On one of the last days before school broke for the holidays, I was left with only ten minutes of demo time. So I decided to quickly peruse the site structure which has a Space for the elementary school and sub-Spaces for the Students and another for the teachers and parents. I explained to the students that parents & teachers can view, but not write, in their Student Space, so they need to be sure that whatever they post is appropriate. Furthermore, they can’t even view what’s in the teachers’ & parents’ Spaces. However, everyone can post (read/write) in the Home and their school Space. Basically, the students are allowed to write whatever their conscience allows for.
Having explained the Big Brother philosophy and with precious little time remaining, I gave them a quick tour on how to navigate the site & then showed them Cynapse’s Status Logs. This is almost the equivalent of Twitter except:
there is no Following, so there’s no need to Follow whoever is in fashion
the messages are threaded, which allows members to Comment on a specific Status message, as well as, Reply to those comments.
Out of the 34 signed-up members, 50% (17) are parents – none of whom, aside from myself, have contributed any content yet. Of the remaining 17 students, nine (9) have contributed. So with an introduction of less than a total of 60 minutes spread over two weeks, the student-MFC numbers (over 26%) better those in the above study of 10%. And that’s over the holiday break!
What does this mean?
My guess, and hope, is that once school starts up again this week, and I start my usually Monday Lunch & Learn sessions the following week, that even more of the students will be contributing content. Once I layout the The Project Plan and dates, I’ll have the students present their own Lunch & Learns about their adopted Features. As their knowledge increases, my guess is their adoption will increase with it. As the student adoption rate increases, my guesss is that the parents and teachers will follow shortly after.
What kind of social software adoption rates have you experienced? Are they better/worse/in line with the MFC study?
My Idea’s Unhidden Agenda, also known as, Work-For-Attribution, and how I hope it will attract community members and contributors – the Who.
Imagination: Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Leaders create things that didn’t exist before. The do this by giving the tribe a vision of something that could happen, but hasn’t (yet).
You can’t manage without knowledge. You can’t lead without imagination.
As written in my Part 1, I needed to find a way build on my lessons learned and try my best to avoid repeating any errs of the past. But even more than needing a way to attract members to my new tribe, I needed to find a way to give them an environment where they could go beyond simple contributions. I needed to find a way for them to build their own opportunities, own quests and maybe even their own tribes.
The Unhidden Agenda
So a little while back, I came up with the following for my collaborators:
How to make this viral
I was also wondering how to make this a community project where we could create the engine and enable/empower other communities to use/build/extend it for purposes we haven’t yet considered, or, may simply not be in our domain of expertise. In other words, make it “viral”.
This is what I’ve come up with so far
The core engine – to be defined later, is the center of our community. If you’ve read Seth Godin’s Tribes then you already know that every community needs a leader. That would be me – Steven Milstein. And while this is not a democracy, that certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t hear & listen to the members of this tribe. Now that may sound harsh but, please hear me out – I’m not finished yet.
Since you’re here reading this, then I’m going to guess that you like the idea, or, appeal of leading – maybe even a tribe of your own. It may not be today, but someday in the foreseeable future. If this is not the case, then I deeply encourage you to give this some thought. Because what I’d like to see is each of us exploiting this opportunity to seed own tribes with this core engine.
What I’d like is for each of us to create an entry here with our Unhidden Agenda. Describe what it is you hope to gain by investing your time, energy, maybe money, in this venture? (Don’t tell what you can, or, cannot invest.) You have to be honest & you have to be passionate. Once approved/agreed upon, this Agenda will then represent your social contract to this endeavor. Break your Agenda, break your contract – you’re out.
I’m not dead certain about this idea & am certainly open to your feedback. But until then, I think this Unhidden Agenda Model will scale & encourage others to not only participate but contribute. And if we truly believe in outside-in agile/scrum software development & we strive to maintain the integrity of the core engine then each of us should be able to fulfill our agenda.
My (Steven’s) Unhidden Agenda will elaborate on how I’d like to be the product manager/owner of some leading edge social software product. I’ll go on to say how I want to use this endeavor to prove that I can not only be just that but, also have a touch of vision and more importantly, that I deliver. I’d also like to boast about the community/communities I seeded and onboarded to social software.
I imagine [Retail IT Guy/Gal] ‘s entry will focus on their retail domain of expertise & how they would like to cultivate their own tribe.
For [Software Engineer Guy/Gal], I can see them seizing the opportunity to build the core engine in their own technical fashion and then sharing & expanding its APIs with the technical community of this growing social network.
