Archive for the ‘E20’ Category

Embrace the subcultures

Posted: September 19, 2012 in E20, SocialBiz

the subculture In my last post I talked about how culture comes first for your Enterprise Social Network (ESN). Without the right culture, which is generally a product of the senior leaders, your companies social platform may flounder. However that isn’t always the case, there may be instances when someone in the organisation has taken the lead on deploying the ESN platform and stopped there. Sometimes the organisation takes a “build it and they will come approach”, perhaps project funds run out during the change management program or perhaps the change management program wasn’t successful. In any case, the end result is you have a social collaboration platform ready to be used by anyone that wants to.

This is when true magic happens.

We often hear about the Gartner adoption curve and how the innovators or early adopters are the ones that jump on board. Now here’s insight #1 – the early adopters dont need to be specific individuals, the passionate folk trail-blazing the new technologies. Early adopters can be entire groups or departments of people that recognise the power of ESN’s and can adapt it to their specific business needs.

One of the biggest “a-ha” moments for me was when a manufacturing plant became a very early adopter. They saw in the collaboration platform a “digital cork-board” where they could post shift-reports (being a 24hr operation), information on production lines and general news such as OH&S tips etc. They adopted not only the short sharp messages of the microblogs but also regular blogs and calendaring. It was an “a-ha” moment because had we spent the time talking to these people prior to implementation we would have identified the business need (sharing of information across shifts) along with the problem (lack of richness in current platforms including multi-way conversations, ease of historical conversation tracking) and found a very clear use case.

So insight #2 is embrace the sub-cultures. Dont assume that the entire organisation has a particular culture and that every department or group will act the same way. While i’ve seen some tightly controlled deployments the danger with that is that you’ll corral disparate business teams into an accepted framework. The flip side is that an open self-service platform whereby anyone can create their own communities might provide you with some surprises while learning a little more about the business.

I’m not a change manager but the obvious other aspect of this insight is that you need to be aware of these differences in your change and training programs. Work out the “what’s in it for me” message for as many of the sub-cultures as you can and iteratively adapt the message as you see the evolving use cases.

So while the company culture  plays a big part in mass adoption there’ll no doubt be some great opportunities and some surprises when you embrace the sub-cultures.


As noted in my last post I’ll be speaking on a panel at the Connected Enterprise 2012 conference in November. The topics I’ll be talking on are:

  • Challenges and risks of a ubiquitous working environment
  • How to build and leverage collaborative teams
  • How to implement and maintain adoption of collaborative technologies
  • How to use social media for effective talent recruitment
  • How to lead a connected and collaborative enterprise

 My next few posts will explore some of those area’s and the first post is something that spans pretty much all aspects – Culture.

The word culture is derived from “to cultivate” and it’s in this sense we need to think about it. Trying to change the organisation culture is an often-cited wispy and nebulous challenge for various reasons. The one thing you’ll read is that organisation culture is as a direct result of the leaders. We all know that a sales focused CEO will drive a culture of competitiveness and profit seeking behavior and conversely an enigmatic energy driven leader will drive the same.

One of my first career jobs was at a multi-national ERP software company. When I joined there were urban legends and stories about the founder and CEO pulling off one of the biggest deals in the companies history in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt! I believe that to be case because that type of “don’t take life too seriously” attitude permeated the company resulting in a fun, dynamic and tight knitted group of people, many of whom I’m still in touch with 15 years later. This culture was cultivated from the top down!

Take a look at Forbes top 100 most innovative companies. It’s no surprise that the article talks about the innovative index of the leader in relation to the company – they go hand in hand.

So it is with Social and collaborative organisations. For an enterprise social network (ESN) to really work people need to see it driven from the top. I’ve read of only a few instances that a grassroots movement has gained enough traction to ripple through the organisation and when it has it’s because a member of the executive team has spotted the benefits and evangelised it.

This recent Brainyard post cites 3 things that would need to change for a company to adopt social.

  • 29% – shift the company culture
  • 20% – designating a person to make it happen
  • 15% – setting aside a budget for social technologies.

It’s easy to see that all 3 of these could be accomplished by a single senior leader taking up the cause. They can lead by example and cultivate a collaborative culture, they can allocate resources and champion the work and they have the power over the purse-strings to make it happen.

If a company doesn’t already have a sharing and collaborative culture then implementing an ESN isn’t going to change that. It’s a tool that enables the underlying values and a competitive “knowledge-is-power” organisation will hear little else but chirping crickets on their social platform.

In my next post I’ll share some examples I’ve seen of great Social Leadership, some disabling behaviours and some ways to start changing the culture.

