EMC (who you may know for their products Documentum and erooms) have deployed communities into their enterprise of 33,000 employees, they have chosen Clearspace from Jive who are getting rave reviews.
Chuck Hollis from EMC has a public blog that is documenting every stage of his involvement in the deployment of their communities, it’s called A Journey In Social Media.
There is so much we can learn from someone else’s experience, I recommend reading this blog, we can learn from proven methods of what not to do, and what works.
Reading Chuck’s experience is ideal for me right now, as I have been asked to be part of the team to develop, deploy and support Communities at my work. We are still in the development stage: learning the software, creating training guides, etc…I’ve kind of got two jobs right now, but soon enough communities will become my full-time job. I plan to read up on all things about Communities that I have been bookmarking in the last couple of years, and then publish some hearty blog posts on Community adoption, deployment, usability, leadership, sustainability, etc…
I get the feeling our communities will be both topic interest groups, and business unit groups…at the moment our Document Management System (DMS) houses business units (folders and documents), but I can forsee that the Communities will take over, as they house documents with all the DMS collaboration and versioning features, as well as conversation features like blogs, forums, Q&A, etc…
BTW we are using OpenText Communities of Practice, in my eyes it’s not the ideal product (they are currently making improvements), but we use them as our DMS system, and having the same vendor is an attractive solution.
The about page really rings true:
“I think most companies will be taking a journey to figure out this whole social media thing in the next few years.
And, at the center of each company’s journey will be an individual or two who are at the center of that company’s journey.
This blog is being written by an individual who is doing this at a very large company.
Hopefully, others will find it useful in the future.”
Chuck’s blog is 8 months in, so there is lots to learn, some of what’s covered is:
- usability/getting started
- viral adoption, as well as a soft roll-out (otherwise it has a “why do I have to do this”, “what’s in it for me”)
- senior involvement
- permissions/trust/shy/participation behaviour
- promotion/informal learning
- how it’s different to email and document collaboration
- conversation centric, rather than content centric
- ROI in stories
This is KM 2.0 at it’s best, the blog format is so casual (informal) and personal that you really get ground zero insight…imagine this compared to a formal report on how to do communities?
When it comes to personal know-how, what would you rather read Chuck’s “works in progress” or a formal report, I think I’d learn lots more with off the cuff posts that are published as they are experienced.
Firstly you get all the details (as it’s blogged as it happens), and it’s very personal, contextual, and includes a lot of peripheral stuff, that may not be included in a formal report. There’s a lot more tacit stuff going on in these casual and spontaneous blog posts than a manual on communities. Reason being is the nature of blog posts are sharing story nuggets, whereas the aim of a report is trying to achieve a planned and end result, so the content reflects the style of what is asked of the deliverable. The content of a deliverable is more a slave to the format and formalness (is that even a word?), whereas the free-form nature of a blog and the immediate publishing is more intimate and closer to a video montage of the moment/s.
You can always write a report using the blog as your source material, but there is the findability and “who can be bothered” issue.
Would you rather pull anecdotes to you (come to me web) as it goes along (time for you to absorb, breathe, and discuss content and experiences with the author as it’s fresh), or not even know where to find a thick report, and procrastinate reading such a lengthy book, and if you have queries try and track down the author who may have bad recall of the details of long ago.
NOTE: I’m not bad-mouthing reports, deliverables are always needed, but when it comes to the transfer of tacit know-how, blogs are the perfect complement.
If Chuck were to write a book or paper on introducing communities into an enterprise, there is no way he would remember all this “gold” if he didn’t blog it (and all the comment contributions). Plus would it be proper to write so casually in a “paper”, that would be unfortunate because it’s this casualness that gets us closer to those moments of personal know-how.
I myself in this blog post, have not had time to condense and add value to Chuck’s posts into a articulate review, someone else may want to do that
What I have done is read through his blog and selected several posts of interest and highlighted excerpts (hope you don’t mind Chuck):
“I’ve come to think about the spread of social media (more properly thought of as community-building) as a viral phenomenon. Create a couple of stong, virulent strains, and let nature do the rest.
My thinking is that if we have a handful of small, vibrant, passionate communities — they’ll serve as the model for new ones, and we’ll get some organic expansion.
