Good book for those looking at their firm ‘going social’. I wish I had a few copies of this a couple of years ago when we started dabbling with internal status updates and links. Has motivated me to think about blogging again.

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Dates 15 May 2013 – 20 May 2013
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  • Rachael Beale Rachael Beale

He realized the sad truth of former HP CEO Lew Platt’s comment: “If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times as productive.”

Each chapter is intended to be just long enough for a visit to the executive restroom

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is a guy who knows his audience! (cc @euan)

The Internet, like the printing press, is part of the ongoing process of humanity growing up.

Let’s face it – most of us pass through a day, a month, perhaps even a whole career at work, without leaving much of a trace. We might write emails and reports but most of these get buried in the sea of information produced in the day to day of modern work and get stored on computer servers in “repositories” never to be seen again. When we leave our organizations, or even move between departments, there is usually little to indicate what we did, why, and what the point was.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

I talk about this at work all the time. Emails of information sent from A to B end up dying in an email archive graveyard. If we had the tools to enable us to make things ‘public by default’ (internal blogs, status updates etc.) it would mean that the knowledge lives on and is accessible. People not involved in the original conversation would also be able to get involved and obtain value from the information – this would be an emergent benefit of making it public.

The bottom line on security is if you don’t want someone to read what you have written, don’t write it on a computer.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

At the last firm I worked at we had an information classification system that went from ‘public’ to ‘internal use only’ to ‘confidential’ and all the way to ‘secret’. Each classification came with rules as to how you could use the data. Information classified as ‘secret’ could not be stored digitally in any form!

Imagine if the oil industry allowed us to learn from its environment experts as they faced the challenges of their industry, or the financial sector helped us to understand its complexity by letting us understand the “nerdiness” of its best minds.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Being the first person to do this carries so much downside risk. People would be scared of being shown to not know enough or not to be competent enough with their subject matter. There would also be a strong resistance to giving a voice to individuals instead of the corporate ‘voice’ of the firm.

I know a primary teacher who writes his pupils’ annual parent reports on Google Docs and gives the parent ongoing access to the reports through the term as he writes them. Imagine doing the same thing with annual staff reports.

Since the days when the main form of communication between people was hand written letters, there has probably never been a time when so many of us communicated with each other through the written word. No matter how short form the medium.

One of the scariest things about starting to say what you think in writing is the prospect of people disagreeing with you. Will they laugh? Will they think that what you are saying is trite and obvious?

Finding out that you don’t know what you are talking about may be painful but it is better to do it sooner rather than later.

Human nature tends to focus on the negative and take the positives for granted.

blogs are rarely the issue in themselves but they do open up cans of worms and make us aware of things that were already issues and that, arguably, we should have been dealing with.

instead of asking for permission for something your bosses don’t understand, ask for forgiveness for something that has worked.

knowledge is one of the few things that doesn’t diminish with use. I don’t know any less by sharing what I know with you.

Beware of echo chambers, the tendency to follow people who agree with you. You have to take responsibility for stretching your learning and expanding your horizons. Go “off piste” occasionally and see what people who are not like you are finding interesting. See what people who disagree with you are thinking. Expand your idea gene pool all of the time.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

See Clay Johnson’s ‘The Information Diet’:

networks have always been the way to really get things done.

But then I thought of Twitter. Out of the 5000 or so people who followed me at the time on Twitter someone was bound to know what I needed to do to get the system working. So I asked the question about how to get the camera connecting with the software and within seconds I had three answers. I then changed some settings, the camera worked, and moments later I was successfully talking to my audience. Now I can’t think of another way I could have done that without Twitter.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Twitter, has been a big help to me in the past for various problems and discussions at work, e.g. tackling project management and business management issues. Continues to amaze me and helps people to ‘get’ the reasons why I use it.

Is knowing someone face to face all it’s cracked up to be?

Is my brain becoming wired to cope with larger numbers of people at a more superficial level with artificial aids? Does this matter?

There are plenty of people I know well in the conventional sense, who are of little use to me and who I might not even like. At the same time there are hundreds online who I have never shared the same space with but who I like and who help me on a regular basis.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

In my mind this is a difference between Facebook (people I know in real life) and Twitter/ (people I want to follow and connect with as their thoughts add some value to me).

