How to be a hero with stuff like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, delicious, wikis and more

Hint #1: The monkey was right.

The monkey was right

The monkey was right.

Look beyond what you see
Are you trying to convince your friends, or, colleauges that they need to get into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, wikis, instant messaging, etc. Worse yet, have you convinced your boss that these tools of social software are not developed and promoted by the Axis of Evil for the purposes of killing our productivity?

Don’t get me wrong. Look at what I blog about. Look at my photo. Do I look like a member of the Axis Of Evil Social Software Society? Look back at my Starting My Own, Thanks to … post & you’ll see that at one time, I too didn’t see the business value of this stuff. However, since then I can honestly say, that I don’t recall ever learning so much from some many different people – absolute strangers yet, in such a short period of time. Oh yah, did I mention that it was all for free? All thanks to social software, social networking, social media and most importantly the folks that provide the intellectual property – the content. Now that’s just my experience. And it may be just yours too. But it may not be your colleagues’, or, boss’. So the big question is; “What did your organization gain?” Where’s the business value for social software?

Enterprise 2.0
The originator of the phrase “Enterprise 2.0″, Professor Andrew McAfee defines it as

the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers”.

Oddly enough, he specifically states that

Wikipedia, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace, etc. These are for individuals on the Web, not companies. Some companies use sites like YouTube for viral and stealth marketing, but let’s explicitly put these activities outside our definition of Enterprise 2.0.

Dion Hinchcliffe, in his The state of Enterprise 2.0 post, reminds us of the primary concern of business

Whether Enterprise 2.0 brings real bang for the buck by making the daily work of organizations measurably more productive, efficient, and innovative.

Is it just me, or, don’t you find that a little bit funny? In my opinion, I think these examples of social software actually feed and drive Enterprise 2.0. I think its more about content than tools. But it’s Andrew’s phrase so I guess I’ll have to come up with my own. How about “ Social Content 2.0“?

Hint #2: What starts with someone requesting something & ends with someone else delivering it? (And it’s not pizza.)

One Smalll Step for Man

Find a cause. Remember

Step 1: Find a cause
Now, if we could see beyond all those tools, beyond what is and what is not Enterprise 2.0, and simply concentrate on the content, then I think we’re well on our way to becoming that hero. So find a cause. Find something you need to deliver. Something that you can’t do on your own. Something that cries out for collaboration, sharing, communicating. Use the tools to help you achieve your goal. Sound a little too abstract?

 

How about a project?
Projects start with someone asking for something and end with someone else delivering it. Projects are very social. So we’ve got our cause now. Now let’s look at our tools. We already have enough examples of social software, so now let’s consider our tradtional project management software.

The problem with projects
I’m in the middle of reading Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and came across the following passage:

… “No plan survives contact with the enemy,” says Colonel Tom Kolditz, the head of the behavioral sciences division at West Point. “You may start off trying to fight your plan, but the enemy gets a vote. Unpredictable things happen – the weather changes, a key asset is destroyed, the enemy responds in a way you don’t expect. Many armies fail because they put all their emphasis into creating a plan that becomes useless ten minutes into the battle.”

Now replace some of the key words – like “enemy” for “customer”, “armies” for “software labs” and “battle” for “development”. Sounds like the Colonel and I have been on a few software development projects together. And I doubt we’d be alone in that analogy.

Step 2: Get social
IBM’s Carl Kessler and John Sweitzer wrote Outside-in Software Development: A Practical Approach to Building Successful Stakeholder-based Products which contains some great examples of things going wrong and how to rectify the situation. For me, outside-in software development is really about mixing the social process into the software development process.

In my previous The Role of Social Software and Outside-in Agile Development I discussed how we are moving away from the Waterfall Model for software development towards Agile. Coincidentally, I also illustrated how we are moving away from the stoic/static Ivory-tower based tooling to the outside-in community-based ones. And finally, I tie it all together with an illustration of how you could use Rational Team Concert, the Agile/Scrum Process and IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse for outside-in software development.

I then followed that post up with Whiteboarding about Social Maps and Software and sketched how various communities of Stakeholders can form ad hoc social networks through the use of social software, (read IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse).

Step 3: Find a project management tool that’s sociable
Flip through Leisa Reichelt‘s presentation about how project management is evolving.

Social Project Management 

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: collaboration process)

Here’s a few other opinions and possible tools to help you on your way to becoming that hero:

  • Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, Inc. writes that “Project Management 2.0″ is based on

    Collective intelligence … is a form of intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals.

    and

    Emergence … is a form of collective behavior, when parts of a system do together what they would not do by themselves.

  • Bruce P. Henry, a founder of Liquid Planner writes in his Social Project Management post that

    … project management is about people making commitments to other people to work with still other people to get something done or built for perhaps some other people. Project management is about people. If that’s not social then I don’t know what is!

  • Rick Cook in his post Jazz in Concert—Jazz Platform and Rational Team Concert Make Sweet Music for Development Teams writes

    Collaboration in software development isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity that software teams have to figure out how to do better. With the right tools such as IBM’s Rational Team Concert built on the Jazz technology, any size software development team can stay in sync in real-time, regardless of location.

Superman

Be that hero. Put Social Content 2.0 into your next project.

Step 4: Get viral
Take a look at Business Week’s Social Media Will Change Your Business By Stephen Baker and Heather Green. You don’t have to read it. Just look at the number of comments it solicited. At the time of this post, it was at 3110! Now that’s social. That’s viral! That’s Social Content 2.0. And apparently, it doesn’t even matter how accurate, or, truthfull some of those comments are. According to Rubicon Consulting & Online Communities and Their Impact on Business: Ignore at Your Peril, 10% of the community members contribute 80% of the content. These Most Frequent Contributors (MFCs) are second to word of mouth when it comes to influencing others. So while having Web 2.0 technology features in your project management tool may make it more social, it’ll never make your deliverable more viral.

The Sweet Spot – Social Content 2.0
Dion Hinchcliffe’s #1 prediction from his 8 Predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2009 Enterprise Web 2.0 post, states

1. Tight budgets will drive the adoption of low-cost Web 2.0 and cloud/SaaS solutions. This seems like an obvious prediction but how it plays out will be very interesting. This could end up actually helping the smaller Enterprise Web 2.0 players as companies look to get away from the big-ticket, enterprise-class offerings from major vendors like IBM, Oracle, and others. But in reality, once enterprises make the decision to move to platforms for wikis, enterprise mashups, cloud services, SaaS enterprise apps, and so on, they may find the one-stop shop of pre-integrated solutions from entrenched software providers more than they can resist. Make no mistake, however, IT shops and businesses alike will be looking to cut costs and I expect a lot of IT and business downsizing to happen in a surge of “Economics 2.0″.

Did you catch that? The “pre-integrated solutions” part? To me, that’s the sweet spot. Whoever can, not only integrate Web 2.0 technologies into their project management tools, but integrate that viral Most Frequent Contributor Social Content 2.0 into the products developed by those tools will rule.

Reflection
Do you have any experience with any of the products in this space? If so, I’d love to see your comments. If not, are you a traditional project management type? Do you think this is just one of those phases & in the end folks will return to the classics?

In the spirit of openess, I’m going to reach out to some of those mentioned above. In addition, I’ll ping someone at Basecamp and Cynapse who I know do great things in collaboration software but am uncertain about the extent of their project management features.

Your opinion along with any constructive feedback is much appreciated.

Photo credits, click on images to find source.