Connect with Us:


Enterprise 2.0: The State of an Art

Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing at Awareness (ML): Andrew can you hear me okay?

Andrew McAfee (AM): Yup.

ML: Just making sure we could hear you too. Hi everyone, we would really like to welcome you all to Enterprise 2.0: State of an Art and we are really excited to have Andrew McAfee with us this afternoon. Before I go ahead and introduce him now I would like to give you a little background on logistics for our presentation today. First, if you have any questions to ask, and we encourage you to ask as many questions as you like throughout the entire session, you can do it two ways. The first is that you can click that little Q&A button in the lower right hand corner of the WebEx--actually Ted and I were having a great chat about the Chariots of Fire hold music which is absolutely awesome and I hope everybody liked it--but you can use that to ask questions to Andrew throughout the session. We will come back in at the end to have a Q&A after Andrew’s presentation is done. You can also join the conversation on Twitter. So you can jump on Twitter and flag any of the things about today’s session using the hashtag "#awarenessinc". And we will be monitoring those throughout the webinar as well and those will be some questions that we will ask Andrew towards the end too. So feel free to chat and communicate with us in any way you possibly can and we would love to hear from you. Second, if you have any technical issues at all throughout the session, inside the WebEx if you look at the navigation at the upper left hand corner on the far right, there is a button that says "Help". Feel free to click on that to get in touch with WebEx and you can also chat with a couple of WebEx producers online who can help you as well. So if you have any issues from technical perspective, you can actually chat with them on the right hand side and you can just use that as well. So feel free to use any of those ways for any technical difficulties whatsoever. For those of you haven’t joined us for any of our webinars in the past, one of the questions for a while we were getting at the end of the sessions were these really great "Who is that company Awareness?" questions. Some people actually thought we were a webinar-producing company which is really far from the truth. So in the beginning we would just like to let you know what we are about. For a while, Awareness has been a leader in the social marketing software space. You may have heard a bunch about our over 200 communities for some of the largest brands and you can see the logos at the bottom left hand corner there. I am not going to go through each one but we have a lot of experience working with large organizations in social media marketing. We have always been laser-focused on the needs of the marketers, and in fact since the beginning we have ended up partnering with a lot of different marketing agencies. Some of them you probably know and some of them are kind of smaller, boutique agencies and we help them power their customers. Up and until about 9 months ago or so, the core of Awareness' business was powering the online community. In fact, we would always tell you our philosophy is that an organization should keep a community as the center of their social strategy and what we have found is, and what a lot of our customers are telling us, is that sometimes they really want to use the broader social web tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, whatever it is to get their message out there so that they can interact with the fans that they have on those pages. In fact, one of our customers put very specifically that he really wanted to "fish where the fish are" and what it allowed us to do is to develop the Social Marketing Hub which we have just announced to the general public last week. We are really excited about it and about a bunch of customers using it. To give you a sense of what this new platform does, we really started from the beginning. If you think about it, a lot of the time, the organizations were using the tools on the left hand side of the graph here,--

SLIDE: Speakers

ML: --you know things like Facebook and Twitter, blogs and communities to interact with their audience and because there is so much stuff going on. Sorry about that Andrew. Just got messed up for a second and I am taking the presenter ball back.

Slide: Social Marketing Graph

ML: Well we are here. What you got down here is that organizations spend a lot of time and lot of resources trying to figure out those mediums and unfortunately, it really didn’t lead them to what my colleague thought as the North Star, which is the ability to measure, mine, and act on and across all these different social channels that we're using.

Slide: Social Marketing in the Enterprise

ML: To kind of put light on what really our application does, if you think about a large enterprise, and this is why Andrew’s topic today hits so close to home for a lot of our customers and prospects because when we think about a large enterprise everything is based on and especially in a social circle. In fact, if you take an example of the product marketing manager who is pitching a new product, and maybe she creates a video for it, plus she might take that video promoting the product and upload it on to some corporate communities that she has, and then take it out and push it out to some consumer facing communities that she can sell to, which are, let’s say, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Most of the time what she has to do is rely on other departments like corporate marketing or other product marketing managers and say “Hey, can you put this video up on those channels that you control." Unfortunately what ends up happening is 1) you really never know whether it got uploaded at the right time and with the right messaging, and 2) it is very difficult to report on. We are relying on other people to write back and give us the stats and the background on everything that is happening. It is really difficult to report on and what is challenging is that there are very few channels. There are only Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that is not even accounting for some of the broader social media networks that the company may be participating in it. So what the Hub allows you to do is take that same content and upload it through the Awareness Social Marketing Hub and publish it up to all channels at once, and aggregate all the content. So again a lot is published, managed, and measured. Everything is going on and the benefits to the organizations are they have a lot of control of the social programs that you are running, it allows you to centralize everything is going on, and you can evolve from tactical to strategic because if things aren’t centralized, how can you be really strategic about the social media program that you are running? It allows you to measure success because it brings statistics from across the board and centralizes everything in one place.

