Archive for ‘social media’

November 29, 2010

Think Communities, Not Portals!


If you are planning your SharePoint 2010 upgrade and looking at redesigning the hundreds of intranet sites — stop right there!   Don’t redesign, rethink your corporate intranet.

I spend a fair amount of time with clients discussing the redesign of their sites and in most cases I continue to hear the word “portal” mentioned.   When I think of portals, I jump into my time machine and go back a decade or so.  Portals are plain and generally have static web content with outdated information that is seldom accessed by employees.   Look at your intranet today and it’s likely you’ll see a SharePoint site with all kinds of links that’s not very interactive or relevant to individuals.  Maybe you have top-down executive blog that is posted to once a quarter or once a month if you’re lucky.   If the corporate intranet page wasn’t set as the employee home page in the browser, I wonder how many people would actually visit it?  .  Sound like your intranet?  So what’s the point of upgrading to SharePoint 2010 if you’re just going to migrate those plain boring sites you have today?

It’s time to break away from the traditional thinking of intranet “portals” and design a collaborative infrastructure around a complete “community model”.  What do I mean exactly?   If you compare a community to the traditional portal, you may think it’s just a matter of semantics.   However, the concept of a portal is a push relationship as someone is pushing content to you.  Communities are social, interactive, dynamic, and provide a context for individuals to subscribe, collaborate and contribute to.   Communities source information from the bottom up as well as the top down.  Communities have a pull relationship — meaning the community pulls on users to contribute and users pull on the community to consume.  The fact is that every piece of content and every person in your organization is part of some community whether you realize it or not.  The largest and most open community is everyone in your organization and there are likely hundreds or thousands of sub-communities.   Communities also provide a degree of openness in your organization.  So if the information you wish to share has more defined security requirements, that’s when you manage it in a secure team site as opposed to a community.

Now I know what you’re thinking — “we have to have a hierarchical intranet portal”.   Really do you?  Do you need it to be hierarchical?   Sure you might need a directory for people or sites for easier navigation.  You also need enhanced search capabilities as most people would rather search than browse.   Just think about it — is the public internet hierarchical?   Does Google or Facebook or LinkedIn have any hierarchy?   In comparison, you could look at Yahoo as a traditional portal — static, boring, and a site people rarely view anymore.  And that’s why Yahoo has lost market share and relevance today.

Let’s face it — for many of us Facebook is our “portal” on the public internet  and something we visit 1 or more times a day because it’s social and relevant to us personally.  LinkedIn may be your “portal” into your professional life and network.   Do you really need a traditional hierarchy of intranet sites and portals?   Or is it more important to capture, share, and collaborate on information within the context of a community?

 

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September 27, 2010

When Social Media Became News


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August 6, 2010

Three Things to Consider in Your Enterprise Collaboration Strategy


This post was featured on CMSWire.com:

http://www.cmswire.com/cms/enterprise-20/three-things-to-consider-in-your-enterprise-collaboration-strategy-008261.php

Many organizations are planning or are already in the middle of deploying collaboration technology to their global organization. Before you go much further, ask yourself if you’ve identified these three elements of your collaboration strategy.

Perhaps you have invested in a single vendor eco-system like MS SharePoint for collaboration and information management. Like most organizations, you are looking for ways to reduce costs, create efficiencies, consolidate multiple repositories of information, innovate, connect people globally, change corporate culture and simplify the end user experience.

However, your executive leadership is not sure if your organization is optimizing the use of this technology and maximizing the return on your investment. If that’s you and your organization, it’s not too late to take a step back and review your strategic objectives and approach.  A solid collaboration strategy encompasses 3 key things:

1. Define the Business Context

Defining collaboration as synchronous or asynchronous is not enough. Making a decision to invest in SharePoint or Oracle or IBM is not enough. Build it and they will come is not enough.

Typically the best approach to deploying any collaboration technology is having a focused business context in mind. Multi-purpose collaboration platforms offer many features and capabilities. Part of a solid strategy is having a focused business context around social networking, team spaces, communities of practice, crowd sourcing, project management, knowledge management, business process management, etc…

You need to demonstrate real business value and evangelize that throughout your organization to further drive adoption and create a perception of collaboration technology as a productivity tool.

