Archive for July, 2008

Best business hook-up hotspot: Clearstep

July 30th, 2008

Ever wish you could find someone working on social media or Enterprise 2.0 efforts at other companies, same as you? Wish you could pick their brain about how the heck they justified the implementation cost? Found that elusive ROI? Tricks to get employees to use it? Best way to communicate your new online community to your brand fanbase?

Ever wish you could do this without all of we pesky software vendors trying to market to you the whole time?

Well, now you can.

Jive Software (your favorite pesky software vendor) is proud to announce the new Clearstep business community (register today – it’s free!).

There’s already quite a bit of activity in Clearstep. It’s segmented into two areas:

Online Communities

Build, manage, and measure your community successfully

Social media folks focused on external-facing communities will be most interested in these discussions, tips, and tricks. Current hot topics include (requires registration):

Internal Collaboration

Discover best practices in leveraging enterprise social software

Enterprise 2.0 advocates focused on internal social networking and collaboration will be most interested in this area. Current hot topics include:

Want to know the best part about this community? It’s completely vendor-agnostic. That’s right. There are folks discussing solutions from Microsoft, Jive (naturally), IBM, Atlassian, etc. The community managers are absolutely committed to keeping this place vendor-agnostic and marketing-free so that the truly valuable conversations can be had.

And, last I checked, the majority of participants work at very recognizable Fortune 500 companies.

Makes you wonder if the old customer reference requests are a thing of the past. You can now just participate in Clearstep, and ask your peers yourself.

Register today!

Behavior Migration is H-A-R-D, but Possible

July 28th, 2008

I talked with a Jive Clearspace customer last week about adoption struggles (I get to do this for a living now, and frankly, I’m in my dream job). They have what I think is probably a very typical adoption obstacle. Actually, two very typical obstacles.

The first one was a theme at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston in June 2008. The CEO loves social software, worker bees are adopting it like crazy, but mid-level managers are having what-the-hell moments, because they weren’t properly introduced to the business benefits of social software. They’re putting a stop to all this “social nonsense” until they get a better handle on it.

My advice: Figure out what gives them ulcers at night. Maybe it’s, “how do I meet my management chain’s objectives?” Then, figure out how to explain how your social software solution will help them achieve those objectives better, faster, smarter. For example, one of our customers tied their Jive Clearspace ROI to making critical business processes more efficient (requires registration). Discussing this with mid-level managers who care about more efficient critical business processes would probably be quite effective.

The second obstacle was that a few of the strategic pilot groups were approaching the new Clearspace experience from an old file-centric SharePoint paradigm. “Is this where we put our files now?” The result was a repeat of old file folder hierarchies, which, of course, doesn’t promote cross-enterprise conversations. Note that at this company, constantly increasing efficiency is critical.

So, we talked about the following good practices:

Show how they’re doing their work now, and point out any inefficiencies. These folks would send an Excel spreadsheet around via email. Each person would then upload their modified version into individual SharePoint folders, then someone would consolidate them all into a single file again. (I know! OMG!)

Show how your social software solution replaces that behavior, while making them more efficient in the process. Folks can co-edit a rich table within a Clearspace page, with complete versioning and rollback capabilities. They can create author comments and general user comments to capture the collaborative conversations about the data, and even create some team projects, tasks, or even a blog to capture status reports or the like. The idea is to do the, “and that’s not all!” pitch, once you’ve neutralized the Old Way Of Doing Things.

Address the Fear of Sharing Too Soon. This is the harder, and most critical part. In most organizations, people don’t “put their stuff out there” until it’s pretty much done. All the conversations and collaboration happens before they share, via emails, IMs, phone calls, and in-person meetings.

Here’s the problem: many folks don’t WANT to share their stuff until it’s pretty much done.

  • “My colleagues and my manager will think I’m a doofus if I put something half-baked out there!”
  • “I don’t want anyone stealing my half-baked idea, fleshing it out and taking credit for it.”

My advice? Implement a slow behavior migration. Give those people a private, secure space or group to share their half-baked stuff so that REAL collaboration can take place. The end result won’t be an individual contribution, of course, so help them understand the meaning of co-ownership. Once they’re comfy co-baking with the people they already trust, encourage them to open those private spaces up to more people, or perhaps make them public to the organization, if appropriate.

Jive Clearspace 2.5, and more…

July 24th, 2008

In case you follow my blog because you are a Jive fanboi or fangirl, you’ll be interested in this “official” JiveTalks company blog post I wrote. I’m pretty excited. How about you?

“I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?”

July 21st, 2008

You’re on a conference call. You’re “multitasking” – the word we all use to describe all the work we’re doing while the blah blah blah is going on over the phone.

Your attention is precious.

What kind of things would you want to see in your online experience throughout the day? Check out Sam’s The 5 Futures of Attention for some ideas…

The Future of Harley Rallies?

July 19th, 2008 a drive along Snelling Ave in St. Paul, MN last Friday, I got to see something you just don’t see every day.

Two miles of giant RVs.

They were all pulling out of the Minnesota State Fair grounds, headed toward I-94. I could only wonder if this was the future of Harley rallies, once the bikes get too much to handle.

ROI of Social Media at Cisco

July 17th, 2008

One of my new pals, Karen Snyder, did a great job synopsizing her conversation with Cisco’s Manager of New Media, Amy Paquette. I, along with I’m sure what are thousands of others out there, have personally experienced what she describes. Amy said:

Having internal blogs is a great way for [potential external bloggers] to find their voice, and learn how to communicate with their blog. People feel more free to ask questions.

