Transparency – It’s Bigger than Boardrooms Bits

Reinventing the board meeting may offer angel-funded startups that don’t have formal boards or directors (because of geography or size of investment) to attract experienced advice and investment outside of technology clusters (i.e. Silicon Valley, New York).

— Steve Blank, Why Board Meetings Suck – Part 1 of 2


Watch live video from Startup Lessons Learned on Justin.tv

Retrospective

In the spirit of Agile, here’s my retrospective on Transparency.

When the Boardroom is Bits

Steve Blank made a great case for changing the traditional, scheduled, physical approach to startup boardroom meetings by facilitating on-demand communication and transparency with the founders blogging about their activities. That way board members, advisors, investors, basically anyone with the right credentials can get up-to-speed at their own convenience.

But if;

A startup is a temporary organization formed to search for a sustainable*, repeatable and scalable business model.

– Steve Blank (*Ash Maurya helped me with “sustainable”)

then we have to think bigger than the boardroom.  We have to think about transparency throughout the startup’s life cycle. Not just for board members but for the Founders and everyone else involved – to some degree.

Transparency

Imagine a new stakeholder comes aboard. Whether they be an Internal Stakeholder – like an advisor, or, an engineer, or, an External Stakeholder – like a customer, or, business partner, they’ll have to get up to speed. Having crucial decision-making data hidden in scattered “My Documents” folders, personal Calendars, or, email just doesn’t scale. Attachments, CC & BCC lists are error prone & disasters waiting to happen.

And it’s not a matter of who to blame. It’s not a matter of what was right, or, wrong. It’s a matter of knowing what decisions were made, at what point in time and with what available resources.

Collaboration Tools

Integrated collaboration tools like blogs, wikis, discussions, events, videos, audios, shared images, bookmarks, files & yada yada yada have been around for years. Personally, I’m a big fan of Cynapse’s cyn.in suite and that’s why I became a Business Partner. I use it for AnotherSocialEconomy.com and even in my daughter’s elementary school and high school. (See edu)

But more important than the tool themselves, is their content.

Content Rules

In my past eLearning-Labs CTO life, my CEO & President – Rick Felt, who came from the publishing business, had one rule – Content Rules. So while the tools are nice the real Lesson to Learn is content is everything. Whether it be as deceivingly mundane as meeting minutes, an advisor’s feedback, or, a Customer’s user experience, it’s imperative for it to be all searchable & accessible to those with the right credentials.

One more thing….

The only thing better than having an integrated suite of collaboration tools, is having that content linked to your Business Model, your Agile project management software and your source control. In AnotherSocialEconomy‘s case, we link our Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas, cyn.in, Pivotal Tracker and github sites. So we not only offer Transparency but, Traceability & Accountability as well.

Wouldn’t it be great if..

EricRies' Validated Learning Cycle, cyn.in, Ash Maurya's LeanCanvas, PivotalTracker, GitHub

Imagine if accelerator and incubator programs sublet virtual collaboration Space to each of it’s portfolio members. Then not only, do those startups benefit but so do the all of the Internal and External Stakeholders – well beyond the calendar limits of those programs. Now that would accelerate the validated learning cycle & extend Boardroom Bits.

 

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 2

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Background

In my previous post, I described how I was struggling with my lean start-up sales and marketing efforts on seemingly two separate fronts. In keeping with my perseverance theme, here’s how I combining these two  into one complimentary offering, yet still affording me the possibility of either one, or, better yet both launching a business.

Ingredients

  1. My peanut butter – AnotherSocialEconomy: A service that anonymously connects consumers – who already know exactly what they want with local retailers – who actually have it in stock. It’s like Google Local Shopping only way simpler and more accessible for small and medium-size businesses (SMB).
  2. My chocolate – edu.cyn.in: A social software platform enabling collaboration not just within the class, school but across geographies. It’s like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, MSN, Twitter, Blogger, Wikipedia, iTunes, Digg, Google Calendar and more, all in one integrated and monitored web site.

Directions

  1. Offer limited edu.cyn.in membership to local schools and organizations providing extra-curricular activities for free.
  2. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to sharing, commenting and rating content – for free.
  3. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to self-organizing projects and events thereby reducing phone calls and oodles of emails with attachments.
  4. Add AnotherSocialEconomy Widget to edu.cyn.in.
  5. Offer those edu organizations free local Sponsor links in edu.cyn.in.
  6. Offer those edu organizations the opportunity to become AnotherSocialEconomy Retailers, InfluencersResellers and/or Referrers.

