Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Hope you have a great time.
And, thank you all for reading my blog and tweets and all the online and offline interactions. They are much appreciated.

I'm on vacation with my family, so I'll won't be blogging and will hardly tweet. Hope to meet you soon - in 2012!

My Predictions for 2012

The future cannot be predicted. But, even if it could, we would not dare to act on the prediction.

- Arie de Geus in The Living Company


Join me at the Intranet Conference 2012 #intra12

As you know I work for Entopic. Entopic has organized a conference about intranet for several years now. It has become the largest intranet conference in the World.

We’re working hard on the 2012 conference. It will be held on March 13, 2012 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. A large part of the program has been defined and we hope to finalize the program in the coming week.

This year we wanted to focus on the soft(er) side of intranet. What are the skills intranet-related people need to successfully implement and maintain a intranet and especially a social intranet. We found three keynote speakers that know all about this side of intranet:
We also have a great list of interesting breakouts this year. Ranging from Shell about knowledge management and intranet to the Local Government of Amsterdam about their paperless dossier management via iPad.

Check out our new website and the program and tell me what you think. Of course I hope to meet you there.

State of the Blogosphere 2011

How is the blogosphere doing? Several post have been written in 2011 about it being dead. At the beginning of the social media revolution everyone was told to start blogging. Now, most think microblogging is enough, it seems. Twitter has become a popular why to (micro)blog. And other types of blogging are showing up, like Posterous and Tumblr. As well as photo blogs, like Instagram.

Since 2004 Technorati publishes an overview of the State of the Blogosphere. Recently ‘The State of the Blogosphere 2011’ was published. I’d like to share a summary of this interesting report with you (as I’ve done in previous years).

Who are the bloggers? 
4114 bloggers were surveyed for this report (about 3000 less than in 2010). According to the research 75% of the bloggers are 25-44 years old. The level of education of blogger is high, mostly college and university level.
Technorati distinguishes four types of bloggers: hobbyists (60% of the respondents), part-time and full-time professionals (18%), corporate (8%) and entrepreneurs (13%).

Blogging patterns
The majority of the bloggers has been blogging for at least 2 years. It is remarkable that all bloggers maintain more than one blog. 60% of the respondents blogs up to three hours per week, the rest (40%) blogs more. 13% say they spend more than ten hours per week.
The majority of the participants blogs 2-3 times a week. Professional full-time bloggers blog more often. 26% says they post at least three times per day.
The general trend among bloggers is to spend more time on blogging than in 2011 and to post more often. When bloggers decide to blog less this is due to, just as last year, spending more time on other social platform and especially microblogging.

Blogging and business
What is the influence of blogging on brands? This year blogs are listed as having the most influence on brands. Compared to 2010 this is a huge leap forward. As a second and third brand influencer friends and other social media are mentioned. All types of bloggers are asked regularly by brands to blog about their product or service. Even though most bloggers think that companies find them less professional, compared to traditional media.
A remarkable finding from the survey is that blogs are still considered to be most influential under consumers when they look for recommedations about products and services. Facebook is also influential, but less than blogs. Twitter’s influence has also decreased in this respect.

Blog inspiration and success
To find input for blogposts, most bloggers tap into social media sites (21 uur/week). Bloggers don’t watch a lot of TV.
Professionele bloggers measure the success of their blog by the number of unique visitors and financial gain. Hobbyist measure success by personal satisfaction. 70% of the bloggers blog to share experience and expertise with others. Another way to measure the success of a blog is if it has been quoted in traditional media. 36% of the bloggers say their blog has been quoted.
An interesting fact is most bloggers don’t want advertisement on their blog, although most bloggers admit they do not have enough readers for advertisers to be interested in advertising on their blog.

Blogging and other social media
82% of all bloggers uses Twitter. Under professional bloggers almost all use it. Hobbyists have about halve as many followers on Twitter as professionals. Professional bloggers have around 1000 followers. In most cases blogposts are automatically published to Twitter.
89% of the bloggers has a Facebook account. Setting up separate Facebook pages for your blog has increased by 15% in the previous year. In most cases the blogpost is not automatically posted to Facebook.
More than 6 out of 10 respondents uses Google+. The reasons to use Google+ are comparable to Twitter and Facebook: promoting your blog and finding interesting links. As with Facebook, automatic publishing of blogposts to Google+ is not done often. 
The participants find Facebook and Twitter as most-effective to publicize a blog. LinkedIn comes in 3rd place.
Wordpress is the most popular blog hosting service. 51% of the participants uses it. Blogger en Blogspot are popular as well (21% en 14%).

Blogging and mobile
A nice question was about the impact of tablets and smartphones on blogging. 45% said they use more pictures and images and 43% said they write shorter posts because of mobile.

Questions
You can read the whole report online. Have you read it? If so, what were the most remarkable findings according to you? And what’s your vision on the future of blogging? Is it doomed, as some say? Or does it have a (certain) future? 

Note: This post was also published in Dutch on FrankWatching and Teed.

Scoren met Twitter [Dutch post] #ilunch

ThiemeMeulenhoff organiseert maandelijks een iLunch. Een iLunch is een inspirerende bijeenkomst voor TM medewerkers. Meestal wordt een externe spreker uitgenodigd om de iLunch in te vullen. In december was ik uitgenodigd om te spreken over het succesvol inzetten van Twitter, privé en zakelijk. Mijn slides heb ik gedeeld op Slideshare en bij deze ook hier. Feedback, vragen en commentaar zijn welkom.