I’ve mentioned before that a community without authoritative voices runs the risk of being irrelevant. Not only do we need one or more authoritative voices, they’ve got to be committed to playing the role: showing up frequently, getting involved, being responsive, and so on.
There are important topics, and there are passionate topics. I’m also looking for topics that are fast moving — where the picture is changing day-by-day or week-by-week.”
“For me, creating a good social media environment means that the platform and the processes have to be absolutely transparent to our end users. If they have to go through lengthy registration processes, or if the tool behaves in a weird way, it’ll put people off bigtime.
Going a bit further, we want this stuff to spread virally. One of the ways to enable this is to make it as self-documenting as possible. To the extent that potential users can be educated on context and process using the platform itself — that’s a good thing.
We needed a couple of basic processes. First, how does someone figure out the context here, e.g. what is all this about, and how do I use it? Second, if someone wants to play, how does a user register? Third, how does a community get built?
As far as “creating a context” goes, we created a “Getting Started” space and started to populate it with all sorts of contextual documents — e.g. what was this all about, what it could be used for, some basics on blogging and creating communities, and so on.
We also had to think through the process of how does a community get built. To do this, we created a “New Community Forum” space to help.
In this space, there’s a few coaching documents on how to think of a community: focus, roles, etc. We also created a template to help people answer a few basic questions.
The idea is that prospective community builders can post a proposal for their new community in the space, and we all can review and discuss it. Once approved (by consensus), the admin will create a new space and assign it over to the new community builder.
We also have a playpen / sandbox space where prospective communities can be built, and then promoted (moved) to active spaces — something that may not be obvious, but will probably prove to be useful.”
“Organizing communities by corporate function meant that you’d be more likely to have small, isolated communities that didn’t span multiple organizations and boundaries. Not an issue in a small company, but a real issue in a bigger company with tens of thousands of people and hundreds of organizational units.
I think it’s worth pointing out the inherent futility of pre-ordaining what types of communities will be built.
We’ve made it really easy for anyone to start an informal discussion or community. This means we’re gonna have lots of them. I’m looking forward to being surprised at the types of communities that spring up.
Some will thrive. Some won’t. Some will spring into existence, passionately flame around a hot topic, and quiesce once the challenge has been solved, and people move on.
All part of the natural ecology of social media environments.
Who are we to pre-ordain what types of things grow? It’s the difference between a garden and a meadow. A garden has weeds, a meadow doesn’t.
I used a bit of my perogative to force a very simple top-level schema.
The first community space anyone sees is “Getting Started”. Lots of new users, we want them to go there first.
The second community space is ‘Active Communities’. The message is clear — go here to look at a linear list of communities that are up and running. I think the expectations here are pretty clear.
The third space is “Under Development”. I felt we needed a sandbox where prospective community developers could build their spaces, configure, add content, etc. before going “live” and promoting their community to new members.
The fourth space is “Archived Communities”. At some point, activity in a space tails off, but you don’t want to delete anything. At the same time, you don’t want people wandering in and contributing if there’s no one there. So everything in this space has the write permissions turned off — it’s still accessible and referenceable — but no comments, edits or discussions.
And, of course, the fifth space is “Feedback’ — what do people think, what do they want, etc.”
“We announced availability virally — we all pushed email announcements to people we knew who were interested in what we were doing. We wanted people to “find” us, and not have some sort of official corporate announcement. That, and we wanted to ramp slowly with people who might be more inclined to be patient with us.
If I had to do it again, I’d do it the same way.
But the second order effect was more interesting. Before long, we saw people on the platform that none of us knew. Yes, they were EMC employees, but they weren’t who we expected to join in initially.
We’re quickly putting some basic process in place. How do I sign up? How do I get help online? What are the known bugs, and how do I work around them? How do I feedback? How do I propose a new community?”
“We want our social media platform to grow virally.
But we’re finding out that a little effort in creating context can go a long way to easing the process.
We made sure that our “Welcome” page had a clear, upfront message about what this is all about, and had an obvious link to follow if people wanted to find out more.
We wrote short docs on how to get an account, rules of the road, etc.