(Should) Yield

Our Reeses Pieces should consist of a hyper-local (thanks Flack Maguire) online community of consumers and retailers/merchant/service providers. If we succeed in educating and mentoring are target edu.cyn.in audience, we could have one, or, two adult pair of eyes for every student pair of eyeballs. So one class of 25 students could yield anywhere between 2 and 50 additional eyeballs on edu.cyn.in. The better we educate and help folks adopt the social software, the greater chances we have of increasing those hyper-local eyeballs. The more eyeballs, the greater the chances we have of getting folks to use AnotherSocialEconomy’s Widget. More local consumers, more local merchants.

Additionally, since we’re also Cynapse Reseller, we’ve also introduced a whole new crop of highly qualified prospects into our sales funnel.

Stay Tuned

Please feel free to comment below and let me know your predictions. Will our ingredients yield another Reeses Pieces, or, is this plan going to curdle? Just remember, the alternative approach could be to pay Google AdWords $7500 a month for pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM) and pray that’s cheaper than the time and hosting frees we’re currently investing.

Does Social Media aid, or, harm Literacy Levels?

“Young people are engaging in constant communication,” she said. “Whether it’s highly literate or not is another question. But there’s all kinds of Web activity that is enhancing literacy.”

— Montreal Gazette: Literacy no longer either/or

QR Code for Montreal Gazette "Literacy no longer either/or" Article
QR Code for Montreal Gazette "Literacy no longer either/or" Article

Nice

Nice article on Literacy! Since there’s no where to add Comments, I’ll just have to post my $0.02 CDN  here 🙂

In my opinion (IMO), there’s a direct correlation between the rise in literacy with the adoption of social software. From the netted-out 140 character tweets, to the 500 – 1000 word blogs, to the endless stream of live documents on wikis. But of course that’s IMO. There are other opinions out there which carry more weight than mine, such as, Seth Godin & Tom Peters on bloggingSTRATEGY_Story’s_More_Powerful.

But wait, there’s more…

How about leading by example and authoring a digital article embedded with all the social media elements & then having a simple 140 character one-liner, or, single paragraph printed in various sections of the Montreal Gazette with a link to the full digital version? You could use a QR Code for the link, so the more hip SmartPhone users can simply scan it & have it open in their browsers. How about trying a page, or, small section featuring a collection of these with their respective QR Codes, so people like myself can quickly determine what’s of interest to me, scan the link & bookmark, it, or, ReadItLaterList it.

Offer to help

Does anyone (at The Montreal Gazette) want help doing an article on how social media can improve not just one’s literacy level, but one’s effectiveness as a communicator through various multimedia like those presentations on SlideShare, videos on YouTube and podcast on iTunes? Feel free to peruse my blog for more info and please, please, please check out http://edu.cyn.infor a living experiment with elementary & high school students embracing social software.

Just a thought

Anyone else have any thoughts of social media, literacy and how to spread the words?

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 1

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Worlds Apart?
Worlds Apart?

The Chronicles

Peruse my blog and you’ll see I pretty much chronicle my experiences as an ultra light, non-funded, start-up entrepreneur. You’ll also see that I divide my time, not necessarily equally, among two main efforts: 1) called :Twetailer, which has morphed into :AnotherSocialEconomy and 2) :edu.cyn.in. While both were born out of a burning desire to correct something I found profoundly wrong, yet so “simple” to fix, I’ve always considered them to be worlds apart. That was until I tried to fill a void in my execution plans – sales & marketing. Now I know these are not subjects to be treated lightly but, in my own defense, I was primarily concerned about the Guy Kawasaki lesson How to Change the World: Defensibility. With all that reasonably taken care, I started educating myself on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). As a matter of fact, my very last post was how I used that new knowledge to rethink AnotherSocialEconomy’s :Widget. Who knew? It was not only another entry point/channel/stream into the system (remember, I’m a techie) but it actually competes – quite nicely, with Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Cost Per Click-through (CPC) and Cost Per Action (CPA).

Selling sucks

In the early days, I tried getting schools to pay for the edu.cyn.in service but, being a techie and not a sales rep, failed. There was either not enough budget to go around, not enough qualified staff to support the service, or, simply the FUD Factor (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). But I’m a persistent bugger and based on my prior experience with social software on the Internet, within enterprises and even within schools, I  just couldn’t give up.

