The other day when I posted on social networks and ad-hoc groups, I mentioned these online tools need to mirror both our offline behaviour, and our online real-time behaviour.
I set the scenario that at work there may be a task or initiative which involves people from many departments.
What usually happens is everyone gets invited to a meeting: in a room, via a telecon, or something like webex (we now use MS Office Communicator).
After the meeting the coordinator will go back to their seat, document the minutes in MSword and send an email attachment.
Then various people use email to do their bit.
Then we reconvene in a new meeting to see where everyone is at.
This is hopeless; I say when we go back to our seats we can still assimilate the real-time room (meeting) environment in an asynchronous fashion.
This makes for better communication, coordination and awareness…and transparency by default.
After the meeting someone can create a group space and invite all members as quick as sending an email.
Here they will find the minutes in a wiki, each page has a comments stream.
Here they will find a question space (just like issues raised in the meeting)
Here they will find a blog to post updates about the part they are working on.
Well, look at that, we can do asynchronously, what we usually do when we are in the same room.
This online tool is a social network with ad-hoc groups, where you have your own “mypage” that lists all groups you are working in, even better if you can post to any of the groups from your page.
A good way for adopting new practices is in the design and integration with existing tools.
Just like Jon Mell describes less use of email by incorporating IM into email (placing it in the same spot where you create a new email)…what I would like to see at the end of an Office Communicator Live Meeting, is to be able to spin this real-time (synchronous) ad-hoc group into an asynchronous ad-hoc group using a social network and group tool. Somehow both tools would be integrated, making jumping from one to the other the obvious thing to do; rather than using email for asynchronous communication and coordination.
People often find email conversation frustrating so it’s decided we need another meeting…with the correct asynchronous tools you don’t need so many meetings as we can use blogs to communicate, forums to discuss and wikis to collaborate on a perpetual basis…I alluded to this use case for teams a while back.
BTW-Why is Outlook not an internal Facebook and MS Office Communicator an internal Twitter?
Like my last post, design is key to influencing new behaviours.
More from Jon Mell:
“…there is no reason why at the front end we cannot combine communication tools at the presentation layer so that people don’t have to think as much about how they are going to communicate and which tools they are going to use. There is a scale here in terms of how advanced people are in their adoption and usage of Enterprise 2.0. Once people are comfortable with the concept of Enterprise 2.0 then they will naturally and intuitively know which tools to use without thinking. At the initial adoption stage, however, putting guidance and pointers in the flow of existing tools can have a significant impact in terms of alleviating any fears of using a new system. Some users may always stay in this mode, where they need the system to do the thinking for them in terms of which tools to use, and others may move to a position where the thinking becomes more intuition.”