Another step towards internal maps

Outdoor maps are great. Google is doing a wonderful job with Maps. But what about indoor maps? I've been tracking posts about this topic for some time. And just recently Google announced it's taking Google Maps indoors. Here's a short video about his initiative:

I think this will have huge implications for companies as well. Just think about adding maps to your internal intranet employee directory.

Social technologies are extending organizations

McKinsey has been following the social business movement for some time now. And they're following to see if it can live up to the expectations. Recently they published the results of their 5th annual survey under 4200 global executives. The polled them how their organizations use social tools.

The finding of the report are interesting. There's clear progress: social tools are being used more and more and in more effective ways. When adopted across the networked enterprise and integrated in work processes of employees, clear benefits are seen. There's a boost in financial performance and market share, which relates to the results of previous surveys. However not many companies are fully networked, meaning they are internally and externally networked.

One of the most interesting things I read in the report was the fact that executives believe if organizational barriers to social tools diminish, they could transform the core business processes. This is a big statement as most business processes are formal and supported by heavy and expensive IT-systems. Exhibit 8 give you an idea of the processes that will/can be changed. This does not imply social tools are good for all business processes. Exhibit 7 should which business processes have the best fit with social tools. As you see, social tools are mostly used to scan the external environment.


The survey mentioned that 72% of the organizations have at least one social technology inhouse. And 40% have a social networking and blogging platform.

Of course we all want to know what the affordances of social business are. According to this report they are:

  1. increasing speed to access knowledge
  2. reducing communication costs
  3. increasing speed to access internal experts

Another interesting finding is the fact that it is easier to loose benefits of social tools than to gain them. Implementing social tools is hard work and requires continuous effort.

Books I'm reading and why

You may have never seen this. But my blog contains a list of books I'm reading at the moment. I just finished reading 'Making it all work' by David Allen. I re-read his book 'Getting things done' every year to review the way I'm working and apply new GTD elements to my productivity framework. But I thought I'd read Allen's newest book instead this year.
I'll review 'Making it all work' soon and share it with you as a blogpost. I enjoyed reading this book as it goes into the philosophy and mechanisms behind GTD.

Currently I'm reading 3 books:

Have you read one of these books? If so, leave a comment and tell me what you think of it. If you're planning to read one of them, let me know so we can read together and share notes.

Great assignment

Just wanted to share my enthusiasm with you about a great assignment I received from a client. Recently we were contacted because our client wanted to set up a new intranet. They were thinking about doing an internal survey to find out what employees expected from their (future) intranet. Soon they concluded this would only give them a list of things they already knew. "We don't really know what we need." So, they came to us/me with the request to organize trips to five interesting intranets. Show us five interesting intranets that we can learn from. Based on those visits we will learn a lot about organizational issues, budget, technology platform, adoption strategies, types of intranets, etc.

Wow, what a great assignment! I also think this is smart thing to do. Why do it all yourself if there's so much to learn from others? Isn't this also a faster way to get to results?

I'm honored to get such an assignment and it's great to organize this for them. It's just as inspiring to me as it is to them.

Enterprise 2.0 Summit Ambassador #e20s

Just a short post to say I'm honored to be an ambassador of the 2012 Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris!

I was hoping to be an ambassador last year, but was asked to give a talk then. I really enjoyed the summit. The keynotes were very good, the breakout sessions were interesting, the conference was well-organized and the evening dinner and drinks were inspiring. It was fascinating to see what is being done in Europe in the enterprise 2.0-social business space.
This years program looks great as well. The summit will be held in Paris instead of Frankfurt, which will be interesting. You can register here.
All my posts about last year's summit can be found here.

Are you going to the Enterprise 2.0 Summit? I'm also curious which Dutch people plan to go! ;-)




Less Filter Bubbles with Twitter and RSS?

Talking to an old-aged man who had just discovered the internet, he said: "The internet is just so great, what a huge amount of sources we have there!" And I agree with him. The internet is amazing. The huge amount of content shared there about all kinds of topics. The way we can interact with content and people via the internet. The amazing number of different internet services. And we have reached the end of what the internet will bring us.

But is the internet all good. There have been many that question if the internet is such a positive force. Shouldn't we question some (or all) of the changes the internet is doing to the world and to. Andrew Keen wrote about the negative aspects of the internet on culture. Nicolas Carr published about book about what the internet is doing to our brain. And more can be mentioned here.

Recently I bumped into a review of The Filter Bubble in my Dutch newspaper, went over to watch the related TED Talk with the same title and the post about information gatekeepers popped up in my feeds. Talk about the wonders of internet and serendipity...

In short the TED talk is about how services like Google and Facebook are automatically filtering out information for us, without us knowing, based on our profiles, search behavior, friends, etc. And the question is asked if this is good thing.

I'm happy these kind of questions are being asked. It helps me question myself if I'm too positive about the (role of) the internet in my life. One of the things I like about the internet is the fact that so much information is accessible at my finger tips. And the fact that I can follow close and far-away friends, thinkers and experts with such ease. I try to keep my filters fresh and open to new views. And as I agree and understand that Google and Facebook are trying to help me find what's relevant, I also see that I need other ways to get unfiltered content. Isn't this where Twitter and a good feedreader come in? Oh, yes, even there I don't follow the whole world on Twitter and I can read all the blogs in the world. But it's hard to block out all kinds of information I think I don't want to see. I can't stop someone I'm following to not send a tweet or write a blogpost about a certain topic. Of course I don't have to read the blogpost, but to do that I have to read the title of the post. And with that I'm at least confronted with his/her view on a topic.