We also don’t want to spend a lot of time hand-holding users, especially new ones.
Now, the traditional answer would be to offer up some form of training. Yuch. Expensive, and a real barrier to adoption. If people couldn’t figure out the tools on their own (albeit with a bit of coaching), we’d picked the wrong platform.”
“We have more than a few people who bounce around a bit once they “discover” the platform. They ask questions that have already been answered. They fail to read the docs. They get frustrated, and post aggressive or assertive questions that are a bit inappropriate.
Part of social media skills is learning how to size up an environment when you’re new to it. Just like you wouldn’t go barging into a party and start acting inappropriately, the same statement applies to any social media platform.
A third problem is arising in community building. We get these great proposals for new communities, we approve them, we create the space, and then … well, nothing. The people who took the time to create the proposal aren’t following through with the basic steps of building their communities.
I don’t know whether its because they don’t know what to do, or got busy, or somehow think that communities spontaneously generate around a topic. I’m looking for a full-time community coach to help with this problem, because it’ll be a killer unless we surmount it.”
“We have about 20 communities under construction. Only one has emerged as a viable, vibrant community. The signal to noise ratio is not acceptable, in my humble opinion.
The person who approached building the community did it totally different than everyone else. He gave careful thought to his initial community members. He prepopulated his community with great content. He encouraged targeted people to come, participate, post, contribute, discuss, etc.
For me, the trick will be to develop community developers. And, because I want scale quickly, I can’t do this function all by myself.
Second, they’re going to have to assemble a list of known “best practices” around designing and building a community. I have a lot of that in my head, but they’re going to have to pull it out of me and other people, and then validate that with our prototypical community developers.
Third, they’re going to have to coach an audience of about 20-50 community developers at any one time. Now, they’re going to have to learn how to do this without setting up lots of face-to-face meetings, lengthy phone calls, etc. Sure, their will be some need for this, but I’d like to see the majority of the activity done using the social media platform itself.”
“We’re at 500 self-selected users, and more piling in exponentially every day.
Key learning: viral launches of platforms are best. Makes people get curious, explore, etc. — better than an Official Announcement. You also get a more patient breed of user, which has been helpful as we experience growing pains.
The best part — people are finding each other and productively interacting in ways I had never expected. I’m using the analogy of a “social computer” to describe what we’re building here.
I’ve found strong sponsorship in our HR group. They’ve appointed a leader around “social media proficiency at EMC”, building a team, and figuring out how we as 35,000 people get good at this stuff in a directed, thoughtful way.
And, of course, they’re forming an online community to discuss, debate and coordinate.
Some of our bigger business units are coming to the table with big initiatives of their own. Great stuff, it is. Our big challenge is that I think they’re expecting other functions to go implement their project for them.”
“We’re meeting other people who are simply uncomfortable about expressing themselves on a semi-public platform. They’re afraid that something will go uncontrollably wrong with what they’ve said, or how someone uses their words against them.
Lots of 1990s command/control/process thinking, e.g “who approves blog content before it gets posted?”. “Who controls who can see what?”. “How do we make sure only authorized, approved content makes its way to the platform?” and so on.”
“We’re finding out that people who want to work on the platform might be thought of as “just fooling around” or wasting time if their boss learned they were doing stuff on the platform, some of might be not strictly task-at-hand focused.
What I quickly realized is that we needed a message: a tight, focused communication that clearly set expectations for everyone.
Something like this:
EMC is investing in social media. Not only is it an exciting area of technology for our product organizations, we think it has the potential to transform EMC’s overall effectiveness and competitive position.
To be successful with social media at EMC, we’ll need to learn some new behaviors: new ways of communicating, new ways of collaborating, and new ways of creating value.
We’ve created a safe and secure environment where all of us can learn how to use these new tools: http://one.emc.com
We encourage all EMC employees — both individual contributors and managers — to take the time to discover how these new capabilities can improve your working environment, and your contribution to EMC.
We’re interested in your feedback as we learn how to use these new tools. Simply let us know your thoughts by leaving your comments in the “feedback” forum.
We’re finding that there are a LOT of people who want to control who sees what and when. Or who joins in.