Slide: The Next Step

ML: So that is the new product which we call the Social Marketing Hub. It is a great tool. We already have great enterprises that are running it today for their social media marketing program. If you are interested in learning more about it or if you have questions about it at all, please feel free to get in touch with me directly. My name is Mike Lewis at mike.lewis@awarenessnetworks.com. I am a href=" http://twitter.com/bostonmiketarget="_blank">@bostonmike on Twitter. So feel free to tweet me or e-mail me and I will be sure to get back and answer any questions that you have. With that I promise everybody online only 5 minutes of the only sales pitch that you are going to get from here on out. We will be hearing from Andrew McAfee and we are really excited. Well I am really excited personally, because I read your book a few years ago actually, and believe it or not, for those online if you don’t know or you may know it already, but Andrew actually coined the term Enterprise 2.0 back in 2006. He is a research scientist at Center for Digital Business right here at the MIT Sloan School of Management right here in Cambridge, which is right across the road from where I used to live. It is a really cool school if you haven’t heard of it. He has a great blog, andrewmcafee.org, and we are really excited to have you online Andrew. We appreciate your time and thanks for joining us today.

AM: Thank you for having me here, thank you Awareness and thank you Mike for the introduction. What I want to do is talk to you a few minutes about where I think we are with this phenomena of Enterprise 2.0 and in particular, contrast what I would consider to be an Enterprise 1.0 organization which is about its knowledge, working kind of the old school way that we are all fairly used to, contrast that to a kind of unicorn, a fully fledged enterprise 2.0 organization. I call it a unicorn because it really doesn’t exist yet, but some organizations are trying hard to get there and I wanted to draw a picture of what that world of knowledge would have looked like in the 1.0 version organization versus the 2.0. But to do that I wanted to try and present evidence that there is some kind of tipping point here and I want to show you a bunch of screen shots from various quarters making the point that this stuff appears to be edging from the early adopter phase into mainstream reality for enterprise. So Gartner predicts that in enterprise reality we see a lot of vendors with their community product and collaboration and social products doing pretty well. Microsoft and IBM, even the big old enterprise vendors like SAT, Salesforce is really getting into the act, and Google Wave has been pitching at least partly for the enterprise. CWC says we are seeing the maturing of the business discipline for all kind of business purposes. The Economist has done a survey on this, and for the past three years, McKinsey has been running an Enterprise 2.0 service for their client worldwide large enterprises and asking them what they are doing with 2.0 and in particular also what kind of benefits they are receiving. I find this slide very…

SLIDE: McKinsey Global Survey

AM: That was not coming through. Alright it is blank on my screen, but what I am trying to show is a much of benefits that the McKinsey survey revealed for Enterprise 2.0. They had to do with things like increasing rates of innovations, level of satisfaction by both customers and employees, and ease of access to expertise and knowledge inside the company. In particular, the benefits that the people were reporting were actually pretty large. People reported anything from 20 to 35% improvements in these areas. We needed to take that data with a bit of a grain of salt because it is self-reported, it is subjective, it has not been verified by anybody, and they are probably asking internal evangelists in all these cases but even if we back off a little bit from the numbers reported there, they are still pretty impressive. I honestly struggle to come up with other kinds of corporate initiative that could lead to something like 20% to 35% improvement in these kinds of areas in any reasonable time frame, no matter how much money you throw at the problem. So we are triangulating on some evidence that this is not only happening, but it is kind of a big deal. The companies that are doing it are realizing that there are fairly important benefits from it. So all of that gives me some confidence that we actually are at the tipping point. But kind of an interesting question to consider is, Why now?

Slide: The problem.

AM:What changed? The problem is actually long standing. It is crystallized beautifully. If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as productive. In other words, in any big organization there is this map of expertise, there's knowledge and key talent and a willingness to be helpful to each other, but we have real trouble tapping into it adequately. Platt says we'd be three times more productive and I would imagine he would extend that to say that we also would be a lot more agile, responsive, innovative, and productive. You know a bunch of business benefits would come along with being able to tap into all that knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm that is out there in the company. So the problem in a longstanding one and the interesting thing to me is that we might be at a real point where a real solution is at hand and the point that I want to try to make today is that the tool kit available to help with the challenge that Platt identified just in the past 5 years or so has gone from a lousy, like very thin and fairly ineffective tool to a very good one. Smart organizations and communities are building business practices and changing their philosophies to take advantage of these new tools. So when I think about the 2.0 era, I think about a combination of technology change and then business practices and even a philosophy change on top of that. This puts us in a better place because the tools and practices and philosophies are a big leap forward over their 1.0 era counterpart.

Slide: Search.

