It’s always fun to see when a new social channel is released. There is plenty of excitement and wonderment as people try to figure out what a new tool is, where it fits and how it’s better/worse than existing tools. If there’s one thing Google is exceptional at, it’s creating a buzz around a new release. Google+ isn’t the first, as a matter of fact, it’s the 3rd (perhaps 4th) attempt at doing ‘social’. And while I think this is by far the most interesting attempt to date, I’ve now walked away. But, the reason I walked away is not because the tool isn’t interesting, it’s something much more fundamental. It’s about authentication and the really horrible user experience around it.
It really amazes me. We are still predicting failure/success, trying to figure out exactly what Enterprise 2.0 is. Why? Not because I know the answer, but because our expectations are off. It’s like trying to predict the winner of the ball game at the end of the 1st inning.
There has been some great blogging over the last week, mostly spurred by Laurie Buczek’s wonderful post, The Big Failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business. This has inspired many reactions, from the likes of Denis Howlett, Dion Hinchcliffe and even Andrew McAfee re-tweeted the piece. But, I think people are missing the point, we are very early in the game. It’s roughly equivalent to having a baby and knowing they’re going to be a doctor at age 3.
One of the most powerful things I experience in my life is talking to someone about something that I have a strong opinion about, and walking away from the conversation realizing that I had it wrong. Usually the reason is a small nuance that I overlooked.
Yesterday was one of those days. I had the pleasure to meet Steve Wylie for coffee and to catch up. We somehow got on the topic of the debate between Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business. Steve made one statement, “the debate hurts everyone.” What I walked away made me think. It was powerful.
I recently have been listing to On Second Thought: Outsmarting your minds Hard-wired habits by Wray Herbert where he talks a lot about why we tend to do things out of habit (and perhaps how to change those habits). I highly recommend the book as it has given me great insight into why people do what they do. I wanted to perhaps apply some of that to social media, social business and Enterprise 2.0. As I mentioned in my earlier post Information Overload is an excuse, it’s not really about the information, it’s about our attention and the actions we take to manage it. I want to introduce a new heuristic called: The Collaboration Heuristic.
Last week at the Enteprise 2.0 conference there was a lot of discussion around culture and organization. One workshop on Monday talked about Organization: Next led by Mike Gotta, Daniel Rasmus and Sarah Roberts where we discussed the challenges of today’s organization (mostly HR and Change Management) This really got me thinking about fundamental problems in today’s organization. Then, I started to ask myself, Is it time to blow up a company’s organization structure and start over? The reality is, probably yes, the practicality of it would say no, finally I started to look at what IS possible and came to the conclusion. Let’s re-brand the Marketing Department.
I’ve been around Enterprise 2.0 (or Social Business) for more than 3 yrs now. Since going to my first Enterprise 2.0 conference in 2008, I have been fortunate to be part of one of the most successful deployments of social technology in a large company (Computer World) to date. The approach was not filled with business cases and justification, but instead was largely fed by need and opportunity.
As I work with more organizations, I realize that a common trend is emerging. There is a group of people in the company that are generally not convinced that the social enterprise is the next best thing; Middle Management. While many other parts of the organization have been addressed by practitioners, this audience remains mostly ignored, with many feeling that they’ll just come along if everyone else does.
We are starting to see curation more and more in the social space, but what exactly does it mean? To better understand, let’s look at what most of us think of when we hear the word Curator. For most of us, this means a person at a museum who is responsible for what gets displayed.
A Social Curator isn’t much different. Each of us share information. We want to be seen as sharing high quality information that others in their networks will find valuable. (after all, if it’s not valuable to others, why share it?). If the quality degrades or the quantity increases significantly, chances are that members in your network will leave or find alternate sources for the information. To be a good curator improves your personal brand. It also shows people that you processing this information and not just sharing blindly.
One way to increase the value of the information is to share why you think something you share is interesting. At my former employer, there was a guy that shared tons of articles, but basically just forwarded them in e-mail. I would constantly write back to him asking him why these things were something that deserved my attention. In the end, I asked him to stop sending things to me if he was not going to summarize the value.
