Measuring ROI on social software is an elusive topic, so it’s wonderful when I find projects that have managed to quantify it in some way. The following story focuses on a particular task, that of social tagging.
The Enterprise Tagging Service in IBM aims to provide an alternative approach to helping people find information compared to traditional search engines. Search based on keyword analysis often relies on a taxonomy that is rigid due to the way the software performs its structural analysis of web pages, identifying and classifying the keywords. Social tagging allows people to add human semantics to keywords that they define that sometimes can amount to finding a resource faster based on what people think is relevant.
IBM’s ETS cost $700k to develop and deploy across the worldwide intranet as a sidebar to a number of key web properties: traditional search engine results, top content pages, and web applications like the IBM internal social brainstorming tool, Thinkplace. As a service it can really be added to any internal page. Readers can tag any page with the widget, look up tags they contributed, find others who have used the same tag, and certainly find other relevant resources by that same tag. The ETS tool was based on the Lotus Connections Dogear software.
The ETS team instituted a survey to ask users howthis tool helped them. What they found was amazing when you look at itin context: the average person saved 12 seconds, across the 286000+searches performed through ETS each week. This sums up to 955 hourssaved each week across the company. In terms of cost savings, itamounts to a rough estimate of $4.6 million a year, in terms ofproductivity gain. The reusability of this page widget also resulted in$2.4 million in cost avoidance (reimplementing this for eachsite).
This social task is spread across the IBMintranet site, but is essentially a single set of overall content setas a mass collaboration of knowledge; in other words, the knowledgedoes not get balkanized into separate tag systems, running in theclassic problem of information getting locked away in pockets in theorganization. It involves the swarm effects of many users contributing,each for their own need, but resulting in an overall benefit for allemployees.
This is based on an internal IBM news story by Kieran Cannistra.
I’ve increased my attendance at E2.0 by 100% by going two
years in a row; okay, that was a bad metrics joke. The Enterprise2.0 conference in
Boston was the big gathering of customers, analysts, bloggers and
aficionados this year. We’re still debating how many people really attended but
I’m guessing it is around a thousand.
The week began early for me starting with presenting during
the Black Belt practitioner’s workshop on Monday. I’m proud of my fellow
members of The 2.0 Adoption Council who presented the workshops all day long.
There are about 10 speakers, starting in the morning with the effervescent Jamie Pappas (EMC) speaking on
business value; the cheery Megan
Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton) on planning; and myself on adoption. The afternoon
had a several pairs of speakers: Stan Garfield (Deloitte) and Luis Suarez (IBM) on community building;
Donna Cuomo (MITRE) and Ted Hopton
(UBM) on metrics and analysis; Bryce
Williams (Eli Lilly) and Richard Rashty (Schneider Electric) on positioning
tools; and Bart Schutte (St Gobain) and Kevin Jones (NASA) on mitigating risks.
I’m also thrilled so many people stayed from 8:30am till
4:15pm. It really is a fire hose of knowledge, even when spread across so many
hours. These were real issues and scenarios that the speakers have experienced
in trying to bring Enterprise2.0 to life in their own organizations.
Has E2.0 gained ground? I definitely think so. For any idea
to take hold, there needs to be stability in what it means, and increasing
adoption and expression of the notions within it. Seeing The 2.0 Adoption
Council’s rapid growth within just one year (with over 100 member large
companies) worldwide, with active practitioners is one area of social proof.
The other is the reduction of “What is it?” and more of “How do we do it?”
E2.0 seems to be entrenched in the domain of the CIO and IT
organizations. That’s a shame because it really does spread across many
domains. Gautam Ghosh lamented the
lack of attendees or speakers from the HR realm in a few tweets during the
event. Yet many of the talks were certainly around employee behavior and
I have to be honest. There are many things that are still
left unanswered this year. I didn’t expect solutions but I was looking for more
thought on the following ideas:
Surprisingly, I agree with Dennis
Howlett. I don’t think people should be looking for a single answer or
approach to figuring this out. What was being affirmed is that are some
cases of ROI particularly in the external or public-facing environments,
but very rare for internal enterprise 2.0 environments. However, most
examples of an approach to ROI I know are still very specific to scenarios
that cannot be easily replicated. The industry going through its period of
denial – “Don’t try to look for ROI”—but organizations still need that.
and Personally Identifying Information – I raised this last year at the
conference, and it was great that there was at least one session by Carl
Frappollo (Information Architected, Inc) that described the interviews and
study he did early this year on this subject. The focus was very
Euro-centric because of the specifics of several countries there with
intense legal scrutiny in this area.
Carl’s point about organizations along the following interest scale--‘Big
S’ security, ‘small c’ collaboration, and ‘Big C’ collaboration--certainly
described the differing views on the legal fog organizations face.
is about transforming human behaviors at work – More folks are starting to
recognize that it is not trivial to bring communities and other social
environment to life. There were numerous cases talking about adoption
including my own part of the workshop. I’ve heard several different philosophies:
fascist / ‘Hitler’ approach (as described by the speaker) of mandating
that people use these tools;
‘taking the toys away’ – removing alternatives so they have no choice but
to use social tools.
carrot principle through monetary rewards or a point system to purchase
goods – apparently some folks still have that available.
visibility principle – non-monetary rewards but peer recognition (again
surprisingly, from @dahowlett).
get beyond “adoption”’ – This was another sentiment I heard several times,
but I attribute it to short-attention span. The general statement was
‘adoption’ was last-year’s thing, and we needed a new ‘thing’. As evident
from our own experience which my excellent peer Jeanne Murray and I
described, adoption goes through many stages of evolution. Each step
people need new things, and you need new adoption tactics. The big-picture
Enterprise 2.0 doesn’t happen in a year, although you can achieve many
Social Media vs. Enterprise 2.0 – I think people are starting to agree
that working with the external audience entirely is a different context
than Enterprise 2.0. I did hear several questions to this front, so this
distinction hasn’t completely permeated yet.
tend to get weedkiller put on it” – I quote Oliver Marks (ZDNet, Sovos
Group) here. E2.0 adoption efforts without official executive support do
not tend to last long. This goes along with the next realization.
transformation teams even in large companies are small and understaffed –
I made a joke: “For a global organization of about 400,000 people, I think
the right size [for an E2.0 team] is about 7 or 8.”The reality is that most organizations
have only one person working on it if they are lucky. Frankly I think that
this is a recipe for failure because a single person, even with some
volunteer help, would find such an organization-wide transformation truly
monumental. However, this is a catch-22 / paradox: You can’t get more
staff until you can prove its value, but you need people to help you prove
and Medium Businesses have different problems than large organizations – I
heard this brought up only once, but I think it is a very important
statement in reflection of the last point. The large companies, including
our own, can afford to have experts staffed to focus on Enterprise 2.0.
SMBs with only a thousand people or so don’t have that luxury.
has to be something for everyone” – The speaker (I don’t recall who) was
making a point mostly that individuals need to feel the impact to see the
value. However, I want to elevate that the pendulum can’t swing entirely
to focus on the individual. Too much emphasis on gaining organizational
value can lead to poor adoption, but too little focus on it deemphasizes
the business reasons to support such a significant transformation project.
Maturity and Lifecycle models – This was a gaping hole. I’m of the school
of thought that there are many different archetypes for social
environments. Yet, many describe theirs as if it is the answer, or
use their single case to refute other claims. Thomas Van der Wal’s wrap-up on continuing
myths per this conference revisits the participation inequality
principle made famous, but not originated by, Jakob Nielsen—the 90% are
lurkers/readers, 9% are contributers but 1% are intense contributors.
Some activity metrics case studies in our organizations have shown that it
really depends on the goals of the communities. For example, some are
decidedly intended as only an outlet for information albeit in a more
social sphere; others focus on intense rewriting of content.
Yet, these myths persist often because the metrics systems are quite poor,
and they look at the external social media context, not internal
interaction within the organization. A great weakness is the inability to
uniquely distinguish who is participating in a community and the different
forms of participation actions beyond just reads and writes. In the
external world, with the possibility of endless different users, this
might be more of a reality, but within the boundaries of known employees
in org E2.0, the clarity of detail reshapes how we see this. There are
many other factors: affinity to the community, time within member’s
workflow to participate, recognizable value and outcomes for the member,
rhythms of activity.
It will still take a bit of time, or if at all, we can
figure on better patterns of a maturity lifecycle, but let’s not jump to
default conclusions simply because it is easy to remember.
The core competency here is in terms of facilitating relationships and communications between different parties. There are in fact many different types of interactions that this role takes on. In as such, this means they participate as a part of many different role-interaction patterns. This is significant since when such patterns are frequent and repeated, it becomes almost transactional, and therefore measurable. If you need the example of a more common role-interaction pattern: think of a support call from initial contact to completion after a solution or resolution has been reached and the customer is verified as satisfied. Each such complete interaction has a measurable value; or you could also measure it in terms of cost or time it took to conduct that interaction end-to-end. Finally, you could also measure it in terms of quantity of those interactions actually reaching completion rather than partial or incomplete resolutions (likely meaning an unhappy customer left hanging).
The RI patterns for Community managers are of a different sort but the following tables give some suggestions of the kinds of patterns they could participate in.
Table 9.1 -- The Value of Community Managers
Improving relationships with members by providing a human face
to an organization or a large social group
Bringing the value of their own relationships and contact
networks within the organization
Arbitrating conflicts between members, or between the member and the
Coordinating member projects and activities
Serving as a repository of situational knowledge about the
organization, the members, or the content
To the sponsoring organization
Serving as an organizational spokesperson to the membership
Providing a view into the climate
of the members about the topic or purpose (the business climate within the
enterprise, across business partners, or across the industry)
Housing a repository of situational
knowledge about members, the content, or the topic
Encouraging and monitoring
member involvement and participation in the topics that
interest the sponsor
members might have with the organization
describing value or outcomes of the social group
and potential for hires or rehires
Table 9.2 Supporting Customers or Partners
Customers or business partners (public-facing, cross-boundary, third-party)
Marketing or sales
Increasing the number of touches with customers
Identifying customer evangelists and activists
Discovering industry trends and customer interests
Acting as marketing
liaisons to customers
Guiding marketing on
appropriate messaging or tactics
Product development and delivery
Assisting in gathering product requirements from audience
Conducting market research with customers
Identifying competitor activity or offerings
Conducting design tests and product beta-testing
Delivering products to customers online
Customer relations or product support
Providing a human
interface to the organization or social group
Serving as a “finger on the pulse” of audience concerns
Helping partners locate internal representatives or departments
Helping customers find appropriate support resources
Identifying troubled or
There's another table on their roles within the enterprise supporting employee and organizational interactions.
[I should say right ahead that I’m not picking on them
(since I disagreed before), but when many good ideas come across from Hutch Carpenter
and the Spigit folks, sometimes I just have to disagree.]
The article Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI on the Spigit blog from last week proposed a framework for a pyramidal hierarchy of needs
aimed specifically at ROI of Enterprise 2.0. They are correct in some ways describing
a pyramid of levels starting at the base with tangible needs and moving up
towards increasingly intangible ones.
I’ve linked to their image here, source Spigit Blog. [I may take this image off
if they ask so but you can generally find it on their blog post]
However, I’m not so sure that it can be so easily applied
here in terms of the levels. For one, Maslow’s theory indicates that humans cannot
focus on the higher levels until the lower levels are satisfied. This would be
nice to conclusively say this of Enterprise 2.0 ROI but I can give examples
where it is very difficult to identify “cost-savings” at the bottom of the pyramid
in a conclusive and replicable way, but easy to identify “employee satisfaction”
somewhere around the middle.