AM: In order to make that case a little bit more concrete, I want to highlight two of the classic tasks of some stereotypical knowledge worker. She is going through her day, and she runs into something that she needs help with, and she reaches a block of some kind. I just want to say that there are two main modes for her to help herself out. One is by searching around digital content, just searching through the archives of the enterprise that the enterprise already knows and in 1.0 world do this via looking around a fairly static intranet, there's probably some flavor of a content management system or document depository out there and maybe in a few cases there are still some old fashioned knowledge management system hanging around, although those things were pretty thin by the time we got to the middle of this past decade. Now if she is not going to search the other main motive of informing herself is literally by asking, and in 1.0 era. asking was largely a face-to-face process or telephone process. You go around, bang on cubicles, and try to ask people to help you out. You specifically did that with people you knew fairly well. You would ask your close colleagues and people near you to help you out. If you use any technology you will probably use email for that but if we were all in the same room and I would ask for a show of hand of how many people sent out emails to everyone on their contact list every time they had a problem. It is just not the way the technology evolved and how the use pattern evolved. We typically only emailed or called up or went to bug in person our the strong ties. People who were close colleagues and all that. Now in a few organizations as well they would try and stand up in digital environment and we call them communities of practice, where for example all of the copy repair technicians in Xerox could share their knowledge and talk to each other about what they receive and what they were learning. So even back in 1.0 era there were these digital tool processes of asking your colleague to get you out of a tough situation but they were kind of limited, we typically call them communities of practice. I want to highlight some of the problems with those and with the other things that we see on this page having to do with both searching and asking. For example, most of the organization in 1.0 era had a fairly large intranet which was basically static over time. I just want to put up a great quote from a guy named Euan Semple who was the knowledge manager at the BBC who did a beautiful job of highlighting the problem with searching around the static intranet.

Slide: Quote

AM: He would say the managers of the organization used to come to me and say, "Look, enterprise search is basically is worthless or pointless. I cannot find what I am looking for." And he said that it was such a problem that they came to the conclusion to walk away from their old view of search out here. He went further to say that BBC, like a lot of organizations, has some kind of content management system but he, in a beautiful quote, referred to them as knowledge coffin and they were just these big repositories that were pretty static documents. They were actually pretty hard to search because someone had decided in advance what the cataloging system of those documents was going to be and if that didn’t match up with how you were thinking about the content of the documents, you as the user or searcher are out of luck and very often we did have that mismatch between how the designers of the content management system thought it was going to be useful and how the user actually wants it. So the structure was actually decided by somebody else and you had to get yourself in their mind to profit from it and that often didn’t work too well. To me, the money quote here is that once you manage to solve all those problems and actually find the document that you were looking for, you actually find that it's poorly written, barely relevant and out of date. So this idea of a knowledge coffin is a very powerful image.

Slide: Quote.

AM: It seems to sum up a lot of the problems in the old content management system. There were also knowledge management systems around in a few places and I want to put up another quote. This is from Ward Cunningham. He is the guy who invented Wiki technology. He was actually talking about project management software but what he said applied to knowledge management systems too. He makes an interesting point. He said that we could design a system to capture anything about the project, anything about knowledge, but what turns out to be important over the life of an enterprise is never the stuff we thought was going to be important in advance. So the field within the project management or knowledge management database turned out to be kind largely irrelevant and the stuff that we really cared about was far away from initial design. The problem with those older and more inflexible systems within a static structure is that you couldn’t morph the design to match what people actually wanted, and in particular you couldn’t let the people themselves be in charge of that morphing or that migration over time. So, we are in this fairly static, fairly rigid, fairly hierarchical world where we are expecting people to search through and it wasn’t working out that well for most of us over and over again. So what we wound up doing in the 1.0 era, after we did the searching was beat our heads against that wall and started going around and asking people. Asking our colleagues and our close ties primarily. We had a couple of technologies to help us with that. We would use emails which very often didn’t work out that well because you had to know in advance who you were going to ask the questions. We had communities to go to as well and they were really useful in lot of cases. The main problem was again, you knew who was in the community and therefore who was outside the community. There is an assumption based in there that the people outside the community don’t have anything valuable to add to any of the members inside the community and typically the way these communities’ practices were set up were so that outsiders couldn’t look in, couldn’t contribute, couldn’t link in to the content, and certainly couldn’t add to the construction there. So we built a bunch of walled gardens inside the enterprise. We asked community to interact within those walled gardens but we didn’t really build pathways or bridges among all those different gardens. We had this mutually different and inaccessible pool of content out there. Inside each of them there might have been decent activity but if you believe in the Metcalf law where the power of network is proportional to the square of number of users, that leads you to a different path. It leads you down a path of not building small walled gardens of communities of practice, it leads you to tear down all those walls and build the biggest and integrated environment that you can which will take full advantage of Metcalf law. With that very quick preamble, I want to contrast that to what happened in what I would call a full-fledged Enterprise 2.0 organization. Again there is a little bit of a blue sky and these things don’t exist yet, and we are in the middle of what we hope is a fairly serious period of transition, but it is going to be a fairly long transition as well. Let us assume that we are already there and look into the crystal ball at what these activities searching and asking look like in a full-fledged Enterprise 2.0 organization. The first thing that I want to point out is that we can use a lot of the same tools for both searching and asking.

Slide: Enterprise 2.0: Searching and Asking.

