existing social networks supports this notion vehemently as a critical success factor. The underlying argument – “People talk about non-work topics in meetings and around their desks, why wouldn’t we encourage that in a virtual environment as well?” It really helps with building a sense of community which promotes further business benefits…and I’ve seen this occurring within our internal blogging and micro-blogging community where professional sharing and personal relationship building are balanced very well. Others out there have similar experiences or testimonials to add here?

Now a personal testimonial…a couple of years ago before I got into internal blogging, following internal blogs and enterprise micro-blogging…when I needed a mind break I would read external websites about sports, news, television, etc. But recently I’ve noticed I do much less of that and I spend more of my “down time” at work reading other people’s blogs and posts instead. I still need that mental down time to be effective at focusing deeply on my work. But now, instead, I am using that time to learn about the work of others, build virtual relationships with people I wouldn’t meet or work with otherwise and occasionally teaching / helping others with their questions along the way as well.

So my internal social interactions have replaced my non-work distractions more than they have replaced me focusing on my work deliverables / objectives.

And at the same time, having those connections helps me complete my deliverables / objectives with more community input and help (crowdsourced) along the way!

Any other Enterprise 2.0 practitioners out there seeing similar benefits? Anyone out there who has experienced the opposite and found themselves less effective due to the “vacuum” that is social networking at work?

ME2: The 4C-able Future

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my regular foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind. I am realizing as the weather gets nicer and my golfing activity picks up, this may become a bi-weekly / monthly type post instead of a weekly Monday post. Too hard to sit a computer when I could be spending my time outside playing with my kids or hitting a little white ball all over the place!

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

The 4C-able Future

I am going to start out by saying this is really corny, and I recognize that. But it basically summarizes my primary outcome for working in an enterprise environment: 4C’s – Community Collaboration with Consolidated Consumption. We have collaboration capabilities  in place already, but when I listen to employee struggles and study what is missing vs. what is needed…it boils down to being able to collaboration more easily across the organization (cross-silo communities instead of just within team structures) and being able to consume all the data/activity/conversation occurring that is relevant to the person in a simple, aggregated fashion. Simple as that. Corny, but a nice succinct way to describe my desired outcomes.

Top Reads/Tweets of the Week:

Departing from form a bit this week because I have been a little too busy to keep up with anything interesting on Twitter, other than this nice summary of the best reads related to Enterprise 2.0 for the past month. But I’ve been debating something in my mind for the last month or so and I think I’ve finally come to a conclusion.

Last summer I decided that if I was going to have a “professional presence” in the social media space, my moniker of @GolfinBP just wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something that identified with me as a person a little better than just me as a golfer / fan of golf. So I created a new account that is @TheBrycesWrite. I would have just dropped @GolfinBP, but I was quite happy with the following I had established as a sports fan (primarily NFL and golf related people) and I didn’t want to mess with losing that. Plus, as I advertised my “professional presence” a bit more I didn’t think people would be interested in my ramblings about the Colts, my toddlers, The Masters and my incredibly overwhelming DVR habits! And this was before Twitter enhanced the lists function, so I also wanted a nice segregated “feed” of the very different content I followed with each account.

So I have been trying to manage each since then, mostly talking personal topics as @GolfinBP and reserving any E2.0-related tweets for @TheBrycesWrite. But I think the time for that has come to an end. I don’t regret that I did it because I was still testing the waters for what I felt comfortable interacting with in a public forum related to my work, but I have become a bit more comfortable with that now and I understand better where my boundaries lie for what I should and should not discuss in public. This blog has also been an exercise in learning how to discuss interesting content while respecting the boundaries I need to consider as an employee of Lilly.

Thus, over the next couple of weeks I’ll be shifting my tweet activity to @TheBrycesWrite full-time and attempting to get some of my @GolfinBP followers to come with me (as well as attempting to ditch some of the unwanted ones as well ;) ). And I’ll be making better use of lists to aid in my ability to consume what I need based on what I am looking for at a particular point in time (Enterprise 2.0, Football, Golf, Friends, TV, etc.) So THAT should be a fun process! I am sitting at 1,496 tweets on the @GolfinBP account, so maybe I’ll just stop at 1,500 even! That will be tough given that tonight is the NCAA championship and this is Master’s week. Not sure I can go completely cold turkey!