There are some painfully shy people out there. As they look at the platform, they’re asking that their true identity be masked in some way, so they can say what they really feel.
People have to learn to trust each other, even if they’ve never met. At the core of all this, that’s really what it’s all about.
They need to trust that their words won’t be twisted, that they won’t be bullied, or flamed, or singled out in a negative way.
Building trust takes time. I don’t think there’s any shortcut.
So, despite all the things I’m thinking of doing, I have to remember that these things take time.”
“First, there’s no question in anyone’s mind that this was a good idea. All doubters, skeptics and proposers of alternative courses of action have now gone eerily silent. It’s real obvious now.
We’re at about 1000 active licenses. About 900 of them are “lurkers” — that’s OK, we kind of expected that. I think everyone has gotten over the economic waste of paying for 900 licenses that really aren’t being “used” as we’d like. Compared to what we’ve done here, that’s splitting hairs.
The “core” — about 100 hard-core early adopters — are making this a fun and useful place to hang out.
Our “hit rate” on community formation is improving. The first wave was awkward, most of it stalled, but the second wave — people who were able to watch the interaction on the platform, and propose/build communities from experience — well, they’re doing much better, I think.
There’s spontaneous, value-generating interaction. I don’t want to share company secrets on a public blog, but there’s at least 2-3 “aha!” moments I can point to that created substantial, non-arguable economic value through interactions and discussions.
There’s buzz. Everyone seems to have heard about it, is curious, comes over to check it out. Sometimes, they wade in and start participating.
We were concerned with rapid adoption swamping our ability to provide a service. That’s not happening. Given the viral form of promotion, plus the natural human reluctance to jump into a new social situation, we have a steady measured pace of people coming on board.
We have our challenges. We haven’t cracked the code on repeatable community formation. We need to “legitimize” the platform (and its attendant social behaviors) to a wider audience — there’s a lot of social reluctance we’re hearing about.”
“Simply put: it’s now “cool” to be an active participant on EMC ONE. It’s also cool to have a presence, and to have a plan to use the platform to solve a business problem. Once “coolness” kicks in with anything viral (like social media), you’ve got the wind at your back.
Our coolness factor increased a bit when I convinced one of senior execs to start a blog on leadership. He’s a great guy, and has wonderful stories about leadership, values, customer focus, etc.
In addition to being a good sport and just being generally willing to help out with cool projects, there’s a real benefit for him — he spends a lot of time telling the same stories repeatedly to different audiences. Now he tells it once (online) and everyone can read it.
It took a while, but it’s happening. People are getting comfortable enough to find each other (even though they’ve never met), discuss topics, find a problem, and start working to solve it. I don’t have a small number of examples, I now have a much longer list.
EMC has a Center of Excellence in China. I don’t know how many people are out there (probably more than I realize), but there’s a legit business problem in getting people on board, helping them feel connected, etc.
The fellow who runs this COE tells everyone something simple: go to EMC ONE and write a blog entry, introduce yourself, and look around. And, surprisingly, people from this part of the world are writing back and saying “welcome!”. More coolness.
I get dozens of interesting bits of research, reports, analysis, etc. that flow through my email inbox. So do lots of other people. They’re in email, and then they’re gone, never to be seen again.
I created a space, started posting stuff, and invited others to do the same. They did.
Pretty soon, we had a big pile of documents. All searchable. All discussable. Not particularly well organized, but better than buried in email, or living on my hard disk.
There’s a somewhat petty control battle going on as well. We’ve defined the boundaries as “the business controls the user experience, not IT”, which is a role partitioning exercise I would highly recommend for just about anyone considering this stuff.
If I had to summarize the one thing we need to work on, it’s weaning people away from doing everything (and I mean everything) on email. Even people who are proficient on the platform will occasionally revert to old habits.”
“I’ve written before how I believe that social media success has everything to do with new behaviors, skills, roles, etc. — it’s not so much about the platform and technology (although you DO need a place to do this), it’s more about how you use it.
And — like all behaviors — we’ve noticed a certain reticence in the masses to adopt many of these new behaviors.
Sure, we have our early (and vocal) adopters. But for every one of those, there are literally hundreds who are watching, and not participating.
And we’ve given a LOT of thought on how to improve the situation.