I knew the service was greatly appreciated by the kids. I knew the service was greatly appreciated by educators – albeit a special select few. And as a parent, I also knew the frustration of organizing events, committee meetings, car pools, other extra-curricular activities and even purchasing related goods and services.

And on top of all this pressure to sell edu into schools, I was still struggling to sell AnotherSocialEconomy – which needed a way to reach retailers & consumers.

Started getting that sinking feeling

Things just seemed to be getting worse.  Was I going to be one of those start-ups with a great idea – in my case, two great ideas that no one other than myself, Dom & a few others knew about? It’s not like I don’t know my limitations.  I think I’m a pretty good technical business analyst, software product manager, maybe even a social media manager. I love pre-sales demos, presenting at shows and conferences, have a pretty cool online education story to tell, love story telling and I’m pretty pleased with my stickman videos and presentation creations. But I just can’t seem to get past this marketing & sales hump. I’ve tried to bring in others but it just hasn’t gelled yet. Maybe some seed money would be the way to go. Either way, if I don’t get any traction, I’ll probably have to drop edu. Yikes! That would really hurt because not only have the Cynapse folks been more than fair with me (I’m also a struggling Reseller), it would mean that my daughter Sara & friends would lose the service.

Perseverance

Back in my IBM days, Perseverance was not only a welcomed characteristic, but encouraged too (by some). In a company of over 390,000 (at the time), it was all too easy to say things like; “I’m waiting for so-and-so to get back to me”, or, “Today’s first agenda item is to decide when we’ll meet again to discuss this matter”. If you truly wanted to make a difference, you had to persevere – you had to press on people, press a few buttons, or, as my wife Anna says, I just had to continue being the real pain in the ass I can be.

Dropping edu, dropping, AnotherSocialEconomy, getting a real job are options I’m just not ready to accept yet. What I really have to do is find a better way to persevere.

Suggestions?

Do you have any suggestions on how I can make edu & AnotherSocialEconomy work for each other? Stay tuned for Part 2.

What To Do When Your Kids Are More Connected Than You Are and Your First Social Safety Net

How to turn an unknown social network of yours into your kids safety net and maybe even help you start connecting too.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Bill Gates

Geniuses at Work: Bill Gates watches his friend and future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen typing on a teletype terminal at the Lakeside School in Seattle in 1968. Gates was 13 when he entered the exclusive prep school, which was around the time this photo was taken.
Geniuses at Work: Gates watches his friend and future Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen typing on a teletype terminal at the Lakeside School in Seattle in 1968. Gates was 13 when he entered the exclusive prep school, which was around the time this photo was taken.

Background

I have two start-up projects underway. The first, Twetailer was inspired by one of those “OMG! Wouldn’t it be great if you could just yada yada yada?” moments. The second, http://edu.cyn.in, was not. No edu, was created out of my 11-year old daughter Sara’s frustration with her school’s computer curriculum. Complaints like: “Why do I care if something is bold?”, or, “Insert a column? When am I ever going to need that when I grow up?”. Yikes! Wouldn’t it be great if Sara could actually use technology for something she cared about?

You can’t always get what you want

– Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

But Sara also shared the frustration she felt when some of her friends – who are on Facebook, kept urging others to join up, even though they know the minimun age is 14. Similarly for those with MSN, or, gmail accounts. And while I love seeing kids adopt technology, there are valid reasons why these services have age requirements. So, as a parent, what do you do? Do you stick to the rules & tell them to wait until they’re old enough? Do you let them waste their effortless ability to embrace these social technologies and stick to making things bold & inserting colums?

But if you try sometimes, you get what you need

– Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones

So again, as a parent, how do we monitor our kids’ activities on the Net? Google it. Here’s Dr. Phil.com – Advice – Monitor Your Child’s Cell Phone and Internet Activity. There are lots of sites offering all kinds of advice. But mostly all of them assume one thing – that you are as tech savy as your kids. And let’s face it, kids have a lot more time & friends to show them how than most parents do.

But what if you were able to trust another parent to monitor your kid’s activities for you? Like when you let your little one go on a playdate to a friend’s house, or, they’re invited to the movies. If you trust the friend’s parents then you let them go.