As I said earlier, this is not written in stone but I would like to find a way to make this more than three guys who live in Montreal. If we’re all somewhat comfortable with this approach, then here’s what I see happening next:
1. Work & finalize on our agendas
2. Get to work on building a simple proof-of-concept
3. Start blogging about what we’re doing here & post your Unhidden Agenda
4. Find & contribute to your related communities
5. Seek feedback from others & maybe ask a select few join us in our Community
6. Invite some of those to publicly blog their own Unhidden Agenda in the hopes of gaining admittance to this exclusive community – exclusivity matters. (If you believe Seth Godin.)
My back of the napkin “Work-For-Attribution Agreement”
While I originally sought a lawyer’s opinion about the Idea’s monetization possibilities, I was immediately told not to proceed without securing my copyright and ownership of “said” Idea. And that’s when I had visions of Groundhog Day. To be very clear. I did not then, nor do I now, have any money. I did not then, nor do I now, have the time, nor the resources to expend on fantasies and illusions of gazillion dollar exit strategies. This is myReality Check. (By the way, if you click on any of the links that lead to Amazon and actually buy the book, then I get something back – although I quite honestly don’t even know that that is yet, through their Associates program.)
So as of today’s date, this is the best I can offer:
Whatever work you contribute will be considered “work made for hire” and for whatever reason that may not hold up, then the agreement will be considered a “copyright assignment” from you to my company – Milstein & Associates Inc.
Sounds harsh, eh? But, it is what it is. I’ll post this digital back of the napkin version in the Idea’s community site so folks can sign up – at least in the digital sense.
Now in lieu of any payment, what I hope to do – subject to lawyer approval, is offer an Attribution for your contributions. Something like movie credits, or, if you open Adobe Reader, click on the Help, About, Credits button – for starters. Ideally, as stated in the Unhidden Agenda, I would have to provide a mechanism and venue for folks to discover and explore your contributions, maybe even for you to start your own tribe.
Up next – The Community Venue
My next post will be about the Idea’s Community site and who would be its target audience.
More on how to infuse Social Content 2.0 into your social software lifecycle
One of Twitter’s endearing qualities is simplicity. After it’s “@” (Reply), or, “D” (Direct message), you have the remaining 140 characters to get your message across. Another powerful aspect of Twitter is it’s ability to broadcast, as well as, persist these messages. This means that anyone can pick up on a previous conversation and breath new life into it.
Traditionally, if you’re in customer service, or, support, this is probably the last thing you want. Imagine you’ve been working on an open “ticket”, playing round robin with the customer and perhaps development, you finally close the matter and someone, out of the blue, shows up with a new wrinkle. You may never be able to close a ticket again.
Granted, I’m pushing it a bit, but not much. The primary issue here is, Twitter is unstructured and traditional customer service and support need structure. And for good reason too! Customer service and support are legally binding. Customers pay money, in one form or another, for support and perhaps maintenance of the product, or, service. Once we, as providers of these products, or, services accept our customer’s money we are on the hook to deliver for a certain period of time.
So how do we convert this Social Content 2.0 that lives not only in Twitter databases, but in all the social networks, from casual conversations into legally binding action items? My guess is you don’t. I think if you try then you’ll stifle the casual conversations and pollute your service/support systems.
This is what I think you need to do with your customer service and support folks:
1. Explain to them the journey they are about to embark on in the new social networking frontier.
2. Take the time to onboard, or, train them on how to the tools.
3. Encourage them to use the tools in their personal lives first so they can appreciate their new found power and enlightenment.
4. Arm them with a core message so they’ll always know how to handle themselves. Read Chip & Dan Heath’s book Made To Stick about Southwest Airlines’ “THE low-fair airline”.
5. Follow other companies leads, like Dell, and create their social network accounts with their real names suffixed by the company name. For example: DirkShawVignette. Real people want to relate to real people. Not silly unprofessional icons and bizarro, or, no empty profiles.
6. Create a company web page listing all of their accounts so others can a) validate these people actually work there & b) discover more Twitter accounts to Follow. Look how Radian6 does it. Look to them again when you’re ready to scale your monitoring process.
