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Booz Allen Panel Discusses Enterprise 2.0

My employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, recently held an Enterprise 2.0 event where a panel of speakers, both internal and external, came together to discuss the implications of Enterprise 2.0 at Booz Allen and within the public sector.  Panel participants included Amy Shuen, author of “Web 2.0, a Strategy Guide;” Don Burke, Intellipedia Doyen; Art Fritzson, one of Booz Allen’s Vice Presidents; and Grant McLaughlin, Principal at Booz Allen.  This event was held at Booz Allen’s corporate headquarters in McLean, VA, and the target audience was internal Booz Allen employees, specifically middle management.

Why middle management you ask?  Because in my experience, that’s the demographic who are most likely to avoid social media and in fact, often actively discourage their teams from using it.  At Booz Allen, we’re seeing great gains among both the junior staff and the senior leadership, but the middle management has been slower to get on-board.  The Enterprise 2.0 panel was held to try to answer some of the most common questions and to build support of our internal social media platform among the middle management.

The ROI of Web 2.0

The ROI of Web 2.0

Amy brought up a great slide (on the right) on the ROI of social media. She used this graphic to compare the different business models of Flickr and Shutterfly. She suggested using a similar illustration for Enterprise 2.0 implementations – show your leadership how the minimal initial investment in social media can lead to a higher ROI, especially when compared to traditional methodologies.  The reason that I really liked this slide is because it resonates with leadership.  What may seem like second nature to the social media early adopters often needs to be related to middle management in more concrete, familiar ways.

Don Burke then discussed Intellipedia and how it has changed the way the Intelligence Community collaborates and shares information.  I’ve heard Don speak a few times before, and I always enjoy hearing his insights into the challenges and benefits of Intellipedia.  When asked what the most important feature of an Enterprise 2.0 application, he replied, “fight like hell to keep it open.”  I love that quote.  If you allow walled gardens, if you allow sections to be closed off, you’ll never realize the collaboration and innovation that true openness allows.  I’ve had clients ask “can you give me an Intellipedia for my organization?”  But, then they’ll say something like, “one of our requirements is that every page within the wiki needs to be access-controlled.”  I always point them back to that quote.  If you want a compartmented enterprise-wide wiki for whatever reason, that’s fine – just don’t expect to realize all of the benefits that something like Intellipedia brings.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow summary of the rest of the discussion, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the panel discussion, as captured by my colleague Travis Mason, on his blog on our internal blogging platform.

How can we change a culture a bit here and get more of an understanding of the Web 2.0 tools?
Burke: “We’ve taken a very viral approach.” Every time we’ve tried a top-down approach it’s failed miserably.” “Not a very elegant way but very organic.”
McLaughlin: “Lead with content, its not about the tool…you have to drive the content. If you don’t leap with the content first, then you’ll lose people.”
Fritzson: “I don’t think it’s a generational issue at all…Web 2.0 is just a technology that people adapt to, there is no blockage in the thinking.”  “Learning this stuff is not that hard…”

How do you bring all the tools in the enterprise together in a way that doesn’t intimidate people?
Fritzson: “I’m looking for a robust toolkit more than a unified tool.”
McLaughlin: “This (toolkit) doesn’t haven’t to replace anything – it can enhance existing processes too.”
Burke: “Leverage the power of everyone around you. Find what works for your team.”

How do you balance the informal person with the workplace person?
Fritzson: “This is just a tool. Perfection is the enemy of simplicity, and uniformity is the enemy of diversity.
Burke: “You must have a sense of play, even inside your organization…otherwise you aren’t creating that human factor. It’s all about creating balance.”

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Wanted: People Who “Know” Social Media and Communications

My company, Booz Allen Hamilton, is actively hiring consultants who “get” social media.  Let me explain – as I mentioned in one my earlier posts, I’m currently a consultant within the Strategic Communications team at Booz Allen.  What does this mean?  I’m part of the team that handles crisis comms, change communications, stakeholder outreach, public relations, media relations, etc.  One of the other areas that we’ve branched out into social media consulting.  This is the team that I lead, and I can tell you that my background in communications has heavily influenced my team’s approach to social media.  For example, I can’t stand when clients ask me to “do a social media strategy.”  I don’t believe in “social media strategies” – that implies that they’re created in a vacuum and that they’re separate from other strategies.  My social media strategy is to integrate social media principles and applications into existing communications, collaboration, and/or knowledge management strategies.

Some of the things that I look for in potential candidates are:

  • Experience in using social media applications behind the corporate firewall – both as an individual and as a community manager
  • Demonstrated ability to incorporate social media into existing strategic communications, collaboration and/or knowledge management plans
  • Consulting experience working with clients in the public sector
  • At least a year of “traditional” communications experience where you were responsible for developing tactical products
  • Knowledge of the unique challenges that face public sector clients when trying to implement social media
  • Familiarity (not proficiency) with all kinds of social media applications (if you’ve never heard of MediaWiki or Twitter, no need to apply)
  • A desire to be a part of a small, but growing, diverse team of professionals who are focused on helping our clients integrate social media into their strategies – not on selling a specific piece of software.

If you think you’d be a good fit, head on over to the Booz Allen website to check out the official job posting and/or submit your resume.  The system will ask you to create a profile before submitting your resume – please make sure that you mention my name (Steve Radick) in your entry so that I can be alerted to your interest and follow up.  Looking forward to seeing who’s out there!

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