Archives For December 2008

Let’s start from the start – 

  • Good requirements gathering phase incorporating input from all across business units (only IT departments, though)
  • Bad not gathering requirements from functions other than IT
  • Bad not doing a systemic analyis of the software marketplace – we chose our software for the wrong reasons
  • Bad not identifying a short set of goals we were hoping to achieve by implementing; we had multiple, lofty goals
  • Bad not identifying quantifiable measures of success.  How will we know if we are or not?
  • Bad not taking a snapshot of the as-is state so we can compare at the end of the pilot.
  • Good identifying users & evangalizers & champions
  • Good assigning an evangalizer & champion to each set of users in the pilot
  • Bad not telling the evangalizers & champions they were identified as such
  • Good doing a pre-pilot phase to create content so the space is not entirely blank when the pilot goes live
  • Bad not doing good enough change management job.  Many users are confused as to when the pilot goes live (it already did)
  • Good doing training for the pre-pilot participants
  • Bad not doing training for the larger pilot participants
  • Bad hardware & server performance.  This will make a lasting (bad) first impression on already skeptical users.  
  • Bad timing of the pilot.  If you know anything about RTN it’s that the company goes on vacation starting at Thanksgiving and they don’t come back until the new year.  Not a good time to build excitement & fanfare around a launch.

Friday Random Thoughts

December 12, 2008 — Leave a comment

As the end of the year approaches some of our major efforts are slowing down.  Lots of vacation hours have accumulated; Employees are forced to take the days off now or lose them from next year’s allotment.  It’s quiet in the halls at work; no one’s there.  In spite of that, our corporate social collaboration effort was officially launched two days ago.  I’m not sure if the timing was so hot, however.  On one hand, numerous employees won’t be able to take part b/c they’re on vacation.  On the other hand, the employees left in the office will generally have an abundance of time on their hands to create content.  Only time will tell of that decision’s success.

For today, I want to do some brainstorming so please excuse the random nature of the comments below.  I haven’t had a great deal of time lately to deep dive one topic, but there have been random spurts:

  • Hypothesis: Twitter in the corporate space (Yammer, I guess) is the only tool necessary for reuse, knowledge management & social collaboration. 
  • When it comes to social media, people seem to be forgetting fundamentals – ROI, PR, culture, change management.  Why is that?  
  • In the past week there has been a lot written & commented on (go get ’em, Peter) the topic of Social Media & ROI.  Two groups seem to have emerged: ‘Traditionalists’ who believe ROI can be measured with cold hard numbers and ‘Non-Traditionalists’ (someone please come up with a better name than that) who believe ROI is an elusive, subjective measure.  This just in.  That will get you back to basics (bullet two).  
  • Social Media doesn’t change the rules of the game, but it can make you a better player.  
  • A tool is a tool.  It’s what you do with it that matters (which is why I believe the first bullet to be true)
  • There are some great benefits to working at a large company – working with PhD’s to publish an article on social media ROI is one of them.
  • Thinking everyone is as technically or social media-y savvy as you is an easy trap to fall into.  
  • I love social media but, nothing beats meeting face to face.  Nothing.  
  • Giants – 27, Cowboys – 24.

I’m beginning to read Malcom Gladwell’s new book, Outliers. In it, he sets out to discover the secrets of the truly successful, of those who have achieved beyond the normal, aka an outlier.  He really sets out to dispell the notion that successful people are nature (he was born a genius/talented/special) and not nurture mixed with some really long hours at the office.  Maybe nurture isn’t the right word for the argument he lays out; he builds the case that there are very real, but maybe not obvious (at first glance) reasons successful people are successful – practice hours, month of birth, order of birth, etc…

Here’s a clip of a CNN interview Gladwell did with Anderson Cooper.  There are better clips, but this one gets to the heart of the book quickly:

After reading Nassim N. Taleb’s The Black Swan, my first reaction to Outliers is that Gladwell is falling into one of three black swan traps:  trying to concoct an after-the-fact story that explains these revolutionary events/people.  Taleb argues that these stories are nice (we’re humans, we like stories, that’s what we do), but they never provide any predictive power; we will never be able to determine the cause of Black Swans/Outliers BEFORE they happen.  So far, Gladwell offers two reasons for success:  luck & 10,000 hours of practice.  One we can do nothing about, and one, we can only hope to do something about.  10,000 hours is a long time.

Gladwell’s previous books have had profound impacts in the business world, and I’m waiting to finish to see what Outliers might have in store for us this time around.  I can begin to see an adaptation of the theory he uses for the success of many American tycoons (Rockefeller, Carnegie, Gates, Jobs) for those in social media (a trend I’m currently interested in).  But, again, other than the 10,000 hour rule, I can’t use any of his stories to help me be more successful.

After 70 pages, I’m skeptical.  Gladwell has put together a nice backstory for some audaciuosly successful & rich people, but that’s about it.  So far, all I’ve got is that people are a function of their circumstances.  If Bill Gates wasn’t Bill gates, someone else would be.  I’m still early into the book.  Hopefully, Gladwell will outline more predictivie elements, maybe even some within our control, of success.