At the end of March, I spoke at Social Media Breakfast, Seattle (See their recap) at the Waggener Edstrom offices in Bellevue. They were live streaming the talk, but had some technical problems – so the video is in two parts. If you want to see what the audience saw on the screen, there’s also the Prezi I spoke from here.
This talk is covering the challenges that organizations have with collaboration, both internal and external. Social Media and Lean need to be applied together to provide both a set of principles and a collaborative foundation. I also talk about being a punk rocker. So, if you want to know how punk rock, twitter and the CIA all mean the same thing … take a look!Part 1 Part 2
Lately I've received several requests for my most current Enterprise 2.0 toolkit. I've hesitated writing it down because it really does seem to change from month to month. But now I'm thinking that having a placeholder for future posts is a good idea. So I'll try to revisit this every quarter or so, to see what tools endure and which are just flashes in the pan. The applications listed here are my core, I use them several times a day.
Gmail - I know some people fear Google and their penchant for searching our information. But there is only one email tool ever created that comes even remotely close to the utility of Gmail - and that is Evolution. But Evolution is Linux only and not on-line. Always having your email available via your phone or other device and having it totally searchable is reason enough for me to consider Gmail unparalleled.
Google Docs - Google Docs is pure magic. More than any other tool, it has hands down, increased my productivity, my ability to collaborate, and my overall satisfaction with life in general. Does it have some major limitations? Absolutely. Does it format documents as if it is intoxicated? Sure does. But does it allow me and 16 other people globally collaborate on and edit a document in real-time seamlessly? Yes. Does it care if people are in Kenya on a netbook or that they don't have the most recent version of the latest software installed? No.
Zen - Our Personal Kanban has been given life by Zen. Zen is an online Kanban tool that gives us the ability to visualize our backlog, our workflow, and our work styles - greatly increasing our productivity, effectiveness, and (again) satisfaction. With a functional yet elegant interface, Zen lets my entire team know who is doing what, when they are doing it, and what problems they are having. We can help each other get past sticky points, we prioritize better, and we now understand our business better.
CoTweet - Robert Frost sort of once penned: I doubt that I shall ever meet, an app as lovely as CoTweet. Why? Because there is no wasted effort in CoTweet. It allows me and my colleagues to manage Twitter accounts together. It allows us to build permanent searches. It allows us to annotate who certain people are, why they are important, and how we can best engage them. In short, CoTweet squeezes the noise (the cacophony) of Twitter until just the signal remains.
Facebook - There is no escaping the fact that Facebook has become a major information conduit. In a hyper connected world, one has little choice but to participate in Facebook - it's the 800 pound social media site. But what I've come to appreciate most about Facebook is that it has humanized the world of business. Perhaps unexpectedly, virtually gathering our business contacts, friends and family in one place shows - rather than tells - business contacts that there are real human beings behind that corporate logo. Perhaps now we can get rid of that awful notion that "Business is Business," that our lives should be bifurcated between work and play. For as messy as Facebook's interface can become with live feeds of Mafia War updates and Farmville announcements, it has given us all insight into what really makes each of us tick.
Flickr - I write lots of blog posts, educational materials, white papers. Like A LOT of them. And they all require pictures. With an advanced search function that lets me select Creative Commons licensed images, Flickr is a godsend to me. I credit the original author and include a links back to them. I also share many images with the Flickr community. Not nearly the quality as what I use in documents - but Flickr is unique in its focus and its reach. Every organization should be using Flickr for its images.
Dropbox - Google Docs is excellent for first drafts or collaborative projects, but Tonianne and I still need to share a wide variety of other digital files. We use Dropbox to share files like PDFs, Adobe Illustrator, or print-ready Doc files that are formatted beyond Google's capabilities. With dropbox, we simply create shared folders that allow my PC and Tonianne's Mac to enjoy seamless, web accessible file sharing.
Zoho CRM - To be honest, I've fallen off the Zoho CRM wagon but I still maintain it is the best CRM I've found to date. It is not overweighted, it is customizable, and quite easy to use. I know that as Personal Kanban grows, I'll be returning to Zoho to manage our customers.
Things I Am Missing or Seldom Use
Feedreader - I have been using Twitter as my defacto aggregator, but it is proving to be less than optimal. There's a huge difference between tracking blogs and letting your network recommend posts to you. Over the next quarter I plan to find a more robust and appropriate feedreader, and get back into it.
Tagging Engine - While I have tried many, I still use Delicious more than any other social bookmarking site. I've yet to find one with its simplicity and utility.