Cost savings is a comparative; you need to determine that it
is most efficient to do things with one or more e2.0 tools than existing or
traditional non-e2.0 processes. The trouble is that this is not systematic
across all e2.0 experiences. It’s not simply a matter of deploying a discussion
forum, for example, to support customers before you start seeing results (even
before you see cost-savings); in fact, there’s no guarantee it will ever become
enough of a social environment where the vendor, partners, other users etc. are
properly supporting the needs of a customer. In comparison, a support workflow,
even if more expensive, has immediate results. Until the social environment
actually does support customers, it is a cost-center.
However, even without knowing cost-savings per Maslow’s
theory, you can use survey instruments to determine employee satisfaction. Qualitative
measures such as “satisfaction” work best by gathering input directly from
people; it’s simply something in their heads that you need to get to. This
means surveys, interviews, and focus groups. However, it does get a metric—which
ROI is—of the level of satisfaction, without ever having to find out if the
social environment creates cost-savings. This is similarly so for “customer
satisfaction,” and I’d argue for “cross-org collaboration” as well.
So, while the idea of relative dependencies and ranking of hard
and soft metrics that indicate some beneficial return, I don’t think this
approach works. The logic has some holes and I wouldn't be able to sell this idea to folks around here.
In working recently on the topic of leadership and decision making processes in social environments, I thought I'd clarify something per my book. Quite often I see these decision-making methods split into simple categories--centralized versus marketplace (or distributed)--
when there is so much more. Additionally, the way how people work to produce results is not the same as who is involved in making the decisions.
One milling question from those who’ve looked closely
at my book, Social Networking for Business, is that leadership and decision-making processes seem to appear in two
different areas: the chapter 3 “Leadership in Social environments” and then
later again in the section “Describing the Form of Aggregation” in Chapter 4 on
Social Tasks. I should explain the key differences here.
Chapter 3 focuses on six different common leadership models:
Centralized, Centralized w/ Input, Delegated, Representative, Starfish and
Swarm. These models focus on whois allowed to participate
in the decision making process, set direction for the social group, and select
leaders. These range from those with very strongly centered to very distributed
The Aggregation methods on the other hand describe how
these decisions are made or this work executed: Independent,
Autonomous, Consensus, Deliberative, and Combative. These again are
alternatives to each other to create results.
Independent—Members work on the task separately, but the results are aggregated across all members
Autonomous—Members work on the task separately of each other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate work.
Consensus—A group of members works directly together on the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even if it’s not unanimous or convergent.
Deliberative—A group of members works directly together without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result.
Combative—Members must compete against each other to derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.
Certain pairs are more likely to occur: e.g., a swarm is
likely to use the Independent aggregation where only the combined results (voting)
across many members result in a single value. A delegated model is likely to
have autonomous decisions spread across the different domains delegated across
The moral here:
Set the right expectations -- Be clear not only about who
can make the decisions, but also for those who can do so, how they can make
On returning from the recent Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, I had time to reflect on the scaling issues that come up in social software adoption across an enterprise. In watching Gentry Underwood's excellent presentation on how they designed the social computing environment in IDEO, I tweeted to him that new issues start to pop up when you move from an enterprise social environment for 500 people to 200,000--or in IBM, nearly 400,000 people in 170 countries. This is not a bragging point, rather a one of frustration.
There certainly are other large or technological-oriented companies deploying social environments, but from my experience in hearing from others, no one has hit some of the scale issues that we have in IBM. Obviously we are talking about an enterprise's deployment rather than a social site like Facebook; they're very different issues for each.
For one, while employee profiles and directories are starting to become commonplace in other enterprises, we have had one for well over a decade in one form or another. We've already gone through the issues and practices others have found: (a) include everyone; (b) prepopulate with relevant contact, work info, projects, etc; (c) popularize it as the place to look up data; (d) integrate into or make it THE basis for contact info for other existing internal and extranet Web apps; (e) invite partners,contractors and suppliers; (f) tie to enterprise-wide LDAP and single-sign on; (g) integrate into common work processes and behaviors. In fact, the last I looked, we had nearly 600,000 profiles in our Bluepages (including employees, supplementals, contractors, bots, some partners and suppliers).
While the Bluepages system certianly popular, it is but one of several dozen commonly used social software tools, some of which in themselves have hundreds of thousands of unique users. We have thousands of smaller communities and wikis some of which have tens of thousands of members. The multiple tools comes out of our laissez-faire attitude to allow many software ideas to emerge, and through our user base test and advocate the best ideas.
The population size of this system isn't quite the issue, but I put some thought into what enterprise 2.0 deployment issues might appear with scale and came up with the following chart. I hope this can help other maturing e2.0 environments consider some of the issues they may be coming up agains
of people across time zones B. distribution
of people across cultures / countries C. distribution
of people across physical locations D. distribution
of people across job categories or dissimilar job roles E. projects
people work on are very different in nature F. distribution
across access devices (desktops, laptops, mobile) G. many separate (non-integrated) social tools,
or different interfaces H. many separate databases as information sources I. many
separate or isolated social instances J. number/reach
For our social computing metrics system, we have the ability
to see how people act on others contributions. For example, given one person’s
post, we can tell who is sharing, tagging and sometimes reading it, with
identities of all. This can tell us how much a person is impacting those around
them, who and how.
[Note: From an enterprise measurement viewpoint who the
individuals are is not important but you need their ID to key off other
demographics such as their job roles, geographic location, or organizational
location. This might be of interest to each person, but I’m looking at the
gestalt of the organization. Also this is information we are allowed to see per
This leads to several possibilities, given person X’s post.
The first set is diversity of reach:
a)What job roles are consuming their
b)Where in the organization are the
c)Given a single post how much
consumption is happening; and what’s the average per post
On the business level, this can tell us a lot about how
well the organization is connected, and if the expected views of what
job roles rely on others is actually occurring and how much. For example,
sales people working with their sales engineers or seeking domain knowledge
experts. It can show how far they
reach across the organization, and what other roles they connected to that
were not expected. For example, sales people in Slovenia working with
Researchers in Israel.
The second set may look at secondary effects. Given person X
posts, and person Y shares or tags, who is Person Z that eventually consumes it.
a)What job roles (persons’ Z) are
the end consumers
b)Where in the org they come from
c)How much and what’s the average.
d)Is there additional resharing or
This extends the first set by looking at eventual impact
from the source.
So far, I’ve just talked about one path of action from a
creator (source) to a consumer (sink).The next level is to look across many
actions on if there is bidirectional interaction happening between the roles.
This looks for ‘lasting’ relationships based on continued bidirectional
interaction. This can happen in immediate sequence (e.g., I post,
someone replies to me, I reply back, and so on); or it can be delayed
sequence of events (e.g., I post, someone reads/tags it, a week later they
send something else through a different social tool).
Here we are looking beyond immediate or unidirectional
consumption, towards the idea of if people are forming lasting relationships.
Notice for one that I didn’t even say that it was necessary
for people to friend each other before any of this happens. In fact, I think
that friending action while certainly making it obvious is highly variable.
Some people consider friending to identity those who they have lasting
relationships with, but others use it simply to keep track of people they are
watching rather than have any interaction with. The difference lies in the
bidirectional vs. unidirectional relationship there. In other cases, some folks
never actually friend others but certainly interact with them, therefore
indicating a relationship.
Why is this any different than SNA (social network analysis)
tools? Perhaps it’s the limitation of the SNA tools I have found in terms of
the level of demographics and granularity they can show. For example, some do
not show the demographics I need because they simply don’t contain that info,
or don’t understand which demographics are useful for business reasons.
In terms of granularity, most SNA tools can show the
structure for each person; i.e., the relationships and interactions between
person X and those around them, but I need info about the aggregate level of
everyone of one demographic (e.g. job category), and the relationships they
form. This is beyond most SNA tools today.
The biggest part is that it takes a lot of data collection
and number crunching over many, many people to even begin to analyze this. This is beyond System level metrics (how many users, how many documents), or object level (how much activity per person or object), but goes into the meta level that we would like to understand. This is also only one aspect of many others.
On the business side, the goal is to better understand the connections across our organization, and where we can try to focus energies to improve communications or encourage interaction. It is using information from social systems to create a smarter organization. For enterprise 2.0 to become a success, it is not just about empowering individuals to use social computing systems, but it is to make the organization itself function better.
Per my previous note, I mentioned that we have 400,000
people collaborating across 170 countries in IBM.
That raises a great question of what does it mean to have 400,000 people
collaborating? Are they all in one massive social network connected to each
other? Are they participating in the same spaces? Are the contributing to each
To give an idea, first we need to look at the state of
social computing in IBM. First, there is not
one but at least 32 different social applications each of which can have
hundreds of thousands of unique users, and tens of thousands of instances
(e.g., separate wikis, individual blogs, etc.)
By another count, there are over 200 applications--it varies based on what different folks consider as a "social application".
For example, in rough numbers of some of the tools
200k replies (aging removes some)
Dogear /social bookmarking
Beehive (social net)
Cattail (social file sharing)
This is just a subset and unofficial list of these services.
There are other tools for enterprise wide social searching, social
brainstorming, instant messaging, tweeting, podcast/videocast sharing, social
profiles, and analysis tools. Some of these other tools are used by 100% of
employees particularly instant messaging and out Bluepages (profiles) systems.
Others have even more people because non-employees such as business partners,
customers, and even suppliers have access to them.
People generally use them as follows:
across the enterprise: e.g a blogger
team spaces: departments and hierarchical teams
spaces: across multiple departments
group spaces: e.g., someone creates a Lotus Connections Activity and
So the groupings vary significantly, and a number individuals
do use many of these tools for different reasons, but unique users still reach
across the company.
The types of activities or projects in these spaces are just
as varied as the job roles, products and markets. Think of it, just in terms of
products alone, I think we have over 5000 distinctly, different ones (and not
just variations); some are very complex (imagine working on the DB2 database), and others are smaller. That still doesn’t include the many thousands of customer projects
people are working on at any one time. So in general there aren't any common scopes or scales for
what people work and interact on.
The general philosophy that creates this mix is that as a
company we encourage an internal free-market environment to allow many tools to
appear and compete with each other. This helps the best ideas to emerge out of
new social experiments and methods. While someone has to pay for the
environments, this is up to each social app project to figure out how to fund. There
are official tools that are universally supported, but there are also other research
and experimental projects—even Beehive as a research project easily includes over
We also do not police these activities. People are talking
about their non-work activities, but that is a natural outcome of social
interaction. As long as people are not breaking their business conduct and the
social computing guidelines, they are okay to use it how they like.
This kind of quantitative information really doesn’t show how
people are collaborating just where. Rather our BlueIQ team collects
success stories, especially recreatable and reuseable scenarios, from
individuals illustrating how they are productively working together in these
In general, it is complex to say how people are
collaborating, but safe to say that they are collaborating widely in the
social environments in IBM.
You may be familiar with Wordle, a nice little Web2.0 tool by our own Jonathon Feinberg that creates word art images like this below. You've probably seen wordles like this appear recent (e.g. Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 paper)
Here's a game we started playing with it similar to other word games like "Cr*nium". We had lots of fun with the Pride and Prejudice wordle, and not the phrases you think would appear out of Jane Austen (e.g., "girls better consent", "young delighted experience lady", "insufficient flatter heard")
I have no idea if this is an original game by itself but I'll set out the rules we're using and you can try and tell me.
The goal of the game is to see how many meaningful phrases you can make out of words that appear next to or very near each other in a wordle.
You need: 2 or more players. Paper and pen/pencil per person. Web access to wordle.net
Pick a wordle: Any wordle. The side provides a huge gallery of items and choices. Or you can create your own wordle in a few seconds by pasting a block of text into the site. E.g., Here's President Obama's Inaguration speech wordle
Set timer for 1 minute
Every player gets to write down phrases 2 words or longer that they can make out. No repeats (or subphrases) by the same person. Words can go in any direction but they have to be right next to each other, or "close by" (as others agree upon). Size of the letters do not matter.