Identifying and applying the technology in a specific business context will help stakeholders and decision makers see how this thing called collaboration can alleviate business pain points, surface information and impact employee engagement and morale.

2. Identify the Degree of Openness

Further expanding on the concept of collaboration in “context” is to identify the degree of openness. Is the collaboration external, internal, global or regional, or line of business focused (depending on how your organization is structured)? Security and user access also come to mind here as it’s easy to create a mess of information within these eco-systems combining confidential information with more public content.

Identifying the degree of openness also includes defining your audience, the type of information you plan to collaborate on, and the overall scope of the collaboration. This will help focus your efforts, deployment, or investigation of collaboration technology as these platforms all offer several components from social computing to team sites to portals and workflows.

When you step back and understand the degree of openness, you may also realize that 3rd party solutions for administration or security just might be a mandatory requirement to protect intellectual property and sensitive information.

3. Establish Goals and Objectives

Project management 101 includes determining what success will look like for your organization. Often times when planning projects, goals and objectives tend be high level and don’t really provide a concrete definition of success. Setting the right goals and objectives will ensure stakeholders, decision makers and users are on the same page when determining if the collaboration strategy is a success.

What specific results should users and executives expect to see?

  • Will this solution reduce costs?
  • Provide a competitive advantage?
  • Do your objectives simply focus on just improving collaboration within project management?
  • External collaboration with business partners or clients?
  • Improving employee engagement & morale?
  • Is it to improve the search-ability of information and documents?
  • Enabling compliance?
  • Executive dashboards?
  • All of the above?

No matter how you’ve defined your collaboration strategic goals, there is ONE objective you MUST have as part of your overall strategy: Develop a standard information architecture and governance of the collaboration platform. Collaboration is generally unstructured (compared to traditional and more structured taxonomies of document or knowledge management) and information architecture and governance are a must for any successful collaboration strategy and deployment.

Collaboration is About People First

As a concept, collaboration goes beyond the simple sharing of documents in a team site or a creating a wiki. It can be all encompassing from team spaces, email, web meetings, IM to communities, web 2.0 and more. At the end of the day, collaboration is really a broad spectrum of content creation, sharing and information management.

Multiple technologies from multiple vendors have been used to address this broad spectrum with email being THE main tool Executives and knowledge workers rely on day-to-day (mostly because of convenience, availability and Blackberries).

Collaboration is about people and allowing them to work when and where they want without being constrained by schedules, time zones or geography. Perhaps your organization has invested in multiple tools (from multiple vendors) to address your collaboration needs: You are using SharePoint for project/document management along-side Websphere Portals, Lotus Notes, Lotus Connections/Quickr, or Documentum eRoom.

In the absence of a solid strategy, the risk of failure or creating a poor first impression of collaboration technology becomes even greater which result in workers continuing to rely on email as comfort food.

Is It Time to Step Back?

The bottom line is this “buzzword” called collaboration has shown up on CIO radar screens as a “Must-Do”. Over the last few years we have seen vendors like Microsoft, IBM and Oracle all begin to offer a single “uber” eco-system to manage all of your collaborative needs, artifacts and related information.

As organizations have rushed to implement these all encompassing technologies from a single vendor, they proceeded without a holistic collaboration strategy, believed that somehow platforms like SharePoint would magically improve the current state, or simply failed to leverage all the collaboration capabilities with the right strategy, approach and governance.

Throwing technology at the problem just resulted in another repository, another place to store documents, another place to create a discussion and another mess in which they search for information when collaborating.

In spite of an expectation for a high ROI and a Google or Facebook-like experience throughout the global organization, users remain confused, continue to be overloaded with information, are limited in their collaborative capabilities, and still use email as the primary collaboration tool. If this sounds like your organization, then step back and look at your strategy.

 


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August 3, 2010

Just featured as member of the week on AIIM Communities…


I’ve shared some of my blog posts on AIIM and was featured as member of the week on AIIM Communities:

http://aiimcommunities.org/users/sharepointpmp

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July 31, 2010

Is Social Media Making Us Dumb?


This post was also a featured story on SocialMediaToday.com:

http://socialmediatoday.com/richblank/154394/social-media-making-us-dumb

The explosion of social media has been nothing but a phenomenon. Communities, twitter, facebook, linkedin and other networks allow us all to instantly share articles, thought leadership, books, tweets, PPTs, news, events, and more. And the more we engage in social media, the more I’m starting to wonder if social media is actually making us smarter and more enlightened OR if we are simply becoming dumber by the day.