AM: In other words we've set up someone to be in charge of the blog or Facebook or Twitter and all these other tools out there, but we have got some equivalent and integrated equivalent set up inside the enterprise as well. Then the question is, "Why does this work better?" And with blogs and micro blogs there are couple of important things. The blog pioneer, Dave Weiner, has a great quote. He says that the purpose of a blog is to narrate your work and in other words just talk about what you are doing. That sounds a little bit silly or little bit narcissistic, but it is actually not because if you are doing it over time, and if the content sticks around, and if we all are linking each other’s blogs and pointing each other to the good stuff, then we can take advantage of exactly the same kind of search power and serendipity that we get on the big public broad web with search engines like Google, which takes advantage of that link structure that highlights the content and to make sure that cream rises on the top no matter how any of us defines the cream. If we are all chunking contents into the Enterprise 2.0 environment and linking to the good content that we see elsewhere, we can tap into that exact same energy. There was a quote from the first era of the Internet. A pretty sharp observer said that the Internet is the world’s largest library but the problem is that all the books are on the floor. That might have been true in the web 1.0 era, but the instant Google came along and realized that the web actually has a fantastic card catalog and has got a great indexing system and is one that forms itself on how people are linking each others' pages, then we find ourselves in a very different light and we realize that the quote is really vivid and actually dead flat wrong. There is a beautiful structure to the Internet. In addition, it has this geophysic-dome kind of property where as it gets bigger, it gets better and gets more powerful. Even in the era of web 2.0 where there is explosion in the amount of content out there on the web, we can still find what we are looking for. The technology tools that help us find good content are fantastic in getting better all the time. With the full-fledged Enterprise 2.0 organization we are following exactly the same philosophy: we are throwing open the doors to generate more content. We are not worrying a lot in advance about what makes good content and what makes bad content. We are trusting people a lot more than we used to and we are building technology that lets the good stuff emerge over time and lets the cream rise to the top. We are trying to take all that the energy and the enthusiasm and the great technology that we see out there on the web and harness them in exactly parallel ways inside the enterprise. Blogs and micro blogs are a pretty big part of that, as is social networking software where all we are doing is asking people to talk about themselves and connect with each other, list what they are doing, and what they are good at, form networks, not a strong tie not with people that we know very well but networks of actually weak tie. People we don’t know that well or we don’t have that professional acquaintanceship with can still be very valuable to us. The other main point here is that we are using a lot of the same technology not just for searching but for asking as well.

Slide: Quote


Again I want to go back to the great quote from Euan at the BBC who said that Internet search was not working very well at all. So they stood up a very simple environment where people could just ask each other questions made available throughout the entire BBC and Euan had a great insight. He said, "I learnt what people wanted, which was maybe not to connect with the documents, but rather to connect with another human being out there even if that human being just points them to a document." It was that brain-to-brain connection that turned out to be very powerful and very popular and what we learnt over and over is kind of an optimistic conclusion that people wanted to be helpful to each other. And when they started opening up these forums, when people would ask a question, they usually got back multiple answers quickly from people who were trying to be helpful to each other. We are basically hardwired to be an altruistic species; if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here anymore. So we want to be helpful to each other, and one of the neat things that technology can do is lower the barriers to altruism so that you can be helpful to a wider variety of people or greater number of people and you can do it without having to go as far out of your way as having to pick up the phone and deal with a phone call or as having to go to a conference or a seminar. Just in the course of your workday you can take a little time out from your normal work, be helpful to someone else in the organization and then go back to your job. So that adds up overtime. I want to give you a concrete example of that, but that can be a very powerful thing to activate in an organization.


Slide: Navigation Fades

AM: Before I go into a couple of concrete examples, I want to give a couple of conclusions to what happens in an Enterprise 2.0 organization as opposed to the old fashioned Enterprise 1.0, in which a lot of us are still doing our work these days. The first conclusion is that navigating through the menu and navigation tree and a lot of the structure that we built into our 1.0 environment, that mode of binding stuff fades away. Google had a great mantra awhile back: search is a dominant navigation paradigm. We go through content by typing in a few words into an empty textbox and expect to get back what we are looking for. Google has accustomed us to actually finding what we are looking for even though we do those very simple kind of searches, and that is the dominant navigation paradigm and the old ones are kind of fading away. In the Enterprise 2.0 environment, content becomes a lot more common and I mean common in two ways. First of all, it is available to all the eyeballs in the enterprise as opposed to just chopped up in little walled gardens. And second of all, it is common across all the different technologies that we are using. So just like how searches on the web will return to you stuff from Wikipedia and Twitter and Facebook, in a lot of cases, so to will an Enterprise 2.0 environment returns back the best of content regardless of the home of that content anywhere in the intranet or up and down the external net. There is an interesting phenomena where asking improves searching. In 1.0 environment, these two modes are fairly distinct from each other. In a 2.0 environment there is a nice synergy between them where if we are asking our questions in a digital form those questions and the answers to them would stick around for a time so that maybe a subsequent searcher could actually find without having to ask someone or without having to go through that extra step. So by increasing the amount of digital content out there and making it part of a discoverable universe, the process of asking improves later searches. Now conversely, it in a full-fledged 2.0 environment, searching also improves asking, and this goes back to what Euan Semple was trying to articulate, which is when you search around, what we are very often looking for is someone to talk to. In other words, maybe we want documents or maybe we don’t, but what can be really valuable is a brain in the organization that we can go to and interact with, especially if we don’t know that person already. We get a new colleague as a result of having searched around. One really intriguing implication from that is that the tie strength, in other words the professional bond, that I have with people might start it become a little bit less important. Now, it is never going to become unimportant, but maybe it doesn’t matter so much how well I know him, whether he is a weak or strong tie, or even if he is a nonexistent tie, if I have got a very good search infrastructure that helps me find the right people. I can use that search to form new ties and start forming professional relationships with people, but I can start working with people who I don’t know at the start of my process.