End of the timer, each person reads out one item from their list. You can debate whether the phrase is meaningful and not just random. They get points for the number of words in the phrase. Anyone else who found the same phrase has to delete that item from their list, and cannot reuse it.
Minimum 2 word phrases, no maximum. One point per word.
As I mentioned on twitter, my peer Jeanne Murray and I are
presenting a session at the Enterprise2.0
conference in Boston next week that describes an overall view of how we think e2.0 has
evolved in our organization. The focus here is not on the technologies
themselves but on the human capabilities, interests, and mindset as it has
evolved over time. It talks about what we used to think about social computing
and how that as changed or evolved with each stage.
This sort of view on evolution is not something that is
absolutely decisive. With a multinational organization such as ours, it does
not necessarily mean that every corner of the organization is at the same
level. The reality is that many locations are still at Stage 1 while others are
very well into the later stages. We use the stages to describe how some groups
have progressed in their thinking and approach to how they employ social
computing in their work.
I don’t plan to describe the entire presentation here but I
wanted to share the intention of our session and give an example of a stage. In
discussing the idea, Jeanne and I formulated five stages of this evolution:
-Stage 1 – Seeing a need for social
computing in business
-Stage 2 – Recognizing the business
uses and value
-Stage 3 – Bringing people together
into a common frame
-Stage 4 – Building better
-Stage 5 – Shifting the overall
perspective to a dynamic, agile mindset
For example, we entered Stage 2 when the mindset (in stage
1) progressed beyond thinking of social computing as something just for
personal entertainment or for kids into recognizing the business potential.
Within this stage, people have accepted there is a business need, but are still
unsure about how or where it applies in specific use.
The focus in stage 2 is to articulate value and use cases.
To do so, we needed to connect people’s expertise and collect stories of their
successful use cases. The glories of reaching this stage is that people are
starting to become more connected beyond the possibilities of their existing
location and organizational position; there are open networks and freer
exchange of ideas; and new social-enabled tasks are vetted simply the degree of
However, we also saw in this stage that the number of
repositories and ways of describing and sharing expertise were exploding. There
were multiple options for doing tasks in social tools, and people needed
guidance on which ones made most sense. Our wide diversity of tools simply
increased the many streams of information, and often randomness of information
Stage 2 has some people starting to connect, but a
recognition that for enterprise 2.0 to be valuable to the company itself (and
not just on an individual level), we need to consider how we get the larger
organization to do this all together (stage 3). This next transformation
requires looking beyond how individuals benefit from social computing, to how
groups and org units can work as a whole with this system.
Stage 3 then picks up from trying to unite the
infrastructure and tooling, as well as clarifying what to use when.
I hope to see some of you at Enterprise 2.0. Our
session is on Wednesday June 16th at 1-2pm (twitter hashtag #e2conf-34).
We will post the slides next week for others to see as well.
I tried the MIT Personas site just to see what it would come up for my
name. Basically, it does a Web search for any name you give it and
analyzes the text on a semantic level to find common themes or
categories for content from you or about you (e.g., it might suggest
topics like "sports", "legal", "social", "management", "online", etc.)
How it does this is a little beyond my knowledge of semantic
processing, as well as what practical use this is seems to escape me.
But it's fun. :)
Some issues with it, is that because it searches on people names across
the Web, the content may mistake e.g., one "Luis Suarez" (our own
blog-evangelist) with another "Luis Suarez" (soccer player). It helps
if you have a globally unique name like "Rawn Shah" (so far). Another
problem is that the results may vary depending on how it processes
whatever search results it finds. So, in trying it out three times to
see how close it was, it showed slightly different categories for me
and sized these differently as well.
I can't figure out why the following categories appear since I rarely if ever talk about them: military, religious, religion, genealogy
Per my previous post about Playstation Home, the rumor mill is hitting full steam. From what I understand now, companies will be able to develop for this new virtual world by partnering with Sony. So in other words, it may have the programmability of SecondLife but in a different fashion. Jay's also gathering info on the PS Home.
Sony is used to partnering with game development houses only for their Playstation environments. This kind of development can involve a build environment in conjuction with a game unit simulator that also supports debugging and large-scale development. I have never worked in this environment but the last I heard, it works with the Eclipse environment. In any case, theirs is not an open development environment and you essentially have to join their partner program to be able to do such work. This and the much higher cost of entry for developers and customers ($600+ PS3) creates some hurdles for them.
Obviously they really need to have a compelling offer and in this case, visually at least the PS Home looks appealing. Programmatically, it's value is still to be determined. With IBM's support in terms of the cell processor, I'd think we would be thinking of working with this environment too, but I am not privy to such information either so I can just speculate.
In any case, there are also two types of development involved here: application (or prim) programming and the 3D visual design. The 3D design is outside my skill level; I've done 3Ds of buildings before, but you really need to become immersed and practised with the tools for a while to become a good artist and I'm just not that caliber. This should translate to either Secondlife or Playstation Home, since these visual objects are fairly standardized in the industry. The app programming however, is definitely specific to the world.
Nintendo's Mii, on the other hand, is slightly different animal. From what I gather, essentially it allows you to edit/update characters and the environment of existing games. This to me is more like what WindowBlinds does to the Windows desktop environment, i.e. customize an existing system. This is particularly different than a MMO environment where you can build new things, exist in a mass population, and it is not centered around the structure or rules of an existing game. Another way to look at it is what tuners do to cars. You can improve the car vastly or personalize it to the extreme, but in the end, you usually still end up with a car. (but sometimes also a nightclub, a performance stage, a giant dinosaur, etc.)
So I don't really consider the current Mii and Mii channel comparable to Secondlife or PS Home. Please do prove me wrong.
The trio of Headshift, IDC and Tech4i2 have released their Interim
report on Enterprise 2.0 in Europe. This is a fantastic piece of work in
160 pages. I had time enough go through half of it so far. It covers so many
areas and compiles data on geography and economic production in countries due
to e20. Thanks to @leebryant and @mikejthompson for sharing this.
Here are some of my suggestions and points:
Pg9 Table 3 - Links between participants –
For traditional enterprise aps the “peer or hierarchical”
describes the structure of how people are linked overall, but for E2.0 apps, it
focuses on quality of individual links.
That’s two different concepts.
Option 1: include both structure and quality in each box
-Traditional Apps – “Peer or
hierarchical, if linkage with others is supported at all. Members have to
accept predefined links with others in their workgroup. Strength of linkage
-E20 Apps – “Web of connections.
Members choose who they want to link to, and strength of connection depends on
Option 2: Quality only
-Traditional Apps – Members must
accept predfined links to others in workgroup, and strength of linkage unknown
Option 3: Structure only
-Traditional apps - Peer or
hierarchical, if linkage with others is supported at all.
-E20 - Members choose who they want
to link to, and strength of connection depends on interactions
Section 2.3 pg 10
This should also indicate sources which state that
Organizational Culture and culture change is a key aspect. If you want you can
link to our IBM paper on adoption which stresses that this is not just
technology adoption, but actual work culture change.
I think for the Internal case, its missing: building
employee loyalty, satisfaction and retention. To this take a look at
Salary.com’s 2009 survey of Job satisfaction, particularly at the top reason
“why people stay in a company”: “I like the people I work with”
An Internal>External or perhaps External case is keeping
in touch with former employees/alumni. This is a variant on recruitment. By
having an Alumni community, you may be able to rehire former employees which is
much more cost-effective and faster in terms of integrating into the company.
This saves time and money over hiring completely new people.
Section 2 & 3 overall
There seems to be a heavy reliance on McAfee’s research
only. It’s very one sided. You should cite other sources as well. There are a
whole lot of other researchers in this domain too.
Page17 Communities of Interest
A community of practice is a key component of building a
“Center of Excellence” within organizations around different topics,
technologies, knowledge domains and innovation directions. It identifies
company-wide a select group of subject-matter-experts and organizational
memory. In short developing centers of excellence within organization supports
the overall innovation strategy of the company.
Pg 18 Innovation Management
IBM InnovationJam and IdeaJam system is a managed approach
to ideation and discovering employees interested or committed to bringing
innovative ideas to life. IBM has had various such Jams since 2001 across
different populations: employees only (new product or service opportunities),
employees and family (local community development, and work-life balance), and
employees, customers and business partners (challenging global issues)
Pg 20 Crowdsourcing
An example is BurdaStyle by German publishing company,
Hubert Burda Media. By providing a template system to allow anyone (customers)
to create new clothing designs of their own. This is an example Crowdsourcing
by Template; it generates new ideas that customers can sell to each other or
license to the company Burda itself to produce for the mass market.
See my book “Social Networking for Business” (Wharton School
Press, 2010) Chapter 4 on further details.
Pg20 Customer/Public Engagement
Use more European focused social sites. See ManyEyes and
comScore data on apps per country
This is missing out that E2.0 allows a variety of different
leadership models as microcosmswithin
the overall organization leadership structure. I provide a variety of these
models in Chapter 2 of my book.
The significance is that it creates an alternate dimension
of leadership hidden underneath the official hierarchical structure of the
company. These alternate models can be discovered through Social Network Analysis,
or predefined for individual communities and social environments with different
groupings of employees.
Pg40 Organisational size
One of the most obvious facts most people forget is that on
the Internet, there is practically unlimited population that may participate in
web2.0 environments. However, within an organization, there is a definite bound
of all the employees involved. What this affects is the notion of the Long
Tail: with a bounded employee population adoption need not be a long-tailed graph
at all, since you can determine through metrics data how many people are
involved, and how involved they can get. The graph changes shape significantly.
On the Internet, there is an endless supply of the long-tail on ther otherhand.
Missing is a discussion on the Dunbar number limit that
suggests people are able to at most recall 150 peers or friends, and a closer
look at why that idea is not necessarily applicable in E20 system.
Another actor of the personal social networking is that the
line between work and personal discussions is getting quite blurry. E.g., some
people use their personal Facebook profile to post both personal content and
work related content. It thus becomes harder to tell how people are working
because it requires detailed context to decide if any content posted is work related
Furthermore often employees use their corporate social
environment to casually discuss personal ideas, projects and activities. This
is not a negative, because it creates opportunities for other employees to find
commonality and like-minded peers; in other words it improves chances of
building stronger employee-to-employee bonds.
Pg78 “Eat your own dog-food”
How about “Drink your own Champagne” – a more pleasant
Pg80 Does E20 matter
For 1) or perhaps 3) there are some existing evidence /
studies on the impact of e20 on productivity and growth. See Wu, Lin, Aral and Brynjolfsson
(MIT & IBM)
When people think of developing leadership in social
environments, they often think of it in terms of a person developing their own skills
in leadership (1) versus how the group itself executes (2). These are two different things.
In particular, in my chapter on leadership models in Social Networking for Business, it is not focused on #1 individual leadership
skills, but rather on #2, how to consider what the right model is for
leadership in a given social experience. As said many times before, leadership
in a community experience is very different than that in individual social experiences
(e.g., your own blog, or profile page).
In a way, these models are much more “tactical” in the view
that they are what you might apply to one particular social environment
instance (e.g. the Durian-lovers community, Rawn Shah’s blog). These tactical
models may still run for years, and are not necessarily short-term—what we
often equate with tactical situations.
A strategic view, on the other hand, is from the eyes someone
or some team overseeing the Enterprise 2.0 ecosystem of all the social environment
instances. In many cases, they may be looking at thousands or millions of them
within the same organization. In the strategic view, you could consider how
many applications of each of the tactical leadership models exist. This gives
you an idea of how well the people across the organization are ‘skilled’--building their skills per #1 in online social environments--in
working in particular leadership models.
