Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It's important for your company to build a presence in social media. These new communities are irrevocably changing the landscape for marketers and how we communicate. Increasingly we are being charged with delivering ideas that engage and influence the people in these living, breathing, and highly responsive human communities. For advertisers, this presents both a unique challenge and opportunity: We need to integrate our message and presence effectively, profitably, and appropriately into social media communities.
The presence you build within social media will be analyzed, scrutinized, and perhaps criticized. However, entering this territory—which is controlled by the digital swarms of consumers and their communities—with the right voice and then nurturing that conversation in a manner authentic to your brand, your products, and your customer will ultimately have a far greater positive impact on your level of opportunity over the existing risks. In fact, the greatest risk is being absent from that conversation in the first place while your competition gains a powerful foothold.
I have nothing more to say than: "I fully agree!" But, do you?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This is pretty straight-forward, I hear you say. True, but how often do we improve our systems by simply collecting data on how users actually use our Intranet and other corporate applications?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Socialtext has connected the dots between a few reports to discover that a great deal of our email comes from handling exceptions. Because business processes don't have a system to translate them into practice, we spend more than a quarter of our day emailing about the exceptions to the business process rules.Email overload due to broken business processes... Wow. I've never thought about it in that way. This would be very interesting to investigate in more detail. To which part of the email overload does this account? I don't think all of it. Because email also helps us communicate over business processes. Not all our work - I'm happy to say - can be defined or is related to business processes.
Worse than the volume of email is the amount of mental energy required by each email recipient, ergo worker, to parse each exception and determine what to do with it. E-mail was once intended to increase productivity and has now become so voluminous it is counter productive. Basex determined that business loose $650 billion in productivity due to the unnecessary email interruptions. And, the average number of corporate emails sent and received per person per day expected to reach over 228 by 2010.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Well, I went over and reviewed it. And it was definitely worth my time. It's great to read how other blogger try to use blogs for their work. And Lilia is definitely an experienced blogger. She details and analyzes all kinds of aspects of blogging. Like using blogs for personal information management, personal productivity and writing.
What I kindof missed here - and this has to do with her focus -, is the social aspect of blogging. For me too, blogging started with me wanting to write in public and see where this goes. I love this description of blogs she gives and it fully relates to my reasons and practice:
In sum, a weblog provides me with a space to create a repository of insights that otherwise would be scattered across different spaces or not documented at all. Once this information captured and organised it becomes useful...But after posting for some time the social aspect is really exciting too. People commenting on what you have to say, people subscribing to your blog, and joining in conversations.
I'm really looking forward to read Lilia's whole book. Good luck with the final strech, Lilia!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
More info can be found on our jobs site.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The title of this HBS Working Knowledge paper is: “Communication (and coordination?) in a Modern, Complex Organization” by Adam M. Kleinbaum, Toby E. Stuart and Michael L. Tushman. I’ll give you some highlights.
First the main question of their research:
“The basic question we explore asks, what is the role of observable (to us) boundaries between individuals in structuring communications inside the firm? We measure three general types of boundaries: organizational boundaries (strategic business unit and function memberships), spatial boundaries (office locations and inter-office distances), and social categories (gender, tenure within the firm).”
They go into what literature has said about the managerial task:
“In these and other theories of the firm, the key managerial task is to effect coordination. (…) The implication of extant theories is that organizational members communicate to coordinate activities.”
However… “Despite the fundamental role of coordination – and the communication that enables it – to the purpose of organizations, we have little understanding of actual interaction patterns in modern, complex, multi-unit firms. To open the proverbial “black box” and begin to reveal the internal wiring of the firm, this paper presents a detailed, descriptive analysis of the network of communications among members of a large, structurally, functionally, geographically, and strategically diverse firm (hereafter, “BigCo”).”
So, they focussed on one company. This has implications for the conclusions they may draw:
“Moreover, at the level at which we can measure the communications network within BigCo, there is not a conclusive, one-to-one mapping between the evidence we marshal and the different theories of organization that populate the literature. Thus, despite our belief that the preponderance of the evidence is most consistent with one point of view – classical organization theory‘s emphasis on formal structure in shaping interaction – we will make no strong claim of proof.”