Photo by bre pettis
“You don’t give your Twitter duties to an intern” – Morgan Johnston from Jet Blue at #140TC
Business is lazy. If business doesn’t understand something, it quickly assigns it, outsources it or otherwise gets it off the to-do list. At the Twitter Conference #140TC in Mountain View this wee, Morgan Johnston talked about how important it was to have someone in the company with authority interacting on social media.
He had several stories about directly helping customers because Morgan had full penetration into the organization. To the extent that he held the door open on a plane for two extra minutes so a family running from one delayed flight (on another airline) to that flight could make it. The family had a member who was tweeting his pain while they ran.
Outsourcing your social media activities to an intern or a consultant means you stand a pretty good chance of working with someone who may well know how to use Twitter, but knows nothing about your business. Don’t get me wrong, I know some people who are free lance community managers, have more than one client and do a great job. But these people make it a priority to know their client’s business and ensure that they can quickly get to people capable of acting on a customer request.
If you must outsource your social media interaction, make sure that the person you are hiring cares, that you take the time to train them in whatever they need, and that you give them access to resources.
If you can’t do this, then don’t outsource. Do it in-house – which you probably should be doing anyway.
Lisa Hickey has a nice piece today about the bit of our private lives that we are discussing publicly. The crux of the matter is trust and expectations. Lisa says:
Anyone who has been on Twitter for a while has seen this phenomena: Spouses, children, boyfriends, girlfriends will say to someone who Twitters a lot: “You’re not going to put that on Twitter, are you?”
Yes, it’s funny. A sign of the times. My kids say it to me all the time. But here’s the thing: there’s a trust issue going on here.
There’s an interplay here. I trust you with information that I’d rather not be distributed via Facebook. To the point now that we have FriendDA which was originally created, such that it is, to let friends talk about business ideas, but is now routinely employed as a statement of “Don’t put this on Twitter.”
FriendDAs usually aren’t printed out, people are tending to say, “So I’m invoking FriendDA here….” The counterpart nods, and the conversation continues.
So, socially, we are creating new conventions to plainly demark where privacy begins and ends. Whereas privacy was previously assumed, it is now transparency that is assumed. Information we’d like to keep close now comes with a wrapper.
Photo by Hamed Masoumi
Monday February 16th at 10:30PST (1:30 EST) I will be doing my second talking-head stint on the Yi-Tan conference call. This time with my good buddy Bill Anderson. We’ll be talking about Agile methodologies and what might come next.
Corey Ladas will also be joining me on the line. All are welcome. Here’s the invite info from Jerry Michalski:
How might we use the precepts of agile programming in general (non-IT) business settings?
Agile programming has come a long way from its early incarnation as extreme programming on the first wiki. It's been influenced by lean manufacturing and spawned practices like Scrum.
Yet the agile community remains pretty insular. Only lately have people seriously explored how agile principles and practices might be used outside software development.
- What does agile mean? What are its core practices?
- How do those practices and principles apply to general management?
- What virtues and new value can this bring?
Date: Monday, February 16, 2009
Time: 10:30 PST, 1:30 EST
Dial-in Number: 1-712-580-1100
Participant Access Code: 778778
Wiki goodness at www.yi-tan.com
Please feel free to forward this note to people you think would be interested in these calls.
Hope to see you show up in the IRC and maybe hear you on the phone.
Blogged at My House in Seattle, WA
All I wanted as a kid was to have all the games all the time. That’s it. Nothing special. Just thousands of 8 bit games.
Surely that would be heaven.
30 years later, I have them. All of them. All the Odyssey games, all the vic-20 games, all the Intelevision games, most of the Atari games. All in their original geeked out cartridge form.
I acquired these over a two year period in the 1990s, I found some mailing lists where people who were into this sort of thing had massive auctions. Most of the games were a dollar.
I understand the mind of the collector. Even if my collection was acquired rather quickly.
Many of my friends have done the estate sale route for years. Some to buy things to resell, some to collect things for themselves. They come back with stories that basically make me unwilling to even go to estate sales.
People will massive collections of stuff. You name it, stuffed animals, papers, magazines, books, curios, pepsi bottles,….
Things of massive importance to these people – but passions seldom shared. Introverted. And, in the end, wasted on estate sale reps who don’t know how to convert them into useful collections. Quite often they are converted into the filling of garbage bags and indiscriminately sent off to the dump.
I also wonder if these passions while they are unshared are sort of like dreams deferred. They cause people to become a little odd. The inability to share makes them into obsessions more than passions. You become holed-up with them.