From an employee’s point of view, if you have never worked
in a workgroup of one particular leadership model, it takes a bit of time to
learn and understand how it works. It will require it anyway, because each
instance may have its own particular nuances and variances. However, my point
is that the employee understands the differences in working in different such
tactical leadership models, so they can contribute or lead the group more
These are the soft skills of leadership that we often
talk about, but here in terms of tangible concepts.
Furthermore, from the strategic view, this also shows that
you can have an effective Enterprise 2.0 collaborative system with high degrees
of autonomy, without needing to completely transform the structure of your
overall organization. What the employees are essentially agreeing on is that
within their many online collaborative instances, they will work as agreed
within each instance. The overall organization is still free to change and
transform, but it is possible to be both an open social collaborative organization;
yet still maintain the traditional structure, as long as both covenants allow
and support each other’s approaches and needs.
For folks who’ve asked me about social computing and the
retail industry, I’d like to describe ideas in use. Some of you may already be
familiar with these.
First of all, there’s the “w00t” idea, most common in the US
as the site www.woot.com and even featured
in campaigns with American Express and others. It’s fairly simple, every day
they list a limited quantity of a single product (at seemingly random) at a
good deal of discount. Its success depends on mixing in very popular items with
some of the ordinary ones at many different price points, spread across a wide
range of product categories.
The social element here is in competition to get
one which often heats up considerable. Folks have even created bots or software
applications to beat others to the purchase. To spur this competition on, there
is constantly updated “sales snapshots” of the purchase experience for that
item: a map of the US where it’s being purchased the most, sales per hour, the
number of times the purchaser has bought from the site before, how many the
bought, etc. Finally, the discussion thread often gives social input or
feedback to what others think of the product. Other companies have tried this,
for example, I recall seeing it on American Express shopping as Deal of the Day
where they had a Honda Civic Hybrid as the deal for almost 60% of the sale
The key element is the competition, limited quantity and
thus exclusivity of the items of the site. All the social input exists to feed
the competitive basis unlike other online retail sites, where this is not at
all emphasized. Rather they take the stance that there is always some quantity
available. However, the competitive element of woot combined with a surprise in
random but in-demand items, is what turns the social elements into a game-like
structure, and most importantly: bring people back to the site. This method
isn’t new by any means, but the online environment makes it easier to spread
the word and increase the likelihood of sales. The social experience model here
is a mass collaboration with swarm leadership and combative aggregation. (if
this doesn’t make sense to you, please read my book).
Unconfirmed, but did the jargon term “w00t” originate from
“iwoot” = “I want one of those”? See http://www.iwantoneofthose.comwhich is not this above model, and closer to what
is now “traditional” online retail, purchasing with ratings and comments. Or is
it a derivative, if I remember right, of the “woof, woof” sound made popular
back in the 1990s by the Arsenio Hall show.
is another form of social computing applied to coupons for services within your
city (again mostly in the US). Essentially, it takes the woot model to a new
level, requiring people to invite enough members to qualify for the coupon. The
time limit is again one day only, and it is specific to a city. So, if a user
really likes the coupon promotion, they may need to try to get their friends or
others of like interest to also vote for the promotion, or just wait to see if enough
people from their city vote, before they can even take advantage of it.
Here, the social experience is not entirely a mass
collaboration like woot, because people do not necessarily work entirely
independent of each other. It allows two choices: you can bring your friends as
a small community to vote and get the coupon, or you can vote and hope that
others join in. In other words, it’s a hybrid of a mass collaboration and a
community. The leadership effects are also swarm-like, with no single person in
charge and each person making their own choices (typically to vote positively
for the item). However, this is not combative but consensus aggregation.
In looking at @prem_k’s
mindmap on social learning today, I spent a few minutes considering what events
can be measured relative to this topic. Unfortunately, I cannot embed the
diagram in this blog but please take a look at his
I came up with the following measurable elements and
hopefully most are self-explanatory. The mechanics of how you actually measure
these items can very from trivial counting exercises to some fairly complicated
metrics for mapping networks and measuring influence and sentiment. However, I
think most of it has been done before, perhaps just not applied specifically to
learning and pedagogy. So who’s up to that challenge?
I’m also just starting on Marcia Conner (@marciamarcia) and Tony
Bingham’s book, The
New Social Learning(ASTD & Berrett-Koehler, Sep 2010), and I
expect I’ll be learning a lot from it too.
-disemmination relative to origin
(generalized SN diagram)
-disemmination of topics across overall
network (generalized SN diagram)
-rate & velocity of
-Resharing/promoting (e.g. RT,
-Acknowledging/rating (e.g. +1,
-Relationship effects -
Friending/following/connecting, or unfollowing/negative externalities/outcomes
-Searching / search results (text,
tags, social searches)
I've finally had a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers today. As with his previous books, he tends to border on sensationalism focuses on events which may possibly be rare outcomes but wrapping it in a story. The impact here is that he is a great storyteller, but his stories may not necessarily be correct. I can't substantiate that irrefutably but I don't need to.
For example, one chapter focuses on birthdate year as an influential factor describing a host of folks in the computer industry who have gone on to be hugely successful. But at first depoints out that SOME of these folks may have had a series of lucky breaks (e.g. Bill Gates) that gave them an advantage, most not related to their age but to their connections. Then with some quick wave of the hand, he points back to the birthdate year being the summary of the chapter. Okay, what happened there?
Patterns may exist (same location, same birthdate, etc.) but it is a combination of these factors that contribute to success. For that matter, it doesn't qualify if one particular of these factors is a bigger contributor.
He's still a great storyteller and uncovers unusual tales, but from what he has in his books alone, it's hard to tell if what he describes is really is true, or just makes for interesting entertainment. That aside, he has still achieved business star status which can direct people to think that way.
Lee Provoost’s post, “Adopting Enterprise 2.0 in large organisations: Fiat or Ferrari?” talks about how people can start with smaller
cars like a Fiat and eventually upgrade if need be to a Ferrari, rather than
wait decades of riding public transportation until they save enough for their
top car. I don’t see the entire negative with public transportation but when it
comes to social software, this ignores a large problem: migrating from one
social software system to another is a lot more complicated than just replacing
the tool itself.
Having seen first-hand several generations of social tools
in our company, and trying to get people to migrate from one existing
environment to a new one, it takes a bit of work to get people to switch to the
new system. A better analogy than cars may be “transportation networks”. In the
US, think about asking people to stop driving and using trains instead.
First of all, change is hard: people become used to certain
features and know how to work it quickly. Unless the new social tool has the exact
same features handled exactly the same, it means new learning, often new
terminology, and trial and error.
Social tools also don’t always make it easy to migrate from
one system to another. So you may also need to reenter your profile
information, preferences, and generally reinstate what you may have already had
People place a lot of content and context into their social
environment, and unless that is all migrated with them too, they may see it as “loosing
their standing in that social environment.” For some this is in the form of
rankings; for others useful or valuable content that they left behind. New
social environments don’t need to start at zero but more often than not, they
are not fully compatible with the old ones or provide different tools and
require different fields; thus, migration is not a simple prospect of
Finally, a new system should probably not only perform better,
but all them to interact in better ways. This also means new features to ask
people to try out. The power of the new social tool may be in those new
features but in maintaining the status quo, many users will keep using what
they know, until enough people have adopted the new features.
These are just a few basic reasons in adoption that make it
difficult to simply “level up” to a new social system. If you run a social
software system in your enterprise, you should certainly not treat it like just buying a new car.
It seems so old
school to try to classify social computing metrics but I keep getting the same requests from various internal teams, who are sometimes not familiar with some of the metrics, don't understand
them, or simply use other metrics better suited to Web sites rather
than social sites. A second goal is to evaluate the qualities of
these metrics to determine if they are useful (e.g. using the SMART
analysis approach). A third is to see the relationship of the metrics
to each other—whether there are dependencies, or if some metrics
are more meaningful when reported alongside or compared with others.
To give an idea,
while it's considered outdated by others, some still look for
Pageviews, and Unique Visitors--classic web metrics better suited to
measure how people visit pages, than interaction from social
environments. Similarly, "Interaction" itself becomes
another stopping point for metrics. These are the metrics most
commonly recorded by social software tools: number of posts, the
number of downloads, the number of connection invites, etc.
In working with
our social computing researchers we're also looking at Network Effect
metrics such as the Topics (what people discuss) that come out of the
system, or the ratio of consumption to a person's content
such as marketing teams have an emphasis on Engagement metrics,
considering how much a person is becoming involved in a social
environment, an event, a marketing offering, or other engagements.
Other engagement metrics aren't specific to marketing only. For
example, thought-leadership metrics include the ratings on content
someone has submitted, or how often they have been quoted or
retweeted by others. A more complex one is to determine the Impact a
person has on their target audience.
To go further
along on marketing metrics, these can even build up towards the sales
pipeline—how many interested individuals are there, are they
potential sales leads, have they actually asked for sales info, has
that lead been validated, and then closed. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer of Lithium
suggested similar ideas in an article for Strategy+Leadership magazine back in 2000, on conversion rate from a
visitor to a sale, as applied to social environments.
and sales, there are other indicators that relate to business value
metrics. Some suggestions in a recent email exchange with Dr. Walter
Carl, Chief Researcher of ChatThreads and a member of WOMMA's board on metrics include
cost reduction (using this tool to communicate is a lower cost than
other existing ways), accelerating adoption of any business
philosophies, values or company directives, processes that minimize
lost revenue, etc.
Lots of Metrics,
but what are their qualities?
So what should be
obvious is that there are lots of metrics, categories, subclasses,
variations, and inter-relations that different organizations or even
different teams within the same organization utilize. What
constitutes business metrics and delivered value for one team may not
even be relevant to another. So I'm still surprised when people ask
for a generic ROI methodology.
All the same, the
next step is to look at the qualities of these metrics. I mentioned
the SMART acronym earlier which are basic questions if a given metric
type or unit is:
(specific and targeted to an area of measurement),
data point that can be captured and collected),
(robust data that can be analyzed and utilized by a stakeholder),
realistic, meaningful and consistent measurement),
(current and possible to collect in good time).
all these qualities, there will likely be a problem with either
collecting the data in a way that is meaningful and available in time
for use in a business.
There are other
qualities that I think are important to consider as well:
it scalable in quantity? Can you capture larger and larger volumes
of data or does it become computationally intractable
it apply across social environments of the same type? Is the metric
relevant to a single social environment, or can it apply to many
environments of the same structure (e.g., a discussion forum)?
scalable and still meaningful across different social environments
(e.g. A blog and a forum)?
Does it drive
behavior? Does it encourage that person or other people to interact
credible? Is it a measure that is accepted by other teams,
organizations or even industry-wide?
significant as a performance and/or a diagnostic metric? Performance
metrics are useful for comparisons across like types. Diagnostic
metrics help determine the state of the system.
Is it a
quality metric? That is, counting it does not really describe the
value contained within it, so you need a secondary way of looking at
it helpful to look at it across different demographics? This is very
insightful in some metrics, and just not necessary in others.
I'm sure there are
more relevant qualities, but this is already quite a lot to think
about. These qualities can help decide which metrics are the most
useful or what they can tell us, independently of the others.
is to look at which metrics should be reported alongside each other,
or which ones depend on others directly or indirectly. That's where
things start to get real interesting and much more subjective.
No conclusion here
because this is on-going work trying to map out all these variants of
metrics, but here's to hoping it inspires others to think and work
along these lines.
The book has progressed and transformed significantly over the past year. I've probably rewritten the contents three to four times already, either shifting large sections to bring related ideas together, towards a business focus (requiring less prior technical knowledge), and in a more cohesive concept.
