Just because I’m not on FB, doesn’t mean I’m not using other tools. At the end of the day, what is my business objective? More happy customer base, more business profit, empowering your knowledge workers to take more control and share that responsibility to make a difference; to me, that’s what social software is all about. If your customers are on Facebook, then you need to be there, but if not, go beyond the echo chamber. If you don’t direct employees how to use tools effectively and wisely, there are some risks.
My company has guidelines -- telling employees you’re more than welcome to use the tools, but here are the limitations. So far, colleagues have said, well, it’s all common sense, and I say, yes, of course it’s all common sense. Those social evangelists who say that the company needs to join the movement or you’re missing out, I say there is such a thing as social network fatigue. E2.0 pundits who deny that need to re-evaluate.
MD: Indeed, is the CIO role as interested in changing behaviors as it should be? Or is it a responsibility of the CSO?
LS: Yes, the CSO will need to be interested but should not be worried. Corporations have a false sense of controlling the message. Control is an illusion. Always has been... People will leak and share information regardless, if they would want to. Tech should not be blamed for that. The HR department should ask, “Why are our employees sharing what they shouldn’t? Do we trust our employees to be the professionals we thought we hired in the first place?”
The better way to evaluate social software performance is to use it. Check whether or not your employees are happy at work. Obviously, if I work at an environment where I’m comfortable, content, appreciated and respected, I won’t leak information. It’s an opportunity to ensure employee happiness, to learn more about them. As CSOs facilitate user-generated content, their task is more about listening.
MD: Or, do you see the CIO role changing in the future to include more E2.0 evangelist behaviors?
They already have a critical mass of evangelists, but they don’t know it. I’ve been interested in this from 2001 -- but I didn’t get to do it full time until 2007. The Cs need to give employees a sense of belonging. What they’re creating is a group of people in a silo. Break the silos. Pick out the people from the pockets. Evangelize the ENTIRE corporation. That’s the model we followed inside IBM.
The BLUEIQ team and its Ambassadors grew from fifty evangelists to 1600 people in fifty countries. It’s now a network of critical evangelists driving efforts in social adoption. The regular viral effect. These are my peers who happen to have executive sponsorship for the overall program. It’s a hybrid approach: from the bottom up is energy and passion. From the top down is leadership and support and an opportunity to learn.
MD: Moving on from Knowledge Management to Records Management. For the moment there’s still such a thing as records, or pieces of information designated as the most vital to be saved for future use -- usually about ten percent of a company’s intellectual property. How should records from enterprise 2.0 tools be captured, saved for future use?
LS: We’re trying to help people understand E2.0 is about ad hoc knowledge sharing. Tacit knowledge, the stuff in people’s minds, it’s not codified. Use the social software for the tacit knowledge. When you’ve worked through that process, and now your information is documented, you move to explicit knowledge -- documentation that’s moved into a more sophisticated repository.
Knowledge Management and E2.0 aren’t that much different. E2.0 is tacit, what is not codified. KM is explicit knowledge -- the software asset, the repository.
MD: Incidentally, thank you for the assertion that there’s no such thing as the generational gap within the workforce, it’s about ways of working.
LS: Truly, I find the best target for social media is the oldest generation in the company. I’m not mandating anyone use specific tools. When you see you’re the only one left who’s NOT using them, you’re probably ready to make the move. That’s why there are different waves of adoption and evangelists need to adjust to each and every one of them. I think it’s a cheap way out -- I’m the second youngest of my team, my older colleagues, some of them who are on the brink of retirement, are just as effective, if not more so, than I am.
MD: I appreciate your statement that labor-based companies don’t necessarily need or want E2.0 (yet). How do these companies catch up to the E2.0 movement? Why are you fearful for them?
LS: I help companies think about how they want to work in the next five to ten years: Think about whether you’re a company that thrives on labor or knowledge. If you thrive on knowledge, you won’t have a choice. You must share openly, engage in the conversations. You don’t have an excuse.
Some companies have a lot of documentation -- they’re PERFECT candidates for wikis. Other candidates want to talk, listen to customers, so they’re big on blogs. Knowledge must flow as fast as it can. Microblogging -- they’re great activity streams to the end user base.
MD: Do you believe your colleagues on the Council share your views on this?
LS: I think the views are shared by the majority of council members, especially by those that are most active.
MD:Describe your passion for E2.0 as objectively as you can.
LS: I think, on the one hand, there is the typical evangelist, and on the other, is a social software evangelist. Social software evangelists help companies understand that employees thrive on passion -- they’re just waiting for the opportunity for someone to tell them, “It’s ok, you can be excited about it!”
Web 2.0 started so many good things -- knowledge sharing and collaboration outside of the firewall. We asked ourselves, “Why not bring it inside? We need to get people excited again about what they do. We could talk about this for ages. We can talk about this for years!”
A key concept is flexibility -- measuring people by their results and not by their presence at the office. The line between work and life becomes blurry but flexible. I believe in what I’m doing -- once the 60 hour week goes by, next week I may decide to become a little bit more flexible and work 30 perhaps. Social software redefines the traditional concept of the workplace.
MD:Ok, for the years 2011 through 2013 -- what do you see happening for E2.0?
LS: Work will not happen in a physical space, that’s for sure! Mobile will be huge -- better, faster, more reliance on mobile phones, iPads and the like. The traditional 9 to 5 office will disappear. Most collaboration will be virtual.
The workplace will become more mobile. I will work when and with whom I want to work. We will see strong development from the traditional hierarchies to networks and communities.
Businesses will realize the final frontier is going to be where the customers are on the internet. Engaging in direct dialogue with customers who are leading the conversation.
Vendors must engage. They no longer have a choice, other than to listen and participate in helping co-build better products.
MD: What would you like to see for the Council? What legacy do you bequeath to the next winner for the IEotY? What are you looking for the next designated award winner to do differently from your project at IBM?
LS: A year will have passed, so there’s more pressure. The Council will be more established. I hope the winning company considers the value social tools provide behind a firewall not just something to play with but as business critical -- just as much as email is. The winner will manage to inspire their company to see this vision.