Does this make sense? I'm really curious how you stay out of the filter bubble. Please share your thoughts!

Fire all the managers?

I listen to the HBR Ideacast regularly. Recently Gary Hamel was interviewed about his HBR article 'First, Let's Fire all the Managers'.

As you may know Hamel has devoted a large part of his life to thinking about better ways to organize and manage companies. What kind of management (if any) does this time period need. Of course, Hamel goes into why he wrote an article about this topic. But to me the most interesting part was that Hamel provides examples of companies that don't have management. When I was listening I caught myself thinking: Yeah, less management would be great, but can we really live without them? Hamel shows it can be done. He points to one company called Morningstar for instance.

Very interesting and thought-provoking! What do you think? Can your company or could you live without management?

The invisible company

Eryc Branham recently posted an interesting article about 'The invisible company' over on ReadWriteWeb.

I think his post also underlines that companies are inherently social. A company is a collection of humans. And (most) humans are social beings. I find most people don't look at companies this way. I hear lots of talk about social business as if business' are only social if they use social media internally and interact with the market via social media. Companies aren't social when they use social media. But, as Eryc says, social tools can be and should be used to make the social interactions between colleagues visible.

Social Media in Practice Event #socmedprak

A conference about social media, organized using social media and presented by experienced social media enthusiast, can that be done? Yes, it can. I was part of such a conference a couple of weeks ago. It was called 'The Social Media in Practice Event' (Dutch: Social media in de praktijk).

Ronald van den Hoff of Society 3.0 kicked off the event. He gave an interesting talk about the influence of the internet and social media on society, and its implications for businesses. I liked how he stressed businesses should be built around passion and learning from mistakes. They should be ever more open to what's happening around them or else they will be eclipsed. Interestingly he also said large companies will get smaller and smaller and independent contractors/free agents will be the 'companies' of the future.

I also went to Roos van Vugt's breakout about leading into social media. She works for Deloitte and explained how see introduced and is cultivating social media inside the company. She stressed to make sure higher management is on board and agrees with internal social media deployment.

I also was asked to give two breakouts about social media and knowledge management. My slides (in Dutch...) can be found here:
During both breakouts the discussion was lively. Discussion topics were about the difference between business processes and networks, the security of hosted social media like Yammer, how people can be encouraged to share their knowledge and should companies introduce a central, all-encompassing social media platform or separate tools?

Location and News(papers), also for Intranet?

The New York Times has an interesting 'experimental projects' group, beta620. ReadWriteWeb recently pointed to an interesting experiment, called Longitude.
Wouldn't it be neat if news items could be browsed through by a map? So you can see what news has been published about the city or country you live in or are interested in? Longitude does just this.

One thing I was wondering is: Is this concept also interesting for the intranet? Could it be valuable to international companies to link the news items and intranet pages to a location? Clearly there are good cases for the combination of location and intranet. Curious to hear your thoughts about this.

Go ahead and play with Longitude. Great stuff for in the weekend if you ask me!

Control and audit implications for social media

What does social media have to do with finance and control? And even auditing? Those were questions I had to think about after I was invited to give two talks with prof. Eddy Vaassen about 'Control and audit implications of social media'. And I must say, it was challenging and fun.
Our slides can be found here:
Most of the questions from the audience were about control. What are the implications of using social media for the company's reputation? Should social media be organized centrally? Etc. Furthermore, some wondered if social media was only for marketing and communication, not for other parts of the organization, like R&D and Finance.

There were several other keynotes. One was particularly interesting. Prof. Dennis Campbell gave a talk about 'Control and customer experience'. His research clearly related to the points we made. It shows that: More (tight) control (does mitigate risk) but does not lead to learning. In loose control there is about 9% more learning. 
And I also liked the simple version of the service profit chain:
Employee satisfaction > service value > customer satisfaction > customer loyalty > profitability
Reality is more complex though and this is a long process to get this right, Campbell said.

Social business and compliance are interesting areas to keep an eye on. Recently several good posts by Joe Shepley were written on CMSWire about this topic. I commented on the first one.

Is control and compliance an issue in your internal and external social media roll outs? If so, let me know. I'd love to hear how you address this topic.

Social Business Doesn't Mean What You Think It Does, Neither Does Enterprise 2.0

Some time ago Deb Lavoy wrote an interesting post titled 'Social Business doesn't mean what you think it does, neither does Enterprise 2.0'. I just wanted to point you to it. The discussion around the post is interesting.  I also commented on the post. I'll mix it into this post and hopefully you'll read Deb's post and join the conversation.

I like the way Deb links social business to deeper societal and even philosophical movements. I think this is one of the reasons Tapscott c.s. wrote the book 'Macrowikinomics'. W.r.t. philosophy she relates social business to Enlightenment 2.0. I was wondering if we can just say it relates to the current philosophy, postmodernism (- there is no absolute truth, everything is fragmented, deconstructionilism, subjectivism instead of objectivism, etc)?
Extending that thought, we know philosophies come and go (objectivism is followed by an era of subjectivism, then objectivism, etc). I think we are now learning that subjectivism alone won't get us there. Society is showing this. But in social business there's also more and more talk about social business and core business processes, and integrating formal processes and informal networks in organizations. I hope this is showing that we are learning. Because we know from history if we only focus on one side of the truth, the world will sway back the other way to address the other side of the truth for some time.
In short, networks and informal collaboration aren't the whole story, there's always some formal structure. But definitely less structure than we were used to. Because structure isn't the whole story either; networks have always been there as well.

