Top 10 Myths About Social Media (the First Five)

#1 You can just launch it and forget it. Yes. The purpose of social tools is to inspire collaboration and transparency, and its content should grow organically. However, you need a plan to monitor postings to ease your attorneys’ apprehensions and track usage for proof of success. 

#2 People will stumble upon it own their own. Despite all of the buzz around social media, not everyone will adopt it right away. Jump-starting posts and driving traffic to these tools is critical for success. 

#3 Leaders should be involved in every conversation to show support. Be careful here. Leaders should lead by example but they should start the conversation and then stand back and let the conversation happen between employees. Chime in from time to time but too much interference will be a barrier to some.

#4 Social media doesn’t need governance. Along with monitoring and measuring usage, determining who can post, reply, manage its content, report on content are very important parts of the requirements definition process. Can anyone start a blog? Maybe yes; maybe no. It depends on your needs and your organization’s culture. What content gets captured in a wiki vs. a SharePoint site? These questions also need to be answered ahead of time in your governance model to ensure people don’t get confused as to where to store information.

#5 People don’t really listen to what others’ have to say.  Au contraire! In a Universal McCann study, 72% of respondents used social media to research a company’s reputation for customer care before making a purchase. In a health study by Christakis and Fowler, social networks influence behaviors and even affect people’s happiness. People are reading and acting on what others have to say.

Real Change?

Every month, I enjoy reading “The Future of the Future” column in KM World. In April’s article, Art Murray wrote part one of a two-part piece on Real Change and how companies should be transforming their way of doing business.

I loved all of his ideas: move from hierarchies to networks, eliminate silos, make learning systemic, focus on systemic improvements not band-aids, and be positive about how to make things work. Common sense tells us that, yes, these are all great ideas to make the organization run smoother and employees happier.

So, why do silos still exist? Why do we implement bandaids knowing they will peel off eventually? Why don’t people share information with each other freely?

In a word…FEAR. I hoard information to make myself more valuable. I don’t share in forums because I am afraid of looking stupid. I implement band-aids because doing something quick looks better than taking time to plan, which looks like I’m doing nothing.

I have spent my entire career championing ground-up, organic change. And, once leaders saw the degree of  crowd approval and desire, that was the tipping point to making that change a reality but it always needed an eventual leadership endorsement to become a business practice.

Lately, I have found that grassroots efforts aren’t enough to tip the scales if leaders aren’t willing to acknowledge and listen to the fear that permeates their employees. I think it takes a brave soul, willing to take a risk, to point out to leadership how to alleviate people’s fears.

I still think real change takes real leadership. Plain and simple. Real leadership is:

  • Setting expectations to share; in fact, hoarding should be disciplined
  • Empowering people to make mistakes…..once
  • Giving time to properly plan and discouraging band-aids, unless they make business sense
  • Assuring people to share ideas; don’t penalize if they are off the mark
  • Empowering people to make decisions
  • Delegating authority with tasks

The New Score: Work 32 | Learning and Development 8

baseballI recently read an opinion in AIIM’s Infonomics magazine by Mike Knoll, a specialist in resource management. He argues that we too often reward people for working long hours and that we interpret sacrificing weekends, personal activities and time with friends and family to mean people are dedicated, effective and successful…a real hero!

He posits that if you have to work 60 – 70 hours a week, you must need training or time to improve processes. Or, potentially, you are hoarding work that could be delegated because you’re afraid you’ll lose your value. Instead, he states that we should embrace the 32-hour work week for the sake of employee health and happiness, not to mention better efficiencies and results.

I say Bravo! Mike.

Shouldn’t we reward people for getting the job done right, on budget and on time…time that was properly forecasted to begin with? I don’t think giving kudos to someone who says I can get that done in week when it would really take 8 days is good business sense. You set unrealistic expectations and it shows lack of planning and poor estimating skills.

So, if we budget 32 hours a week for “work”, what can the other 8 hours be used for? Learning and development.  We want our people to be smart and stay up on the latest trends. Well, this takes attending webinars, reading books and articles, monitoring blogs and Twitter streams and even writing their own content as an expert.

Growth is a key ingredient for success and growth takes thinking, reading, brainstorming and tinkering. And, the most effective time to do these activities is not at 9 pm at night when you’re juggling kids, watching the 9 pm news and cramming a sandwich down your throat. The most appropriate time is in the morning or afternoon on, say, a Tuesday.

Schedule learning and growing into your day. Start estimating work at 32 hours a week and see how efficient and effective you can really be. And then go catch a Cubs game on Saturday!

So, What Do I Use This Tool For Again?

So, let me get this straight. I use a wiki to create project agendas but a SharePoint site to store my project management documents. I go to YouTube for our corporate videos and Flickr to contribute to our “fun” employee photo library. Then, I jump to the discussion forums to share and comment on ideas but if I want to quickly ask a question of my colleagues, I go to Yammer. I should read and respond to blogs on various topics and share my expertise. Oh, then, I have to update my profile (should I update LinkedIn and Facebook too?). And, what do I use Instant Messenger for again? Help!