Perhaps your first digital social safety net

edu started out to be a way for Sara & her Grade 6 classmates to socialize in a secured and monitored Internet playground. A place where they could experience the power of blogs, wikis, discussions, audio, video, image sharing, etc. while learning the new minimun skills sets required in today’s digital and globally distributed workplace. Pretty soon, edu will be made available for the rest of her school and any other school interested under the following conditions:

  1. The student has to be attending an educational institution registered with edu
  2. There must be at least one parent/guardian, teacher/faculty member monitoring that student’s grade.

In Sara’s case, I monitored her grade. Did that mean all the other parents trusted me (and edu with their children’s related activities? Not necesarly. It turns out, most didn’t have a choice. Over the course of the project, I spoke with a few parents and they simply felt they didn’t have the skill sets to monitor. Even after informing them its just a matter of reading their email, they still felt uncomfortable with this “type of stuff”, but looked forward to watching how their kids used it.

Do the math

So in essence, condition #2 above, became those parents’ new social safety net. All they needed was one adult out of twenty students, to feel comfortable enough to watch over their child in their new digital playground. Is this any different than letting your child go to the movies, or, a school field trip with a parent like that?

My parents always told me: “All we want is for you to have more opportunities than we did growing up.” And they certainly succeeded. As a parent in today’s digital world, it would be a shame not to continue the tradition. edu gives those who aren’t as connected as their kids the opportunity to do just that.

Reflection

What are your thoughts abouts giving your kids access to things like Facebook, MSN, Friendfeed, MySpace, Twitter, Google Talk, AIM, Bebo, buzzup, Delicious, digg, Gmail, Mister Wong, Reddit, Stumbleupon, twine, WordPress and Yahoo? Do you have the skills to monitor their activities across all these sites? What percent of parents do you think can? Where do you fit in this Study: Ages of social network users | Royal Pingdom?

photo credit

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Early social software adopters eager for extra homework

I never thought assigning homework would be so easy but, this is social software in elementary schools.

… a simple process: find leaders (the heretics who are doing things differently and making change), and then amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers-and things get better. They always get better.

Tribes, Seth Godin

Who wants more homework?
Who wants more homework?
Background

Previously in There are no screw-ups, just Versions, I primed Sara’s elementary school classmates on how to give their own Lunch & Learn. Since then, I prepared the initial wiki page content for their project assignments.

Wow, is this what it’s like to teach?

While I have provided face-to-face training in the past and even hundreds of techies via e-learning (onilne realtime education), I have never experienced so much energy in a classroom. And what’s even more amazing to witness is, it’s not not bound to the 40 minute lunch-time session we share. Sara’s classmates are contributing to their Cynapse site. While they help with homework and contribute fave songs, movies, books, etc., their blogs, wikis & threaded comments are the best. They’re just playing around and naturally having fun!

Seth Godin was right – duhhh

It was that easy: “… amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers-and things get better. They always get better.” So I never handed out their project assignments. They volunteered and even complained that some had more features to cover than they did. Life is good – so far.

Make it fun

I’ve offered my help for any questions they have – provided the questions are posted on the site for others to benefit. I’ve also offered to help them – as best as I can, in creating video blogs (vlogs), recorded how-to interviews, presentations and recorded demos. These would all be “nice-to-haves”. The only “need-to-have” is the updated wiki page deliverables – Cynapse’s Best Practices Guide for Elementary School Students.

Beatles – i get by with a little help from my friends

Help your friends out by posting questions/comments on their assigned wiki pages – before their Lunch & Learn date and I’m sure they’ll help you out with yours!

— my $0.02 (CAD)

The first update after school was this Beatles song. Check back next week to see how they start delivering.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Start-Up Chronicles: Chapter 2. Who, Part 4

Partnering, building communities and pitching social software to Sara’s elementary school.

Cut win-win deals. A partnership seldom takes place between equals. As a result, the more powerful side is tempted to squeeze the other party. The weaker side, for its part, will begrudgingly accept such deals and try to get what it can. Bad idea. Bad karma. Bad practicality. If the partnership is a win-lose deal, it will blow up because concrete walls and barbed wire cannot hold a partnership together. Only mutually beneficial results can. In the long, the bitter seed of resentment planted at the start of a partnership will grow into a giant, destructive weed.

The Art of Partnering, Guy Kawasaki

Background

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about building communities to help drive my start-up’s outside-in software development and my working relationship with the good folks at Cynapse. And while my last post was – for the most part, about getting to be a TechCrunch50‘s semi-finalist, I did end with my desire to sow the social software seeds in my daughter Sara’s elementary school.