4 Big Intranet Questions

Jane McConnell recently shared 4 questions about intranet (aka the web workplace) that she is going to ask several panelist at an upcoming conference. Big and good questions, in my opinion. Her questions are:
  1. Are we reaching the end of the intranet as we know it? How do you imagine intranets to be in the future?
  2. Enterprise search seems to be essential in today’s world of masses of content in the managed intranet, in collaborative spaces and in enterprise social networks. Some people see “search’ as the logical point of convergence and the ideal user interface for the “digital workplace”. What is your vision of search and its role in the digital enterprise?
  3. How do you see the evolution of “governance’ in a world where managed content and user-generated, spontaneous content are blended?
  4. If you were to give one piece of advice to organizations just starting the social (or 2.0) journey, what would it be?
Jane wondered what her blog readers would answer. Here are my answers (also posted as a comment to the blogpost):
  1. The traditional intranet will become much smaller, more focus will be on social tools and mobile access. I think stuff like location and gamification will also have influence on the intranet (or digital workplace…).
  2. Search is important, but social search can compensate bad intranet search. I see tools like Yammer being used to help colleagues find internal info and apps more quickly. Just ask the question and others will point you to the location on the intranet/digital workplace.
  3. Governance will be more important than ever. You don’t need to much governance around an intranet with 100s of static pages. You do need facilitation, community management around 100s of colleagues sharing and connecting within the organisation. Governance will focus on creating the playing field, facilitation and encouragement, less on control and enforcing.
  4. Try, experiment, go for it. Try internal social media on the edges of the company if you’re not allowed to roll it out centrally. And try to connect internal social tools to the core business processes and goals. Show value there and managers and decision makers will love you!
Do my answers make sense? Do you agree/disagree with them?

Internet Trends 2011 and on

There is one presentation I love watching every year. It's loaded with data and just sets the agenda for the coming year. It's Mary Meeker's talk at the Web 2.0 Summit. You can watch it here:


 And find the slides here.

As I said, it loaded with data and insights. I'll highlight just a few. Striking is the international growth of the internet. It's definitely not the US-only in the internet. And Africa and South-America are continents to pay attention to.
Another thing is the speed of adoption of new communication technology is increasing, even in recession.
The speed of adoption of the iPhone was fast compared to the iPod, but just look at how quickly the iPad took over the market.
The next big thing according to Meeker? Everything that has to do with our ears; Sound/audio. And, of course, the continuing growth of mobile.

Dutch Web Editor’s conference #webred11


The company that I work for, Entopic, recently organized the Web editor’s conference (Dutch: Congres Webredactie). It was the first conference in Holland (and the world?) for web editors. Dutch posts about the conference can be found here. The tweet stream can be found here (#webred11) and all the presentations here. I’ll share some highlights from the conference with you here.

The Future of Content
The conference started out with a talk by futurist Gerd Leonhard about the future of content. He gave an interesting talk about the past, present and future of content. He started in the broadcasting era and move to what he calls the broadband era; the time we are experiencing now. He stressed this is happening now and if we or institutions don’t get on board we/they will be disrupted.

I liked they way he pointed to the increasing influence of technology on our lives, but also stressed the extreme importance of human ingenuity.

Of course, Leonard also addressed the post pc statements and its implications for content (publishing and curation). The value of content will be in adding meaning and context (location, real-time, platform) to content, not in the publishing of it. This will also ask for a complete different business model.

Customer Journey
There were also several breakouts. I went to two of them. One was about Customer Journeys. How can you lead people through their tour along websites, email newsletters and social media in an optimal way? Interestingly the speaker said the audience should not use persona’s to define these journeys, while persona’s were promoted in another breakout.

Writing a book using social media
The other breakout was done by Erwin Blom. Hij wrote the Community Handbook (in Dutch). He told a fascinating story about how he used social media to write, promote and improve his book. He sees the process of writing the book as the product. And advises all to publish raw material. Make sure the product or service you want to deliver is alive before it’s there.

Another interesting thing he said is by sharing early you also claim the idea. I agree. This is a weird paradox of social media. Some wonder if we should be so open about our lives and ideas. An important question. But if you have an idea sharing it on social media gives you the exact time and date (permalink) on which you shared it. Comparing dates could help solve the problem who had the idea first.

Web editor’s and social media
Erwin Blom also closed the day with a keynote. He stressed the blessing that social media is for web editor’s.

Erwin studied journalism and became journalist. The internet fascinated him. He wondered how he could tell more stories over the web. How do you share more with your audience? Your audience often knows more than you can know by yourself.

Social media is great for telling (more) stories. Social media brings people together around their passion, a problem or goal they have. Blom showed the audience all kinds of ways to use social media to find interesting people and information, to interact with the world, etc. He challenged the audience to start with one of the example or just start blogging.

Some endnotes
- Social media is about passion. So if you use social media, you have to do it with passion.
- Facilitate the communication of the community. Even when it’s negative feedback. Respond to the feedback and learn from it.
- Blom was asked what new web app he liked? He pointed to Instagram. Not many in the audience had heard of it or were using it.
- And two video's from the conference. The first is the intro to the conference and the second is a summary of the day.

Question
I'm curious if you know of a comparable conference in other parts of the world?

Linking Strategies in LinkedIn

How do you use LinkedIn? Who do you connect to? Do you use LinkedIn Groups? This post on the NextWeb triggered me to answer these questions publicly.