But really what it means is that my @TheBrycesWrite account will become much more active now!

From the golf bag of @GolfinBP:

With Butler in the NCAA Championship tonight and The Masters starting this week, I couldn’t talk just one sporting topic. So going with two.

Sports Minute I:

My wife and I earned our MBAs at Butler a few years ago before we had our children. Less than 2 years after we finished undergrad (at Miami of Ohio), she told me one day “I’m bored, we either need to have children now or go back to school.”  I said “Where’s the application?!?”

So needless to say this is a great week for our schools. Butler plays tonight in an improbable run to a chance at the National Championship, and Miami hockey is the #1 seed in the Frozen Four tournament and playing on Thursday night this week for a chance to play for the championship. I am going to be at Miami’s campus on Friday, so I certainly hope they win so the mood is good around campus.

Also, my wife’s sister is a student at Duke and we were down there to visit this past Thanksgiving. So I am sure the family/school rivalry jabs will be flying across Facebook tonight during the game! Should be a fun evening for all of us (well, except my brother-in-law, who is a Kentucky fan an expected the Wildcats to be in this position and is probably still sulking a little, but I can throw some jabs his way too just for fun).

Sports Minute II:

I am going to do my best to talk Masters and not focus solely on the whole “Tiger returns” thing like every other medium you might read…darn…just did it.

I usually pull for Phil Mickleson at the Masters just because I know how exciting watching tournaments and listening to crowds is when he plays well. But this year I have another sentimental favorite: Ernie Els. I know he wants nothing more than to win at Augusta and he is playing really well lately. Plus his recent public work to raise money for autism and coming out and talking about his family experience with a child with autism is pretty cool stuff. So here’s hoping Ernie has a great week! If only Ernie were on Twitter! Love following pro golfers on Twitter.

ME2: Network Effects in Action

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind. Today I am providing an algorithm for predicting what time of day on each Monday this blog entry will be posted: Weekend weather in Indianapolis good = Late post; Weekend weather in Indianapolis bad = Early post. Playing outside is too much fun! And sometimes I’ll take the kids out with me too.

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

Network Effects in Action

As I was brainstorming the content for today’s post, I kept coming back to the amount of activity I received late last week on my Horizontal Collaboration post from February 22nd as a perfect real-life illustration of the very concept the post was trying to convey. Let me explain:

  • I published that post on February 22nd, and tweeted its existence one time as @TheBrycesWrite. At the time I only had approximately 55 followers on that account. My blog posts also get syndicated to my personal Facebook account (~200 friends) and the 2.0 Adoption Community website. The post had approximately 45 total readers through March 4th, 32 of which came from the 2.0 Adoption site!
  • I also posted it that same day to my internal Lilly blog for Lilly employees to read, and posted an “advertisement” on our internal micro-blogging platform (probably reached ~150 eyes that way). I also sent a couple of emails to individuals in the week or two following with a link to the post. I have had 44 total unique readers of that post since February 22nd just inside Lilly’s walls.

So the immediate reaction could be anti-Horizontal Collaboration – because a post publicized to a huge online public virtual audience (external web / Twitter) generated the exact same readership as the same content in a much smaller community (my existing Strong/Weak ties within Lilly). “So where is all the serendipity, knowledge discovery, Potential Tie conversion, bigger inner circle benefit you keep blabbing on about that a large transparent social network presence should bring?”

That’s when March 5th happened. Susan Scrupski (@ITSinsider) came across the post by chance and re-tweeted it. That resulted in 10 subsequent re-tweets from people following Susan to their respective followers (some of which have fairly large follower numbers compared with my “modest” 68 – admittedly bumped a bit by last week’s activity). By my calculations (adding up the total followers of those accounts, then calibrating to some percentage of overlapping followers and non-active followers) that the approximate reach of that post increased from ~500 people to over 15,000 people!  So what has happened with reader activity (outside of Lilly) since then?

  • Between March 5th and this morning (3.5 days) the post has been read approximately 131 times.
  • Between Feb 22nd and March 4th:  ~4 views / day
  • Between March 5th and March 8th:  ~33 views / day
  • So an 30x increase in “reach” resulted in an 8x increase in “hits.”