Motivation

As a passionate software entrepreneur and social software evangelist, it breaks my heart when Sara tells me she’s bored learning how to use Word and Excel in Computer class. Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about her teacher – a fine and qualified professional. I’m not complaining about the curriculum, nor about the state of our education system. In no way would I ever expect the school to provide social software education. But nothing says that I can’t.

Who’s in for a little extra-curricular activity?

So I approached the school and offered just that. I prepared a marked-up version of Cynapse’s Flash marketing material & evangelized the virtues of, not only the mechanics of learning social software but the life lessons – I truly believe, it can teach the kids.

Our 30 minute meeting became an hour and a half and ended with a few action items:

  1. The school would have to agree to a trial period with the understanding that, if successful, they would continue the program.
  2. Cynapse would have to agree to barter three months of free hosting in return for a modified version of their Best Practices Guide for Elementary School Students.
  3. The students would have to volunteer for the extra-curricular activity and agree to collaborate on the Guide. Delivery of the Guide deems success.

Since the meeting, the school has delivered on Action Item #1. In addition, Cynapse has delivered on Action Item #2. So later this week, I’ll be presenting my offer to Sara’s Grade 6.

I’ve since elaborated on my initial presentation by incorporating some keywords mentioned during our meeting and added the narration. But after playing it back for Sara, she thought it may be “too much” and I should try to be more funny. 🙁

Up next

The problem was, I tried to create something that would appeal to too many audiences – students, school staff and maybe even parents. So in the interest of outside-in development, I created two more videos which have passed the Sara Test. Once, approved by her teacher, I’ll start with those & save the one above – hopefully, for another time.

Reflection

Please feel free to share any thoughts, or, experience around social software in schools.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How local broadcasters can use Twitter to create a global alert system

If you’ve being following my posts of late, you may notice that this one is not really on topic. It’s just something I thought of while stuck in traffic, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, thinking about a recent event in Ontario.

Morse Telegraph Key
Morse Telegraph Key
Subscriber User Story

As a resident, or traveller, I would like to discover and subscribe to local alerts, so I can be informed of emergency news, traffic and weather alerts.

Publisher User Story

As a news agency, I would like to contribute to a standard global alert system, so I can better reach my potential audience.

Who

Any local resident, or, traveller and news agency.

What

SMS text message alerts – sent via Twitter, about emergency situations – like Amber Alerts, severe weather conditions – like tornadoes, or, traffic – like accident reports.

When

Alerts would be published in real-time, however, recipients would subscribe to only relevant feeds.

Where

Any area with internet, or, wireless access.

Why

So people may be better prepared for simple matters like traffic conditions to being aware of Amber Alerts, or, emergency situations.

How-to publish

Local news agencies, are already aggregating this information and therefore would be the natural choice to act as the publisher and should conform to use a standard #hashtag. For example:

#yul Traffic: A40 East. Ramp to A15 South is blocked
#yul Weather: Severe thunder and lightning storms this morning with risk of high winds on bridges
#yul Amber: Child abduction. Girl age 9, blond hair, pink jacket, Honda Civic QC plates

By using the IATA airport codes as #hashtags, local residents, as well as, travellers, can quickly discover publishers – if they so desire.

How-to subscribe

Depending on the area, discovering the source of the feed may not be so important. However, in cities like Montreal, where we have several news agencies, operating in multiple languages, then knowing the source helps reduce the signal-to-noise ratio. So in the above examples, imagine getting text messages for each alert, from each news agency, in each language. To resolve this situation, subscribers can simply decide to Follow the publisher of their choice.

Additional benefits

While many news agencies use the call letters in their Twitter accounts, such as CJADNews, I would suggest creating accounts that would inform subscribers where they can be found. So in the case of CJAD – which is a local English Montreal AM radio station, they should create an account like “YUL_800AM“. That way my search results for #yul would include:

YUL_800AM #yul Weather: Severe thunder and lightning storms this morning with risk of high winds on bridges

would also advertise the publisher can be found at 800 on the AM band of my radio.

Alert

Now, I’m not advocating text messaging when you’re driving. So if you’ll be travelling, please plan your Follows ahead of time. You should also check with your wireless carrier for their text message pricing policy.

The beauty of Twitter and publication / subscription

You can further reduce your signal-to-noise ratio by unfollowing / unsubscribing when you’re out of the area. If you’d like to further explore the wonders of twitter you can start with some of my earlier posts and links.

