Tag Archives: enterprise 2.0

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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Learn to Walk Before You Run

Image courtesy of Flickr user karen.j.ybanez

“Why aren’t people using it?”

That’s the question I was recently asked by a colleague working on a project where they had just deployed an internal wiki.  They identified a need to bring people people together in a collaborative environment.  They knew they didn’t have the capability in-house.  They researched the latest collaborative software.  They read an article on Intellipedia.  They said, “that’s what we want!”  They installed a wiki.  They created links to user guides.  They issued memos to their users telling them that this collaborative tool that they’ve all been clamoring for is now available.  Then they waited.  And they waited…

They soon discovered that their users weren’t actually, you know, using the wiki.  They were baffled – they had given their users the capability that they were asking for; they gave them directions for how to use it; they even had their leadership send out messages to the user telling them to use this tool.

“Why aren’t people using it?”

What they didn’t take into account was the fact that a majority of their users were of the Silent or Baby Boomer generation, they were academic researchers who were rewarded for individual published works, and they were very aware of copyright and intellectual property rights.  The problem wasn’t that the users didn’t know how to use the wiki; the problem was that the users didn’t know how to collaborate.  Everything in their nature told them that individual contribution was of the utmost importance.  Everything they’ve ever learned was about protecting and publishing their intellectual property.  Asking this group of users to go from this to using a wiki was a gigantic step that they weren’t ready to take.

Before rolling out ANY type of social media application, whether it’s blogs, or a wiki, or microblogging, make sure that you do an assessment of your user culture first.  Are they rewarded or punished for collaborating?  What collaborative tools, if any, do they already use?  Is risk-taking rewarded?  How do leaders react when their strategy is questioned?  How is the organization more hierarchical or flat?  These questions need to be asked before rolling out any type of social media application.  The answers to these types of questions will help inform what tools will help you achieve your goals.  You have to figure out what your end goal is and then determine the tools and processes will help you get there.  Not every user base is ready to just jump right in and use a wiki.  They need to first learn how to walk.

That’s why I love a tool like Yammer.  Yammer is a microblogging application similar to Twitter, only it’s focused on businesses.  Think of it like an IM platform where every IM you send is open to everyone else in the network.  Instant Messaging has become so ubiquitous that almost everybody is, at a minimum, familiar with the tool and how it’s used.  Moving this basic concept to an open platform is a much smaller step for most people than collaboratively editing a document on a wiki.  Sending a message using Yammer is a combination of sending IMs and sending questions to email distribution lists.  It’s a much more manageable concept, especially for organizations who aren’t prone to collaboration.  Whether your organization ends up using something like Yammer for the long term isn’t all that important at this point – the most important thing is that people are learning how and when to collaborate with others.

If your goal is to create a truly collaborative environment across your organization, remember that a community like Intellipedia just doesn’t grow overnight.  It takes years to move that many users down that road.  Start small and start with something that’s familiar to your user community.  Teach them to walk down the road of collaboration before you expect them to run.

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Putting Social Media Before Your Health?

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

Image courtesy of Flickr user hiyori13

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the key success factors to deploying social media in an organization is that someone is “a champion.” Personally, I’m living this every single day at Booz Allen – people from across my company are constantly asking for a presentation on social media at their all-hands meetings, I get calls to go brief clients on the power of social media, I get hundreds of emails from people asking me for my advice on something to do with social media, I give dozens of briefings at external events, and answer any and all questions from my colleagues. Most of all, I get tired.  Very.  Tired.

This fact – working long hours and getting very tired is a staple of every single successful implementation of social media at a large organization. There’s always that core group of passionate social media enthusiasts who will go above and beyond to make social media successful – from spending their own money to create social media rewards to volunteering their time to function as an ad hoc help desk.  That group usually consists of anywhere between 1-10 people, depending on the size of the organization, and that core group HAS to be the most passionate users.  They are more than just change champions, they are the de facto social media help desk, the “gurus,” and the intellectual capital leaders – they ARE social media at their organization.  This passion creates a domino effect – people start following these leaders and the core group begins expanding and expanding until it slowly sweeps across the organization. I, like Andrea Baker explained in my last post, have been inspired by Gary V to keep pushing, to keep advocating in what I believe, and to remain completely and overwhelmingly passionate about it. This approach has proven to be incredibly beneficial to my organization’s social media efforts and to my career.