The draft chapters all go up onto the Roughcuts section of Safari Books. What's confusing is that the latest information is in there but only to registered members, and the free information you see up front is several drafts old. So, I'm including the ToC here:
A discussion on community manager or builder's skills on Twitter incited me to post this list below. The following are various personality traits, behaviors and skills to look for in a Community manager or builder, straight out of my new book, Social Networking for Business (Wharton School Press 2010):
-Listening:A large part of a community manager’s
role is being responsive to the members of the social group, noting their
issues and tone, and having the patience and willingness to put things aside to
pay careful attention to issues and problems.
-Talking:Writing or talking about their experiences,
ideas, events, or other insight in a natural or casual tone helps users get to
know the CMs better. This is not about marketing or making sales pitches, nor
is it an extensive academic or official report.
-Taking notes:Good community managers are always
taking notes, literally or mentally, and saving or organizing them in a
retrievable fashion. In a conversation, they are listening carefully and taking
notes on the key points the other person is trying to make. If CMs need to
write something down, they can ask users for permission to take notes. With
problem issues, CMs might perform the physical act of note taking, either with
pen and paper or through tagging and writing online; mental notes often get
lost or forgotten. The notes saved are helpful in other activities.
relationships:Listening and talking sets
a frame to build relationships with members. This is not just remembering the
names of members, but also paying careful attention to their motivations,
interests, activities, relationships, and other facets of their lives.
remote or virtual interactions:Being
comfortable working in an environment in which you might never physically meet
the users you work with is important. Online environments frequently do not require
a physical office location, giving community managers the freedom to work from
home or other venues. This also means having the responsibility to actually
perform work in such a remote environment and to avoid distractions. However,
this is not exclusive; knowing how to interact with members you have never met
in face-to-face situations is also useful.
members:A good community manager’s personality
engages and energizes the people he or she talks to. These community managers
like to shine the light on others’ activities and bring awareness to such
activities they consider significant.
-Mediating:Within any social group, some degree
of debate or argument eventually will arise. Community managers can play a role
in mediating or arbitrating when things get rough. They don’t need to be the
ones to find every solution:it’s better
if the parties come up with a proposed solution:but they need to be open and seen as neutral.
-Voicing for the membership:Community managers might need to negotiate
with other parties:whether competing
for attention in the same organization or working with other sites, events, or
groups:to bring attention to their own
community or members. Community managers should be able to act as a voice for
the overall group to the sponsoring organization or to other groups.
-Finding a way:CMs must handle a variety of issues—some
I see occurring repeatedly, and others are fairly unique. Community managers
need to have a drive to find a way to solve problems. This means persistence,
intelligence, creativity, social awareness, and more. No template exists for
this role—it requires an instinctual nature of wanting to help people.
I should be getting some early copies of my new book, Social Networking for Business
(Wharton School Press, 2010) straight from the printer/binder just
before Lotusphere. I'm planning on bringing some to hand out at the
event either during lunch--our BlueIQ Social Software Adoption team
will be hosting two tables with signs, so come by and talk to us. We'll
be chatting on just about anything around adoption, how we do it in
IBM, and what you can do with social computing.
If you haven't seen it yet, it is available at, Amazon, Barnes&Nobles or other booksellers around the 24-29th this month. Kindle versions should be out a few days earlier.
I noticed Hutch Carpenter's (@bhc3) post about this proposed session in Enterprise 2.0 conference where he's talking about different forms of competition. I had to share this excerpt from chapter 4 on Social Tasks of my book on the different forms of working together on a social/collaborative task.
The next step of defining a social task is to consider how members
perform this task collectively. Social software aggregates the behavior or
content from many individuals into overall results or collections of results.
However, you can use different methods to perform aggregation:
- Independent:Members work on the task separately, but the
results are aggregated across all members. Their discrete actions and results
might not be directly visible to others:the results are visible only as an converged aggregate value (for
example, closed ballot voting).
- Autonomous:Members work on the task separately of each
other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate
work. This creates opportunities in which members might benefit from
information that multiple other members share. A collection of divergent results
across the many members or a single convergent result (such as brainstorming on
ideas) can occur.
- Consensus:A group of members works directly together on
the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even
if it’s not unanimous or convergent. Tasks often require analysis, discussion,
and debate to arrive at a collective answer. The ultimate goal is to converge
and deliver a single collective result, but members might not always agree on
one answer and there sometimes produce multiple options as results.
- Deliberative:A group of members works directly together
without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result.
These are typically discussions or interactions that can spread out in many
directions, depending on how subsets of members interact.
- Combative:Members must compete against each other to
derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.[i] Unlike consensus forming,
only a single answer is provided from all the choices the group generated.
Glass, Designing Your Reputation System in 10! Easy Steps, IA Summit
2008, Miami, Florida
So I broke down and created a Manga face of myself. (Manga's are Japanese graphic novels, some for kids, some for grown-ups). This is a recent fad on Twitter, but cute nonetheless. The FaceyourManga site offers a Flash tool to choose many different factors that you can choose from to create your particular manga.
Here's mine below:
What's the point? You can use this as a profile photo whenever a social site calls for it. (As part of becoming manga-ized, you turn 12 again, whee! :)
What I found amusing was my wife's reaction when she saw the photo: "Why do you look so angry?"
Sarah: "You're not similing."
Me: "But I am. I just did not pick the wide-mouthed grinning smile."
Sarah: "You look mad. Must be an Asian thing of not showing your teeth. "
Well that's an American view I guess. It seems a cultural interpretation that unless you smile, almost grin wide-mouthed, you're not happy. I'm just here to state that that's not true at all.
Oh well, I'll stay true to myself and stick with this manga face. It's an I-know-a-secret-smile.
If you are attending Enterprise2.0 conference next week in Boston, here
are some of the events that I will be at. I may session-hop because there is just too much to see. Our BlueIQ Social software adoption
will be all around the event, and even Gina Poole, our VP will be there.
8:30am – 4:15pm, Black Belt Practitioners Workshop
A philosophical fantasy question and not one anyone may have been asking anyway I agree, but it's what I was contemplating when I looked at my father's day present: a Darth Vader bust cookie jar.... "[Look]... I am your father..'s day present..."
The headgear of Darth Vader is almost certainly based on the the war gear of samurai lords: their kabuto (helmet) and their mempo (face mask). In samurai days, these were both fanciful and practical. They were usually fairly artistically designed for the daimyo (lord) usually to inspire reverence or fear, as well as to indicate clan symbols. The fearful mask therefore is very apt for a Dark Lord of the Sith.
But that brings me back to my question, how would you equate the Sith in samurai terms. First of all, let's get some historical facts right, the samurai did have a strong sense of honor, but this did not generally make them benevolent. In today's terms, you might even call them single-minded and ruthless. Their sense of chivalry is not the idealistic romanticized version of Arthurian legends and European myth. In fact, those ideals are closer to the Jedi; the very clearly defined, although fairly blase, "good" side of the force. Samurai had the right to kill anyone of a lower class (farmers, artisans, merchants) and did not even need to have a motive. They fought the wars against other samurai based on what their lord indicated, and often that meant devastation to the rest of the population. So you can hardly call them similar to the Jedi. By rules of logic that invalidates my original premise but leaves the second part unanswered.
The Sith are the opposite of the "good" forces of the Jedi, bent on qualities we consider evil: absolute domination by force. In Arthurian legend, there generally was not an evil counterpart that was formalized to such a degree. Rather there were individuals like Mordred, who fought against Arthur, and therefore was considered the "evil" power-hungry opposite. So in principle there were equivalent there.
In Japanese historical culture there were three other categories: the ronin, warrior monks, and the ninja. The ronin were simply the "masterless ones", when a samurai lost their lord and hence no longer had someone to pay the bills or give allegiance to. Because there was such strong clan-alignment, it was unlikely you could simply be picked up by another daimyo, and therefore, without anything but their military skill, they often turned pauper or worse (in the old Japanese class system), into farmers or workers for the merchant class. Some did turn to crime but none of it is an institutionalized practice as the Sith model.
The warrior-monks were generally just a separate rank of folks in the clergy and by Zen ideals and pacifism, could hardly be considered "evil" like the Sith.
The ninja are perhaps the closest in a way. They were often paid for hire warriors who did the dirty and dishonorable work like assassinations and mayhem. A better description is perhaps outlaw not in the Jesse James in the the Cowboy-West sense, but as people who made their own rules separate from the rest of the law of the Japanese society (which in truth was very restrictive in history). They were an institution too in the form of ninja schools of thought and practices that trained an army of folks over the years. Yet, the goal of the historical ninja (versus TV-ninja or Internet-Ninja) tended to be more of mercernary intent rather than megalomaniacal domination like the Sith.
Looking back at other historical cultures, the Mongols, Chinese, Romans, English, Persians, and others were certainly bent on world domination (or at least their definition of the "world"), but one person's evil overlords are another's great and wondrous leaders, and vice versa.
So Vader, Sidious, and all Sith going back into the fantasy culture do not have an easy comparable. In fact, in terms of good writing, the black-and-white metaphorical comparison of Sith to Jedi, is quite overly simplistic and trite as concepts. It's fit for teenagers and kids but as you get older you realize there is a lot of grey and even good people do bad things at times, or vice versa, or are labelled bad or good depending upon who you ask.
A thought I had a few weeks ago on a measurable value outcome
of switching to social computing reflects a common situation in our company: mailing
large files around. Simply said, many enterprise mail systems such as Lotus
Notes allow the central administrator to set a limit on attached file sizes.
By imposing a limit around say 4MB, and redirecting people
to use Lotus Connections Files to share large documents, you save: a) network bandwidth
usage; and b) storage of multiple copies on local drives and on mail servers.
LC Files on the other hand adds lots of other benefits like
re-sharing without re-forwarding the files, comments w/o re-forwarding, and lookups
on who it is shared with (or not).
This activity may not be practically measurable per person when
you have many thousands of people. On the other hand you can measure the quantity
of documents and their file sizes, on the email system versus LC. What it comes
down is a known (or knowable) IT cost factor of $ per MB. IT departments could
show the cost savings directly due to reduced infrastructure use and resource
What it does change is user behavior. The first necessary
element is a tool that can automatically redirect where the document is stored
(a link to it on LC Files) rather than the email. The second part is
enforcement through the file size limit. You really need the redirector to work
smoothly so people do not see this as a burdensome task.
So in a direct way, you have a measurable outcome related to
hard $ amounts. This kind of alternative mechanism works easily for files, and
is still just a basic step in moving towards enterprise social computing. Slowly,
What I'd be additionally interested in is looking at the trends of how re-sharing occurs after such a switch. It's pretty common to see people re-forwarding a file to others but this allows a better alternative. In a limited sense, it can also improve security: if the user does not allow publicly share a document, it may be limited to only those they intend. Of course, there are always alternatives and other mailers but it's good manners to keep to their request.
When you consider how relationship development is at the heart of social computing and enterprise 2.0, it should be natural to consider the career and leadership development of your employees in this context. This opens up new areas of thought into what it means to influence and lead others through an entirely digital medium rather than when you have a face-to-face leader. Inmy Forbes article (on Apr 16), I describe it as digital eminence to differentiate from one's leadership activities and capabilities through non-virtual environments--often amusingly referred to as "in real life", IRL for short).
The best way that I have found to describe it is in terms of how do people understand, appreciate and recognize your expertise, knowledge and skills through online interactions. This could be anywhere online, even email and chat, but it becomes more visible in social computing environments. I also like to separate this idea from personal brand building. While conceptually you are actually bringing out how you are different and significant from other people--even perhaps Seth Godin's notion of a linchpin in your organization--brand building also harks of self-promotion and ego-stroking. Digital eminence emphasizes what others think of you and your abilities, which may or may not have anything to do with self-promotion.
A second danger is in trying to quantify what is essentially a qualitative assessment. We should be very careful in considering number of followers, friends in your network, or quantity of posts as an indication of one's digital eminence. When you consider eminence as how you stand out, essentially a comparison versus the aggregate group of others in the same field, it may be seen as a ranking. Similarly, such quantity metrics also reinforce this ranking and rating approach. That raises lots of ethical questions when you look at it per individual.