I would like to believe that affinity groups on the Internet will mitigate this phenomenon. That people of esoteric interests will be able to befriend people of similar interests. They can be extended in a passionate, scholarly, and friendly way through community. Then, in the end, there will a community to take and extend these people’s previously personal passions.
Blogged at the Sai Oak in Ocean Shores, WA
Photo by Tonianne
This post is fifth in a series of my Social Media Principles. The base post is 10 Social Media Principles.
#6: Karma is real – You give more, you get more.
I was much amused to find that Doug Haslam’s mention of An Bui’s remix of the 10 Principles focused specifically on this principle. He says:
Not that this was An Bui’s intent for the blog, but I have trouble imagining saying “Karma is Real” when trying to ask the Big Boss for more social media budget.
Well, it certainly was our intent and I welcome the conversation. I personally have found most upper management (Big Bosses) prefer arguments that are both in and out of the box. Concepts like this rupture the box from the inside.
If Doug is worried about non-western religion, he can use Reap what you Sow
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.- Galatians 6:7
or perhaps B.B. King
I do everything you tell me to
You won't do anything baby but try to make me blue
Baby, you ought to treat me right
Oh baby, you're gonna reap just what you sow
-- B.B. King, Treat Me Right
"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Trust me, the invocations are inexhaustible. Karma is not a concept owned by any culture or religion.
As a word, Karma simply means “action”. As a concept, it is tied to the laws of cause and effect. If we give more, we get more. If we act well, we are treated well. If we are snarky, we get some snark back.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffet
What other people think matters. And it should.
In business, people are judging your brand, your product quality, and your actions. People are taking their money, their energy, and investing it in your product. Your reputation is important.
Prior to now, business reputation could often be made through advertising and public relations slight-of-hand. But the world is becoming more and more transparent and, simultaneously, elephant-like. It sees more and forgets less.
Once trust is destroyed it is very hard to build back. No one is rushing to give Bernard Madhoff more money.
An Bui’s post focused on this concept.
Internal to a business, Karma is a major driving force as well. For example, who is hired, promoted, and ultimately successful for your company is entirely a product of karma.
But whose Karma and what Karma?
Ideally, it would be bottom-up karma – a meritocracy of the best and brightest working their way up through the system and creating the best and healthiest company imaginable.
Why are you laughing?
You are laughing because we all know it doesn’t work this way. Promotions are all-too-often the result of backstabbing, Peter Principling, incompetence reshuffling, ulterior motivating, politicking, etc. Sometimes it’s due to corporate or union momentum – that inexorable force that promotes people simply due to longevity.
You are laughing because it’s inconceivable that we could create a business that would be healthy enough to actually reward and promote appropriately.
(This is why Buckingham’s first book is called First Break All The Rules. The current rule set doesn’t allow for bottom-up Karma).
An organization most often derives its culture from management. As we discussed with the mythical company Amalgamated Suckup (Jim’s version, An’s version), as companies become less introspective, they rely more on policy to govern the business.
Policies become a crutch.
Policies generally require stuff and most often that stuff comes in the form of information rigidity. The right form at the right time – no exceptions.
As the form trumps function, people lose enthusiasm and stop working for the success of the company and more for the success of the policies. “How the game is played".
Karma being satisfied here is not from the bottom – or from the individual. The karma being satisfied here is from the institution.
Now, follow the dots.
If a bottom-up meritocratic approach gives you the best and the brightest – what does a top-down bureaucratic approach give you? It gives you people skilled at satisfying your bureaucracy and navigating your politics.
Karma in Social Media
"Realize that everything connects to everything else."
- Leonardo DaVinci
Now, unless my history is inaccurate, DaVinci didn’t have a Powerbook. (though he probably sketched one)
Karma is certainly not an invention of social media. But social media highlights how people react when healthy social reinforcement is in place.
Karma in social media is everywhere. Whether explicitly stated, as in this screenshot from Plurk, or more implicit, understanding the notion of Karma is what makes a good social network.
But, as used in social media, friends are people you have contact with. The term friend is … friendly. Networks form.
People in these networks do things.
To the left here we have my Yelp statistics. I’ve given this company 140 reviews, gone to a bunch of their events, and I’ve amassed about 100 friends.
Why? Why would I spend my time adding to the intellectual property of this company?
The reason is entirely Karma based.
I gave them 140 reviews, these reviews were good enough to get them to make me an “elite” member. This means I rose through the meritocracy to get special perks. (Hosted dinners, etc.)
You will also see that people vote on each review. It can be useful, funny and / or cool. This is done by readers. Any reader.
Compliments are from fellow Yelpers who can leave a compliment under any of 9 categories.