Connected Enterprise 2012

Posted: September 10, 2012 in E20, Social Media, SocialBiz

Earlier this year I was approach via LinkedIn to be on the advisory board for an upcoming Social Enterprise conference. I’ve been involved in conferences in the past. Sometimes setting them up and running from the conference floor to the comm’s room in my techie days, sometimes as a speaker! But this was the first time helping set the agenda so I jumped at the opportunity to use all the research and industry knowledge I’d built up deploying our enterprise social network at work.

The process was quite simple – comment and expand on a draft agenda – review the 2nd pass that included the other advisory board members comments – then recommend some relevant speakers.

I was pretty impressed with the advisory board, not only because I was pretty much the only non-C-Level but also because of the calibre of companies and thought leaders involved. A great cross-section of industries were represented which meant that the agenda was off to a great start in ensuring it was tailored to the intended audience.

When the final agenda and speaker list came out I was once again pretty happy with what we had pulled together. Some industry heavy-weights (IMHO) were included such as Brian Solis (@briansolis) – the well known thought leader and author, Ross Dawson (@rossdawson) – a Sydney based futurist and seasoned speaker, Cory Banks (@corza) – an enigmatic speaker and collaboration expert and Thierry de Baillon (@tdebaillon) – author and industry guru. Not to mention a similarly great cross-section of industry leaders from well-known companies.

The full line up can be found here and I’ve uploaded the conference agenda here.

I’ll also be speaking as part of the panel for “Collaborative Readiness – designing the social workplace“. I’ll come armed with challenges, successes and hopefully some interesting insights from a real world deployment of an enterprise social network! The next few posts will be around some of those topics but if you have any thoughts, questions or comments be sure to let me know and I’ll try to get them answered.

Of course, be sure to come to Melbourne on the 21st and 22nd of November for the conference. I really believe this will be on the best social business events this year!

Share Music by laihiu, on Flickr

For the last few years i’ve been the face of Social Media at work, in particular our internal social media strategy. What that means is lots of workshops, discussions and above all sessions of explaining various concepts like blogs, wikis etc. While I sometimes get a shock when a seemingly tech savvy person tells me they “aren’t a Facebook person” or “they don’t have a computer at home” I understand that consumer social media, and indeed the internet is like cooking at home, some people do it, other’s don’t.

Regardless of whether or not they are a Facebook person, at work we want them to reap the benefits of a collaborative platform. To do that you have no doubt read that calling your social intranet “Facebook for work” is about the surest way is drive people away in the shortest amount of time. Always tying the initiative back to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) is key coupled, with simple training and above all simple contextual and relevant explanations.

It’s with that in mind that I’m always on the look out for real world examples of technology concepts. My mind must slowly be organising itself in this context because the other day I told my 2.5 year old daughter that the dishwasher was “like a shower for dirty dishes” (I was trying to head off a crying session because I was putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher).

My latest tie back to the real world is around crowd sourcing. I was on the bus and the driver had Pink Floyd “Wish you were here” playing. I’m a bit of a fan of Pink Floyd but I wouldn’t say I know all the “b-sides” or more obscure tracks. In fact I’d say all songs that I like you probably like (assuming you are a pink floyd fan) because they are the most famous. There’s no doubt a lot of crazy stat’s and models that show why they are the most famous but in it’s simplest form.

  • The song is released and a number of people proclaim they like it
  • Because those early people liked it other’s will start playing it more – your friends might pick it up and share it, radio stations will play etc
  • It spreads among music listeners more and more
  • Radio stations play it more often
  • It might get picked up on a TV commercial
  • etc etc

In effect, unless you take the next step and dig into the b-sides or buy the albums and listen them through, you have crowd sourced your music selection because of it’s general appeal and widespread use. You have crowd sourced it because the crowds have deemed that that song or artist is worthy and generally you’ll implicitly trust the crowds. Again the reason’s why you like the same music are debatable – some say it’s groupthink or evolutionary response to wanting to be part of crowd, other’s might argue that the power of the masses & statistic will bubble anything that has the widest appeal to the top. Off topic for this post but interesting to raise is once you scratch the surface on any of these theories you realise that despite the seemingly global appeal you’ll always get sub-groups of sub-groups of sub-groups, each being driven by the same factors of crowd acceptance etc.

Just like social media, in the music listening world there are the people out the front scouring for the latest and greatest. There are people that are watching those frontrunners ready to eagerly consume and share the content. Then there are the masses that find content simply because it’s so widespread. It might be on the news, in the paper, your friends might be talking about it. And when your mum share’s it on Facebook you know it’s hit mainstream.