Slide: Quote

AM: I want to make that concrete by putting in a couple of quotes that came out of research that I did. In fact, the US Intelligence Committee, which is a group of 16 federal agencies, is a very decentralized and very autonomous organization. The 9/11 attacks showed shortcomings of that approach and for the first time we have a Director of National Intelligence and all 16 agencies are part of the Directorate of National Intelligence. That might be a weak bureaucratic solution, but an interesting part of the solution is that there is a pretty nice suite of 2.0 technology that cuts across all 16 agencies and is integrated with search, and if you have the right security clearance, you can look and contribute and search across the entire 2.0 environment no matter what agency you sit in. It is actually something new under the sun and when I did my research I wanted to find out if this was an incremental addition to the toolkit of analysis or if it was actually something new under the sun. Via a blog, I asked this question and what I heard back over and over again was pretty striking and consistent: people said that as the result of this environment, I now have colleagues whom I would never have found in the old world of analysis. One analyst said that these tools "helped me find and interact with people who I never would have met otherwise. It is bringing new thought leaders to the forefront," and believe me, in a bureaucracy of about 200,000 people at a top-secret level, you disappear very easily and especially if your work consists of writing reports for your boss who then decides whether the report goes any further or not. In contrast, if you are blogging and you are narrating your work in the community as a whole, then other people can find you even if you are fairly junior or fairly new to the organization. An analyst from CIA brought up the fact that 2.0 is the future link of both digital content and the brains that float on top in that time span. It has a wonderful property: sometimes, the online content is a pointer to the brain and that can be useful inside the organization. So there is some hope in this case that 2.0 can help transform the work of analysis. Most people believe that the analysis work in the intelligence community needs to go through a very profound change. These tools might be helpful with that. Now, like we saw with the underwear bomber and like we saw with the guy who tried to blow up his truck in Times Square, our work in intelligence is not perfect and no one would say it is and no one can say that these tools have totally transformed the community, but what is interesting to me is that this is the step along the journey of transformation and in my language, it is helping turn the community from a classic 1.0 organization into something closer to a 2.0. if we can do all these things, we start getting to the point where the organization knows what it knows more than what it is capable for and if that is true, then maybe we can make some progress towards becoming three times more productive, innovative, agile, and responsive. We can start to realize that the solution to our problem is one that we can identify. I want to close by giving two super quick examples of what search and ask look like in a 2.0 world.

Slide: An Example: Finding a Copy of The Strength of Weak Ties.

AM: For the search example I want to give one of my own examples. When I was writing the book I was looking for a particular paper, a real landmark paper in organizational sociology, called the "Strength of Weak Ties” and trying to find copies so I could refresh my memory on it. My process to find it was incredibly frustrating. A little while back I went to the main library page at MIT to see if I could recreate that process and if that process had gotten any better. Keep in mind MIT is the world’s best and foremost research institution. No one would say that it doesn’t take research seriously. I am looking for one of the landmark papers in the discipline of sociology and I spent a lot of years in school looking for stuff. This should be an absolute no brainer.

Slide: Library Search.

AM: So I go to MIT library home page, I type in a couple of key words, I click a button which makes sense to me, and then I get "Sorry, your request returns no records." So I went back to the MIT library homepage and I went to what I thought was a different part of it. I clicked on to different set of buttons and I typed on somewhat separate term and this time I got back 49 responses and I thought "Fantastic, somewhere in the 49 responses, probably number 1 is going to be the paper that I am looking for." Then I started to page through to see what the responses were actually like and the first one said "The Dark Side of the Strength of Weak Ties: The Diffusion of Suicidal Thoughts." Not I was looking for. Number 2 had to do with jobs in the local Russian labor market…no. Number 3 said Granovetter was right. I know Granovetter was right and that is why I wanted his paper. And number 4: "Three Can Keep a Secret if Two are Dead." I am looking at these top 4 results and it is kind of macabre. There is kind of death and haunted search results going on here. I page down….no, no, no and I reach number 19 and it is actually interesting. This is actually an interview with me about the paper referring the weak ties. Again very far from what I am looking for. I go all the way down to the 49th result and not one of them was the paper itself, nothing I could click to get an abstract, let alone a full PDF of the paper and I walked away from the search process incredibly frustrated. It took me a fair amount of time to do and I thought it was absolute no brainer, but I walked away with a level of dissatisfaction and frustration and really just walked away empty handed. After this I fired up Google Scholar which is in Beta like a lot of quasi-official products are I typed in the exact same words which I had done in MIT Library. I hit search and what came back was the very first result of exactly the same paper I was looking for. The second one was the "The Strength and Weak Ties of the Networks: Revisited," which is what Granovetter wrote 10 years to talk about his experience and that was very useful to me. If you look over at the right hand side there is one thing that MIT did that was really intelligent: they did deal with Google whereby they link up their library, their digital holding with the Google Scholar search result. So I could go here, click, and get a download of the paper that I was looking for, but I had to leave the MIT intranet, go out to some free resource on the big wide public web to find the content that I wanted, and get a link back into my enterprise. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Slide: Example: Asking for Help