Good behavior on Yelp can be noted by anyone at any time and in many different ways.
Social media has shown us repeatedly that sites that provide ample rewards for good behavior see more good behavior. Those that penalize bad behavior see people leave and go to other sites.
What Goes Around Comes Around
The principle here is a principle: Karma is real. As businesses plan projects, cultural changes, and their relationships internal & external, the fact that in a networked world people can quickly judge and mete rewards or punishments must be a guiding force.
The community will judge your company based on your actions. It’s that simple and it’s that complicated.
Or Perhaps Bob Dylan says it better:
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be workin' in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
-- Bob Dylan, Gotta Serve Somebody
UPDATE: Here is a good, concise application of this principle by Hutch Carpenter correlating tweets to followers.
Image and Captions for the Image of the “bloke from Poland” courtesy of Donald H. Taylor.
Written at my vacation house, in Ocean Shores, WA.
(And why do I feel I can answer this in a blog post?)
The meeting of social forces and business forces sets the stage for answering the questions above. Social forces usually take the form of a new group of people in a team ready for action. They have a task and they are geared to complete it.
So far so good.
Business wants to be successful. But business is harsh. We have employment laws, EEO laws, labor and industry laws, OSHA standards, Sarbox, HIPPA, insurance requirements, competitors spying on us, on and on.
When this happens, businesses find it easiest to spout rules. Rules aren’t all bad, but many of them are created with an air of expedience and a core set of assumptions.
Chain of Command and Flow of Information
Perhaps, the biggest assumption is that chains of command and information flows are in some way synonymous. In siloed organizations, information is sucked up one silo and trickled down another. Each link in the hierarchy is a point of information dissemination.
Why is this an assumption? Because historically, information was very expensive to create and usually was disseminated by large, cumbersome and specialized reports.
This meant that people who read these reports were trained in the reports themselves. In turn, this meant that segments of the organization became highly reliant on these specialized reports.
What happened then? The silos began to serve the reports and not the other way around.
Cost of Change Used to be High
With large costly reports and even more costly hard machinery, business of the 20th century had extremely high costs of change. It was rarely feasible to make even minor adjustments to these complex systems.
Organizations grew to assume that silos were the very definition of business. You had to have a marketing silo, a development silo, a management silo, etc.
In a high cost of change, high cost of information transfer world – this almost makes sense.
The cost of this was members of an organization were always thirsty for information. Information became a valuable commodity within companies and therefore represented power. This meant that people made a determination every time they received information. Do I hoard this or share it?
A very combative question and world view.
The value proposition for sharing had to be high in order to get past the opportunity cost of hoarding (saving) it for later use.
This means that teams became rigid. If you moved around too much, you had too much information. You could make connections other people couldn’t. You’d short-circuit the org-chart.
The org chart became the ladder. The ladder became predictable. Predictability became institutionalized.
Today is Different
What we are learning now, is that in a world with a low cost of change and a low cost of information flow – many assumptions from the 20th century no longer apply.
Agile Methodologies are creating new paradigms for the management of small teams.
Lean thinking gives us reasons to rapidly communicate value to the largest possible audience with the least effort.
Social media gives us the principles for collaboration, ad hoc team development, institutional communication, and the broadcasting / retrieval of information.
This creates a more dynamic workplace. Informed workers have the information at their fingertips to make decisions and improvements. Information is now the enabler of power and not the power itself. Power now becomes how much can we execute.
Information in the right hands inevitably leads to conclusions that certain people need to work with certain other people not in their silo. That’s why is was hoarded in the first place. Information is, by its very nature, subversive. Information tells you the right thing to do.
That’s why Stalin limited information flow, it’s why corporations do too.
Ad hoc workgroups and the creation of a workforce that embraces not only change but improvement is at the core of this new paradigm. Dynamic teams built from a diverse talent pool reduces the chance of in-breeding.
These pools can be obtained by having a large staff to draw from (like Microsoft or IBM) or from gathering the right contractors at the right time.
Either way, you are increasing the gene pool of ideas when teams shift. We learn from each other – new partnerships spawn new ideas. Different viewpoints temper group think. Complacency is neutralized.
Without this diversity, without mixing up the gene pool, we get mutations. The people in companies who cannot be fired. The policies that no one will question but everyone loathes. The inability to change even simple things for the good of the organization.
The Soviet Union crumbled under the weight of its own bureaucracy and inefficiencies. Too many resources were going to trying to withhold information and stop people from acting in the best interests of themselves and the state.
