Social Software

Focusing and Scaling Your Activities with IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections

How to better focus and socially scale your activities using IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections Activities

Sample IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections Activities using Chris Brogan's New Marketing Bootcamp
Sample Activities using Chris Brogan's New Marketing Bootcamp
Who would use Activities

For those of you would-be social networkers out there, here’s a simple post about how to use Activities as a collaboration tool.

What is Activities

While many of us use email for many of our collaboration efforts, Activities may prove to be more efficient and effective. Aside from sharing many of the same attributes of email messages, one of the advantages of Activities is that its helps you focus on a common goal, or, objective. Similar to an email thread but more focused like a mini-project management tool. Just like email, Activities can have attachments but they should simply provide supporting data and would not be the focal point. The Activity is the focal point.

Where are the Activities

In my earlier The Funny Thing About Leaving Comments post I discussed the reasoning for using Chris Brogan’s Bootcamp as an example for my subsequent posts. As a result, I created
New Marketing Bootcamp in IBM’s Lotus Greenhosue Activities. At the time of this writing, the Activity is Public (I’ll ellaborate more on that later), which means once you’re registered in Greenhouse, anyone can access the Activity. See my earlier My Five Ws of IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse in less than 10 minutes post for some more background and registration.

How-to create the Activities

Here’s my yourtube video which through the magic of copying & pasting from Question for You While Preparing for 2009, Camtasia editing and clip-speed, I managed to reduce the effort to 2 minutes.

Why would I want to create Activities

So why not simply create a document or spreadsheet and email that around? Well,

  1. For starters, I may want to share it with my community of followers in my social network & I just may not have all their email addresses.
  2. My email may not be welcome by all, or, interpretted as spam
  3. and perhaps most importantly – versioning. There’s a direct correlation between the effort required to manage a document’s version and the number of contributors it has.
  4. Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Garr Reynolds, describes this in his presentationzen book on slide creation, as

    … the ratio of relevant to irrelevent elements or information in a slide or other display. People have a hard time coping with excessive cognitive strain.

    For our purposes, replace “slide” with “email message”. How many times have you seen someone hijack an email thread, taking it in a different direction than the original subject text?

So why would I use Activities when I can simply post my activities in my blog & read the feedback? While blogging is a great way to publish information, its not the best collaboration tool, nor can it scale socially.

When‘s a good time to create Activities

Personally, I would use start using Activities once you intend on collaborating with others. With the mechanism in place, you can start scaling not only your activities’s content but ownership as well. In my post, I’ll introduce you to a few communication tools that will certainly contribute to your social scaling efforts.

As always, all comments are welcome. I’d love to see your comments about similar platforms like – Yammer,, Basecamp, Central Desktop, and Producteev. Thanks in advance to Dom Derrien for pointing these out to me.

Social Software

IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections, Stickmen and Communities

How a social networking stickman can use IBM’s Lotus Connections to better server a community, or, enterprise – for free

Social Networking Stickman
Social Networking Stickman

In my previous post – My Five Ws of IBM’s Lotus Greenhouse in less than 10 minutes, I introduced you to Greenhouse and hopefully, got you underway in the registration process. So now, for all you would-be social networking stickmen out there, let’s see what free tools we can exploit.

Getting Into Connections


For starters, once you log into Greenhouse, click on the IBM Lotus Connections link and you’ll brought to a typical portal looking page. The page should resemble familiar sites like Yahoo! with the added usability of customizing your page like iGoogle.

Here’s what you should be seeing:

  1. Profiles: The Facebook of Connections where you maintain your own profile, network with others and link with colleagues and their content. Take a few extra minutes and check out Chris Brogan‘s advice in Write Your LinkedIn Profile for Your Future. My personal favorites are about describing more about what you want to do most and your choice of photos.
  2. Blogs: Personal journals sequenced by most current entries that potentially allow readers to leave comments.
  3. Communities: Your own collection of member profiles sharing discussion forums, bookmarks and feeds, as described in My Five Ws of RSS in less than 10 minutes (video included)
  4. Activities: A novel alternative to email where you can share content, documents and comments around a specific activity, including To-Do’s with dates.
  5. Dogear: You can share, or, not, your choice bookmarks – just like Delicious, or, Digg, but integrated with your community.

Now keep in mind where you are at this point. You logged into Greenhouse and as a result anything you do inside Greenhouse will not show up when you Google for it. Perhaps more importantly, all the Greenhouse feeds available to you are pretty much restricted to internal Greenhouse use. The problem is typical news readers – like Google Reader do not account for credentials – no pun intended. Go ahead and try adding one of your Greenhouse feeds to Google

Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed
Google Reader and a Greenhouse Feed

and please let me know if you have better results than I do.


Don’t get me wrong. This is not a showstopper and should not prevent you from moving forward now. As a matter of fact, anyone wanting to adopt social software in the workplace will have the same issue. This is a good thing. Enterprises and Information Technology (IT) folks call this Security and once you’re logged into Greenhouse your entries are encrypted with something called Secure Sockets Layers (SSL), which means, among other things, unintended eyes cannot see what you post. Notice the “s” in

Why / How

Perhaps the most compelling reason for me to use Greenhouse Connections is the concept of community which I hope is communicated in my following video.

Now in order to have a Community, you need to have Members. You can only select Members from existing Greenhouse Profiles. Once you have your list of folks who can access your content, you can then determine what privileges they have. privileges depend on the Memberships Roles you assign and vary among Owners, Authors and Readers.

So how do we work around the problem of getting the most out of feeds if we can’t add those from Greenhouse to our readers? Here’ one I’m experimenting with a start-up project. Since all the members are into, or, are getting into Twitter, I set up a FriendFeed account and created a private Room for the members to communicate. We keep all our community-related content inside our members-only Greenhouse Connections Community and only use FriendFeed for notification purposes. It’s going OK, but I thinking of switching over to GroupTweet because its simpler. Sometime less features is just better.

Please let me know if you have any trouble following my instructions, hit a snafu along the way, or, simply have any of your own suggestions / alternatives. Especially if you have alternatives 🙂