Archive for August, 2008

I’m on holiday. Whether I like it or not.

August 29th, 2008

So, I’ll be back in the saddle September 8. Until then, I’m being forced to enjoy myself without the pleasures that work brings.

And I blame the Republicans.

You see, the Republican National Convention is being held next week a mere seven minutes from my home. Since my husband works near the venue – and since my daughter attends preschool where he works – everything is pretty much closing down because you won’t be able to get within a mile of the place in any sort of vehicle.

And good luck walking around there. Jeez.

We decided to simply take the week off, clean out the garage (joy!), visit with family, and even get oral surgery. Seriously. I’m getting oral surgery next Wednesday. All of this is preferable to the RNC.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite entertaining and informative bloggers (not an exhaustive list):

The Pink Pamphlet

A Shot at Technical Simplicity

Go Big Always (duh)

Bemused Embrace of Nihilism

It’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen

There are more, but I’m tired.

I shall see you when the madness has moved on (unless I get some really awesome out-of-town wack jobs at my front door. Then, I’ll take pictures and at least tweet it).

Fixing what’s broken about social software pilots, Part II

August 26th, 2008

Read Part I for context…

After just two weeks of engaging with eight global prospective customers in our NextSteps pilot planning program, here are four of the most salient things we’ve noticed:

#1 We can’t do any planning with you, our prospective customers, until we gain your trust (duh).
Since we offer this on the cheap, and we’re not part of an onsite WOCFOY (Winnebago of Consultants For One Year), and we’re doing most of this remotely, you don’t really trust us right away. We’re basically Professional Services Lite, which is a new concept.

But, amazingly, trust happens quickly. All it takes is one kick-off web meeting, followed by a couple of days of prompt, thorough, and genuine responses to your questions, plus some questions of our own. We get to do this because it’s our only job. I think that is key. It also helps that we qualify prospects for this program – we can only work with folks who want to do the work (there are other qualification requirements, of course – our sales reps take care of all that, so don’t bother asking me – ask our sales folks).

#2 You love ditching direct, silo’ed email and using Clearspace for all communications.
You like having the entire education series and the technical and adoption strategy activities all laid out for you and available on demand, but you love abandoning direct email most of all.

There are two reasons this works:

1) Clearspace’s email notification feature keeps everyone participating – you get your answers in email, just like always, and Derek and I stay on top of your questions and requests just by reading and responding to email, like always. But, our conversations are captured in your private Clearspace instance for the rest of your team to read and participate in because, you guessed it, they get notified via email, too (you can opt out of all of this, btw). So, as you add more people to your planning team, they can read the conversations that have already happened. Plus, you get a consolidated history of how a decision was made.

2) We respond realistically and quickly. There is no marketing allowed. The way we see it, if you’re ready to engage with us at this level, we’re way past the marketing stage. I think my favorite part is that you pretty much have a direct line to Jive Engineering, because Derek, formerly of Engineering at Jive (and, incidentally, Oracle) is like employee #5 and has blackmail secrets on everybody. This means he can “effect change” quickly, if you know what I mean. The dude is not only a rockstar developer, he’s well connected.

#3 You’re not quite ready to do any of the adoption or technical planning we offer.
When we introduce these planning activities, they’re received well. But, you’re not quite ready to jump in, especially into the adoption piece. Number four explains why.

#4 Your greatest need is to figure out how to present your unique user stories on a Clearspace stage.
The point at which we engage with you matters here. Most often, it’s about a month or less before some Big Important Presentation you must make to some stakeholder.

I call this the Executive Gate. Nothing much happens until you pass through this gate.

This is the most important thing we do right now.

So, Derek and I have found that we spend most of our time co-creating your unique Clearspace stories with you. Really, our goal is to make Clearspace disappear, and discover the language your stakeholders need to hear, then help you tell those stories when you demonstrate Clearspace to them using your on-premise pilot instance. Derek customizes that instance to fit your stories, too.

The beautiful part of this is that you can reuse that work in your education and communication efforts, at the very least. Nice, yes?

That’s it so far. We’ve got quite a few Big Important Presentations coming up in September, so I’ll report back later this year with any new post-Executive-Gate patterns we notice.

Fixing what’s broken about social software pilots, Part I

August 25th, 2008

In June, my executive management said, “Gia and Derek, go figure out what’s broken about enterprise social software pilots and fix it. Like, yesterday.”

What’s the problem?

It seems that social software pilots, regardless of the technology chosen, either never achieve flight, or if they do, they plateau soon after all the early adopters jump aboard. They can’t seem to attract the rest.

How might we fix that?

Like any good science endeavor, we went in with an hypothesis:

People need help with the adoption stuff, and on the cheap.

The idea was that we’d provide inexpensive user/developer/administrator/operations tutorials as needed, plus assistance in crafting a custom technical and adoption strategy. We’d spend up to 30 days doing this, using a private instance of Clearspace to communicate, collaborate, kick the tires, and tell dirty jokes. Our executive management eighty-sixed the dirty jokes part, unfortunately.

The point was that Derek and I would be your personal shoppers, and that would be our only job. So, in July, we busted some serious ass building strategy workshops and high-level education series, complete with short videos. We figured out a meeting timeline designed to keep you engaged. All of this is delivered through a private, secure, branded, hosted instance of Clearspace 2.5 for each and every customer who qualifies for our program (we call it “NextSteps” internally).