Business currently suffers (granted to a lesser extent) from the same affliction. In a time of rapid economic decline, can we continue to support this waste? Business as usual = bailout or collapse, eventually. Business as usual is not sustainable.
Blogged at My House AGAIN due to endless snow in Seattle, WA
This post is fourth in a series of my Social Media Principles. The base post is 10 Social Media Principles.
4. Decentralization is freedom – Decentralized power structures spur creativity, growth, and innovation.
Note: Writing a short blog post on this is like writing a short blog post on why it’s hard to cure addiction. I will nonetheless give it a shot. This is a blog post. A blog post. It may appear utopian. An Bui has posted on this topic as well from a more network effects perspective.
Technology changes the rules of governance.
– Robert Wright in Nonzero
Centralized power structures do one thing: centralize power. Centralized power tends to:
Hoard Information: When power is centralized it is hoarded. Power, as we’ve discussed, most often takes the form of access to information. As power is hoarded, so is information.
Restrict Decision Making: Centralized power also centralizes decision making. As fewer and fewer people are empowered to make decisions, fewer and fewer people feel they have control over their lives. As this happens, freedom is curtailed.
Curtail Movement and Access: As we have less information and less ability to make decisions, we are more likely not to “stray”. People who benefit from centralized power are more comfortable when they know where those who are controlled are and what they are doing.
Invoke Fear and Complacency: When we are in a situation where we have acquiesced to centralized power, we tend to protect ourselves by not “rocking the boat”. In such a situation a “team player” is not a person who benefits the team – it is a person who does not harm the team. Teams and their members become risk averse, innovation is stifled. (And soon you have a automaker bailout).
Decentralized power does the opposite, it takes the decision making from the central authority (C-Level staff, managers, party leadership) and places it where it has the best chance of success.
Decentralization tends to:
Distribute Information: A decentralized organization can only work well if the information involved in running the organization is available to those who need it and when they need it. (c.f. Information wants to be free: Jim Benson, An Bui)
Empower Decision Making: People won’t care about the information if they can’t do something with it. A decentralized organization should empower all people in the organization to make decisions that are reasonable and they are capable of executing. When people have this ability they, not surprisingly, feel more in control of their lives. They also feel more respected by the organization.
Encourage Movement and Access: Movement and access are important for any human being. We incarcerate prisoners partially to keep them away from other people, but mostly because having our freedom of movement taken from us is actually that shocking. Yet businesses repeatedly limit people’s movements. Not just by making them beg for things like vacation, but by limiting whom they can actually talk to within their own companies.
A decentralized organization allows freedom of movement and access. It allows freedom of association. This enables groups to form based on the rapid completion of critical tasks. Ad hoc groups in a company can form spontaneously, efficiencies and satisfaction result.
Invoke Creativity and Growth: Decentralized organizations foster growth and creativity because the game of the organization ceases to be “how do I not get fired around here?” and becomes “how can I make things work better for my team?” The absence of fear and complacency is a very strong motivator.
Most companies today are run on a very top-down Soviet style model. Autocratic, inflexible, and personality driven. This type of system is what led to the automaker bailout and most business collapse. People at the companies who are actually responsible for success are disempowered from making decisions or creating growth.
Social Media has shown us that the decentralization of power and information have led to very rapid advances in productivity and a very different set of assumptions about personal empowerment. People coming into the workforce now become very disgruntled very quickly because they’ve grown up with social media. They are used to being able to build teams quickly, execute projects quickly, and to fail often (and inexpensively) in the service of ultimate success.
Warning and Caveat:
Does this mean that organizations should have no leadership, rules of governance, or structure? Certainly not. Having the tens of thousands of Microsoft employees do whatever, when ever and with whomever would be foolish. It would be bedlam.
In Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky has a great chapter entitled “Fitting Our Tools into a Small World”. In it he makes one major distinction, which I’ve paraphrased:
In a hierarchic command and control organization, nodes are imposed and have coercive power. In decentralized networks, nodes are connectors and have cohesive or connective power. (Jim Benson’s paraphrasing)
Decentralized networks still have structure and power. But structure is still necessary. Structure still rests on nodes. The structure of a small group should not be mirrored after the structure of the entire organization. (see my post on why scaling agile is like scaling a cherry.)
The purpose of nodes in a decentralized organization is to strengthen and not limit information flow. Managers and leaders provide coherence to the organization. The decentralized world is not a leaderless world. It’s merely a much freer world.
Blogged at My House in Seattle, WA
Jim Benson is a collaborative management consultant. He is CEO of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy which combines Lean, Agile Management and Social Media principles to develop sustainable teams.