Then they summarize some of their findings, which are very interesting:
“First, relative to men, women participate in a greater volume of electronic and face-to-face interactions and do so with a larger and more diverse set of communication partners. (…)
Second, organizational boundaries – business unit, job function, and office location – have an enormous influence on who interacts with whom inside the firm. As a summary statistic, we find that relative to two people that share none of these categories in common and who are geographically separated by the sample‘s mean dyadic distance, a pair of individuals that shares the same business unit, job function, and office location communicates at an estimated rate that is approximately 1,000 times higher. (…)
Third, among all employees, executive-level communication appears to be least (but still very heavily) delimited by the pathways of formal organizational structure.”
Wow, women are very important in this (and all?) organizations! With respect to the second finding, I was surprised the authors didn’t refer to Kraut and Egido’s work on distance and communiction. (Robert Kraut and Carmen Egido (1998), “Patterns of contact and communication in scientific research and collaboration”.) Their work showed that when coworkers are 30 meters apart, this is perceived as the same as when they’re 1 kilometer apart.
Based on their survey of literature they found 3 bases for interaction within organizations:
“Thus, our survey of the extant literature suggests three very different bases for interaction within organizations. In classical work in organization theory and some contemporary theorizing it has inspired, formal structure reigns supreme; in more behaviorally oriented work with roots in mid-century sociology and social psychology, informal structure occupies a central position; and in a more recent stream of the literature, the image is one of a federation of organizational members woven together in lateral and fluid communication structures. (…) As we see it, therefore, the relevant empirical question – and the one we hope to illuminate – is, to what extent do communication patterns map to formal organization structures, versus emerge organically in a manner that is unfettered by the proscribed authority structures of the organization, or by the geographic and organizational locations of members?”
Now we’ll skip to the conclusions. I found the middle section most hard to understand and check.
First they pass on an interesting statement by Jack Welch:
“Specifically, he wrote of his intention to mold GE into a boundaryless organization, stating, “The boundaryless company we envision will remove the barriers among engineering, manufacturing, marketing, sales and customer service; it will recognize no distinction between domestic and foreign operations – we’ll be as comfortable doing business in Budapest and Seoul as we are in Louisville and Schenectady. A boundaryless organization will ignore or erase group labels such as ‘management’, ‘salaried’ or ‘hourly’, which get in the way of people working together.””
There main findings (in sum) are:
- “Repeating the statistic we reported earlier, relative to two people who share none of these categories in common and who are geographically separated by the sample’s mean geographic distance, pairs of individuals that are in the same business unit, subfunction, and office location communicate at an estimated rate that is 1,000 times higher. Social categories also matter at BigCo, but to a much lesser degree. Moreover, the formal authority structure of the firm clearly forms the vertical column of interaction: employees communicate within salary levels and with those in adjacent salary bands, but only rarely do they e-mail beyond this range…”
- “When we invert our perspective to focus on those who span the densely interacting groups within the firm, we were surprised to discover that women at BigCo are more likely to bridge the communication silos in the company.”
- “Similarly, those in the general executive management, sales, and marketing functions, as well as junior- to mid-level executives, were also more likely to engage in category-spanning communication patterns that run across the lessfrequently traversed boundaries in the firm.”
- “Indeed, one of our most surprising findings is the modest role that the firm’s most senior executives seem to play in coordinating the activities of the enterprise.”
- “So regardless of whether coordination is effected through widespread communication or communication among a select group of important individuals, we find that the same categories of people are crucial in spanning organizational boundaries.”
And finally some conclusive remarks, also phrasing the limitations of the research and the need for more comparative data from other companies:
“We began with the observation that although theories of communication and coordination are central to the field of organization theory, we have theories and assumptions but little empirical evidence about the structure of communication in the modern, complex organization. (…) This means that interpretations of whether or not the data indicate that communications are strongly structured by the categories we examine is necessarily a function of one’s prior about what the magnitude of these effects would be in a more siloed versus a more lateral organization.”
“In a related vein, although we analyze a vast dataset, we must not allow the enormous volume of the data to cause us to lose sight of the fact that we look at but a single organization. At the moment, we have no basis for any claim of generalizability beyond the single organization we study.”
“Electronic communications data should offer an unprecedented window into the social and work relations inside firm. Not only will this offer an opportunity for us to develop taxonomies of internal organizational structures, it will also enable analysis of many individual-, group-, and organization-level outcomes.”