Now I am not a statistician, so there is probably some flaws in this experiment to consider it rock solid, but it is certainly eye opening for a few reasons:

  1. Knowledge and Expertise Management – Content doesn’t speak for itself anymore because there is sooo much of it out there. If you want to achieve reach, you need to create Weak Ties with individuals that have a much greater reach than you have! And the more you do that, the more you can sit back and watch the power of the network do work for you, instead of you having to spend significant energy trying to accomplish that same reach on your own. Large organizations without effective Horizontal Collaboration networking and consumption capabilities will lack the ability to leverage this phenomenon.
  2. Self-Filtering – You mean a 30x increase in reach ONLY resulted in an 8x increase in hits?? I actually find that encouraging data for critics that complain that a heavily populated social network will result in employees being overwhelmed with information they have no interest in consuming. Sure, a lot of information can come their way, but people will naturally apply an “applicability” filter on top of their automated social network connection filters. Do you feel like you can get away with only consuming 25% of the emails that others target to you specifically? Do you think people will thrive by merely consuming 25% of the serendipitous knowledge that appear within their social network activity streams that they have elected to target on their own?
  3. Network reach – Think about the capabilities available inside of your organization vs. those available to you in the external world right now? Do you have the ability to leverage a network effect like this example for innovative ideas / cross-silo collaboration / knowledge sharing inside your firewall?  Tools can’t make this happen without willing people able to leverage them appropriately, but willing people can certainly be obstructed from maximizing their value without the tools to set them free.

Please retweet :)

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

Just because people recognize and encourage the benefits of “working out loud” and sharing transparently does not automatically translate into behaviors that epitomize the philosophy. Changing your core behaviors and habits takes time. I often catch myself putting something in an email message that after the fact I wished I had published using a different medium. That’s partly why I contrived this weekly blog format, to provide myself with a routine I could rely on to “train myself” to share my thoughts with more regularity instead of falling back into old, less collaboratively-responsible communication means.

Internally we had a blogger challenge herself to a 30-day blog post challenge – one post a day for 30 straight business days. And the posts had to be thoughtful each day, not just a funny Dilbert cartoon of the day, for example. She also wasn’t challenging  her readers to do so, she was just trying to spice up the process a bit to stay in the habit. But a funny thing happened – at least 3-4 other people were inspired by the idea and have taken on the “the challenge” for their own individual blogs. The result has been a daily stream of thought-provoking posts from the participants, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trend extend to a few other people before too long. I myself have not joined the challenge as of yet, because I don’t want to saturate the market, if you will. But maybe as this first round slows down in 25 or so work days, I’ll jump in to the challenge myself to see if we can motivate a few other bloggers to practice “working out loud” too.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. Social Media is key at the 100 largest Fortune 500 Companies – Jamie Pappas: Jamie summarizes some great data on the use of external social media by large organizations. I don’t have any data to support it, but I believe that transforming the “inside the firewall” culture to be more accepting of social collaboration amongst one another will begin to increase the comfort and aptitude to using external sources for effective customer / patient / partner / shareholder interactions. Benefits: Greater reach than almost any traditional medium, Lower entry cost than most traditional mediums.
  2. Webciety and Enterprise 2.0: A snapshot of today’s social computing conversations – Dion Hinchcliffe: Including some data on the dreaded ROI question – like the example where IBM “…cited that new collaborative technology had reduced the email volume in the company by 28%.”

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @Greg2dot0: “RT @carrieyoung: Microblogging will fade. We expect 2 C it as a feature of a fully integrated platform that has hooks across the enterprise.” – We’ll be watching this closely over the next few months because of the engaging and effective nature of short-form sharing and when / if / how the more powerful micro-blogging capabilities become incorporated into broader enterprise social collaboration platforms. I personally don’t want to see it “fade” as a capability, but only as a disconnected platform amongst other capabilities.
  2. @ITSinsider: “How innovation is measured at CSC. One of the best case studies in e20 from a conservative, traditional org. http://is.gd/9BRHo #e20″ - Anytime we can learn from the success CSC has had, that’s a good thing.