Let me compare that now with what the world of ask looks like in a 2.0 organization and again I want to make this personal and I want you to watch through what happened when I was stuck on a presentation that I was writing a little while back and I wanted to find or make more concrete this notion that I had, and including links is a very viable thing to do when you narrate your work. I remembered vaguely that I came across a fact that talked about the percentage of retweets that included a link to something else. I did some searching around and I actually couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I fired up the Twitter and I put a very quick Tweet that said, “I cannot find the recent percentage of tweets that include links. Could anyone help?” And what I want to highlight is that I got back three results. This is the first one from a guy named Atul. I don’t know him and there is not even a weak tie to the stranger somewhere across the Internet. He gave me some useful information, so I thanked him. The second answer I got back was from a strong tie of mine, SteveD503, who is actually a buddy of mine and I did think to ask him first, but he saw my question and took some time out to respond, so I thanked him. Then Lehawes is actually a weak tie of mine who actually found me exactly what I was looking for. He solved the question and he responded with a very quick answer that pointed to the information that I was looking for. So yes I said thank you for that as well. Most interesting about this example though is not only did I get a lot of help back and not only did I get my questions answered, but when I think about who actually took the time to respond to me it was someone I know very well, someone I know just a little bit, and someone I don’t know at all. In other words a strong tie, a weak tie, and a nonexistent tie all reached out and tried to be helpful to me. That is an example of what I am talking about when I say that tie strengths become a little bit less important in this whole work of searching and asking around.


Slide: Quote

AM: So let me just wrap up with one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson, the one I opened my book with, where he just wonderfully articulated what we are trying to do and how insightful people think about community, about democracy, about society, and about organization. He said, "I don’t know any place else to put the power except for people themselves and if we don’t think they are enlightened enough at present to exercise all the powers that we give them with hope and discretion, then our job is to bring them along and educate them," and not suddenly take the tool out of their hands especially when these tools have demonstrated such an ability to help out with important work within the organization. Let me stop there and Mike can turn it back open and see what kind of questions are out there.

ML: Absolutely we have some that came in during the session and before we get to it, I am going to make people hang out just a few seconds more to just let them know about the next session that is coming up. I'm going to run through this and I promise guys this will take only two seconds. Our next session is coming up actually on May 20th. It is with Matthew Lees. He is the Vice President and Consultant at Patricia Seybold Group, and the webinar is at 2 pm. Check out awarenessnetworks.com and sign up for it there. Also if you happen to be in Dallas on May 26th, some of the Awareness folks are going to be down there. We would love for you to stop by at the Renaissance Dallas, which is right downtown, to just meet me in person or over a webinar. So if you are planning to be around then, please stop by and finally, if you want to connect with Andrew or myself, here is some contact information...actually I am going to leave that out as we jump into the Q&A part. So Andrew before I begin anything, thanks very much. It was really a great session and I think everybody got fun out of it and we have gotten a lot of questions during everything. One that came in actually pretty early on and it is really a good one, especially when you were talking about how you are really optimistic that people are helpful, what came back was "Does the competitive environment inside a modern enterprises, how competitive people are counter the willingness of people to help each other and share. Do you see that at all with the companies that you are working with?"

AM: I have actually not come across that and over and over again I just get pleasantly surprised that how willing people are to take a few seconds or minutes out of their day to give a tip or little bit of help to their colleagues. Now I would imagine that there are some, you know, intensely competitive, dog-eat-dog, turbo-charged, and I would say dysfunctional, environments out there where the last thing you would ever do is help out a buddy of yours. Also if the situation is set up when you are directly in competition with the sales person or with the guy on the next desk then you might see a little less of the altruistic behavior. Even in very aggressive companies that I am familiar with, we still see that altruism and helpfulness are surprisingly common.

ML: That is actually really good to hear because we always see people being the dog-eat-dog and you know, with got-to-win attitudes, and it is good to hear that most people are helpful, especially out here at Awareness. Another question came in and was very specific to the book about the company that you mentioned, the software company called I think it is Serena that used the Facebook as their intranet and what they how other companies can learn from that specific study?

AM: They realized a couple of things. They had the same realization that Euan Semple had in BBC which is that the Corporate Static intranet was not doing a great job and they took a very different path fixing it. They basically walked away from their intranet, and totally stopped paying a lot of attention to it and so they thought, what we really need to do is to connect the human beings in the company with each other and the tool that demonstrated its value or stability to do that is Facebook, so why don’t we just use Facebook? We can trust our employees to know that they are not supposed to put certain things on somebody else’s wall on Facebook such as something that is proprietary to what they are doing, but this thing has demonstrated its power as a people connector and we want to tap into that. In particular we would like if our people could talk to some of their colleagues up and down our value chain on these platforms as well. So they just encouraged all their employees to set a Facebook profile. They had Facebook Fridays where they came in with cameras and let people take pictures and quote on their favorite activities just to get a profile started. They brought in teenagers like children of some of the employees to talk about privacy control on Facebook because it turns out that the kids know how to do this very well because of their social life and they were the right ones to teach the older dogs to how to step in and step up so that it makes better sense. So they got very decent penetration across the company and it became a nice flavor of glue. Serena was a global company even though it wasn’t very big. I mean it had a lot of very small offices. They were worried about the lack of the corporate culture and via the social technology they feel that they are more cohesive than they have been otherwise.