And, to be successful at social media behaviors and skills, we’re probably going to have to think about the problem in much the same way as a swimming teacher thinks about teaching kids to swim.
We were coming up with things like “Learning To Be Proficient At Social Media”. Hardly compelling.
Now, we have titles like “Learning To Swim: Getting Good At Social Media Skills”. Better, I think.
Secondly, we have a way of immediately establishing empathy with our target audience, e.g. “look, this is like learning to swim, it might be a little uncomfortable at the beginning, but before long you’ll be having a blast”. You do know how to swim, don’t you?
Additionally, this metaphor helps bridge the “frustration gap” between the SM-skilled and the SM-unskilled. The people here who are comfortable with this stuff just can’t comprehend what could be so hard about doing this stuff — it’s easy, it’s fun, etc. A little empathy is a good thing here.”
“I’d like to say we had a well-defined plan to move from prototype to pilot to early adopters to mainstream, but — like all things web 2.0-ish — things happen at their own pace, and — occasionally — in ways that you don’t expect.
This week, I think we made a phase transition from “interesting project” to “corporate legit”.
Our communication strategy has been largely viral up to this point. Someone tells someone else about the platform, they get curious, they look around, and many of them participate — a bit.
One of our biggest obstacles has been “fear of swimming”. People have openly told me they don’t want to participate for a multitude of reasons — shyness, fear of retribution, getting into an ugly discussion, etc.
It’s the elepant in the room. There’s no getting good at social media if people are scared to participate.
We understand the badge of “corporate legit, corporate endorsed” will go a long way towards making people feel more comfortable. If senior management likes the idea (and everything that goes with it), that’s a major obstacle removed.
Every year, EMC has a big leadership meeting in Las Vegas
Guess what? We got our airtime
Frank Hauck (the exec who leads the group I report into) spent 5 minutes or so showing screenshots from EMC|ONE (the name of our Clearspace-based platform).
He positioned it as a place to have conversations, and not a repository.
He said it was a way to find people, and start to build EMC’s social computer.”
Homepage of all communities and discussions:
A blog (I like the action box):
What I want to know is that do communities have blogs, or do you have a profile blog which can choose to send posts to a community?
An active community:
“I wrote a while back that we saw one of our most formidable challenges would be around getting people to participate in this new environment. We found out people were holding back for a variety of reasons, nothing do with technology, more to do with human behavior.
The facts are clear. New people are showing up on the platform — dozens a day — and are jumping right in. They’re blogging, they’re starting discussions — bottom line, they’re not shy.
I’ve mentioned before that this — above all else — will lead to social media proficiency as a business tool. And I also probably mentioned we’re pretty abysmal at this today.
So I decided to do something about it. I got approval to create a new role (Community Coach), and found a wonderful, enthusiastic person who agreed to give it a go.
Her job will be to work with people targeting the larger communities to help them get better at going through the process. As we get good at this, we’ll document what we learn, and use that as a basis of a self-help community for — you guess it — community builders.
But, about 20 minutes into it, one of the execs lit up and started talking about some of the real challenges in the finance group: developing leadership, helping them to understand the entire business, building a culture of continual improvement, etc. — and basically got the SM bug bigtime. She’s a natural leader, and I think others will surely follow her.
Our platform is being mentioned everywhere. There’s no formal campaign, it’s just the advanced stages of our viral program. I see us being referenced all over the place, pitched, described, etc.
The overall communications effectiveness is off-the-charts, in my book. And there’s no way we could have achieved this with a traditional, organized approach. Viral marketing takes a bit longer, but it achieves results in a way that’s truly amazing to behold.
We now have so many business value stories that we don’t really need any more to make our case, even to the most stubborn ROI cynic. I have a nice email I forward around that tells the story, and includes the links to the specific places on the site where it’s happening.
Viral marketing once again, since these tend to get forwarded around a bunch. I don’t need to tell my story, I can enlist others to tell it for me.”
“The ideas are pretty simple. Enterprise value is created when people collaborate, share ideas, work together, etc. Most of the discussion has been around document-oriented collaboration, e.g. people working together around documents.