Feedback

Please let me know if you’re aware of something similar out there. Certainly, the concept of text messaging alerts is not new, however, I haven’t seen any simple way to discover and subscribe to those feeds – universally.

Also, please feel free to contact me if you’d like any help trying to set this up.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Lessons learned from Social Content 2.0 Circle of Life – Part 3

My outside your firewall, shared listening and engaging Community Product Manager service offering for social software vendors/providers.

Sharing
Sharing does have its advantages

According to wikipedia

Shared Services refers to the provision of a service by one part of an organization or group where that service had previously been found in more than one part of the organization or group. Thus the funding and resourcing of the service is shared and the providing department effectively becomes an internal service provider. The key is the idea of ‘sharing’ within an organization or group.

Background

As the title suggests, this is the third and final part of my Lessons Learned series and where I’ll propose the business model I’ve come up with. Here’s my previous related posts:

  1. How to infuse Social Content 2.0 into your social software lifecycle
  2. Trial offer to test the Social Content 2.0 Circle of Life
  3. Lessons learned from Social Content 2.0 Circle of Life – Part 1
  4. Lessons learned from Social Content 2.0 Circle of Life – Part 2
The Business Model
  1. I will assume the overhead costs associated with:
    1. Monitoring the social software market. Using Radian6, I would create a Topic Profile including keywords for social software vendors / providers like Socialtext, Atlassian, Blogtronix, MindTouch, Cynapse, Liferay, Vignette…
    2. Filtering out and tagging relevant buzz about product features and directions across the market
    3. Offering free service exporting tagged content and publishing on blog
  2. Offer monthly fee-based services where I would:
    1. Net out tagged content with respect to product features and publish on permission-based site (Say for example there’s a few posts about “permissions”. I would then write a 1-liner describing the “permission feature” and link to the original supporting content published Step 1.3)
  3. Offer hourly, or, tiered fee-based services where I would:
    1. Collaborate with respective social software vendors’ / providers’ (Customers’) Product Managers to determine which features described in Step 2.1 should be elaborated
    2. Engage with original content authors and elaborate on product features selected in Step 3.1
    3. Privately share results of Step 3.2 with respective Customer Product Managers
    4. Collaborate with respective Customer Product Managers to determine which features described in Step 3.3 require further assistance / services

Other variations
I could resell Radian6 Seat licenses – governed by certain permission restrictions and share my Topic Profiles for those:

  1. Customers whose only pain is the cost of Radian6 (who can then determine later on if they want Steps 2 and/or 3)
  2. Potential colleagues who would collaborate on Steps 1, 2 & 3
Thoughts?

What do think? If you’re a social software vendor/provider, is this a service that may be of interest to you? Do you currently have a Product Manager? If so, is your Product Manager able to keep up with the social content? Do you see the any value in consolidating the redundancy? Do you see where it really is just a matter of per·spec·tive? Where …

one piece of content can yield dividends for many investors 

I’d love to hear from you folks in the field & prove there is a way we all could succeed at doing more with less.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How To Use Twitter To Reduce Wait Times, Anxiety and More

My kids’ doctor is great, but we can wait over two hours to see him. Here’s my suggestion to him and anyone enduring mind-numbing wait times
Click here to skip to my answer.

A Waiting Room
Hospital waiting room (CP file photo)*
I’m not complaining about the system

Relatively speaking, up here in the Great White North – Canada, we have little to complain about our socialized medical system. Of course, it could always be better but please note my emphasis on the word “Relatively“. So this post is not a bitch-fest, but really about accepting things for the way they are today and trying to offer a tiny, practically free way of making some peoples’ lives a little bit better.

The routine

We’re lucky! Whenever either of our kids – Sara, or, Alex get sick, or, need a routine check-up we take them to their pediatrician – Dr. DaCosta, who works out of a clinic less than five minutes from home. We have two options: We can book an appointment with our doctor, or, go to the walk-in clinic any morning from 8 AM to 9 AM. Either way, all the doctors have access to our kids charts so everyone is in the loop.

Naturally, we book routine check-ups with Dr. DaCosta. But depending on the severity when one of them gets sick, or, hurt, we weigh the delay getting an appointment with Dr. DaCosta, or, going to the walk-in clinic. Since Dr. DaCosta also works out of the amazing Montreal Children’s Hospital, that delay could sometimes be a week.

