Friday, July 22, 2011

The "80-20" Rule

I refer to this rule all the time, but never had the econo-mathematical backdrop for it.  Clay Shirky's TedTalk on institutions vs. collaboration is an interesting listen with relevant, reinforcing visuals.  And now I know why "80-20" is an institutional reference and not a new-age collaborative reference.  Dinosaur-->me.  Once again.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

IBM "drinks its own champagne"

Really?  I wonder.

According to Jeff Schick, IBM-ers really use all the bells and whistles in their suite of "social media" products.  Daily.  And it really works.

Well, maybe.  I could see this working for project managers and top/middle managers, who get synergy boosts from knowing what other folks are up to, but not so much for "boots on the ground" coders or admin staff.  The grunt work is still grunt work and the folks who have little control over their own direction have little reason to blog or write status reports about it.

How would you get there, though, if you wanted the whole community "drinking the champagne?"

I suppose you could give your workers more autonomy, more empowerment, more control over their destiny, both at work and at play.  Start with unlimited vacation, perhaps?  You know darn well that IT workers are already working nights and weekends, so they might as well have an impressive sounding vacation package.  It's not like they'll abuse it -- geeks always wanna get back to the next cool thing!  Autonomy?  When's the last time your team had a retreat to meditate on your mission and re-evaluate team priorities?  It hurts nothing to remind folks (preferably in a posh, offsite setting that makes them feel valued) about the direction we're all going and why.  Empowerment?  Flatten the hierarchy where you can.  Social media really helps here -- moving your info from your personal email into a topic-based tagged repository allows other people to educate themselves without draining the source.

Carrots or Sticks?

How about both?  I honestly don't think IBM got where (it says) it did by carrots alone.  Social media and a collaborative mindset is appealing to the youngest cohort entering the workforce, but the older cohorts are still in an information-hoarding culture and mindset.  Giving them the opportunity -- even giving them a system that rewards their participation -- will not convince them.  But if your managers encourage you to unload some of your own info AND start giving you information you previously weren't privy to, you might sense that they're serious.  And, as a good friend recently said, making it part of a performance review will too!  I see carrots and sticks being important here.

So maybe IBM is being truthful.  After all, they send more middle managers along with every technical person they let out of Big Blue than any other company I've ever seen. 

Friday, July 08, 2011

ChipIn - fundraising aid

"ChipIn is a Web-based service that simplifies the process of collecting money from groups of people. We make this process quick, easy, and secure, and we provide organizers with numerous ways to get the word out about their ChipIn event."

Enough vendors have finally mastered the art of securely accepting credit card or PayPal transactions, why not extend that to normal people who don't have merchant IDs?  And why not give them a handy widget to toss into their website to make it easy to hand-hold interested donators right to the donation process?  Slick!

Note: I have not used this service, just found it and like the idea of it.  If anyone knows of or has used a similar service, I'd be very much interested in your reviews!

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

"lol" is the new "like"

If you've ever tried to make a teenager aware of how often the word "like" creeps into their speech, you're probably aware that (a) they're oblivious to it and (b) it's now an intractable part of their communication.  They cannot get rid of it.  Even if they want to.

I'm finding that "LOL" (or laugh out loud) is approaching the same level of saturation, but on a written level.  You can't swing a keyboard without hitting someone who's laughing out loud--onscreen.  It's too damn easy.  And it's dumbing down the level of discourse.  Heck, I think texting in general and rampant abbreviations in specific are causing folks to forget how to spell--or worse--forget to CARE that spelling is important.  And punctuation follows.  And grammar.  And syntax.  And context.  And we wonder why we experience communication breakdowns?  Why values don't get passed along?

C'mon.  Try it for a day.  Just spell everything out.  Be explicit.  Instead of "lol" try "[chuckle]" or "[kneeslapping laughter]."  Just be . . . not boring.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Colbert on Social Media


Check out Colbert Nation!

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Google+ and social media overload

I check Facebook news feed daily now.  Yes, it's a security pitfall (even if you lock it down), yes, they don't appear to care about MY content or MY privacy, but it's a calculated risk on my part -- I get a lot from it, so it's worth it.  It is there that I've found long lost friends, remembered how funny and interesting they are, and would miss not hearing about their daily travails.  So OK, I drank the Kool-aid.

Now comes Google+, appealing to all of us geeks, telling us they'll protect our privacy, that they respect our content, that they'll give us all the things we lamented about Facebook, if only we'll shift over. I'm curious, so I signed up.  Only they're not really ready yet -- they're not letting me in -- their pilot is oversubscribed or some such annoyance. A friend of mine (who made it in early) claims it's great, that he's already got 70+ connections on it in less than 3 days, which represents roughly 33% of his Facebook Friend entourage.  He feels that 33% in 3 days is a pretty good indicator that eventually he'll get most of the folks he's interested in.  I don't know. . .

It's taken some folks a long time just to make it to Facebook for a once-a-month check-in.  I don't see those folks being persuaded to check something ELSE.  For the folks who do check in more regularly, they've already done the work of finding and connecting with friends--why should they do it all twice?  For the folks who have exercised every security option Facebook offers, why would they want to get in on the ground floor of something likely to have just as many growing-pains security concerns as any other online community?  For the folks who simply like Google and their innocent, childlike primary colors, are you SURE?  I applaud their standing up to China in the face of its obvious state-sponsored hacking activities, but Google will not save us if it's not profitable. This is not Mr. Rogers' Google.

So yeah, I'll try it out and I'll keep an open mind.  I am a geek after all.  But I will also be looking for a lot of answers.  I'm not investing in "+" if it doesn't deliver.

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