From the golf bag of @GolfinBP:

Sports Minute:

Holy spring-creep, Spiderman!  (That was a subtle shout-out to Camilo Villegas winning the Honda Classic this past weekend.) I received an email that my weekly golf league starts on April 8th! It was just 3 weeks ago I was shoveling my driveway nightly. My game is in no shape to take the course in defense of our league tournament championship from last season. I think Tiger and I are going to be on a similar training regimen over the next 4 weeks to return to action – Tiger focusing on the Masters at Augusta, me focusing on my 9-hole Big Divots Golf League at the historic Sarah Shank golf course.

TV Minute:

Obviously the voters for the Oscar’s didn’t read my blog post about Avatar, otherwise it would have won hands down. If only I could have gotten Ashton Kutcher or Oprah to retweet that blog post history, James Cameron would be “king of the world” yet again. I am sure he is really hurting financially as a result of that lost opportunity.
Top Reads of the Week:

  1. Tiger’s Comeback tougher than Ali’s – Bill Simmons: With football season being over, my non-work related reading is a bit down…and the golf I am reading about has to do with a guy that isn’t even playing yet! My apologies to the guys out there playing and living well. I am ready for Phil to play some more!
  2. PhRMA’s FDA Comments related to the Social Media hearing: Progress on the topic!

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @wingoz: “Chilean earthquake changes earths axis. Wow. http://bit.ly/duytno – Does this mean we won’t have to “fall back” next week? I don’t like losing an hour.
  2. @jimmyfallon: “Gatorade ended its relationship w/ Tiger. They checked his cell & found texts from Powerade & Vitamin Water.”
  3. @golfinbp: “Luke’s random and worrisome quote of the night (stated with sweet 3yo voice): ‘When I get my real light saber, Abby will be dead.'” – Heh, kids. Where do they get this stuff? Certainly not from me!

ME2: Social Features or Social Network?

Thanks for visiting ME2: Monday Enterprise 2.0…my weekly foray into exploring professional and personal topics on the tip of my mind.

From the desk of @TheBrycesWrite:

Social Features or Social Network?

A distinction I think that will become more and more important in the next 12-18 months will be clarifying to business decision-makers the difference between software that has social features and software that is an effective social network. We are starting to see more and more announcements from major enterprise application providers that they are introducing one or more of the following basic social features within their platforms, using the Enterprise 2.0 moniker along the way:

  • User Profile / Expertise Search
  • User web publishing (blog / wiki / file sharing / link sharing)
  • Commenting on content
  • Rating / Recommending content
  • RSS feeds
  • Status Updates / Micro-sharing
  • Tagging / Tag Clouds
  • Bookmarking

Until this market shakes out a little more, this could lead to confusion among those only partially paying attention to conclude “I have this enterprise platform with blogs, tagging and tag clouds, thus I don’t need to invest in any other capabilities touted as a social network.” The business case WE then have to make is not about what the specific capabilities are or are not in varying platforms, but if our enterprise environment has anything that is capable / effective at helping cross-silo collaboration communities grow virtually and thrive? Without the following complementary capabilities to go along with the above list of social features, in my opinion, your enterprise and its organic virtual communities within will continue to feel unsatisfied and will continue to yearn for other collaborative options:

  • Community concept with opt-in membership (self-declared Join / Follow)
  • Aggregated Consumption – Filtered Activity Streams of your colleague AND community connections, in one easy to access place
  • Engagement – Features that engage users to continue conversation and contributions (timely and relevant notifications, participation points, highlighting popular contributions, etc.)

Getting Real with E2.0 – My best example from the week of people using E2.0 to generate value in the work environment:

This week my example is more of an anti-example. I’m not to the point yet where I am shouting from the mountains that email is dying and it has no place in the workplace anymore, because I don’t believe it. But what I do see and what I do prefer as a user is the trend that email is becoming more of a notification system and less of a conversation medium. For folks comfortable with email as a work day workflow mechanism, using email as your “news feed” for keeping up with relevant collaboration activity can work well to drive early adoption of more social tools (by being notified of activity and then linking to the source for further participation), particularly for mobile devices.

But each day I continue to see examples of extremely long emails that contain project status updates, organizational newsletters, brainstorming results in tables / diagrams, etc. within the body of an email and not captured in a medium better suited to later retrieval, central updates and sharing with broader audiences…particularly when better tools for doing so are available. Another illustration that just providing the tools is not enough, but educating and providing examples of it working is a constant grind to get people out of the “email for everything” mindset.