Resume
LinkedIn is an interesting platform. I've been using it for several years now. At first I basically uploaded my resume to LinkedIn. I hardly visited LinkedIn after that, except for excepting link requests.
Some time after that LinkedIn introduced Answers. I followed several topics there, but stopped after about a year. The quality of the questions was horrible and it seemed I didn't get anything back from the answers I gave.

Groups
I also joined several LinkedIn Groups. Groups is interesting and it keeps me coming back to the LinkedIn site. Right now I'm following 27 groups, mostly in my area of expertise (intranet, social media, knowledge management, enterprise 2.0, social business). Most of the groups have interesting discussions. The update in my email every day helps me keep up with what's going on in there. If I see an interesting question that I can answer, I'll jump in. And, regularly, I also tap into the knowledge of the group members. The quality of the interaction and the people's knowledge in the groups is usually great.

Linking
Of course, I get invites to connect in LinkedIn. Regularly people that I don't know personally, contact me via LinkedIn with a request to connect. (This is also encouraged by a LinkedIn Group setting allowing group members to link directly to each other. I usually uncheck this setting.) I accept invitations to connect when I know the person quite well. I've talked with him/her, preferably face-to-face. I want to be able to say something about that person, if somebody asks me about him/her. For instance, when a recruiter is looking for someone in my network and asks me about him/her, I want to be able to give a recommendation. If I can't do this, I won't connect with that person. Of course I hope I'll be able to do so in the near future. Sometimes this interaction via LinkedIn even leads to a live meeting with that person.

What's your linking strategy?
I know there are different linking strategies. What's yours? Do you link to everybody who sends you requests? If so, why? Do you also join groups? How do you follow what's happening in those groups?

Hope this will get you blogging

I enjoy following Seth Godin's blog. He has as inspiring way of pushing out short(er) blogposts and getting me to think.

One blogpost about 'Talker's block' struck me recently. It struck me for two reasons. It related to the situation I'm in every now-and-then: writer's block. I'll have several draft posts, almost ready to be published, but they stay in the draft folder for too long.
The other reason is: It's part of my work to get others to blog. And to my regret I see people starting to tweet and use Facebook, quite easily. Blogging, however, is a step too far for most of them. No, blogging is not for everybody. But some people don't start to blog because they fear writer's block. Or they're insecure about their writing skills. Or they fear for the comments others will have on their musings.

Godin challenges you and me to get over it. He says:
Writer's block isn't hard to cure.
Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.
There. Does this help? Hope so! See you soon in the blogosphere!


[Request for Input] Control and audit implications for social media

In a couple of weeks I'll be giving a masterclass with prof. Eddy Vaassen about 'Control and audit implications for social media'. Wow, what a title, eh?! This masterclass is part of a large conference in Holland organized by NBA-VRC for accountants and controllers. The topic of this year's conference is Customer 3.0.

I'm working on the slides for the masterclass. And I'm curious what your expectations are when you read the title of the masterclass. What topics should be addressed? What are control and audit implications, according to you? Do control, audit and social media relate? If so, please explain.

Of course we'll share our slides as soon as they're ready. Feedback on those slides is welcome, as always.

Which Social Media do Millenials use?

Giving a guest lecture is great fun, I find. I recently had the chance to interact with about 60 college students. They were in their second or third year. The topic of the lecture was social media use within company. So, Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business. My slides can be found here (in Dutch...).

I kicked off my lecture with some open questions. I'd like to share the answers to one question with you. I was curious what social tools they use themselves to get things done in their lives. With all the talk about millennials being digital natives (or aren't they), easily moving in the social space, organizing their life and work with these tools, etc I thought I'd see if this if the case in practice.
I shared what I got from the students on Google+. In sum, this is what they told me.

Of the 60 students:
  • 40 use Twitter
  • Almost all use Facebook
  • Just over half use Hyves (Dutch social network)
  • 1 uses a bookmarking tool
  • 2 blog
  • 0 have a wiki (although all have experience using wiki's)
  • 6 use Google+
  • 2 use Foursquare
  • 16 are on LinkedIn
Let me reflect on this a bit.
Of course these results are not statistically valid. It's just 60 students from one college in a city in Holland telling me what they use. But I'll will poll them two more times this year. (Great idea from Chee Chin Liew!) Let's see what we learn from the trends in this class.
I didn't have time for a real discussion about the data. Of course you wonder why only 2 blog, for instance. LinkedIn is not much used either. Does this point to the fact that LinkedIn is a business network for people looking for a job or that have a job? This poll also shows Foursquare, Google+ and bookmarking are hardly used. The students using Google+ said they signed up to see what Google+ is and find out if it has added-value compared to their current toolset. Facebook is very popular and the Dutch network Hyves is clearly becoming an echo chamber for them. Several said they stopped using Hyves or just use it to be reminded of their friend's birthday.

Interesting data, don't you think? If you have any question I should ask them, please let me know!

Mijn workshop voor Social Media in de Praktijk #socmedprak

Binnenkort, 27 oktober a.s., wordt het event Social Media in de Praktijk gehouden. Het belooft een bijzonder congres te worden. In de eerste plaats, is het congres op een bijzondere manier bedacht en opzet. In de tweede plaats, de lijst met sprekers hebben allemaal diepgaande ervaring met social media.