The look

If you have kids you know the “look”. It’s the look when they’re just not themselves. It’s the look when you acknowledge they’re not bouncing off the walls laughing but possibly lethargic. It’s the look when you realize the Tempra isn’t working and it’s two days now. It’s the look when you start to feel useless. It’s the look when you look to your partner in life for answers. It’s the look when your partner in life looks back at you because she already read the sentence before the last. 🙂 It’s the look when you want to see their doctor.

The waiting room

Dr. DaCosta is a great guy! He spends as much time as we need with him. He never rushes us. He writes things down on paper for us to make sure we understand & remember what to do. These are amazing attributes in a pediatrician! There’s nobody I’d rather wait to see than Dr. Costa when my kids are sick – especially when they have the look.

Now, I can understand when you show up at the clinic, or, hospital, the wait time is going be long. I can understand that when you show up for a scheduled appointment, there’s going to be a wait-time – especially with a pediatrician like ours. But that wait-time is regularly over two hours. And for all of you parents out there, you know what that two hours is like. You’re not only are you dealing with your sick kid. You may also be dealing with a healthy sibling whom you had no choice but to haul along for the ride. You may also be dealing with an anxious partner feeling guilty because they just couldn’t help out. Most likely, you may also be dealing with an over-crowded waiting room full of folks just like you & yours. Most likely, you may start to wonder what other diseases your kids are going to pick up now and if it’s worse than what they already have. And then of course, you’ve got other issues going on in your life like work, or, obligations that are just not going to be met.

Answer

It is what it is, let’s move on

The truth is, at least in my little corner of the world, I actually don’t mind seeing the doctor two hours later. But I do mind waiting two hours and especially under those circumstances mentioned above. So here’s my step-by-step suggestion for the waiting rooms of doctor’s, hospital’s, clinic’s, or, any place with long waits:

Setup

  1. Get a Twitter account.
    1. If you need a little background, check out My Five Ws of Twitter in less than 10 minutes (video included)
    2. If you want to see the power of Twitter, watch Monittering Twitter – The Obama Inauguration Experiment
    3. YIf you want click-by-click instructions,check out Amanda Kondolojy‘s How to Create a Twitter Account
  2. Ask patients if they have a Twitter account. If they don’t then suggest to them they read this post while they’re waiting 🙂 .
  3. If they do, ask them if they would like to be notified of delays and give them your Twitter account so they can Follow you. If they don’t, they will one day soon.

Procedure

  1. Pick a time interval, like 30 minutes
  2. Simply tweet your delay. For example: “We are currently experiencing a 2 hour delay.”
    1. You cold even allow those with scheduled appointments to Reply, or, Direct message you back with cancellations. For example: “We are currently experiencing a 2 hour delay. Please reply if you are not longer able to make your appointment.” By the way, our clinic charges $30 CAD for not cancelling an appointment 60 minutes in advance. Under these conditions, maybe they should waive that charge in the name of customer service.
  3. Reassess the situation and if need be go to step 2
  4. Wait for step 1

Benefits

  1. Your patients can stay in the comfort of their own home until it really is time to show up for their appointment
  2. Your patients can keep their germs at home
  3. You can keep your germs – like the ones on those waiting room toys, away from your patients
  4. Your patients’ family members are less inconvenienced
  5. Your patients & their family are less stressed out
  6. Your waiting room is less crowded
  7. Your patients still see their doctor and receive proper treatment
  8. Your staff and doctors will be less stressed out
  9. Your staff and doctors may even be afforded the time to provide better care and custoemer service

Connection issues?
If your office has an Internet connection then all you need is a browser. If your office and/or patients don’t have an Internet connection then there’s always Twitter’s mobile phone text messaging option, as described in the click-by-click instructions above. Depending on your mobile providers’ packages there may, or, may not be a charge. For those of us in Canada, Bell Mobility is our only text messaging option. Finally, you can take a look at Al Sacco‘s review of Best (Free) Mobile Twitter Apps for BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile.

Why not give it a try?

Chances are pretty good that someone working in your office is already using Twitter. So setting up an account and tweeting is second nature for them. Just ask. And believe me, I know the people working in your office are swamped. But maybe they wouldn’t be so swamped if you didn’t have patients at reception lined up out the door.

What do you think?

Do you know of anyone using twitter like this? Are you going to give it a try? If so, then please come back and share your experiences we can all benefit.

* Photo credit: Hospital waiting room (CP file photo)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]