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. #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. – 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!

Pandora 5.0: Avatar emulates Enterprise 2.0?

So last weekend I was allowed to get away to see Avatar because it was my birthday, and I have to say it was pretty impressive visually. I would call the storyline predictable, but strong enough to support the special effects and definitely worth your while to go see. Strangely enough, while watching, a parallel between this movie and Enterprise 2.0 dawned on me…thus this blog posting..

WARNING: I’ll write this with the best intentions of not giving away significant story points for those that have not yet seen the movie, but if you have any trepidation of spoilers for this very predictable story, maybe it would be best to wait to read this until after you have seen the movie.

So back to this relationship (whether intended or coincidental) between the Pandora moon and Enterprise 2.0:

Avatar takes place on a moon named Pandora, and it is primarily inhabited by wild beasts and the indigenous Na’vi people (the very tall bioluminescent blue people from the commercials). But what is unique about this land is that there is a mysterious connection between all living things, including animals, plants, trees and the Na’vi. The inhabitants of the moon can “bond” with one another to share thoughts and the Na’vi people can “bond” with trees to hear the voices of those that have passed. Eventually we learn that the makeup of the moon is effectively a huge interconnected neural network and all living beings have common anatomy to be able to plug into that network and “bond” with each other. Pandora is one big Social Network, or better yet, an Existence Network.

So, our main character Jake Sculley (who has been “matrixed” into a genetically engineered Na’vi body and dumped into the Pandora wild), uses his newly discovered pony tail with a mind of its own to “friend” his six-legged blue horse and his alien pterodactyl for public transportation. These connections between the living creatures on Pandora, and through the main source (the mother goddess, an all powerful tree named Eywa) are what help the moon thrive and the creatures to co-exist peacefully (except when satisfying their hunger by hunting, but always with utmost respect, of course).

It isn’t that groundbreaking to see how an entire world thriving in a connected environment relates to Enterprise 2.0…even if the connections are biological instead of technological. Differing tribes and species that might not otherwise relate because of space and communication gaps collaborate in peace thanks to a common network. They work together in unison for the good of their world instead of fighting one another for supremacy.

What I really found cool was how the natives of Pandora leveraged the Existence Network to overcome their invaders…money-hungry corporate Earthlings! This is the part where I may be delving into a little bit of a spoiler, so you may want to turn away now if you haven’t seen the movie yet….

Just when it appears that all hope is lost for the Na’vi people, despite their greatest efforts to fend off the superior human military artillery, you know there must be a happy ending, right? Jake (pictured above) pleas to Eywa on behalf of the Na’vi to help save not only their species but their entire world because he understands the power of human weapons. Eywa listens, and calls on her Existence Network of thousands of alien pterodactyls, elephant sized rottweilers and hammer-head rhinos to fight along side the Na’vi. You can see for yourself how that turns out…

Another parallel to the virtues of Enterprise 2.0 was when Jake tamed  and then “friended” the fierce Toruk (a dragon-vulture the size of an F-16) to prove his commitment and skill to the Na’vi people after he had been exiled. Only five other Na’vi had ever tamed a Toruk. Jake’s demonstration of skill and influence over this treacherous animal was enough to gain the respect of the Na’vi people regardless of his position or status. There were going to follow his lead based on his accomplishments as a warrior. Leadership and influence within the network was earned, not appointed in his case.

Watching the movie I couldn’t help but recall the concepts of 2.0-style collaboration were underlying themes to the feel good elements of this movie (although biological connections through a fiber-optic pony tail would be more like 5.0-style collaboration), and the primary weapons that gave the Pandorians an advantage over the command and control humans. Now don’t confuse this blog post as my undying commitment to using the movie Avatar as my “Real Business Use Case / ROI Example” for Enterprise 2.0…even I know better than that. But hey, who really needs extra excuses to write blog posts about cool movies and claim you are talking about work?

For my next post, I’ll discuss how much shorter the Lord of the Rings trilogy would have been if Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee had been biologically networked to the rest of the Fellowship of the Ring…