ML: Andrew there is another thing on how important have you seen is the community recognition like some systems have. Like Facebook has the "Like" button; how important is that in terms of getting something like this off the ground?

AM: It is important in getting off the ground, and I think it is critically important if you want to try and sustain it over time because it turns out, in addition to altruism, humans are also incredibly wired for what you want to call "reputation" or "status" or "praise" within a community of interest. One of the things that I learnt from watching stuff like software is how much work people will go through to become the mayor of this or that and unleashing incredible amounts of energy just to get the rewards that look absolutely trivial. These thing turn out to matter to people and being known as the most helpful, the person with the most expertise, the person with the most "likes", or the person with most good karma that turns out to be really important to people. We should totally try to activate that energy when we set up these environments, whether they be internal ones or externally phasing ones.

ML: That is really funny because I can tell you that there are probably 5 or 6 people here in Awareness that are really fighting over the mayor badge which means absolutely nothing for the headquarters here, and we have been back and forth over it constantly. That's the same concept, right?

AM: Yeah absolutely and one of the things that I learnt is that I don’t know where people get their time and I don’t know what other people consider to be important, but these tools that we do use kind of let people manifest what is important and what they want to spend their time on. I don’t want to get too high-fluting about this but Nelson Mandela has a fantastic quote about the job of a leader. He says that job is to find a spark of genius in everybody. I think these tools are amazing in letting everybody’s spark of genius come clear.

ML: Great. Actually one of the things that just came in too, and is kind of a specific example is about the culture problem: it gets back to the point that we were talking earlier that with the concern on this particular person and I won't mention the industry but it is definitely a type of industry that if information is shared then people could potentially use it against them, competing budgets, programs, and a lot of your office scene. A company like a kind of a government agency kind of a thing. He was wondering, how do you get people--how do you transform their thinking, because he thinks some of it is embedded in the culture of the organization? Are there ways to influence people to start change their thinking?

AM: Yes, you can start and it is a long, slow process and there is no tool that I can see that has a magic bullet for that specific problem. I have given a flavor in this presentation that in fairly dispirited organizations, some private and some public, the most depressing thing that I hear is that I don’t want to participate because I believe that other part of the organization will be out to get me--that is the worst thing I could do: stick my head out of the trenches at all because someone is going to get a pot shot at me elsewhere in the organization. I find that incredibly sad and by participating in these more open and more transparent environment you are sticking your head above the trenches a little bit. What I would hope is that leaders of the organization are in the room listening to that and they realize how much work they have to do to change that, and to do that they can try to be more explicit about recognizing good behavior and rewarding good behavior, but if you have got a widely dysfunctional organization like that then there is nothing in technology that is going to make you better overnight.

ML: This leads to a couple of questions that are kind of tied together so for those who are listening and waiting for your question to come up, I am taking a bunch of them that just came in and I am kind of packaging them together up here. So people are asking in a segue, what are the biggest challenges that an organization is facing if they try to migrate to a more web-tool kind of culture. I imagine that what you just talked about is probably the biggest one and is there anything else that people should be looking out for?

AM: There are probably a couple of different levels. One we just talked about is actually not strategic problem. Most organizations are not that widely dysfunctional where they just fear getting shot by someone else in the organization. So luckily most places are not that bad off. There are couple of problems though. One is at the individual level. We are asking people to use very different technologies and if you are not linear, some of these things may look weird to you, but more fundamentally change how you think about collaboration. The idea of navigating the work, the idea of broadcasting your question very broadly to audiences and basically just doing a lot of your work now in public and talking about it in progress as opposed to only releasing it when it is final and perfect...this is a big switch for a lot of workers and takes some time to bring them along. We also need to deal with the concerns of the managerial level instead of the individual one which is, is this the right thing for my people to be doing? Is this a time wasting thing? Is this the happy hour? Is the productivity retracting, or do I have faith that better collaboration is going to yield better business results out there? So we need to work at the individual and the organizational level to get people comfortable with this new style of work. Again, the technologies are critically the necessary condition for this. They are not sufficient and we need to have a little organizational enthusiasm, energy, and patience to let them take them in and work.

ML: It is a great thing and leads to another question people are asking about: there are some policies in place up front and I am going to make the jump because it makes a lot of sense to have some kind of corporate policy, atleast for successful organizations who are doing it using some kind of corporate policy in place to help this thing work. Are there any organizations out there that you know of and that people know of or examples of policies?

AM: There are probably some policy statements that you can download but I actually think that the policies that I have found itself are the widest ones which would say things like: look, we trust you for not letting the proprietary information get public and don’t harass anybody…you know all those things that don’t need to be said because very few of our workers walk around saying, “Hey should I post proprietary information today or should I violate the Chinese law? Would be this good for my career or not?” People know how to do their job and I don’t believe that anybody here would be waiting around for blogging software in order to post their racist filthy hate speech. I just don’t buy that. I like the philosophy very much that Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, says: make it easy to correct mistakes instead of hard to make them. And I think about these elaborate policy statements as like, we are going to prevent all possible failures instead of look if we see inappropriate behavior and if we see something going on, we will become aware of it very quickly because there are so many eyeballs on it or the community will tell us when something is going on incorrectly and then we will be able to intervene and take action. But let us not sit and anticipate every single failure mode in advance. If you look at a 20 page policy statement about social media you can usually boil it down to one sentence… don’t do social media.