That aside, the real question is what are you doing about sharing your expertise and skills with others? By doing so, you are building your digital eminence.
A key takeaway from this report that I find quite revealing: it contradicts the common belief that all communities develop into a 90-9-1 rule (90% lurkers, 9% contributors, 1% authors). Per the report: “As the community management discipline matures, there is increasing understanding of where certain rules of thumb like this apply and where they do not.” I've once looked at the origins of this meme, and other than the Pareto principle, in online communities it dates back to specific posts in a Usenet newsgroup around the early 1990s. I need to find that link again. We now think of much more than just contributors and lurkers since there are many other ways to contribute as well which are not so obvious. That is a distinguishing mark that elevates the level of insight that this report brings above others.
What thrills me is that of the eight competency areas within, only on area focuses on tools. The majority of the focus lies in business principles: strategy, leadership, culture, policies, etc. The general media and blogosphere is always fascinated with new tools and toys but the real value is in understanding the almost unchanging business principles many of which are outlined in the list of competences. Each of the sections on these competencies specifically identifies lessons learned directly from the real life experience of members of The Community Roundtable.
I've talked before about the value that community managers bring to organizations, so I have to point out a specific section the role and issues of Community Management which can help current organizations understand the heavy demands of this role. Perhaps, with this insight, more organizations will take to heart that Community Management is not a part time, or a junior role in the organization. It takes a lot of people and relationship skills that develop with experience, and in doing so creates the same qualities we ask of our business leaders.
On the last two points that Davenport made in his book: to get commitment from a knowledge worker, it is important give freedom to experiment and work on ideas rather than to always dictate or direct them to work on specific things. Also, just as it is difficult to describe the job, it is also often hard to describe the knowledge output; for that matter, knowledge workers may not even seemto be in their best interest to share their knowledge.
The concern is that if you do not provide the correct supportive environment for your knowledge worker, they are quite likely to move to another organization that does (i.e., jump ship to a potential competitor who does offer the right environment).
This has direct relevance to a number of activities in IBM. For one, we now have Think Fridays. Basically, Fridays of every week should be freed up so that you have some peace of mind to consider, experiment, or talk about new ideas. Each person should apply that to their job as they see fit. I hear that 3M has something similar in that engineers should put aside 15% of their time to this kind of free-thinking.
For me, this tends to free up my regular weekday packed with phone calls with different groups, and sit back and think of the issues and changes to our project, or new ideas that have emerged. Others in our division use this time to experiment with new technology. C.J. and Peter on our team have even extended this to Think Friday-Build Saturday-Test Sunday, which I agree is certainly going beyond the call of duty, and very applaudable.
Now, consider Think Fridays on a different level across all IBMers. In particular, think of what people do in blogs and different community areas: discuss, digest, or produce new ideas. In fact, if youre an avid bloggers, you probably have Think-Mondays, Think-Tuesdays, etc., but in less than a full days time. Thus by blogging, as a knowledge worker, you are very likely and effectively using that free-thinking time.
So my advice to bloggers in IBM (and even beyond): Consider using a portion of your Friday to blog, because by blogging you are in effect implementing the spirit of Think Fridays.
Obviously, not all the ideas that you have are something you would want to discuss on a public blog. In that light, for IBMers we have an global intranet system called BlogCentral, which is a safe environment to discuss ideas with other IBMers. This quickly points to the necessity of having a blog system not just for an external audience but also one for a company-internal audience. Therefore, for knowledge workers within an organization, it is important to have an organization-wide blogging platform.
So for those looking for a business case for why you need a blogging system inside an organization, this is one good example. Blogs allow an expression of Think Fridays (or your organizations equivalent) which many companies think is an important aspect of encouraging, supporting and keeping happy their knowledge workers. I would generalize that to any number of other community tools, not just blogs.
[Please note: I will replace this post with the recording and file links. ]
A quick note, I’ll be presenting an “Intro to Enterprise 2.0”
to the Univ of Arizona MIS 527 graduate class on Enterprise Information Systems
today. Since folks have asked, I’ve decided to open the presentation to others.
If you are interested in listening, this will be available by telephone and/or
webcast at the following sites.
Topic: Introduction to Enterprise 2.0
Audience: Graduate students, general interest
Start: 12:30pm Pacific Time, 3:30pm ET , Wednesday 4/15/10
End:2pm PT/5pm ET
Note: You can either dial into the audio conference
call or listen to it over the web from the Web conference (in addition to the
slides). The web conference will ask you which one you’re using so it can mute
the audio if necessary.
Please do go on mute (on your phone or press *6) unless you
have a comment, question.
The gist is that current advertising model across the world (innovatedby John Wanmaker back in the 1870s) takes the approach of carpet-bombeveryone in a city with the ad, rather than what the Internet enables,pin-point targetting individuals who would be interested (rephrasingRishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer of Publicis, one of theworld's biggest advertising groups). It also talks about viralmarketing by word-of-mouth and attempts to measure this, as well asother possibly effective methods.
I read Jonathan Trenn's recent posts on the fallacy of community (and more on it) which seems to argue the concept of community but combine a number of different elements together: culture (mostly), governance, and structure. T
It seems we often argue about "what is community" quite frequently but the arguments are on different levels because they argue on different elements. Some arguments are on structure: Are blogs, delicious, wikis, yahoo/google answers, or discussion forums all communities even though they are structurally different? Some are on how people work in those communities and governance: only I run my blog, vs many people editing a wiki? It's not just a matter of access but rules of how people work together in those governance scenarios. The most difficult to differentiate is culture which comprises unique elements like ideology, social norms, acceptable behvaior, etc. for each instance. On a cultural level, is a blog where only one person talks but others can comment, still a community or just a following? Does it matter?
My previous post showing my list of different modesl for social experiences focuses just on the structural component. I have other models for governance (but not yet for culture). These look at the different ways social sites/experiences are structured from the owner's point of view. They can map to multiple types of social tools (e.g., a defined group can be a forum, chatroom, Q&A system, etc.) Some social tools can be used in multiple ways to map to different experience models (e.g., a wiki can be an Individual, Social network, Defined-Group or even a Community experience).
I added a social network as a separate model from the Individual expereince (since that last post). The definition here is the specific network connected directly to a single individual through bidirectional agreement (both shake hands to be friends), or by inbound agreement (people following you). For one it is certainly beyond the scope of a Personal experience. It isn't quite a group experience because each person's social network may be different. In the group models (defined group, community, mass collaboration) there isn't a definite "center of the universe" as there is in the Personal, Individual or Social network experience. There can be centers of mass around key influencers in those group models, even leaders but groups aren't necessarily only about a single individual. They can be (e.g., fans around a celebrity), but this is always the case.
Here's my table of different qualities of each model:
Who can join
Only the owner
Anyone in domain, or identified members
Identified members selected by owner
Identified members and/or Anyone in domain
Anyone in domain
Between user and site
Between the owner and any others
Between owner and specific others that connect to them
Between who members may bring to the group; tends to be exclusive
Between user and the community; tends to be inclusive
Between user and site
Loyalty to experience
Useful content in site
Benevolence or competence of owner
Strength of relationships
Strength of member relationships and output of group
Degree of affiliation with community
Useful output from active collaboration
Value to user
Value of content
Content value, the owner’s competence and benevolence
Experience, knowledge and access of network members
Benevolence of members and output of group
Cooperation of members on activities and useful output
Mass input or analysis of knowledge
Lifespan depends on
Availability of site
Each member relationship to the owner
Depends on continued perception of active participation
No limit, and independent of specific individuals
Depends on continued contribution by mass of individuals
Social output direction
Minimal output socially
Shared outward from owner
Shared to members in their network
Shared primarily between group members
Shared to community or open to domain
Open to anyone in domain
I think most of the qualities are self-explanatory. Relationship engagement focuses on the key type of relationship the social experience enables: to who or with what a visiting user becomes engaged. Loyalty here is a summary description of what causes a person to stay loyal to the experience.
I'm begining to think I need to switch places of Social Network and Individual; there's possibly a relative scale in there, although not necessarily in terms of size, but in terms of radiance from the person, or how well one knows all the members of the population in each experience. There's also an aesthetic separation of three individual-focused experiences on the left, and three group focused experiences on the right, but that's coincidental. After all more models may upset this in the future.
I learned the other day from a friend that taggers—the spray
paint kind, not the online variety—are often quite predictable. If you look at
a map of the locations where they tag, you’ll often found a common radial
pattern of increasing density of their tags. The closer to the center of that
circle is the general vicinity or even the very house that the tagger lives in.
Applying some social computing to the idea, I could see a
useful mass collaboration social experience, where the task is to allow anyone
to submit smartphone photos with GPS locations of where they see a tag. You can
then plot this on a geo-map and over time create a result of frequency of occurrence.
Social sites like Brightkite and Foursquare that let you share your location
prove that it’s quite possible to create such a map.
So, there’s a possible project that can apply to any location
really, with the help of any willing citizens. There are some practical issues:
identifying the actual tag signs from different taggers, collecting enough data
for useful information, and cooperating with the police to utilize this
information. However, these are not insurmountable and it would help the community
MIT Emeritus Professor, Edgar Schein's classic book on Organizational Culture and Leadership describeshow companies undergo differentiation at a cultural level in "mid-life"which has given views to some classic opinions of how IT folks viewculture versus how executives, sales and other folks (termed Operators)see it. This may seem a little dated in some ways but the core thoughtsstill pervade many companies (even us).
One classic argumentin this vein is the different views of "should information becontrolled" discussion which comes up so frequently in social computingand media.
I thought it might be interesting to see a third-viewin terms of how social computing aficionados view culture. Taking adirect copy from Schein's book (pg 275-277) are the first two columns,albeit sorted slightly. The third is my comparsion in terms of socialcomputing.
Please feel free to add your views.
Operator & Executive culture
Social Computing culture
Information can be packaged into bits and transmitted electronically
Information relevant to operations must include face-to-face human contact in order to be accurately understood.
People can relate to both information and other people through electronic means
More Information is always better than less.
The more quantifiable Information is the better.
Information must be extracted from raw data and will be meaningful only in particular context that is itself perpetually changing.
Meaning derives only from complex patterns.
More information is helpful but it should be interpreted through each individual’s view and understanding of context
Technology leads and people should adapt.
People can and should learn the language and methods of IT
Technology should adapt to people and be user friendly
Technology should follow how people behave, and adapt to their language and methods.
Technology should be assistive.
Management will give up hierarchy if IT provides better coordination mechanisms
Hierarchy is intrinsic to human systems and a necessary coordination mechanism
The costs associated with speed may not be worth it
We live in a fast-paced, highly interrelated, and mesh world where hierarchical access is not always the most effective way to distribute information.
Social computing can provide better ways for different ways to organize coordination, including hierarchical structure.
The more fully connected an organization is, the better it will perform
Too much connectivity produces information overload
Social computing can assist maintaining relationships and connectivity, and managing information sources
People will use information responsibly and appropriately
Control of information is a necessary management tool and the only way of maintaining power and status
Give people a chance to demonstrate responsibility.
Show them helpful methods but do not limit their behaviors
Paper can be replaced by electronically stored information
The ability to see and manipulate paper is intrinsic to many kinds of tasks
Mostly agree with IT culture
Information can be captured and frozen in time
Agree with IT culture
The more information you have the more you need
Software can help filter information to what you need.
My friend John--also known as Action Figure John but that's a different story--brought by the most expensive coffee I'd never heard of until then. This coffee is so hard to produce that I doubt Starbuck's or Peet's could ever list it on their boards.