My concept probably needs a little more work to tie it back to the commonly associated activity for crowd scouring – ideas & innovation – however starting with music sharing is probably a good place to start in explaining a fancy word for ubiquitous activity.

Technical sounding title I know but really it’s all about showing information (knowledge) in a graphical way. It’s a technique that, in my experience, is highly regarded let little used.

I was leading a workshop a while back with IT and Marketing coming together to map the user journey for a new application. For me this is one of the first steps to designing the application, understanding how we expect to go from point A (download and open the app perhaps) to point Z (redeem, check out etc) and provides the building blocks for both the programmers and the creative teams.

In the workshop the first thing I did was open Visio, started asking questions and mapping it into a simple workflow. This simple visualisation technique highlighted 2 things. First, it really brought to the fore the differences in people thinking of how the user will travel the app. Secondly, as the workflow unfolded there was lots of “Ahhs”, “wows” and “I need to learn to do this” simply because the visual map conveyed so much information. At the end of the workshop we had something tangible to share with other stakeholders.

I often refer back to this excellent tool that highlights, in a periodic table format, the different visualisation techniques you can use. It’s  little old now and could perhaps be refreshed a little but I think it’s still worth the look. It lists out the commonly known gannt charts, mind maps, simple tables & pie charts. It also lists out the techniques you have probably seen and intuitively understand (that’s the beauty of visual techniques) but may not have in your kit bag.

I’m going to set myself a challenge to use at least once each of the techniques over the next 12months. It’ll no doubt require some adaptation to fit my needs but I’m sure by doing so i’ll achieve at least 3 things:

  1. A better understanding of the technique
  2. A better understanding of the process / topic / relationship I’m trying to understand
  3. A helpful way to convey knowledge in a simple meaningful way.

Here’s a few videos from Martin Eppler at, a researcher in knowledge management, visualisation & communication, to explain some of the benefits of these techniques.

What visualisation tools do you use? I’d love to hear some use cases for the various tools and where they have worked or perhaps didnt work so well.


A few colleagues have provided the following links via LinkedIn.

[End Edit]


4 billion hours watched every month

72 hours uploaded every minute

These are incredible stats for YouTube as reported by Mashable. The numbers really are mind-boggling and the economist in me wonders what could have been achieved if those hours were spent doing something productive to society, like researching a cure for cancer, or working our why hot water freezes faster than cold. 

With these sorts of numbers we could have a real world experiment proving the infinite monkey theorem.

After I got over my (albeit brief) greif of wasted opportunity I quickly calculated that on average any YouTube clip, however mundane, should receive 1315 views. This is obviously not the case and points directly to the  dark art of virality in social media.

I’d love to see how someone accounts for cute cats in a regression analysis of viral hits. 

As I noted in a previous blog  enterprise social networks need to accommodate those people that just aren’t into the social networks. Be it generational or otherwise some folk just haven’t gotten into the social scene. The otherwise ubiquitous Facebook profile is pictureless and dorment or used sporadically to “see what the kids are doing”.

So how do you engage this people. As more and more conversations are moved online into discussion boards and microblogs how can you ensure they dont miss out. The simple (though not always realistic) answer is to get them involved and perhaps the way to do that is to use analogies they understand.

This post analogizing Google+ to Citizen Band (CB) radio got me thinking. Is Social Media that different that we can’t find analogies that help the non-tech-savvy employee’s understand the benefits? Sure CB radio was a niche technology appealing to particular demographics (you could argue the same sort that would be all over Social Media now) but perhaps it’s pervasivness in popular culture can still allow you to draw parallel’s like those in the article.

What else is there? The book is a fairly well known communication channel and this post suggests that even that had adoption problems. 🙂

So far my analogy has been spruiking the benefits of a social feed vs an email feed. I’m downplaying the suggestion that email will decline however your social feed will at least be targeted (based on subscription and opt-in) and that it’s all available through a simple search. I ask those, particulary in a service role, how many questions they get asked daily/weekly, when I point out that those questions and answers are now available to anyone without interrupting the answerer they start to see the power. Emails are are dead duck when it comes to sharing historical interactions.

But what other technological analogies will help the non-tech-savvy get on board? What about when phone providers offered conference calls (multi-way comm’s) or answering machines” became commonplace (save the message for later). Even chain letters could hold some analogical power (is that even a concept?) in that a message can be distributed and shared by many (re-tweets, share etc).

By far though the “plain English” analogies used by common craft for Wikis and Blogs are the simplest and most powerful. Yay!

Got any others? There’s bound to be heaps.