This is teaching me to be more patient as I realize this takes time. I am thrilled to see gradual adoption and new examples of people starting to utilize superior conversation mechanisms, but I want it faster and more often!! Serenity now, serenity now.

Top Reads of the Week:

  1. A Collection of 50+ Enterprise 2.0 Case Studies and Examples from Jacob Morgan – I’ll make this my only link this week since it has so much stuff.  But a nice collection of real world applications of Enterprise 2.0 activity. Again, about a month old, but I read it for the first time this week!

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @Mashable: “HUGE: Facebook Secures Patent for News Feed – http://bit.ly/cmn89j – Not sure this will turn into anything, but consider the possible Enterprise 2.0 ramifications if Facebook decided to be difficult with this. One of the key usability elements of drawing employees to such a capability is aggregation of connection-driven content/conversation…a nice use of news feeds!
  2. @hebsgaard: “10 emerging Enterprise 2.0 technologies to watch — http://bit.ly/9Tq1fg #gov20 #startups http://bit.ly/dmlint – Couldn’t help call out the relevancy to the use of the term “social features” when discussion a trend in Enterprise platforms…and “activity streams” beings called out as important to the industry (aka News Feed!..see above).

From the life and times of @GolfinBP:

Sports Minute:

So did anyone watch the exciting conclusion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open? No? Well, I have to admit I didn’t watch much of it either even as a huge golf fan because it was on at the same time as that hockey game yesterday. What most don’t know is that PGA Tour stop is probably the most fun golf television you get outside of the four majors (The Masters, The British Open / Open Championship, The US Open, The PGA Championship) due to the raucous crowd surrounding the 16th hole. It’s an NFL crowd at a golf event, the one and only such environment on the tour. But it has been very unlucky from a scheduling perspective in recent years. For the last few seasons it was always played on the same day as the Super Bowl, and finally this year with some schedule changes I am sure tournament sponsors were ecstatic to highlight that environment to a large TV audience! But then USA vs. Canada: The Rematch happened, Sunday at 3pm EST. Oops. Sorry Waste Management. I bet your ratings got trashed.

I think this video of  Tiger’s Hole-In-One during this first PGA Tour season tells most of the story. And that crowd behavior wasn’t just because of his great shot, they act like that constantly on the weekend and end up intimidating every golfer that comes through. Better luck next year sponsors! Hopefully you don’t end up opposite Michael Jordan’s first game back after he un-retires again and plays for the Charlotte Bobcats next year…against LeBron James.

TV Minute:

I proclaim proclamations: For the most part I thought the Olympic action was “tremendously tremendous.” But I found the opening and closing ceremonies to be overwhelmingly underwhelming.
Top Reads of the Week:

  1. LOST Cast and Creators Give Scoop to Fans on the End from Watch with Kristin at E! Online – #5 says “Some IS coming to the island.” And here I thought Jacob’s statement was just a metaphor for convincing Jack to come to grips with his destined role to the island. What do I know?
  2. Crosby beats Miller in OT to earn gold for Canada – You didn’t happen to see this game did you? Anyone, anyone? I am not an avid hockey watcher, but something about the speed, intensity, unpredictability and lack of commercials during periods made this great sports television! Way to go to both teams.

Tweets of the Week:

  1. @SI_PeterKing: “RT @MikeVacc: And now, thus mandatory historical reminder: in ’80, US trailed Finland 2-1 after 2 periods … Thanks, Mike.” – This was posted at the beginning of the 3rd period of the Gold Medal hockey game between US and Canada.
  2. @ProFootballTalk: “More details on the possible overtime changes http://is.gd/9opkK #NFL” – Hopefully some changes get passed on the NFL overtime rules. Much overdue now that field goal kickers are so much more efficient (distance and accuracy) these days vs. when the rule was created.
  3. @EricStangel: “USA Canada – Al Michaels is running to the microphone right now. ‘Come on, let me say something about another miracle!!'” – Immediately following the goal for the US that tied the game against Canada.
  4. @golfinbp: “Dang. The one night I get out, I can’t get foursquare to check me in! At Fleming’s in Indy. Shout. #nevergonnabemayor” – Seriously, this was a big deal. With children the ages of 3 and 4 and no immediately family within a 2 hour drive, we really don’t get out much. I was just excited to use my new Foursquare Blackberry app. Come on, man!