Mijn workshop gaat over het raakvlak tussen social media en kennismanagement. Volgens mij is kennismanagement en social media een perfecte match. Kennismanagement was een hype en is als top-down strategie mislukt. De opkomst van social media biedt geweldige mogelijkheden voor kennismanagement 2.0. Tijdens de workshop ga je uitleggen waarom ik dat vindt. En we gaan er ook mee aan de slag. Aan het einde van de workshop kun je persoonlijk aan de slag en/of in (een deel van) de organisatie/instelling waar je voor werkt.

Wat verwacht je van mijn workshop? Ik hoor het graag van je. Ik neem jouw input dan mee in mijn verhaal.

Kom je ook naar Social Media in de Praktijk? Geef je hier op. Ik hoop je er te zien!

Food #BAD11

Food is not something I blog about. But I'd like to make an exception for Blog Action Day. BAD11 is today! This year's topic is 'food'. I've joined BAD for a couple of years now. It's a neat way to focus some of our time and attention on a bigger cause.

Food, there's lots to say about food. As a person who has always had (more than enough) food, I feel privileged and thankful. There are lots and lots of people in a totally different situation. Just think of what is happening now in Africa. And we know there are many more places in the world where people have little to nothing to eat.

What can we do about that? For one, blog. The whole idea of Blog Action Day is to have many bloggers write about the same topic. Hopefully this will shift the world a bit in the right direction. The right direction being: a more fair spread of food over the world.

On the hand I often feel helpless. Helpless about the fact that we know there are people dying of hunger in Africa, but the news easily shift to our economic troubles. We're not hearing a lot about Africa lately... And I also feel helpless because the people that we see on TV are usually not the reason for their problem. The problems is often politically related. Some even say: We should stop sending those people money and food, because we only feed the underlying problems.
I don't agree. I do think we should help the people we see on TV. But I would also love to see a structural solution to this problem. If that is possible in our live time.

In any way, I hope this post, together with all the other posts will make a difference.

The IT Flower Revisited

A long time ago I blogged about the IT Flower. I thought is was a very interesting diagram and I still use it regularly. I find it helps people understand the different types of work, how things get done and how they are(n't) support by tools in companies.

Recently I read Harold Jarche's post about "Informal Learning is a Business Imperative". I find his work on social learning and personal knowledge management highly interesting. Most of his posts contain lots of food for thought and have interesting diagrams to chew on.

This post did as well. The diagram in this post clearly shows the different types of work and how they relate to different types of learning. This fits perfectly on my two above-mentioned posts about the IT Flower. This diagram is an extra layer focused on types of work and learning. (Or the other way around, whatever you like!) I’m also happy to see that the diagram shows that even in very structured work there are still non-routine tasks. Just like in typical knowledge work, routine stuff like filling in hourly reports has to be done...

I love these connections via the blogosphere. Information learning in practice!

(Diagram is link to actual picture by Harold Jarche.)

The Problem with Intranets

I really like the way Socialcast is sharing their vision on the workplace of the future. Every Tuesday they share an interesting infographic about an interesting topic related to their vision (and product). They call it #e2sday. The last one was about the intranet. I thought I'd share it with you because I recently wrote a post about why intranet is so hard and... why it can be easy as well.


I was curious which sources they used to set up this infographic. It struck me the sources were pretty old! Which is not the same as outdated, to be sure. The problem with the intranet is an old(er) problem for sure.
I agree with the statements made in this nice visual. What I tried to do in my posts is ask: But why does this happen? Why is information not up-to-date on traditional intranets? Why is it unclear what the strategy and intention of intranet is? Etc.
Hope you enjoy and learn from this nice infographic!

Interview Marc Benioff and Eric Schmidt at Dreamforce 2011

Recently took the time to watch some Dreamforce 2011 talks. There's lots to learn from them. I particularly enjoyed Marc Benioff's interview/talk with Eric Schmidt. I liked the way they stepped back and looked at the history and future of the technology industry in general, and the internet especially.
Just to list some of the questions they talked about:
  • what the future of the manufacturing industry (in the US and Europe) will be?
  • Why is it hard for existing players to move to new technology standards?
  • What should an existing company do when technology shifts?
  • Where is 'cloud' and 'social' going?
  • What is the potential of the internet for business and government? Is this only for large companies or more so for small companies?
In short the future according to Schmidt is: mobile, local and social. And here's the whole talk for you. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Blogging for Frankwatching

Recently I started blogging for Frankwatching, a Dutch blogging platform about the internet in general. My first 3 posts are:

Happy to say the last two posts have received a lot of good comments. I'll be translating the posts and publishing them on my personal blog as well.


You can find my profile and post feed here.

Learning Organizations Then and Now

‘The Learning Organization’ was a hot topic in the nineties. Peter Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline was published at the beginning of the nineties (1990). And The Fifth Disciplines Fieldbook shortly after that (1994). Recently I reread the Fieldbook. Nowadays lots is being written about social media and its power for personal and business use. Not very often you hear people and businesses say they use new media for learning. Although this area is very interesting.

Harold Jarche and Jay Cross (who recently pointed me to these interesting posts about this topic), to name just two experts, have been writing and publishing about this topic. They wonder: How can learning be improved by using social media? How does social media affect and possibly change learning? What is social learning? Related to this, Jarche also writes and talks about personal knowledge management, which also relates to personal learning. Really interesting stuff. I follow their work closely. (I've collected some links here.)

Back to the Fieldbook. Peter Senge’s work was published before the internet went mainstream. And way before we even thought about social media, likes blogs and wiki’s. Reading the Fieldbook in 2011 is fascinating if you keep that in mind. Often I wondered: How would people in the nineties have implemented that idea? Now, with modern tools that’s easy, but then?