To be a good social curator, you need to be focused on what others find interesting. Try to put yourself in the position of the person receiving the Tweet, Status update, email, etc before clicking send. While the article, post, etc may be interesting, it’s your analysis that makes it valuable.
By better understanding what social curation is all about, it can help you focus on sharing quality content.
What strategies do you use to curate content for your network?
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I’m possibly one of the most fortunate guys in the Social Business space. I’ve had the benefits of being a practitioner in a very successful social evolution at Alcatel-Lucent and on top of that, be part of the 2.0 Adoption Council since its inception, but that all changed for me this past February where I was presented with a fantastic opportunity to come and work for Yammer.
There was however an unexpected side effect that I was totally unprepared for. I was booted out of these 2 thriving communities that became very much a part of my life. Imagine being shut out from engaging with friends and colleagues in the very topics that you are so passionate about. Of course there is still Twitter, but I will say being limited to 140 characters does present its challenges when trying to figure out where to take social business next. This is especially true since I also was a Jive customer and have made many friends there. It seems that there’s this unspoken rule that you really don’t socialize with other vendors in an open forum.
One of the things we talk about extensively in Social Business is we are asking everyone to contribute and collaborate. This will ultimately generate a lot of content. We seem to think since the amount of content is increasing that we are going to be exposed to Information Overload. The reality is we will, but only because most of us lack the discipline to focus our attention on what matters and to filter everything else out. Only part of this is a technology issue, most of it is about getting our arms around and managing our attention.
More and more studies are indicating that despite what we may believe (or what today’s teens try to tell us), our brains suck at multi-tasking. Additionally, this constant switching influenced by multiple stimuli is actually making us less productive. Back in 2009, Kathleen Culver and I talked about the Dark Side of Enterprise 2.0 at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in San Francisco. In this talk, Kathleen laid out that attention is a limited resource and is as valuable as time and money.
I call out this because already people are thinking this is a tools problem, but in actuality the best tools in the world will have a difficult time keeping up with how quickly our priorities can change in our daily business/personal lives. For example, Your boss calls you and says there is a problem that needs to be taken care of right away. Because this was a direct request, you drop everything you are doing and focus on resolving the problem. During this time your tools are providing you information that is in your normal workflow. During this time of crisis, this isn’t valuable information; it’s noise. If we are disciplined, we shut down all the tools that are causing us to lose focus on the immediate goals, but often this only solves part of the problem. We are still bombarded with alerts either on our phones, via e-mail or perhaps Instant Messages. Most of us are not disciplined, and instead we try to ignore all the distractions, often with marginal success.
Why do we have such a hard time with this? Some of it is actually a social problem. Consumer applications like Facebook have conditioned us that there are potential social impacts of “un-following” someone. This consequence generally makes it easy to follow and, awkward at best, to un-follow. This social awkwardness seems to have made the leap into our business lives and actually makes it harder to filter out the noise.
In companies one of the biggest activities is the “project”. Most projects have a start and and end. When a project is over, the work is complete, the team disbands,and in some cases, you may never interact with some of the people ever again, yet we don’t take the time to go and un-follow them and instead try to ignore the alerts, crying “foul” and “information overload”.
We are all responsible for managing our attention. The amount of information we are confronting will continue to increase we have no control over that. We need to educate co-workers that it’s OK to un-follow and that Social Business is not a popularity contest. We need to tell vendors that the tools need to improve and make adjusting information flow quickly, easier. In the end, it is still up to us to be self-disciplined to ensure we are properly managing our attention to avoid information overload.
What are your techniques for managing your attention?
Image courtesy of: TZA
Let’s face it. Social is hitting mainstream. More and more people are contributing, but is it knowledge? If it is knowledge, how long is it knowledge before it becomes outdated and useless? How many people go back and update a contribution they’ve made to a social platform more than a week ago when the information changes? What happens when someone makes a decision based on misinformation? Knowledge workers are doing much more of their collaboration in unstructured ways and in many cases starting to fill up the bag. At what point is it too much? Will search engine optimization ever really solve this problem in a company’s intranet? Continue reading “Social & the 5lb bag”