So, that’s one more valuable grain of sand in an internally-focused social enterprise environment – discover internal bloggers who could inadvertently generate sales leads or greater brand recognition externally.

And once they go external, feel free to do whatever you want with their internal blog. :)

The Popular Kids and the Big Toe

July 15th, 2008

A customer once told me they needed to get Super Awesome Highly Visible Group involved in their pilot social software environment, so that Guy Who Could Pay For The Whole Thing With a Wave of His Big Toe would see their success and haul out his checkbook. And then, of course, everyone else would want a piece of that social experience.

This reminded me of high school. Whatever the popular kids were wearing, doing, and saying, the rest of us would try to mimic. Classic The Tipping Point fare (I actually wore Hush Puppies in high school in the mid-80s. Omigod, you should’ve seen my hair).

So, who are the popular kids where you work, the ones with a bunch of organizational power? Maybe they’re the ones who bring in the most revenue. Maybe they’re so strategic to the company that if they all got hit by a bus tomorrow, your stock price would faint. You know who they are.

If you’re the woman responsible for a successful social software pilot, figure out how to romance that popular jock. Figure out the answer to, “What’s in it for me?” for them. Explain how your chosen social software solution can solve one of their current problems. If you can get them into your pilot, and it actually does help solve that problem, then poof! You’ve got the best case study you could possibly have. Use it to advertise the wonderment of your social software pilot to the rest of your organization, most especially that guy with the powerful big toe.

Secret Agents: Keeping the Enterprise Peace

July 11th, 2008

I want to know something.

Is your company’s IT department in tune with your business divisions? Do they play nice together? Do they work together to achieve whateverthehell is needed? I have found examples of this, like @curiousmitch‘s place of work.

Or, if this isn’t the case, are there one or two secret agents who duck the radar and grease whatever wheels are stuck in order to make it possible for IT and Business to git ‘er done?

Same question, different departments: Sales and Marketing. Or, Marketing and Engineering. Or Communications and HR.

Is there an entire army of enterprise secret agents who don’t know one another exists, perhaps? Maybe they should form an Illuminati-like society, get tattoos and hold secret ceremonies where they sacrifice small kitchen appliances or viral YouTube videos or CAD drawings to appease the Department Gawds.

Secret Agent, I salute you. I won’t blow your cover. But please, tell me your secrets.

Who owns an employee blog?

July 9th, 2008

When I was an IBM employee, I enjoyed writing my employee blog. I also enjoyed being the number two blogger at IBM, trailing only behind my pal, Luis Suarez (natch). I wrote about business stuff and personal stuff. It was my voice to my colleagues.

I left IBM in May 2008. I didn’t, however, leave my people network. Those relationships remain strong, although we are careful about what we discuss now, since many of us actually compete with one another in the marketplace (which I am not thrilled about, but that’s life).

Public Ownership

I found out a few days ago that someone at IBM has suggested that they “take over” my internal IBM blog.

Boy, that really pissed me off.

I immediately asked Twitter what they thought. Lots of IBMers and non-IBMers chimed in. After I calmed down a bit and read a few of the responses, I decided to feel this way:

  • the blog is IBM’s
  • the content – even my personal stories – is IBM’s
  • the voice is mine

I got all Zen then, because I knew who the person was who might “take over” my IBM blog, and realized that my voice is WAY different than their’s. Also, since my IBM blog contains my name in the URL, I figured it would be interesting to see how they could even accomplish a “take over”. It would be like someone taking over my email, really.

Why do they want to take it over? Most likely for the traffic it receives. I say, start your own blog, put a redirect in front of mine. Done. Oh wait. They still need some of the content in that blog.


So, in retrospect, all of this is a classic example of Waffle Thinking. I’m a cog who left the wheel. Need to get a new cog (waffle square?). Fortunately, there are many IBMers who are fellow Spaghettians, and I hope they continue to encourage IBM’s ever… so… slow… culture change to include more Spaghetti Thinking.

Spaghetti Nation, FTW!

So, IBM, not that you ever need my permission to do anything, feel free to replace me. Take over my employee blog. Fart in my office chair. Use my coffee mug. Take my pens. But know that my voice will always be mine.

Choice matters.

July 9th, 2008

Something my pal JD successfully hammered into my head last week caused a lightbulb moment.

Employees can choose not to use enterprise social environments.

About to dive inDo you have a customer relationship management (CRM), procurement, portal, or other software you are forced – yes, forced – to use by your company? Me too. I have no choice. But when it comes to social networking and collaborative applications, there’s no “force” about it. I can choose to use it or not.

This means that the traditional way of implementing “you gotta use this” software doesn’t really work with social enterprise solutions.

So, what does work? Think about the things you use in your life that you don’t really need to use, but want to use. It’s all the things that you could live without if you had to. And I’m not talking about choosing a less expensive model of something you consider a necessity (e.g., selecting a discount diaper bag over a Coach diaper bag – a mom’s gotta have a diaper bag).

Why do you use those things? You get some kind of personal satisfaction out of them. Can you say that for your company’s CRM or procurement applications? The authors of Groundswell refer to one type of this personal satisfaction as psychic income.

I wish I had a magic answer for my customers about what kinds of things constitute personal satisfaction for everyone in their organizations, but then I’d just sound like a dumb software vendor wonk. Instead, I’d rather spend time with my customers to help them figure it out. Because one person’s satisfaction is another’s irritation.