Even if you are in the same, or related, parts of the business you are often physically separated – either by being in a different building or even in a different corner of a large open plan office. You can be isolated in a room full of people. Shrinking these gaps that inevitably appear between us has all sorts of business benefits. We can help solve each other’s problems if we know we have them.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

How true. This book is really making me think about internal social tools again.

an ecology of different low cost tools is much more likely to succeed than enterprise scale tools and the command and control culture that tends to come with them.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

Instead of just getting set up with ‘the Enterprise collaboration tool’ there should be tools for blogs, status updates, forum posts, Q&As – people will work out what they want to use for what, what works and what doesn’t. Dictating how they should be used could make people feel cautious about getting started at all, for fear of using them in the ‘wrong’ way.

Collaboration is much slipperier and harder to encourage than software vendors would have you believe.

Don’t turn collaboration into a big thing and don’t try to manage it in conventional ways.

Treat me right and I will let you into my life and I will allow you to use up some of my valuable cognitive surplus to whisper in my ear about products and services that I don’t even know I need yet. Abuse my trust and I will drop you in the blink of an eye, use recommendations from my network to find a viable alternative, and slag you off online for all to see.

Social tools tend to appeal to the disenfranchised and so it is those at the margins rather than the centre who tend to be drawn to them.

My fantasy is a business where everyone blogs. Everyone thinks about what they are doing, and writes about what they are doing. From the top to the bottom, the edges to the middle. Everyone awake and bouncing off each other intellectually as they get more and more effective at whatever they do. This would be the ultimate in corporate creativity.

If you don’t allow people to question how you currently do things you are unlikely to produce innovation.

Social media is going to increasingly affect recruitment. People who have grown up with the web and use social tools are frankly not going to work for organizations that won’t let them continue to use these tools at work.

In the past work was the main place where people had access to computers. Now our computers at work are slower and more locked down than the technology most of us have at home.

David Weinberger once said that what held the Internet together wasn’t Internet protocols but love.

Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

And Internet protocols.

if you are deploying any tools, either personally or in a business setting, make sure they import and export easily. You need to be able to up sticks and move to the next tool without too much pain and effort. This may come at the price of not doing all of the cool things a proprietary tool makes possible, but in the long run this is a price worth paying.

How can you start anything in business without a clear strategy? Well with social media, frankly you would be mad to.

tip on ROI – keep the “I” really small and no one will give you hassle about the “R”!

I am becoming more robust about the ROI question and turning it back on those who ask it. What is the ROI of the way we do things now?

If you react with cool dispassion or even disapproval when someone comes to you with their heartfelt opinion or newly formed and fragile idea, then you do them harm. You exercise violence in the pursuit of status and also decrease efficiency. You risk becoming less than you can be both as an individual and as an organization.

Dave Snowden once said “If you want to try to manage a complex environment with complex tools, you end up with a mess. The only way to manage complex environments is with a small number of simple, universally understood rules.”

One of the most common fears managers have about letting their staff use social tools in the workplace is the prospect of them using the tools to start criticizing the company or finding fault with their management in a relatively public space.

don’t allow anonymity on your internal tools (except perhaps for dedicated “whistle blowing” spaces) and make people accountable. They will learn pretty quickly what is OK and what isn’t.

Don’t react as if everyone being disruptive is being destructive.


Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is a great, no-nonsense chapter title!


Andrew Doran Andrew Doran

This is a great, no-nonsense chapter title!

Allow those dealing with the emergency to use social tools alongside their official system.

The most effective way to manage security is through education. Explain to people what is secure and what is risky. Help them to make better judgements about their actions and give them good reasons to do the right thing.

Where possible, sharing as much as you can, when you are able to do so, means that people are more likely to respect you when you say you can’t share some information.

“If you don’t want me to slag off your product on the Internet, don’t have a shit product.”

In reality organizations have only ever been loosely held networks of individuals who turn up at the same place at the same time. They do so for a complex mix of reasons, most of which are personal – and have little to do with money.

If you are going to say what you think in public you have to become happy about what you are thinking. If you are not happy about what you are saying, don’t say it and do something about it until you are happy. This is the bottom line message of this book.