The core of the learning organization was that people agreed to increase the collective insight and capacity of the organization. And by learning faster than the competition, a competitive advantage could be achieved.

Interestingly the book is also focused on managers that want to ‘learn to learn’ from the results, reflections and experiments of others. This information which is shared and developed, is not only discussed but used as springboard for new experiments and initiatives.

The Learning Organization consists of 5 learning disciplines (which are never done):
  • Personal mastership: using our skills to get the results we want and create an organizational context in which all are encouraged to develop in the direction of the goals of their choice.
  • Mental models: think about our internal world view, continuously changing and improving it, influencing our actions and decisions.
  • Collective vision: work towards a joint vision of the future and define the principles with which we want to achieve that future.
  • Team learning: create a situation in which the collective intelligence of the whole is more than the sum of the individuals.
  • Systems thinking: understanding and using the whole to create harmony.
One of the things learning does is make people want to change. Learning and change are not the same, but they are tightly related.

According to the Fieldbook, which is based on cases from practioners, successful learning organizations will be defined by the following:
  • Power is distributed
  • Self-discipline is encouraged
  • Systems thinking will be developed
  • Improved discussion skills
  • Leaders will be followed voluntarily 
And the three most important principles of learning organizations:
  • The whole is more important than the sums of its parts
  • ‘me’ is intrinsically connected with and part of the whole
  • The creational power of language 
When you read through this book and my notes, I’m sure you think: Hey, this relates nicely to social media and that connect to social media concepts. Right?

Of course the focus of the learning organization book is on changing organizations and people. So when they talk about implementing the learning organization they look at changing employee behavior and skills, and organizational structures. Every now and then technology does pop up in the book through. An example from AT&T mentions forums. And email, virtual meeting (then called: electronic meetings), computer networks and databases are mentioned. The databases are mentioned relating to the importance of institutional memory in communities.

The learning organization sees companies as communities (organisms). A very interesting statement is made towards the end of the book:
The lifeblood of the organization as community is dialogue, not only within teams but in the whole organization. If intellectual capital is the most important production factor than the capacity to have deep discussions about important topics is essential for breakthrough thinking and innovation.
Isn’t this interesting? Isn’t this also one of the ways social media can be used inside and outside organizations? To facilitate and encourage dialogue. And learning. To be that’s what using social media has brought me. And the nice thing is, you and I can do this if we’re manager or not. The tools to support learning have a lot to do with human skills. But the tools can support that learning processes in huge vibrant networks. By articulating what we learned, what our questions are, who we know, what we’ve found, etc. And we’re not limited to doing this within organization anymore. We can do this between organizations and institutions as well.

To me this is progress. This really helps us implement the learning organization in our daily lives. And in that we in the organizations, communities and institutions we live in and work for. We are creating and using “creation spaces” as mentioned in The Power of Pull (p. 19):
Creation spaces differ in at least two ways from the “learning organization” approaches pioneered a couple of decades ago. First, they emerge as ecosystems across institutions rather than within a single institution, so they reach a much more diverse set of participants. Second, they are not primarily focused on learning – their goal is to drive more rapid performance improvement, and learning occurs as a by-product of these efforts.
Bonus quote from the Fieldbook relating to social media/enterprise 2.0 ROI: “Measure in a quantitive way what can be measured quantitively; measure qualitively what can’t be measured.”

Are you Pulling or Pushing? My Review of The Power of Pull

After reading the Shift Index (Big Shift) I was curious what the book ‘The Power of Pull’ would bring. I was hoping for a more practical story than the Shift Index. I was also hoping for examples on how to move from Push to Pull.

I’m not sure if I got what I was looking for. And I’m not sure why either. Is it because I read the Shift Index before reading this book? Is it because I’m already in the Pull area for some time (at least I think I am…)? Or is it because I’ve read lots of books and blogs about the same topic (like the books The Cluetrain Manifesto, Wikinomics and Macrowikinomcs)? (After writing this interview I went through the reviews on Amazon. Lots of different reviews there: from very positive to very negative.)

What is this book about? Let me give you the author’s short summary on p. 2:
“Pull” is the common dynamic they see under several success stories. Pull is “the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges. Pull give us unprecedented access to what we need, when we need it, even if we’re not quite sure that “it” is. Pull allows us to harness and unleash the forces of attraction, influence, and serendipity. Using pull, we can create the conditions by which individuals, teams, and even institutions can achieve their potential in less time and with more impact than has ever been possible. The power of pull provides a key to how all of us – individually and collectively – can turn challenge and stress into opportunity and reward as digital technology remakes our lives.
There are two challenges in this time: making sense of the changes around us, and making progress in an increasingly unfamiliar world.

The book starts with describing where we came from: the push era. Push operated, and still operates, on one key assumption: that it is possible to predict demand. (p. 34, also refer to list on page 37) Control is the essence of push. (p. 49)

So how do we (move to) pull? “Pull starts by exploring three increasingly powerful levels of pull – access, attract, and achieve.” (p. 6) The first part of the book explains what these levels are. The last part of the book wants to help you implement them in your life, institutions and the world. Every chapter is closed with a set of very good questions to assess yourself, institutions (you work for) and the world. The questions are maybe the best part of the book to me. I found them very valuable and confrontational.