We had decided that — ahead of that — having conversations was a necessary and vital “feeder process” to document collaboration.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Document-oriented collaboration is pretty darn cool, and can create significant value in the right context.
And if you surf the E2.0 blogosphere, there’s an intense focus around wikis — the quintessential document collaboration model — as a stellar example of all things 2.0-ish in the enterprise.
Early on, I became fascinated with community dynamics at EMC. Sure, we were pretty adept at pushing tons of information at each other. Emails, web sites, portals, repositories, etc. — we were adept at creating content, and shoving it around at each other.
Terabytes of the stuff. All neatly written, organized and syndicated. We were not perfect, but we were reasonably proficient at generating and orchestrating static content. And it just didn’t ring my bell, so to speak.
But, I kept thinking, the really high-value stuff was the conversations I was having with other people.
About ideas, perspectives, context, etc. — the discussions I was getting into were very intense, and usually incredibly productive. They influenced me, I influenced them. And good stuff generally came of it.
These conversations were personal, honest and context-rich. And they were perhaps the most important source of innovation and value-add in our corporate culture.
To go even further, the really cool conversations I was having usually started with someone saying “you know, I was talking to so-and-so, and we came up with the idea that …” so we had one conversation feeding into another.
Now, if you come to the conclusion that conversations matter, you’re also struck by just how difficult it is to have lots of conversations with lots of different people.
Emails are poor substitutes for conversations, especially when distribution lists are involved. Concalls and large meetings are absolutely painful — I’m always the guy who’s politically incorrect, and tries to take the discussion into an area that might be interesting. Not to mention the pain of managing a calendar so you can synchronize with your peers around the world.
And, more subtly, there’s a skill (and a confidence factor) involved in having an open, naked conversation about what really matters. I, for whatever reason, have no problem saying what’s on my mind.
Others may not feel so inclined — so there’s a cultural aspect to this that is very subtle but oh-so-important.
If you believe that conversations were creating incredible business value, maybe the focus should be on having many more conversations, much more easily.
I don’t know when it happened, but at some point a relational model appeared in my head about how all this stuff was related, and — since then — I can’t think about anything else.
Conversations lead to passionate topics of mutual interest.
Passionate topics of interest lead to ad-hoc community formation.
Community formation leads to collaboration around shared activities, including document collaboration.
Community collaboration is the quintessential magic of all things E2.0.
So, not to oversimplify, but if EMC got really, really good at starting interesting conversations, the rest would follow naturally and organically.
Not to oversimplify, but wiki collaboration assumes that there are people aligned around a common set of interests and goals who are willing to help out and make the wiki a success.
How do these people find each other? How do they debate their respective points of view? How do they decide what roles various people should play, and what the outcome should be?
That’s a conversation, in my mind. Hence my passionate interest in conversational collaboration.
Who, in their right mind, would invest serious corporate resources (IT, people, process, etc.) in just making sure that people are having more conversations? Isn’t it all an idle waste of time? Shouldn’t we all be spending more time on serious work? Way too touchy-feely for my tastes …
Well, I’ve spent enough time in the corporate world to realize that everything worthwhile started — at some point — as a conversation. In my mind, more business-oriented conversations lead directly to more business value. It’s that simple.
And that’s what I’ve got EMC focusing on — conversations that lead to communities that lead to collaborative work efforts. Right or wrong, at least I have the courage of my convictions. And, surprisingly, I’ve got other people agreeing with me.
I have come to the perspective that — in my defined world — it all starts with blogging behind the firewall.
A competent blogger is like a beacon in the dark, foggy night. Here I am. Here is what I’m thinking about. Here is what I’m worried about. Come, share your thoughts with me. I care, and if you care, we can perhaps work together.
Blogs can start conversations. Very interesting ones, based on my personal experience.
For this simple reason, my personal crusade for the next few months is to encourage more blogging behind the firewall. Sure, a lot of it will be fluffy stuff. But, somewhere in all the fluff, there will emerge the hot, burning light of intelligent discourse. Others will be attracted, and become engaged. And, if all works well, good things will inevitably happen.
People are coming out of their shells. They’re sharing what they know, and what they think. They’re coming together in unpredictable ways to create value for the company. There’s no project plan anywhere that could have captured what’s happening here. For those of us close to it, it’s truly a magical experience.
