A while back I mentioned that I like the idea that after a conference, conference-call, presentation, meeting, workshop, etc…you can continue the conversations online.
For a big conference like the Web 2.0 Expo, they used CrowdVine as a social networking tool…I’ve posted about it before. And of course this same tool can be used to continue the conversation once the conference is over. Vyew is another tool that saves your conference in a book where you can continue to collaborate and discuss asynchronously, it also has a widget so this book can be embedded anywhere.
Stewart Mader suggests a wiki rather than a conference showbag.
What I found in my last conference call is that most of what we talked about in the call can also be done online, in our community page, when we are not present at the same time (asynchronous).
These are three types of things we did in the conference call, that cover blogs, forums, and wikis:
1. News, and status around the globe from each team member [BLOG]
Each team member had a turn to update the team on their status
- why do this in the conference call, when we can subscribe to the group status blog, or each others personal blogs
- any conversation can be carried out in the comments
- all can read and/or take part in conversations on their own time
- this saves time on the call to do other stuff
- to recall something just go to the blog archive
This is put nicely from the wiki perspective by the Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein case study:
“The teleconference used to be one and a half hours long, with much time wasted on bringing people up to speed on the week’s events. Now team members update themselves on the wiki, and that part of the teleconference takes five to ten minutes.
The rest of the teleconference is used for ideas generation, being innovative, talking about problems and looking at solutions, which is what the meeting should be about. It shouldn’t be about updating people as to what’s happened, but thinking about our clients and how we can service them.”
2. Discussion about issues people had since the last call [FORUM]
The team was asked if there was anything to discuss.
This is what a conference call is all about…conversation.
But, we should not wait for a conference call to discuss things, why not use the community forums everyday.
3. Brainstormed an idea for better usability for one of our systems [WIKI]
What we basically did was come up with a list for things to appear in a drop down menu, that would cover all reasons when a user logs a support call.
It was good to do this synchronously as we could discuss whilst we made the list, nothing beats this.
But I’m sure we could of started this list in a wiki, and used the comments for discussion, and then perhaps join the conference call to finalise our list.
I realised in one meeting that we covered the use of 3 of the most important social tools.
Why do we need so many meetings, when we can be collaborating and conversing perpetually?
The more we use social tools, the shorter our meetings can be.
Nothing beats synchronous group chats to discuss out issues, but we can sometimes do most of this discussion, updates, and collaboration online, and call a short meeting to finalise and action our findings.
Next time I talk about social tools adoption, I can tell people you are doing it anyway, only this is doing the same thing when we are not all in the same room.
We can still collaborate, discuss, update when we are not in the same room.
The fact is people are fine to physically participate in informing their status and what they’ve been up to, discuss issues, and collaborate…but when it comes to doing this online they feel weird being social (open and visibility). Instead they use email as it’s more closed and private, and they do all three things with email (status, discuss, collaborate) that they do in person at a meeting, it’s like email is their asynchronous voice.
Part of the adoption process is to help people get over the awkwardness of being social online, we have to guide them by informing them social tools are not extra work, it’s what you are doing anyway.
Rough Example 1
“In a meeting you share your status, well here is a blog to do the exact same thing…you can even share any experiences, or whatever you like here.” (Above-the-Flow)
“In a meeting you take part in discussions, well here is a forum to do the exact same thing.”
“In a meeting we collaborate and brainstorm, well here is a wiki to do the exact same thing.”
“Email is for private correspondence, whereas these three tools above are the online version for what we do in meetings.”
“An easy way to think about it, is if it’s not private information, then a community tool can be used. The next step is to work out whether you need a blog, forum or wiki.”
“Please use these three tools when the context of what you want to do is about, status/experience, discussion, or collaboration.”
“These social tools will live in a community website, which assimilates our meeting room, this allows us to still communicate and work together when we are not in meetings.”
Using the approach above we are introducing social tools not for the heck of it, or as a knowledge sharing drive, etc…
We are introducing them to solve issues specific issues, that way people will be more serious about them, and these are issues that effect the whole enterprise.
If the reason of introducing social tools was-we need to collaborate more, and share knowledge-people are going to say “yeah, I’ve heard that before”, “I’m not sharing what I know” (power/trust), and “I haven’t got time”.
Instead if we put it across as solving particular issues, it is received in a more welcoming way, as it’s like we are going to deploy tools that we help them with their problems…it doesn’t come across like we want something out of them as much.
Rough Example 2
“The company is experiencing email stress, as part of this company-wide problem we are introducing communities and social tools in order to relieve this email overload.”
“The company is also wanting to save money on global conference calls, and save people’s time by making these calls shorter and less frequent by using community tools.”
“Within a community will be status diaries, discussion forums, and group brainstorming pages.
Please use these tools in replacement of less time spent in meeting, and please don’t use email if you want to have a group discussion, brainstrorm/collaborate or tell others about your status…instead use the correct community tool.”
“Our introduction of communities are intended to help tackle two serious issues in our enterprise that effect everyone: email and meeting overload. Please use communities for any of these three types of action, rather than email or having yet another meeting.”
“These are two serious issues affecting everyone in the company, and if we don’t all do the right thing, we won’t be able to overcome our issues. The company is one big group, and if a few seeds ignore this message, it will spoil the intentions and dynamics of the group. So remember your behaviour is going to affect the whole.”
“As part of this initiative we will be looking at recognising people and groups that use communities, we feel there will be self recognition anyway. We will also look into this as being incorporated into our company aims, and job performance reviews.”
“To kick all this off I introduce the whole office to the “Office community”, the only communication via email will be a notification to visit an entry at the “Office community”.”
“Business units, interest groups, and task rooms will be set up on request in order to use community tools to get your work done.”
I’m more for a viral bottom-up approach, but even so at some stage you may want to get the message out to the whole company. Perhaps have it in your back pocket in case the bottom-up approach isn’t quite working as expected.
This office-wide approach has to be repeated to staff within their own teams, community leaders will be champions, facilitators, role models…
From the above example I did not once mention: social, enterprise 2.0, web 2.0, knowledge sharing, collaboration (oops, I did mention this), we need to capitialise on opportunities for competitive advantage, getting stuff out of people’s heads, blogs, wikis…
Instead I raised issues like email overload and shorter/less meetings (time) that can be alleviated using social tools.
The sell is about not doing anything extra, it’s only offering substitute tools, it’s focused on specific problems, and it hopes to come across as doing people a favour to help them work less frustrated.
To finish up here’s an excerpt by JP Rangaswami in relation to Facebook, but to me it covers what social tools and the use of communities are all about, this is the engagement we are trying to achieve…social productivity by leveraging the social capital:
“…you’ve taken what happened at the water cooler or at the coffee shop and made it persistent, made it shareable, made it teachable, made it learnable […] Now we have the ability to actually understand what these relationships are, how information and decision making migrates horizontally, laterally through an organization, rather than through the published hierarchies, how people really work, and what people do as part of that work […] to look at the flows that matter rather than the flows of the politics”