ML: Right. Exactly. And one of the things that people ask, and this is a follow up of that one too, and I am sure you have worked in organization about this before but the fact of the matter is that just because of social web, people are talking about how Twitter and Facebook are all over the place and that it is inevitable that there are going to be people who are going to be saying negative things about your brand. How should organizations feel about handling that and are there certain situations that you have seen in the past or organizations that have done a good job with dealing with that kind of negative stuff that happens out there?

AM: Yeah and like you said there is absolutely going to be negative stuff whether you host the environment or not. There are going to be negative things about your organization. In that I think the worst thing is to ignore it or stick your head in the sand and try to pretend that it is not going on at all. Maybe one thing that is even worse is to respond out there in social media, which if you do is really conned up because that is what people do not want when they go to these environments; it is one more flavor of corporate pressure. So bad things are going to happen and the only way that you can turn it around and make it a win is to show that you heard and you are responding and that is what I think some companies do in environments like Twitter. It becomes a public customer service channel and the world also watches service recovery take place and maybe some of the viewers walk away and go, "Wow, that cable company might have screwed up their initial visit, but they sure in fact had sent somebody else to follow up and make the problem right, and I saw the customer at the end say, 'Hey, thanks a lot, you made the problem go away and I feel like I was well cared for as a customer.'"

ML: One of the things that you feel too is as long as you take time to listen, you may not be able to solve all of their problems, but you listen and atleast respond to them in the way that makes sense. They understand that you are listening to them, and it seems that just put their minds at ease for a while and they're thinking, "The company is listening to me and they understand what I am going through, and atleast they are trying, whether or not they solve it, but atleast they are trying."

AM: Absolutely and one of the things that I would like to add to that is what the social media technology lets you do in that case is to show their response except for kind of in a robotic way. Sometimes when I call up my bank these days and I have some problem, you can hear that the person on the other line is reading 30 words based on what to say…."I hear about your problem I am try to help you with that." You can tell that there is no enthusiasm and there is no authenticity going on at all. If we translate that to social media you are going to get ripped apart but if you show that there is actually a human being out there who does have some empathy and is actually listening and trying to make things better, then I am turning my problems into a win for your brand and perception.

ML: Absolutely. In fact I had a recent story and I will finish this really quick. I have said this couple of times before but I was flying back from Florida and at the end, my flight got messed up. It was actually the blizzards that they had in Washington DC. So they were rescheduled and pretty messed up. I called my airline, Delta, and I said I have problem getting home and I really want to get back. I just a lot of stuff going on and I'd like to get on a plane in about half hour which I did. He was making small talk and getting me really engaged. He asked me why I was going home and I said cannot wait to go home and see my son, and about 15 minutes later everything was resolved. I got an early flight and I was able to go home. So as I was on the plane I just put in a Tweet, I didn’t even know if Delta had a Twitter account and I just wrote, "Hey, Delta great customer service. I really appreciate you being here for me." I never thought about it again. Well the next day I came in, and I had feedback from them that said "Wow, we really appreciate your time and glad that you were able to go early and see your son." The first thing that hit my son is how the heck did they know that I have a son? It must be the guy I talked to. I wasn’t so sure, and it turned out that I ended up calling them interviewing for my blog and he said that Delta was actually getting so much negative stuff that they were giving positive feedback whatever we had. So they researched my profile but for me the point wasn’t the automation behind it, it was the fact that they looked into what I was saying and they created a one-to-one experience with me and that made me to put them as friends.

AM: Now did that freak you out that this huge company might know something about you?

ML: Absolutely creepy but hey you know I am public all the time and people can follow wherever I go anyways, but at the same time it was like, wow you know, they must have put in some elaborate CRM system behind the scenes that sent alerts all over the company that they should write back to bostonmike. It actually freaked me out briefly, but the technologist inside me had to call them to see exactly how they did it. It turned out that it was all manual.

AM: Now one interesting thing about that story is that I doubt that you would have taken the time to go look for and spell out names back to the Delta customers' comments card or to call up their 1-800 number and go through the voicemail or find a place to leave a response because it was so easy and so quick for you to just to give that little praise out there. Again, lowering the barriers of contribution. We open ourselves up to that.

ML: Absolutely that is a very good point as I wouldn’t have…I absolutely wouldn’t have pulled out a comment card or called or anything like that, but I really appreciated the service. I am looking at the clock and I just lifted up my head and realized that we are couple of minutes over time and I know some people are busy with stuff going on but I really just want to say thanks. It was a great session and we really appreciate your time today and I know everybody online got a lot out of it because you have got a ton of questions and great comments about it. We really appreciate it.

AM: Thank you very much for hearing me out.

ML: Thanks everybody on the phone as well and we will be back on May 20th. If you visit awarenessnetworks.com, do come and stay for our next session as well. Thanks everybody and thanks again, Andrew.

Share this Page:

Recent Posts

© 2022 Awareness, Inc. 25 Corporate Drive Burlington, MA 01803. All rights reserved.