As said, this research is very interesting and I hope someone with extend this research with data from other companies.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Welsh also made the amazing video called "The Machine is Us", remember?!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Blogs are like a keynote speech where the speaker (blogger) is in control of the discussion, but allows questions and comments from the audience.What I like about it is that it clearly distinguishes forums from blogs. In the diagram given by Daily Blog Tips there basically is no real distinction. One distinction between forums and blogs is that with blogs the speaker is in control.
Blogs are journals often authored by one individual, and sometimes teams. In the context of business communication, these are often used to talk with the marketplace and to join the conversation that existing external bloggers may be having.
This idea can easily be applied to other social media as well. I've written on my wish to have one blog platform enabling me to post inside and outside the organization. So you can tag a post saying if it should be visible only to your company or to the world. This should also work for social network tools, wiki's, etc. It should be that easy!
Monday, August 11, 2008
IN the past, said Stacie R. Hankins, a special assistant at the United States Embassy in Rome, when the ambassador prepared to meet an Italian political figure, the staff would e-mail a memo about the meeting and attach biographies of those who would be attending to be printed out.This is a really interesting way to use wiki's. CRM using wiki tooling!
Today, she said, they still produce the memo, but "now they attach a link to the Diplopedia article" — Diplopedia being a wiki, open to the contributions of all who work in the State Department. The ambassador, Ronald P. Spogli, frequently reads the biographies on his BlackBerry on the way to the meeting.
And it also triggered me. Companies can also use this to build up information about customers. Furthermore, information about places and conferences employees have visited can be reported on in this way too.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
He sent me an email with a pointer to his/their new study. It’s titled, "Finding Information. Factors that improve online experiences".
"The survey questions were designed to answer the following questions:
The results and their implications are given in a well-written paper. I'll pass you some highlights with some comments below to hopefully trigger you to read it all. These were mostly taken from the 'summary', the rest of the paper details and grounds the results and implications.
After reading this study it struck me that the results of this study should also be applied to internet, company website. Such as the corporate Intranet! Many companies can simply use these results to improve their Intraweb. And/or use the survey questions, which are given in the Appendix, to analyze it and define how good/bad it is.
And here are the highlights with some comments:
- "Designers underestimate the thresholds for an effective site. Respondents consider a site "effective" when visitors are satisfied with respect to enjoyment, can find information somewhat easily, and never get lost in the site.
- "Easy access to complete information is key to visitor enjoyment. All three survey groups believe that the ease with which visitors can find information and the ability to maintain orientation is critical to enjoyment."
- "When budgeting for your project, don't be overly seduced by fancy graphics and multimedia. Invest in strong, clear design and simple methods to quickly deliver current information to your visitors." This point and the previous are obvious, but definitely not common practice. We often run into external and internal sites that are just crammed with information and applications…
- "Even in a broadband age, visitors value fast sites, both those that are fast loading and those that quickly deliver sought-after information." And why is it so hard to make the internal websites go at the speed of external ones…?
- Visitors like site with a broad range of topics. "Designers and content developers can provide ample sidebars that link to other recommended pages, and extensively crosslink to other pages based on keywords." This has everything to do with context. Do I know where I'm at when I'm browsing and am I sure that I’m looking at the right and most 'fresh' information? Apply this point should also help solve the next issue.
- "Designers are overly optimistic about visitors' ability to maintain orientation. In the survey, the ability to maintain orientation was defined as visitors’ ability to know "where they are, where they can go next, and which pages are related." (…)
- "Visitors point to the lack of breadth and depth of site content as causing an "Information Gap." (…)
This is the first time IDEA conducted this survey. I hope they will do this yearly to find out if we're improving online experience. It would also be nice to know if there are differences between online experiences inside and outside organization. Maybe the survey can be extended in this direction?
By the way, go and take a look at the IDEA website. They truly practice what they preach: Beautiful, clear website!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I wonder: Am I the only one experiencing this?
Monday, August 4, 2008
Interestingly, the company selling Context Organizer (and other products) found me via LinkedIn. They said they were looking for people with a background in language technology and knowledge management. That was the first time a company approached me via LinkedIn, so I found that quite exciting.
After downloading 'Context Organizer' and playing around with it for some time, I emailed them these comments:
"Well, I took a look at Context Organizer this evening! In the past I've looked at auto summarizers like Pertinence and Copernic. (...)
I think your approach is better and more complete that the above-mentioned [tools]. What I really like is your strategy to integrate into the tools people use daily. If you don't take this approach you will not be successful, I find.
I worked with Context Organizer for the web. It installed nicely. I'm a Firefox user. The addon did not install for some reason. That's too bad, because I was really wanting to try it.