The output is a co-authored Executive Report that answers questions like these (not an exhaustive list):

  • “What specific use cases and users are we targeting for our pilot?”
  • “Who are the critical contributors and how will we entice them to participate?”
  • “What technical customizations do we need to encourage use?”
  • “What is our internal education strategy?”
  • “What is our internal communication strategy?”
  • “How will we measure this?”

Folks could then use that Executive Report to guide the implementation of an on-premise (or hosted) pilot for n number of users. We’ll help you with that, too, because included in that cheap price I mentioned before is assistance with SSO configuration, light theme creation, and something Derek calls the Big Hit Customization. This usually involves integration of person data into Clearspace Profiles (think PeopleSoft, SAP, LinkedIn, some old MS Access database, whatever), or some other feature that will deliver a delightful user experience.

How’s this working so far?

That’s my next post…

Using the new Rich Text Editor in Clearspace 2.5

August 21st, 2008

I have to get all of this Clearspace 2.5 love out of my system this week, apparently. We are video-crazy at Jive lately, and some of our work, like the following by Adam Wulf, is informative while making you giggle. No audio on this one, as it wasn’t needed.

Adam is one of the core members of Fort Awesome, which is the cube farm housing the Jive Engineering team.

Tables in Clearspace 2.5 Rich Text Editor

Moving Rows and Columns

More Clearspace 2.5 goodness – sharing files

August 20th, 2008

So, I completely forgot to link to Sam’s most excellent post about our announcement yesterday. Check it out when you get a chance!

Some of our customers have started a FAQ about how to use Clearspace 2.5, designed to assist newcomers with all their “how do I?” questions. And boyoboy, I can’t count how many of our prospective and existing customers want super-short videos. They want to use them not only for on-demand education, but also to advertise their Clearspace deployment internally.

One topic that came up was, “How do I share files in Clearspace?”

By the way, I’m going to start blogging about the stuff my cross-functional research team has learned from prospective customers lately re: how they sell social software internally. We’ve definitely noticed a pattern.

What it means to follow someone in Clearspace 2.5

August 18th, 2008

We’ve announced Clearspace 2.5. Finally. You can get all the snazzy details from our freshly updated website – be sure to check out the groovin’ videos!

I thought I’d focus one one little ol’ capability within Clearspace 2.5 myself, though. It’s the befriending feature. You’d think it would be the same ol’ same ol’, but c’mon. You expect more from Jive, yes?

Check it out.

Wanna try it out yourself?

We need an E2.0 Rosetta Stone

August 11th, 2008

Learning how to do useful things with a new application is like learning a new language. For example, if I just want to see if I like it, I can try picking up the Italian language for free online. If I want to put some skin in the game, say, because I’ll be vacationing in Italy for a couple of months, maybe I’d spring for the $549 Rosetta Stone Italian series. If learning this language is strategic to my life’s goals – maybe I’m moving to Milan for two years to apprentice at Roberto Cavalli – then, I’d probably pay several thousand to immerse myself in the language and culture by living six weeks with a Milanian family.

That’s the problem: a particular E2.0 solution isn’t necessarily strategic to an enterprise right away. That means they are either looking to kick tires for free, or are willing to put a little skin in the game. That’s where an adoption starter pack – the E2.0 Rosetta Stone, if you will – comes into play. (And really, trying to use some E2.0 solutions out there today is like trying to decipher hieroglyphics.)

Here’s my theory:

People hire consultants when they realize two things. One, that they can’t do it themselves, and two, they can admit that to their management team. With the task of promoting E2.0 adoption, there is a sense that, “hey, this isn’t rocket science,” and, “we should be able to figure this out ourselves, for crying out loud.”

The truth is that, if we were just given a recipe about how to implement an E2.0 adoption strategy, we could probably muddle through it the first time, and refine our strategy as we go.

Recipe, Rosetta Stone – I never said I was wicked awesome at analogies.


My point is that, there should be some sort of relatively inexpensive E2.0 adoption starter pack included with every vendor’s solution that includes at least the following:

  • How to pick the right pilot groups
  • “Here’s how you did it then, here’s how you do it with this software” videos
  • “Here are totally new capabilities that don’t map to anything you’re familiar with today” videos
  • Materials to be used in a company’s existing education program
  • Internal marketing materials and recommendations
  • Typical metrics to shoot for within the first six months

The biggest thing that needs to be included, though, is time. Time from those who have the breadth of experience across multiple implementations, and time from those who are trying to implement. It’s all well and good to throw best practices at people like beads during Mardi Gras. But, what people need is someone who will spend time with them, listening, providing ideas and advice, being an experienced sounding board. All for the low low price of cheap.

Status Wars and Ass-Dragging

August 4th, 2008

At Jive, we have status (aka “what are you doing?”) wars. Here’s an example:

  • Gia changed status to “is dragging ass.”
  • Derek changed status to “is dragging even more ass.”
  • Gia changed status to “is dragging ass so low she has asphalt up her butt.”

It’s a different kind of competition, and a bit more fun than accumulating reputation points.

(Incidentally, I posted this same observation inside Jive a week ago, and a conversation about “asphalt” vs. “ass fault” and “ripter scales” ensued. I work with a bunch of comedians.)