But at what cost?  I left work early today because my eyes, sinuses, and head were killing me. I realized that over the last few months, that’s happened to me a lot more often that it used to. I’m taking more sick days. I’m finding myself completely drained by Friday afternoon that I don’t even want to go out. I’m spending less and less time with my family and friends as more of my time is now taken up with building our firm’s social media capability.  I don’t have the time to spend just going out to lunch with my team because I’ve always got some sort of meeting.  I’m working 12-14 hours a day, and I know that it’s not healthy for me to sustain this, I don’t know if there’s anything that I can give up and still be confident that our social media capability will continue to grow.  Is this one reason why some social media implementations succeed and others fail – their core group of passionate users doesn’t expand resulting in the the core group burning themselves out or giving up?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts – do you find yourselves in a similar situation?  Take this very short and very informal and unscientific survey and let me know what you think.  I’ll keep you updated with any interesting results that I find.

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Implementing Social Media at Large Organizations

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m currently leading a small, but growing team of people at my firm who are focused on building our social media capabilities, both internally and with our clients. Five years ago, when I joined my company, the only mentions of the terms “wikis” and “blogs” were usually preceded by the words “What the hell is a…” Now, as with most organizations, there is an enormous demand for social media, both internally among my colleagues, and externally with my clients. Luckily, I work for a firm where I have had the flexibility to pursue my interest and passion for social media, and over the last two years, have been able to grow this capability to where we are today.

So how did I get to this position? It’s important to note that I didn’t go to school for social media (I majored in public relations), I didn’t get staffed on a project where sharing information using social media was part of the culture (I was working for a client in the Intelligence Community where the prevailing attitude was “Need to Know“), and I wasn’t told by my leadership that I would now be the social media expert (they didn’t know a blog from a website). No, I was just a strategic communications consultant who saw that social media was fundamentally changing the way organizations communicated, and I decided that this was an area I wanted to focus on.

To my surprise, when I first started working in the Intelligence Community, I stumbled across something called Intellipedia, a wiki similar to Wikipedia, on the Top Secret network on which I was working. Upon more exploration, I found out that Intellipedia uses the same software (MediaWiki) as Wikipedia, and is not only available on the Top Secret network, but that it’s actually used to share VERY sensitive data across all of the agencies within the Intelligence Community. Well, upon discovering this, I said to myself that if the CIA, FBI, DNI, and other Intelligence agencies can use wikis and blogs to share classified information, there’s no reason why these applications can’t be used across the government.

I started voraciously reading about how Intellipedia worked – who was behind it, what technical feature did it have, what else was planned, who was using it, etc. I bought all kinds of social media books (Wikinomics, The World is Flat, Wikipatterns, The Long Tail are just some of them), I attended multiple conferences and other professional development events, and most importantly, I didn’t shut up! I talked about social media to anyone who would listen to me. I constantly looked for ways in which social media could enhance or replace existing processes (couldn’t we just post this white paper to a wiki and edit it there instead of sending it around over email?), I volunteered to help write proposals, white papers, and any other document that I could get my hands on where I could talk about social media, and I sent dozens of social media media articles and success stories to my leadership and anyone else who I thought would be interested. In short, I really annoyed a bunch of people for a long time!

Eventually, I must have gotten my point across as I’m now one of the top bloggers on our company’s internal blogging platform, am one of the top wiki editors, am advising many of our senior VPs on what they need to know about social media, and am responsible for meeting with many of our clients to talk about how and if they should use social media internally. Over these last two years, I’ve worked a lot of 9AM-5PM days on my client work, only to be followed by nights working 5PM-9PM on building our social media capability (my wife is a saint for putting up with me!!). I’ve had to learn how to tactfully stand up for what I believe in without pissing off too many people. I’ve had to do a lot of “what is a blog?” briefings. I’ve had to endure a lot of contentious discussions with our legal, marketing, HR, and IT departments. The last two years have involved a lot of work, a lot of stress, and a lot of headaches, but it’s also been extremely rewarding, personally satisfying, and exciting. What’s in store for me over the next two years?

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