While I see tremendous value in the online links and information and articles that are shared into and throughout my social networks, social media seems to be influencing the world with “NBC Today Show”-like headlines and content containing lightweight, high level fodder and sound-bytes from whatever happens to be your knowledge domain of choice. While blogs provide fantastic ways to share insights into communities of interest, more and more the posts I see are generally less than 400 words, conversational in tone, and read like “Top 5 Ways…” or “Top Reasons Why” to promote sharability.

I also see social media trending towards the 60 minute webinars and 10 minute videos and tweets of less than 140 characters to capture people’s attention, promote your services or product like an online infommercial to capture sales leads and create brand awareness. I see individuals simply updating their LinkedIn profile with so-called books from their Amazon reading list just for the sake of sounding intelligent and creating a perception that they actually stay current on the latest trends and buzzwords like Tipping Points or Flat Worlds or Synergistic Change. Of course we are all soooo busy that there is no way we have read or even will attempt to read these books.   I also see the latest tweets from the Harvard Business Review being shared around and emailed throughout our social networks as if we are some enlightened thinker of strategy and management with some inspirational message of change.  And then there’s Ted.com…an addicting site of speeches & lectures from REAL thought leaders and experts throughout the world…and who doesn’t “heart” Ted?  Of course social media now allows Ted.com junkies to share online lectures and speeches like a drug dealer handing out free samples on the street.

Let’s face the fact that because of social media, everything is starting to look and sound like Cosmopolitan Magazine and USA Today headlines. Now I will admit I too am guilty of proliferating this trend to simply keep up with the “Jones” as the experiment of social media evolves and becomes “mainstream”.   The reality is… because of social media, today anyone, at any level, from anywhere has access to the same sound bytes of information as you. Maybe your niche is technology or six sigma or project management or talent management or even information management!!! … Social media allows anyone to act like an expert, pretend to be an expert, and promote themselves as an expert. Because of social media….we just might be proliferating the Dilbert principles we all know and love so well. We are possibly becoming dumber and allowing the mediocre to gain a competitive advantage or at least sound like they actually know what they’re doing or are an expert in their respective domain.

What say you? Are you jaded in your thinking like this? OR are you enlightened and encouraged by all that social media has to offer?


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June 25, 2010

Personal Branding Tips from Guy Kawasaki….


Came across this on the web….Personal Branding Tips from Guy Kawasaki….

Make Meaning, Not Money. If you’re into personal branding with the goal of making money, stop now. You will attract the wrong kind of people into your life. Instead, start with the goal of making meaning. What better way to align all your actions with your long-term goals. What kind of meaning will you make? Kawasaki suggests two ideas for inspiration: 1) right a wrong, or 2) prevent the end of something good. What will you do to make the world a better place?

Make a Mantra. In three words or less, what are you all about? Kawasaki believes that mission statements are useless. He says, make a mantra instead. FedEx stands for “peace of mind.” What do you stand for, in the simplest terms?

Polarize People. Personal branding pundits often advise against being a “jack of all trades,” or a generalist that isn’t very good at something specific. What does Guy believe? He suggests being great for some people rather than trying to please everyone. Do not be afraid to make people react strongly for or against you. As my former business partner used to remind me, you’re not doing something right unless you’re pissing someone off. That doesn’t mean be a jerk. That means just don’t try to appeal to all people, or you’ll end up a mile wide and an inch deep, mediocre to everyone.

Find a Few Soul Mates. We’re all on this journey together. It’s silly to think we are alone in our careers or in our life. Find people who balance you. Then make time for them. If you’re busy, make plans in advance so you have to schedule around them. You’re only one person, so surround yourself with people whose skills round you off.

Don’t Let the Bozos Grind You Down. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone will always agree with you. That’s a fact of life. So don’t let criticism or doubters bring you down. As you live out your mantra, it’s your responsibility to be strong in the face of “no,” and “you can’t do that.” Guy says, ignore people who say you won’t succeed. Use negative words as motivation. Prove people wrong.

 


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June 8, 2010

What is more important: people? process? or technology?