Jamaican Blue Mountain, you say? Pshaw... that's middle class stuff... :)
Around $150 or more a pound for the roasted beans, this coffee has to be shipped directly from the plantation. It is the legendary Kopi Luwak... and here's where the snickering begins.
This exotic coffee from Indonesia can only be found on plantations in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. Not only do they have to grow a good bean but it requires the assistance of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, the Palm Civet (/snicker). This small mammal is common in many parts of South-East Asia and does the very important function of eating the raw red berries, digesting them, and then pooping them out! (/snicker /snicker) The enzymes from the digestive tract apparently help to break down some of the bitter proteins. The happily fed mammal then walks away to eat another day. Farmers collect the beans and give it a light roast, then vacuum pack it and ship it to coffee extremists worldwide. John ordered it from AnimalCoffee.com I believe.
I just had to try this out, even though I'm not a coffee drinker myself.
For our afternoon of watching the Tivo'd new season episode of Battlestar Galactica, John brought his pristinely packaged poo poo coffee, along with his shiny brass coffee pot and burner, which he uses to make Turkish/SE Mediterranean coffee (yes, the true gritty stuff).
John ground a handful of beans in his brand new matching brass hand-mill coffee grinder, since it gets smaller grains than an automatic mill. It takes about a good 5-10 minutes of grinding to get it that way though. Then with some fine drinking water for fewer impurities, boiled over a small alcohol stove, the coffee came out quite nicely.
He thinks we stillneed to refine how much coffee to water and how fine to grind it. Thegrit was not as fine as the Turkish coffee he usually drinks (about 2pots a day). But as you can see none of it went to waste, and people quite enjoyed it to the bottom. (/snicker)
The late great management guru, Peter Drucker, helped to innovate theidea that there is a whole economic class known as the Knowledge Workeronce said: "Nobody has really looked at productivity in white collarwork in a scientific way. But whenever we do look at it, it isgrotesquely unproductive." In other words, trying to define how tomeasure the productivity or performance of Knowledge workers (commonlycalled white collar workers), is an exercise in futility.
Davenport's bookpoints out that it is hard to create a common correlative measurementaround "knowledge workers" as a whole class. In fact, he describes thatthe typical way of dealing with knowledge workers is the HSPALTA approach: Hire smart people and leave them alone. Unfortunately, this doesn't really examine how to improve the system or help people improve themselves.
Maybe we will eventually discover some future magical formula thatmeasures this performance and how to improve it. In the past, inAgricultural societies, we had found ways to improve agriculturaloutput. Farmers from the dawn of time will tell you that "farming is anart", but the truth is that farming is also a science. Art issubjective, hard to measure, quantify and teach. Science is morestructured and actually can be taught (although not necessarily easily).During the Industrial Age, we achieved similar goals for manufacturingoutput. Now that we are in the Information Age, we are stumped, becauserather than a physical unit output, it is more of a mental qualitativeoutput, and that seems to us a very subjective element.
The good news is, as Davenport points out, there is at least one way to measurethe quality of knowledge. It's been done for centuries: the Peer Reviewprocess. It's most common in academia, whereby a group of your peersexamines your output and gives an analysis of what they think of it.It's how Masters and PhDs are still given out for the most part,worldwide.
I think that this is a good thing for us because that Peer Review process is atechnique that can be applied to unstructued knowledge on our site. Inits simplest form it is a Ratings systemwhereby anyone reading a piece of information on the site can vote 1through 5 on what they think of the article. It's entirely subjectivebut if you get a large number of ratings, it tends to average out whatpeople think of the information. This can apply to structured as wellas unstructured knowledge. This is the first level of a Ratings model.
That's a very basic notion. In fact, to be more useful, you may want tocollect all those ratings per a person's knowledge output and store itand those knowledge output items as part of their identity. Thus, youcan see what a person has contributed and produced and what peoplegenerally think of their output (their level of quality). This is amore evolved Rating system, generally referred to as a Reputation model.
Then, in turn, you could use a person's current rating as a weightingfactor to any rating they apply to others; i.e., normalize the value ofthe function of "my current rating" multipled by the rating value theyascribe. Thus when an industry luminary says you have a good idea, itweighs more towards the rating of that information, than when a novicerates it. Thus you have a weighted average of your Reputation based onwho actually rates your articles. This is a second evolution of Ratingsinto a weighted or a Ranked Reputation model.
How do you yourself become such an "industry luminary"? Essentially, alot of high-ranked people giving you good ratings implies that a lot ofknowledgable or influential people think that your output has a highlevel of quality. Thus, you would appear higher on the rankingshopefully amongst those lofty people who are the luminaries.
It has been an interesting time at the Social Networking Conference in San Fran this week. I ran into some great folks on many fronts including mobile social networks, social software in the Air Force, in GE, in GM, and much more. I did my presentation on how to help teams decide on the base level of social context that they may be interested in.
In quick step, this is what you consider instead of picking a tool right away. It is the vocabulary that you need to define the perspective that you want your social group to see as well as the rules on how the group should interact. The five social perspective models I highlighted are the:
Personal -- only seen by you, and arguably social at the very minimum
Individual -- how a person shares information with others in a shared environment
Defined Group -- how a group of people agree to collaborate in an environment solely for their own use
Community -- an open group where many people can come and go, but collaborate over time
Mass Collaboration -- an environment where each person works for their own goals, on an aggregate level may converge on one idea or another
I also covered several social governance models, on how people agree to work together, choose leaders, and make decisions:
Centralized - a single person or a few people who make all the decisions
Delegated - assigned areas spread across a core group who make all the decisions
Republic - an elected body of people who make the decisions as proxies for the rest of the population
Starfish - a group that agrees on common principles but handles decisions on a local basis
Swarm - decision-making across a mass population based on voting to determine ideas
In any case, here's the deck. [I moved my presentation to Slideshare; or see it on my space]. It is mostly visual, but there are some speaker notes included as well. I'd be interested in hearing more thoughts on this.
There are a number of events on online community management, social software and communications coming up this year. I'm glad to see the topic of community management is thriving even after decades of existence. These are the live meetings in the beginning half of the year or so; I left out the online events and webinars since they are quite numerous.
As part of a personal project, I've started learning JSPs and Servlets. My first thought was to go into Rational Software Architect and start modeling out what I had in mind. Without really looking into it I went into standard class modeling. Then downloaded Tomcat to start work on the actual JSPs, and which then led me to download Eclipse 3.2--I don't know why I didn't think of checking into how I could build JSPs with RSA, but I think it was to be able to get something that the students can use. This is a project for the students but I realized later through our Academic Initiative (when you sign up), they can get a copy of RSA for student development projects anyway; (or the 30-day eval off our site)
This probably sounds like a commercial but, to make it short, the Eclipse basic tooling to create JSPs in a Dynamic Web project is pretty simplistic; enough to get you an editor and get working. The visual modeling in RSA is just so much easier to use (supplemented by the text editor for the scripts) for planning and layout. The relevant HTML tags, JSP elements, and even JSF (which I haven't used yet) is there too. Now, I just need a whole lot of practice.
I'm reading Mark Buchanan's excellent book on Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks, and came across the concepts of egalitarian and autocratic patterns in social networks. Before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things about this book. To me it seems to focus on the mathematical origins of the theory of social networks, but takes a pleasant approach going through the history and background of how these ideas emerged. It also spans a wide range of disciplines in terms of where these patterns appear, from biology to watershed and geological studies.
First, it talks about Watts and Strogatz's truly innovative look that has eventually spread across the world as the meme: six degrees of separation. There's a lot more to it than the Kevin Bacon game, but I'd like to point out the particular elements here on egalitarian and autocratic networks. This is actually has little to do with policital systems like socialism versus monarchic or oligarchic communities. Instead if you look at it as a mathematical problem, what it describes is that there are often two varieties of patterns of connections in a system that emerge often.
The first is a basic heuristic that can be commonly seen in some biological systems like the brain: as a node (in a network system), you try to establish a fixed amount or ratio of connections to other nodes. The connections are not a random pattern, but neither is it based on a high degree of "purpose" or "intention". This proposes a very egalitarian and essentially a very simple rule to help build more complex systems as the overall network grows and evolves.
The other is the autocratic pattern, where the heuristic is to start with one node and grow from there. Essentially the key node itself starts growing in size or strength, while its immediate connections grows with it, and scaling down until you reach the end or leaf nodes which have only one connection to someone else. This easiest example is in terms of well known sites or articles on the Net that get linked from many sites, and in a very simplified description, the basis of the algorithm that Google's engine uses.
If you look at one example of each of these networks from a high level, the egalitarian network seems to be completely chaotic with no easily discernable pattern you can tell visually. On the other hand, the autocratic network looks strangely like one of those classic fractal diagrams. Yet, both serve different purposes and have different uses. You might almost say that they are the yin and yang that exist pervasively throughout the world. Okay, maybe that's too metaphysical for a Friday :)
There are several different ways of looking at what to measure and how to measure benefit or value in social software systems.
First, who receives the benefit from the system, and how do you measure their benefit:
the individual view - the question: "How do I as an individual benefit from the social systems and networks I am involved in?"
the comparable individual view - If I can measure how each person benefits, can we compare that benefit between the persons? This isn't always so, because the value to an individual may be specific to themselves, and not quantifiable in a universal manner
the organizational view - How does the organization benefit from social software (at different levels of social system, teams, departments, units, etc.)? Is this organizational view a composite of the comparable individual view or is it different?
the comparable organizational view - Just like the individual view, there may be a comparable organizational view as well. These again rely on establishing a comparable basis of measurement of one organization versus another.
Then there is a difference between the value of the social network as a structure, versus the content in that network:
the structural view - How do you measure value of the structure of contacts, parterships, collaborations, connections, networks, and other connectivity-based views of the social systems you are involved in?
the content or knowledge view - How do you measure the value of knowledge or content from that network? Can they be packaged as assets specifically?
Aside from the value of structure or content as different forms of assets, how do you measure goal-achievement from the network.
These are just my own ruminations. I believe that there are some ways to develop or gather metrics of some of these, but it may be a while before we can agree on how to measure all aspects of these. Before thinking about how to formalize this, you should take a look at these ideas of how to carefully define a measurement process by Peter Andrews, part of the Senior Consulting Faculty for the IBM Executive Business Institute. These are the brainiacs that think about the "thing behind the thing" (to paraphrase the classic statement from many a mobster movie): how to define or measure abstract concepts like innovation, strategy and more.
One of the more anticipated massively multiplayer online games coming up later this year (and anticipated all last year) is the Age of Conan. Aside from the game's theme and storyline, one of the interesting aspects here is the ability to create a virtual army of folks numbering in the hundreds.
This isn't a new idea per se. There have been MMOGs that allow for team efforts all the way back to the days of text-based MUDs, but the 3D worlds of today make it increasingly more complex with the addition of many types of tools, weapons, etc. What AoC also allows are full scale sieges of town and cities by an army. This kind of planning takes a whole new level of thinking.
The base level ideas focus on organizing a team of folks to achieve some stated goal. In most cases these days, this is something a guild will undertake with its members; however, it doesn't need to be a pre-organized/preset community, and many such quest efforts can take on an ad hoc group.
The next stage beyond just gathering folks is understanding the roles and skills of the members. Often there is a leader who has experience in the matter on what skills are necessary and where to place people (in the environment).
Usually this is event-based, that is, focused during a specific amount of time (rather than a long-term activity). So another step is to make sure the key folk needed arrive at the meeting point, along with their tools. If they don't the leader(s) need to readjust the assignments and formations.
During the execution of the quest, there may be preamble actions to take before they get into the mix of it; in MMOGs, this could be casting spells, donning specific armor, etc. Then there may also be real-world things to set up: a comfortable seat for long activities, water/super-caffeinated products, going to the restroom, quiet environment, etc.