Yep. Another victim of tool fatigue.

Sure. You can provide a link farm on your Intranet so people don’t have to remember the URLs of each tool but each interface looks different and people will struggle to remember all the cutesy brand names for each point solution you have. You could also provide a quick reference guide – a When to Use What cheat sheet. This can work reasonably well.

But, I really think we need to define objectives as to why we have all of these tools. There is something to trying them out to see what sticks. I whole-heartedly advocate for that but, in the long run, consolidation and streamlining become important to support the efficiencies these tools were invented to create in the first place.

Your employees need you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are people comfortable with other people changing their work? Then, by all means, implement wikis. If version control and levels of security are critical, then don’t.
  • Do you have to have Yammer AND Discussion Forums? No! Choose one. Are threaded discussions necessary to keep replies nested under the original discussion or are quick quips and limiting people to 140 characters essential?
  • Is there one system for storing documents and then set appropriate security settings? I hope the answer is yes but I know how difficult this can be.  Strive for this!  Don’t make people guess which system to store their documents in.
  • Can profiles, blogs and status updates be the same solution? Yes!There are tools like Jive and NewsGator Social Sites that offer this.
  • Integration, integration, integration. There is a reason SharePoint is so popular. It may not have everything but there are plug-ins that complement the interface for just about any need.
  • Try and limit to two solutions – One for storing my work as an individual and on teams, and one for information about me specifically…that’s it.

Keep it simple for the people who have to work. After all, these tools are supposed to help makes things easier not confuse people.

Should I Measure if No One Asks?

I have seen many measurement models to determine the value of knowledge management and learning. The trick is to have a methodology to measure whatever you say will be the result. Many of you are probably saying: “Of course! This is nothing we don’t know.” You’d be surprised how simple and oftentimes that important point is missed. If you say you will save time, then you need a baseline and post-measure of time spent. If you say you’ll move the financial needle either in cost savings or revenue generation, then be careful what you state. You will have to measure that!

I have noticed in today’s fast-paced environment, some leaders don’t have a tolerance for capturing a baseline. They are okay with just surveying people afterward to see if they are satisfied with the new tools. On one hand, we could feel blessed that we are not always asked to prove ROI as that is a difficult thing to do. However, spending a little time to capture a baseline is a battle worth fighting.

Even if management doesn’t ask for measurement, do it. You never know when you might be asked down the line. “How successful was that intranet re-design?” “Do we know how much time people actually saved with these tools?” I have been in that situation before where measures weren’t expected but then a year later, an executive wanted to report on results to the board or upper management.

Two Rules of Thumb

DON’T attempt to measure ROI or IRR unless it is required. (I know…the easy way out but there is no reason to cause yourself undue pain. However, get agreement on this up front!)
DO set up activity, usage, time, satisfaction and other targets before you begin making changes and measure after changes have been implemented. If nothing else, you have evidence in your hip pocket  should you need it.

Is “Good” Good Enough?

With the rise of social media and crowdsourcing, do companies need to be concerned with allowing only the “best” ideas, the “best” work and the “best” solutions to be visible and leveraged?  Knowing that this takes resources to review and vet practices, can we afford this investment or are we comfortable with “good”?

Simply, this is the wrong question. Too often I hear “best practices” still. This is what knowledge management built its own foundation on – capturing and sharing best practices. While this may still have some merit, good may be good enough if the work/ process/content/information/idea solves the problem. Who cares if it’s the “best” if it meets the needs of the client or user? In a complicated landscape of needs and problems, KM should be helping people find an accurate and appropriate fit not the “best” practice. “Best” can be hard to define so let’s stop spinning our wheels to do so.

Instead of complicated vetting processes where it takes weeks to get a “best practice” posted in a database, we should embrace the following:

  • Focus on capturing the right metadata for content to allow problem to be connected to solution
  • Social content rating systems to allow what ahs worked for people to bubble up naturally
  • Commenting on content is another fantastic feature of collaboration software
  • Empowering people to tell stories at a monthly show and tell luncheon
  • Let people judge for themselves – a tough culture shift for some organizations

Simple KM Strategy

I have been around the Learning and Knowledge Management space for almost 15 years, and I have enjoyed all of the colorful and complicated strategy diagrams I have seen. However, they are hard to package and sell to a transactional leadership group or one with less tolerance for fancy graphs who want more results.

In today’s environment, support functions like training, communication and knowledge management are under fire. Proving value takes a little more than putting up a fancy framework on a PowerPoint slide. I have found that pitching 3 goals with 5 supporting tactics for each resulting in one measurable result works to capture hearts and minds. It’s simple, it’s tangible and it can easily be shared up and down the chain.

Here is an example of a not so fancy scope of work. The bottom represents goals, the arrows represent the KM pillars, and if you read my last post, these pillars can be a multitude of different functions depending on your organization’s needs, tactics appear next to the pillars and the top boxes represent end results.