The following post was also featured within the AIIM.org E2.0 Community:

I often see executives and project managers take charge of projects and focus on process first, people second, and technology last when it comes to change…   While I understand the thinking behind that mindset, in today’s world it is very difficult to leave the technology as an afterthought.  And when it comes to changing how organizations collaborate & socialize in this globalized web 2.0 world, technology is usually part of the answer.   Now some argue that technology should be secondary to process & culture when it comes to change.   On the other hand, sometimes the “system” actually causes the bad behavior or doesn’t allow or encourage the right human behavior.   So what is more important – people, process or technology?

If a CEO wants to know why engineers don’t act “social” and share knowledge across teams, then it’s a probably a people or cultural issue or incentives aren’t aligned accordingly or management isn’t encouraging it. Technology alone won’t change that. Social behavior is not something that can be mandated or dictated by management. Otherwise it’s just another thing we “have to do” and is viewed as a task or work. Social behavior is a two way street between workers and management with a heavy emphasis on management ….. who needs to encourage, promote, and reward good behavior. And the technology if implemented correctly should be there to support the culture, enable socialization, and hopefully easily facilitate the desired behavior. I’d argue that you can’t always treat the technology and the system as secondary to culture……as the system influences the process and culture as much as process impacts technology.

Some corporate cultures don’t promote collaboration or social behavior because of the systems they have in place.   The airlines for example have terrible antiquated systems.  And if the process is not easy or takes too long because the person behind the counter is typing too many letters and codes or doesn’t know how to easily do something — workers and customers may say “why bother” and everyone is frustrated by the “system”.

At a macro level, social behavior within a country is often influenced by the “system” of government.  The founding fathers of the US seemed to focus first on creating a “system” that ultimately empowers and protects people’s rights.  I’m not sure if there’s enough focus on “process” in government.  If there is one — well, it’s probably inefficient at best.  While I don’t think you can leave the “system” as an afterthought, government systems might tell us how important the process actually is.   Of course too much process & control is no good either as history has taught us.  Anyway….

Technology in so many ways today influences the way we socialize, collaborate, and share knowledge …. Today, workers rely too heavily on email & instant messaging as the main source of communicating, collaborating , and sharing knowledge where information gets lost and workers can’t filter out the noise and simply miss or ignore the “message”.  Blackberry’s are great (I have one), but sometimes they simply add to the problem vs. make us more productive….

It seems safe to conclude that you have to treat technology, people, and process equally if you want your organization to become that social and collaborative enterprise everyone talks about and puts in their grand “vision” statements.

 

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March 11, 2010

Enterprise 2.0 is about adoption…really?


I was just reading an article in CMS that Enterprise 2.0 is about adoption. 

Really?   That seems obvious. Web 1.0 was about adoption and Web 3.0 and 4.0 will also be about adoption.  For any technology to be successful — get people to adopt it and use it and enhance their lives in some way (productivity, increase revenue, connectedness, entertainment, etc…)

I’ve always thought of adoption as follows: convenience, closeness, context, and convergence.  Any technology is difficult to implement because of change and you need to get users to adopt the software.    So if you’re concerned about end user adoption, think about these 4c’s:  context, convenience, closeness, and convergence.   

Context.  This is about focus, filtering, and providing visibility — i.e. helping users to make sense of the digital mess of information that we manage for projects, clients, process, etc…   AND putting it all within a secure context that users can easily understand and find later.   You might think “it’s like a portal” — but it’s much more than a basic portal because a collaborative space is not just a means to display information, it provides a context to actually get work done.   One of the issues of SharePoint is it can lack context when it comes to team sites or solutions.  It does so many things, you really need to leverage the technology in the right context.  

Convenience.  This is about usability and ease of use — again helping to keep things as simple as possible for end users.  Fitting the technology into their daily work and personal lives.  Making this technology easy means users adopt it.  Once they adopt it — it’s hard to change as you just can’t work any other way. 

Closeness. This is about end users and understanding what they need, what they want, and how they work.   What’s the problem, and how will the technology add value.  If you think you can just “build it” and they will come, you are wrong.  Some will understand this technology and become power users.  As an IT organization, you need to empower those individuals to be change agents and educate them as much as possible.  You also need to pick specific projects or “contexts” and be consultative with best practices.