So I carried on with the client. Here are some of my findings:
1. Long processing time when query is typed in for some webpages. The user can see that it's processing, but it could be clearer what is processing. 'Processing search results or webpages'?
2. The client terminated all of a sudden several times: 'access violation...'
3. The interface is pretty overloaded. I don't find that you have a good overview. (Your website is a good example of a transparant page with good overview. Like it!)
4. The summarization could do more. It basically chops into sentences and I can do summarization myself by selecting relevant sentences. This is useful, but I want more. Propose a summary to me! The summarizer has a hard time processing boxes of information (as wikipedia has e.g.). Skip them?! Referals like 'he' are sometimes misinterpreted.
The more text a page has the better the summarizer gets.
5. Why not use a step by step approach, so users can clearly see where to start?
6. Add easy sharing? You can mail the summary to someone. But it would be nice to be able to send the summary and the full version of the webpage (with highlights of the sentences in the summary in the full webpage?). The receiver can decide for himself/herself which one to read. Or is triggered by the summary to read the full version.
7. I don't understand why a new client opens when I enter a query. I expect the search results to open in the same window.
8. Context organizer is a client app, change it to a webapp?
9. Searched for 'opensocial', no results?!
10. Only summarizes first three search results. When I first looked at this I didn't understand this. Looks like bug or limitation of evaluation version. After looking more closely I found out this is a setting that can be change. (By the way in the 'help' it says 'summarize next 5 checked' and in working version it's 'next 3 checked'.)
11. Some pages are not or cannot be summarized, why is unclear. Give some indication to user?
12. Autosummarization isn't perfect. Why not (also) offer interactive summarization? This would work like social search and social bookmarking: Give summary of webpage, ask user to click sentences that best summarize the page and submit that to a central database for all to use.
Relating to this: it would be really nice to give these summaries integrated in Google search or in for instance delicious bookmarks. Then you could really quickly decide to click the link or not.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I was wondering if you have any ideas on where to start. Are their blogs, books and/or articles that address this topic? Or can we just reuse the work that has been done on this topic with respect to collaboration and communities?Which factors influence the motivation of users to participate in (online) user generated content applications within formal organizations and how, if possible, can these factors be influenced?
Friday, August 1, 2008
John addresses a topic that connect be stressed enough: the concept of context in IT.
The stronger the relationship and commonalities you have with a bunch of people, the more you understand each others writings, the more chance their knowledge comes to be your knowledge.You probably agree with this, don't you. But then most of us carry on with our lives. John takes us back to this statement and makes us take a good look at it. Do we really understand the implications of context for instance when we email? Yes, we understand it when we discuss stuff face-to-face. But what happens when we have a conversation via email? Or when we codify 'knowledge'? W.r.t. codifying John says:
But the problem here even is that a codified solution is usually formal (stripped of context)Then John goes on to wonder if social media, such as blogs, give us more context. He writes:
eg. when this happens this is the fix
This doesn’t contain the situational context of the occurrence.
So rather than a sanitised solutions database, why not have support people blogging their experience, this way they are sharing the solution in the context of their experience and surroundings. (...)I agree. Using social media "there is more chance we will actually understand the intended meaning in the information".
Rather than having to write a formal and standardised solution after the fact, we can instead have a database (blog) of raw data (indexed by tags). Blog content is more colourful and establishes the situation (background and any other peripheral stuff that happened). This more humanistic (personal, informal) story-like and emotional type of language, is easier for the brain to absorb and remember (it contains triggers for recall).A wiki could also be used.
John also cited Dave Snowden also relating to this topic:
“They assume a common or constant context. So knowledge captured in one specific context can be generalised to apply in all contexts.”
Then he says:
“…blogs and the links between them are much better at passing on context than traditional KM tools. Mainly I think because they are fragmented, real time and emergent in their connectivity.”
But even then it won't be perfect, as John says. There's more context, but not full context. This relates well to the work of Katherine Hayles I've referred to before. One of her books is about the disembodiment of information. Information without context. The IT world makes us believe this is not a problem.
This post on 'context' also relates to the comments I made on Luis Suarez venture to stop using corporate email and move conversations to social media. This is very interesting, but here too the concept of 'context' is essential too. Can you just move an email conversation to a blog without providing (more) context (to other readers)?
By the way, another interesting post on his lessons-learned about communities can be found here.