As they enter the melee, the direction becomes even harder since there is so much going on. Modern MMOGs allow special heads-up displays showing status information, communications channels, and more, with different HUDs possible for different roles. It's not just keeping up with the action in the melee itself, but also keeping an eye on the HUDs to make sure you are in sync.
The activity can rage on for hours, and the stress impacts everyone. Everything from friendly fire, kill steals, random shots, hard choices, and more. The commitment here is not just in terms of mental stress and duress, but also in terms of ability to keep focus and in sync with the overall plan. In other words, the moment to moment stressful and dangerous action makes it feel real to many. The high level of risk is what helps to develop the level of commitment amongst players to the game, and to each other.
The aftermath or outcome also has consequences. As a fried said, most guilds fall apart because of arguments when dividing the winnings/loot. Everyone has sacrifices per their character, and many are emotionally connected to their character on a deep level. A catastrophic loss of equipment or the character takes it toll as a long-term effect; I would daresay on a level proportional to how long the person has been involved.
In a real-world military system, leaders assume that teamwork is a given. They never had to face the idea of a "democratically-organized" army as in an MMOG. That is a much harder proposal in terms of setting up teamwork.
The sudden charge of Apple stock over the past two days due to rumor--yes, it's definitely rumor not fact--about the coming of a iPhone Nano, so soon after the recent iPhone launch is a quick study in swarm intelligence. As the Business2 blog indicates, this is an example of rumor going wild and spreading quickly.
Swarm intelligence, if you haven't heard of it, describes how very simple behaviors can amount to "smart" decision-making through the work of a swarm of individuals. This theory started originally in the study of how swarms of insects, birds, fish and other animals seem to make intelligent decisions with relatively simple brains. For example, how a school of fish know to move rapidly away in a direction of a predator seemingly all at once, or how ants know when it is time to rebuild their nest or send our foraging parties. Each creature is programmed with a few very basic rules of how to function: e.g. if one or more of my neighbors is suddenly turning and moving rapidly in a new direction, I should be too. They count on individual actions, and the propagation of reaction through the swarm.
Swarm intelligence is a form of collective intelligence, but when it hits humans, the complexity grows because of our seemingly greater decision making abilities. Collective intelligence is part of the spark of interest in the social networking side of Web 2.0. Swarm behavior exists in humans at a basic level, but we call it by a variety of other things like herd-instinct, mob behavior, market trends, crowd movement, flow, etc. There is a lot we can learn from this in SN: how folksonomies grow and change, how decision making happens in online groups, what causes idea propagation, etc.
In the iPhone Nano case, I can see several basic elements: recent excited activity, seed idea, association with recent activity, trusted parties doing research, publishing/syndication, amplification, individual and market reaction.
recent excited activity - Apple released its iPhone, one of the biggest 1st day successes in history, to an eager world
seed idea - several Apple blogs picked up on an Apple patent for a new use of their touchwheel to dial numbers
association with recent excitement - the idea could theoretically apply to the iPhone
trusted parties - Kevin Chang, an analyst in JP Morgan (a well known and trusted investment institution) came across this information
publishing/syndication - both the blogs and JP Morgan published or posted on this, and the trusted party information got syndicated to news organizations
amplification - news organizations everywhere jumped on this
individual reaction - individual investors saw this as good news for Apple in the longer term and started buying stock
market reaction - the individuals and institutions all around eventually pushed the Apple stock to new heights
This isn't all that different than one or two herring thinking they saw a shape seemingly like a predator salmon nearby and started shooting off, and the reaction propagating through the whole school. And we call schools of fish jittery. :)
This trend is well known by successful spindoctors and public relations organizations, and there is a whole industry of job roles behind it. Again, it sounds Machiavellian and controlling, but it really is how information flows.
In terms of social networks, we need greater understanding of what actually works in an online social environment, which is a different setting and may have different behaviors than live groups of folks.
According to a recent New York Times article, Tim Berners-Lee is partnering with MIT and the Univ of Southampton (UK) to launch their Web Science Research Initiative. I don't have much more information than that but it sounds like a graduate level research space into a more modern version of social networking analysis. The key people are Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall (head of School of Electronics and CS at U of Southampton), Nigel Shadbot (prof of AI, Univ of Southampton), and Daniel Weitzner (principal research scientist at MIT).
Commenting on the new initiative, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of theWorld Wide Web and a founding director of WSRI, said, "As the webcelebrates its first decade of widespread use, we still knowsurprisingly little about how it evolved, and we have only scratchedthe surface of what could be realized with deeper scientificinvestigation into its design, operation and impact on society.
"The Web Science Research Initiative will allow researchers to take theweb seriously as an object of scientific inquiry, with the goal ofhelping to foster the web's growth and fulfill its great potential as apowerful tool for humanity."
I'm pretty sure the web is already an object of serious scientific and even commercial inquiry, but more effort is always a good thing. In comparison, our undergraduate UAMIS class seems much less conceptual. I'm sure those ideas will eventually trickle down to us too. Social network analysis is a complex enough task, and not a simple topic; i.e., it'd need a full-blown semester to teach.
I picked up my copy of The Starfish and the Spider again to look back at how they describe their approach to building a community. The book advocates a new view of decentralized and non-hierarchical organizations, systems, even software. The two creates refer to the hierachical organism (Spider) that can survive loosing some parts of its body but after a point dies, as compared against the distributed organism (Starfish) which even when cut into pieces, essentially break up into multiple separate and surving organisms.
The reference is directly apt to communities, and in this light relevant to our Spaces model. Essentially, it is a way of how a community can organize itself. Per the book, there are five elements that help to make such a system successful: circles, a pre-existing network, ideology, catalysts, and champions.
In our view, a Space is a virtual implementation of having a circle of people that allows them to interact in any number of ways their own circle see fit. This is the home room for the virtual membership to gather together, interact or share information.
The pre-existing network comes from the large membership--6 million the last I checked--that already exists in developerWorks. However, that's not the only place. We also expect to draw folks from other areas of the Internet, which is why syndicating information from your space is so important. While circles can survive losses of members, they still need some minimum level of participation to sustain the existence of the system; otherwise, rather than subdividing, your membership simply dissipates. This is why for the long-term it is important to try to recruit new members. Of course, that still depends upon the intentions of the circle itself; they may decide that the circle only needs to exist for a short-term. In our model, the syndication not only helps to share information, but also acts a way to potentially draw more members based on their interest. The potential candidates can judge for themselves if they like the output of the circle.
However, raw information from the circle is not enough to bind people together. This is why ideology is of value. Call it what you like: mission statements, guidelines, values, tattoos, etc. They represent the ideas that the circle hold of importance; their view in relation to the information. Such ideology is not always necessarily complex, or spelled out; they may even be too subtle to ascertain from the regular ruminations of those on the roster. A better organized group works to make sure that their ideology is made apparent. To help shape that ideology, you need catalysts and champions who help raise and direct the circle.
dW Spaces can help shape the circle and tap pre-existing networks. It can even help the circle describe and post their ideology. However, this is where the software meets the wetware. This is where the brains of the catalysts and champions play key roles. In other words, software alone is not to build communities. It helps to to facilitate them, but you still need the people working to bring it together.
Our view in developerWorks is to try to help these communities start and grow, and collect the ideas of what works well in different situations, to feed back into other communities. That's a long-term process as well. Even though, the staff at dW may not be directly be the catalysts and champions, we try to help new them by acting as a common resource to collect and distribute that knowledge. In big companies, that is often referred to as a center of excellence. While we don't call ourselves that, perhaps that is the role we fill.
In my earlier view, I only identified two stages: social networks, and communities. The former describes a loose network of people who generally keep in touch with each other for a common purpose, whether purely social or for business purposes. The people within the network usually know the others, and have some degree of strong ties with each other, but they don't really define themselves in detail as a group, have well-defined goals or ideology. This contrasts against the next level of networks, the community, which do have a common identity and purpose, and where the network of people generally work together for the direction of the community. Beyond the community is the organization, a very strongly oriented group of people, often with defined objectives, budgets and even some level of hierarchy as to how they should work together.
Somewhere in between the social network and the community are other social models. What Howard Rheingold keeps describing as "smart mobs", a loose social network of folks who gather on an "instant" basis for a specific purpose. This is slightly different than the pure social network since folks in a smart mob have a (vaguely) defined purpose: anyone who is interested in X, let's meet up to do something. Other descriptions for this are often used in events as Birds-of-Feather (BOF) sessions, and Meetups. Unlike the more personal connection of a pure social network, the members do not necessarily know each other from prior contact and simply have a common interest. This can also be a transitional idea; one the meetup is over, the members disperse taking the knowledge gained from the event. Sometimes, they do keep in contact and evolve into a longer running community of interest, where membes return to keep working on that interest.
Another model that is described aptly in The Starfish and the Spider (see my book list). Groups like the Apaches of North America (circa 1800s); Alcoholics Anonymous, a peer-group organization, etc. These have some of the characteristics of a social network in that each group is fairly independent with no overall leader. However, they also go the next step along where there is an organizing principle or ideology, and there are local leaders on a decentralized basis. I call this as something different--some will say I'm just splitting hairs--because the overall larger picture of the group is never centrally coordinated. For that matter, something like this is hard to converge into a realistic distributed model, unless there is a strong need for and common belief amongst the members that the goals and purpose are what they share. Otherwise, it tends to be a localized organized that never grows beyond it's domain.
On the other end, the centralized community, seems like a good idea to try out at the beginning but over time this can grow into an inherent bureaucracy instilled in trying to centralize activities. It has some advantages in that there is less tendency to deviate from the mission of the community across the distributed organization. The Starfish model on the other hand has resilience, but truly works on a decentralized basis if the core goals and beliefs are truly of common interest on a distributed scale, and has been tested over time. Otherwise, it can break down into separate factions as each group goes its own way.
The key to group involvement in any of these types of people networks is still strong leadership and influencers. There are good practices and models for each level that can help people work faster or better, but the idea still depends on a having an interest in being a leader and keeping that interest and momentum going over time. I'm surprised by how many folks keep imagining that they can instantly grow a network from complete zero to success in a very short time. Such situations are pretty rare, and usually, new ideas that work in this vein really leverage existing relationships, population moods or past history to get there, rather than truly working from zero.
It's interesting to see the evolution of reward mechanisms in MMORPGs. In multiplayer situations, it is often difficult to tell who completes a task when there are a number of steps involved. For example, in a raid on WoW against a single monster, who gets recognition for the kill when it takes 40-80 people working as a team to kill that beast? It's defined now in WoW but this same problem existed all the way back to the days of text MUDs.
In the first generation, essentially there was no thought involved in this. Whoever made the killing blow got the points for the kill. Very primitive and the cause of many an argument. The next few improvements--it came in several different ways--was to add a list on the create being attacked where it kept track of who the attackers were and distribute the points based on how many points of damage each person made on the creature, so the distribution of experience points for the kill was more even. WoW provides a newer version of this whereby each person engaged in the raid gets dollars per kill, which once the creature was dead, they could spend to buy the reward items.
However, this still raises a problem when there are items that several people want to share from the common pool of rewards. In the people-administrative way, the guild--there's usually a guild involved--makes a decision on who gets what. This is where it breaks down again: what happens when there is an item so unique that the top contendors or leaders will argue for it. As my friend Eric described, that is the death knell of many a guild.
If you think this is a situation limited to MMORPGs and games, you're mistaken. This same situation exists when you have a community that is working for a shared goal, and there is some reward that needs to be distributed across the membership. In team scenarios in corporate environment, that is not very different than negotiations for annual bonuses. The differentiating factor is that in MMORPGs as in other communities, the group of people are not part of a single formal organization with defined managers and advocates. Instead it is up to each person to argue their own case. In other words, it is even more difficult in communities.
I don't have any answer here, but it is important to recognize that the situations are similar here, and compare what methods of distribution or approaches people take.