7. To protect the richness and integrity of your Social Content 2.0 and not blur the line between it and your customer service and support systems, I would move some of traditional inside the firewall systems to the outside. Moving to transparent development means anyone, customer, or, not, can participate in the development and debugging process. That means you can see any defects already discovered in the system along with the internal and external conversations revolving around them. The same for feature requests. Maybe someone already asked for exactly the same thing, only slightly different. Go ahead and add your $0.02. The same for usability features. Maybe you’re having trouble with a particular feature. Could it be you’re the only one? Maybe, or, maybe not. At least you can check it out for yourself.
My guess is you’ll see a reduction in backend customer service and support costs, an increase in overall customer satisfaction and a happier, more fulfilled development team that’s not only more in touch with your market but also your new flock of evangelists.
IMO, of course 🙂
Off you go now. Good luck trying to fit this into 140 characters. That’s what tinyurl is for.
Thanks for inspiration! I’m going to blockquote this stuff and repost on my blog.
I started off writing my farewell email to my IBM social network but then thought it would make a better post and help drive traffic at the same time 🙂
I’m fascinated by social software and the content that runs through it. This is where I want to immerse the next chapter of my career.
To all the IBMers I socialized with …
On the very first page of Seth Godin‘s “The Dip”, he writes:
Most of the time, we deal with obstacles by persevering. Sometimes we get get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.
I joined IBM three years ago by quitting a start-up. I was the CTO for an online education company that, to this day, I’ve yet to see anything come close to as good as what we had back then. But, three years had gone by and I only got paid for the first one. Things were going from bad to worse and I just had to quit.
Two years later, our only product was heading into maintenance mode and it was obvious that there wouldn’t be much need for my services in the near future. Any other company would have fired me right then and there. But not IBM. I spent the last year improving my skills and increasing my social network looking for work. I tried outside my Brand and when that door shut (gosh darn Global Financial Crisis), I even tried creating two new positions inside Rational. I thought the positions were necessary to the business and equally as important, necessary to me.
I’m fascinated by social software and the content that runs through it. This is where I want to immerse the next chapter of my career and am currently making headway to do just that. Doing anything else just to stay an IBM employee, would be a disservice to IBM and myself. And so Friday 06 Feb 2009 marks the end of this sprint at IBM.
I’m grateful to the greater IBM and it’s values, and to all those in my social network who helped me in one way, or, another with their own values. I wish everyone the best of luck moving forward in these challenging, yet exhilarating times, and hope to meet up again one day.
I’d be honored by any of you who’d like to stay in touch.
The rumors were true. There are layoffs & I’m among them. I have until 6 Feb 2009 to find a new job within IBM, or, yada yada yada. This is the second of two posts I’d like to share with you about my experience inside Big Blue. It’s all good. Here is a cleansed version of my 25 Sep 2008 internal blog. (All internal links have been removed.)
More on IBM Values
A pattern was developing in my job search. It started back in the summer – Q3 2008, when I heard how I could potentially fit into a Product Manager role but there was a hiring freeze. As a result, my profile would be moved to the “keeper pile” & I should get back to them in Q1 2009. While it was nice to know I was a “keeper”, Q1 2009 was not going to work for me. Another potential opportunity ended with a reason code of “we can only hire within our group”. Not good. The third point in this pattern emerged when I spoke to another unrelated manager – John Steinbacher, who stated – with all sincerity, that my being given six weeks to find work in Q4 is pretty much a death sentence. Barring a few exceptions, the standard practice is to lock down all spending – including hiring in every Q4. So it was suggested to me to ask for everyone to be reasonable.
And that’s what I did. I spoke to my manager Robert St-Laurent and then spoke to his new pier Christopher Flynn – who just happened to be visiting the Montreal lab on the following day. After confirming with Robert, Chris agreed that it wasn’t reasonable to expect someone to find a job in Q4 when he wasn’t even allowed to buy a pencil. So, I now have until end of Jan 2009 to find a new job, or, else yada, yada, yada. Of course in the meantime, I’m going to have to earn my keep while I continue the job search & we’re now in the process of defining exactly what that is.
So once again, my faith in IBM management and IBM Values has been boosted. Thanks to all for their respective reasonability & John for encouraging me to push back!
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 â€¦ 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?
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 customersâ€.
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.
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.)
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.
… “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.
… 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!
Collaboration in software development isn’t a luxuryâ€”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.
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.
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 2.0â€³.
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.
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.
How to better focus and socially scale your activities using IBM Lotus Greenhouse Connections Activities
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.
So why not simply create a document or spreadsheet and email that around? Well,
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.
My email may not be welcome by all, or, interpretted as spam
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.
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.