The whole thing for me with all things 2.0-ish is that conversations matter. Whether it’s blogging, or discussion forums, or whatever — the simple notion of human intellect reaching out and connecting with others is the core engine powering this transformation in corporate culture.”
“Our internal platform, EMC|ONE has been up since last September. We’re at 3,000 registered, named and participating users, and a much larger number of lurkers who’ve shown up to look around — often repeatedly.
And we don’t need to sell this thing internally anymore. Our users are doing it for us.
If you remember, we opted for a viral ’soft launch’ of the platform (friends telling friends) for a variety of reasons, all of which turned out to be good ones.
We also opted for a ’soft sell’ — we didn’t want to push too hard on people, again for a variety of reasons.
First, I think this social media stuff has to be fun. You do it because you want to, not because someone told you to do it.
Second, even if they weren’t directly participating, we wanted to make sure that everyone knew that other people were participating — including, in some cases, your coworkers, your boss, your direct reports, and so on. Awareness was just as important to us as participation. This set up a fascinating social dynamic that was fun to watch.
Someone on the platform asked for a “business justification” around EMC|ONE — why it existed, why it was good to use it, and so on. A reasonable enough question in any business environment, no?
None of us who were on the core team really responded.
But lots and lots of other people did!
They offered up personal stories about where they saw the value coming from, including some pretty surprising ones.
They talked about how it helped them do their job better, how it helped them understand what the company was up to, how they could find out who did what quickly, or just ask a question and likely have it answered.
They spoke to it on an emotional level as well — how they now viewed their careers differently, their role as leaders differently, how they felt about working at EMC, and with other EMCers.
Dozens of personal testimonials, far more effective than any ROI study, or a spreadsheet, or a powerpoint deck.
It’s kind of cool when your best sales reps are the people who are using your platform, isn’t it?
I think the person who asked that question might have been a bit overwhelmed with the response. I wonder if she got what she was looking for, or was just scared to ask again!
I have been in the business world for about 30 years, and — as a result — I’ve problably seen perhaps every flavor of “business justification” you can imagine.
Usually, a business justifcation takes the forms of economic inputs in (time, money, people, etc.), anticipated economic outputs (money, market share, or other benefit), couched by risks, timelines and assumptions. And, for big parts of the business world, it’s an essential tool and methodology.
But there are some really important things in the business world that are very difficult to quantify in terms of economic value.
How do you quantify the value of making your knowledge workers more effective?
Or avoiding a big mistake on company strategy?
Or being able to drive hundreds of new initiatives across the company at almost no incremental cost?
Or having employees that really want to work at your company, and not another place?
Or, perhaps, the next product, market or solution breakthrough?
Traditional business justification has its role in the world, but — I’d argue vehemently — there is a class of real important things in this world that are inherently difficult to measure and quantify — we just don’t have the tools at our disposal to do this easily or cost-effectively.
So we have to use our good judgment. I tell people that a business plan is a poor substitute for good judgment.
We’ve now created something here that promotes itself, justifies itself to others, and answers the critics with a sharp community tongue.
Sure, it took a while to get to this state (about 6 months live), but I’m glad we had the patience to do this organically and naturally, rather than construct an arbitrary schedule with milestones that had no bearing in reality.
This is social engineering, folks. You’re creating social constructs, and — as a result — things tend to move at people speed, and not according to some project plan.
Sure, we had to do some selling (and defending) early on.
But not anymore — our users are doing it for us.”
“Old Wisdom = get people to blog
New Wisdom = find the passionate people, and get them to blog
Old Wisdom = build communities around what’s important to the business
New Wisdom = build communities around what people really care about
Old Wisdom = keep the discussions on the original thread
New Wisdom = keep the discussions where people want them to go.
1 — Social media proficiency is essential to the long-term competitive success of our company, and perhaps yours as well.
2 — To get people proficient, you’re going to have to get them to engage. Not because they have to, but because they want to.
3 — The #1 incentive for people to engage is because they’re passionate about something — they really care, and they want to engage.
This leads us to something very strange to contemplate — a passion-driven model for social media proficiency in large enterprises.”