Archive for the ‘SocialBiz’ 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!

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]


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.


Google+ V Twitter

Posted: September 9, 2011 in SocialBiz

There’s any number of twitter vs google+ posts out there. While these posts represent many different outcomes for the 2 platforms it wasn’t until I read this post from Business Insider that I realised what I had been thinking all along.

Google+ is nice….though it’s somewhere in between Facebook and Twitter and I really don’t see it displacing either platforms.

My wife did a uni assignment years ago on the difference between creativity and innovation. When is something innovative versus creative? I think the general consensus was that to be creative you need to create something new whereas innovation was taking already used and appying it in a new way. And I think this is where Google+ has lucked out. They have tried to be innovative and not creative. They have taken bit of facebook a bit of  twitter and added a dash of RSS without bringing anything new to the table.

Facebook is built for connecting friends.  Google+ is seriously lacking in this. I’ve got “suggestions” of people who I have no idea who they are. Even when I check them out I’m still struggling to work out how Google has made the association. Facebook’s “magic” trumps Google hands down.

Twitter’s 140chr limit is a saviour in my mind. I subscribe to only a few folk,260+ppl, and even that number means I  have a busy stream. This is coupled further through timezone differences. Most of the folk I follow are US based, this has 2 ramifications. First I miss alot of their posts (during the  my night) and secondly they miss my posts for the same reason.

The single killer (as in bad) feature of Google+ for me is the character limit. I scan my tweets for interesting information. Google+ makes it very hard to scan. I could follow someone interesting in general but a 1 page post (+photos) destroys my scanability so I switch off with “too hard” echoing through my mind.

Prove me wrong here but can’t I achieve Google+ functionality by Tweeting my Tumblr posts and still have the benefit of summary (twitter) and detail (tumblr).

Throw in Tweetdeck’s Facebook integration and I have no real reason to go back to my browser (except maybe for RSS feed?!?)

Am I missing something? Love to hear your thoughts on where Google+ fits in your social tools.

I love gamification…and while I’ve read some interesting posts that suggest gamification is “bullshit” I still think it has a lot of potential.

Most social platforms I’ve come across offer the use of badges as a reward mechanism. Indeed this seems to the most common type of gamification reward out there. Playstation give out badges for in-game accomplishments, ebay provide “status titles” (a type of  badge) for respected sellers and buyers, Foursquare have the well-mentioned reward badges and mayorship titles etc.

However, these platforms have one thing in common, the rewards (i.e. badges) are pre-defined and transitory. For an Enterprise 2.0 platform i’m not sure this is enough. What if you could you allow participants to give their own real, transparent, HR sanctioned awards? For example, John has gone out of his way to help me and has done a great job. I have a choice, send a note to his manager saying thanks, or stamp a “Top Job” badge on his social enterprise profile. Couple it with a short blurb of why and John has the acknowledgement and reason for his Kudos, permanently stamped on his record!

No longer is your praise lost in 1:1 communication without future benefits, or filed away in your HR “record”. Everyone can see your badge of honor.

Sure, there are programs where you can “suggest a hero” or “give praise” but the problem with those is that they are transitory in nature. Someone sends a note saying “well done” and 1 week later it’s forgotten. If you’re lucky your boss was a) copied on and b) has reviewed it before your pay review cycle.

You could create the standard badges but what about having staff members create their own badge, something like the coat of arms of ye’ old. If you get good service from that person you give them your stamp of approval. That in itself would drive competition wouldn’t it – who could collect the most badges!

There’ll no doubt be the obvious concerns of abuse or privacy. But let’s look at some of the common ones.

  1. You can get all your friends to “badge” you – this problem just doesn’t exist when it’s company wide. I could have my 10 or 20 mates at work “badge” me but those that are really doing good things will have hundreds if not more.
  2. People give the reward easily – Most (but not all) of the time peoples good deed affect many people. Susan might ask for help but it’s on behalf of her whole team. Using this concept we could attach a rating to the reward. For an incremental, run of the mill, good service you might rate it 1 or 2. But for the game-changing / save the company $$ help you might give it 10. This gives an extra dimension to the badge that can be highlighted (raised in profile) through various means.
  3. Some staff don’t like public recognition – this is easy. Most social networks give you the option to “change your title” or show your badges. Do the same for your internal network and problem solved.

I’m quite smitten with this concept. It puts the idea of rewards and recognition in the hands of your peers and away from the potential bureaucratic red-tape. It’s open, transparent and very very social. I wonder if this could work for totally open and transparent rating of senior management?!?