Convergence. A buzz word that is now more popular.  This is about converging technologies.  It’s not just about the “web channel”, it’s about the user experience channel no matter where or how or what device they get access to your technology solution.   And as technology converges within the context of communities – no matter how big or small these communities are — the focus still remains on things like convenience, context, and closeness to foster user adoption.

October 3, 2009

7 Steps to Sell the Value of Collaboration to Decision Makers


UPDATE: The following presentation was delivered by me at the SharePoint Summit 2010 Conference.

One of the challenges in deploying an Enterprise 2.0 platform like SharePoint is first figuring out how to get approval for funding such an initiative.   I’ve read a few articles on ROI of Collaboration and the bottom line is that the bottom line of collaboration is often hard to quantify.  So how do you sell the value of collaboration to those individuals who make decisions within your organization?   It’s often difficult to wrap your arms around concepts like blogs, wikis, or communities and even harder to quantify those in some type of hard ROI.   However, there is a methodology to the madness of establishing value of these collaboration tools.   And that methodology can be broken down into 7 key steps:

1. Identify the current business challenges. These may include innovation, focusing on customers, lean and efficient processes, attracting talent, developing leaders, and sharing knowledge, and of course compliance and security of information assets.   Each organization may have their own unique spin of these challenges, yet there does seem to be a common set no matter what company you talk to.

2. Capture the voice of the customer(i.e. your employees).   Whether you focus on a line of business or functional area like human resources, go out into the business and talk to people.  Find out what their challenges are, what opportunities they see, what pain points they have, etc…  Make sure you start a list of “notable quotables” too.   Capture those catch phases and feedback.

3. Ask the question:  How? How will your organization meet those business challenges?  If you can’t measure the efficiency of a process, how do you know you improved it?  How do you service customers if you can’t connect with them easily?   How do you develop leaders when you can’t find the right people with the right skills or even share knowledge effectively and easily?  How do manage risk if you can’t organize your documentation or take the right corrective action.    With sooo many corporate initiatives going on in your organization, how will all this work get accomplished?

4. Outline guiding objectives. The answer is of course a collaboration platform (e.g. SharePoint).  But it’s not enough to just state that alone.  You need to develop some guiding objectives of what this platform will do and how it will achieve those objectives.   For example, one of those objectives may be to “get work done more efficiently”.   But how?   Well, SharePoint provides a visible business context to analyze and act on information.  SharePoint reduces learning curves, drives innovation –but how?  Through the sharing of best practices and ideas across time, political, and geographic boundaries.   SharePoint creates efficiencies in business processes – but how?  Through transparency, audit-ability of workflows, and documentation of unstructured work.    These are just a few examples of what your objectives might look like.

5. Identify Opportunities.   Maybe there are already initiatives in-flight within your organization that are deploying SharePoint.  Find those existing installations and capture the investment made and benefits they provide.   In those conversation you had with your customers, identify specific potential opportunities.  Then map those to their potential impact they have on driving revenue, reducing costs, developing people, or mitigating risks.   In some cases, the collaboration solution might hit all three.  Let’s look at an example.   Maybe you think an “Internal Facebook” is a good idea.  What value does that really provide in a  business context?   Well, expertise location, networking and employee engagement are just a few ways it adds value.  Now how does an “Internal Facebook” impact revenue and costs?  Well, if you can save time finding the right resource, you just reduced costs.  If you can find that resource and help a customer, then you’ve impacted revenue.  If you find the right resource, they can share knowledge and reduce learning curves and mentor others.

6. Find external examples. Talk your software vendors’ sales rep and find out where a collaboration platform actually benefitted a similar organization with like challenges.  Identify the business challenge, the solution, and of course the benefit.

7. Draw a picture. Try to visualize what this solution will look like and paint the picture of its touch points to other systems like ERP or CRM or Product Development or Project Management applications.   Make sure you incorporate those key objectives you outlined earlier in the picture (e.g. visibility of information, expertise location, social learning, etc…).

And there you have it.  I just gave you the outline for your Powerpoint presentation to sell your collaboration solution to decision makers.   Again the 7 steps are:

1. Identify current business challenges.

2. Capture the voice of the customer.

3. Ask the question – HOW?

5. Outline guiding objectives of the collaboration solution.

5. Identify opportunities for the solution.

6. Find external examples where a like-solution was successful.

7. Paint the picture.