Pull is about flexible access. The ability to fluidly find and get to the people and resources when and where we need them. The authors stress the fact they don’t point to digital networks in the first place. Pull platforms can also by physical networks. Why is access important? “Access will become increasingly necessary as competition intensifies and disruptions become more frequent. It used to be that we could rely on “stocks” of knowledge – what we know at any point in time – but these stocks are diminishing in value more rapidly than ever before.” (p. 11) We need to make sure we tap into knowledge flows, as chapter 2 says. Interestingly these flows relate to tacit knowledge, therefore connecting to (lots of) people is essential.

But access is becoming increasingly less important. We’re often at loss what to search for and what questions to ask. “Our success in finding new information and sources increasingly depends upon serendipity…” (p. 13) Interestingly the authors stress serendipity can be organized (to a certain extent). (Also refer to page 90 and on.) For serendipity to happen we need amplifiers and filters. (p. 97) And we have to pay attention to environments (physical and digital location), practices (be passionate, attract (sustained) attention, beginner’s mind), and preparedness (be open to encounters, deep listening, relationship-building skills). Serendipity can be shaped by the people you talk to, the conferences you go to and the sites you pay attention to. We have to look at the edge of our areas of interest. “Edges are places that become fertile ground for innovation because they spawn significant new unmet needs and unexploited capabilities and attract people who are risk takers.” (p. 16)

But even accessing and attracting have little value unless they are coupled with a third set of practices that focus on driving performance rapidly to new levels. These practices involve participation in something they call “creation spaces” – environments that integrate teams in a broader learning ecology so that the performance improvement accelerates as more people join. (p. 18 and from p. 140 and on the authors give insight into how to design creation spaces)

Second part of the book starts with how we can work on the power of pull in our personal lives. The reason to start with individuals is mentioned in the book: the locus on power and change is inexorably shifting to individuals (p. 241) Lots of management books describe how organizations should/could change. This leaves the reader thinking: OK, how am I going to do this by myself?

The steps to move from push to pull in your personal life are:
  • Pursue your passion (develop a deep understanding of who you are)
  • Find a good location where your passion can be fulfilled (geography matters)
  • Use social tools that create and capture value from knowledge flows
  • Maximize return on attention (don’t narrow your information sources to soon, be aware that we live in a world of information overload and knowledge scarcity) 
I like the way the book talks about small steps. The book doesn’t talk about taking a big leap, but taking small steps and slowly move to pull. In the words of the authors: Shaping strategies show has small moves smartly made can have an impact far beyond the initial resources and effort invested. (p. 29) Even the authors stress we are still at the beginning of the Big Shift. (p. 45 and 148)

I enjoyed reading the book, although I skimmed through larger parts of it. There lots of repetition in the book. In my review I tried to cluster topics together. I think this book would have been better with more visuals. This book contains one diagram, which isn’t a very helpful diagram. For instance I wouldn’t hang it up on a wall. It’s not self-explanatory. Furthermore the diagram shows one arrow going up exponentially in one direction with a spiral in it. Aren’t there also larger feedback/learning loop going (all the way) back when we find out we followed the wrong passions, lived in the wrong place, etc.? Moving to pull can never be a single shot; it’s more like trying (and learning) over and over again. Right? (Or is that what page 163 says?)

I like the focus on individuals/you first in this book. I/You can start right away and don’t have to wait for institutions to move.

As I said, I loved the questions at the end of the chapters, they’re very good. I wonder if more could have been done with them to help readers drill down and move to action. I think the questions really help you and your company define where you are on the push-pull spectrum.

Bonus: A extensive part of this book is about organizing for serendipity. Ana Silva gave a very insightful talk about this topic some time ago.

Will Everything be Free? – My Review of Free


So, I’m on a roll now. As promised I would share my review of several books. This is the next one: Free by Chris Anderson. An article in Wired about Free triggered me to read this book. Free is a big deal nowadays. Many products and services are offered for free. And people are making lots of money charging nothing. “Not nothing for everything, but nothing for enough…” (p. 3)

Free has always been around a long time, but it’s changing. The internet seems to be doing something interesting to what we pay for things. “Somewhere in the transition from atoms to bits, a phenomenon that we thought we understood was transformed. “Free” became Free.” (p. 4) This book is about this phenomenon.

Chapter 1-3 dive into the fascinating history of free. And the different kinds of free: direct cross-subsidies, three-party market, freemium and nonmonetary markets. (p. 23) Free started out as a marketing method. Now free is an entirely new economic model. (p. 12) The old free was based on the economics of atoms, now it’s based on bits. When something becomes software it inevitably becomes free, in costs and often in price as well.

Interestingly Anderson shows how humans are wired for scarcity. We focus on the things that are scarce, e.g. time and money. While there’s abundance of lots of resources now. We have to get used to that. And work with abundance. “When abundance drives the costs of something to the floor, value shifts to adjacent levels…” (p. 52, 131) And: “… the highest profit margins are usually found where gray matter has been added to things.” (p. 54, also refer to ch. 13 and 15) So knowledge is added, ideas are shared. Why are ideas so interesting and important in this context? Let me share two interesting quotes from the book:

Ideas are the ultimate abundance commodity, which propagates at zero marginal costs. Once created, ideas want to spread far and wide, enriching everything they touch. (p. 83)

Information is how money flows; aside from the cash in your wallet, that’s what money is – just bits. Information is how we communicate, as every call is turned into data the moment the words leave our lips.” (p. 92) “Information wants to be free.” (p. 95, ch. 6) This means: “Commodity information (everybody gets the same version) wants to be free. Customized information (you get something unique and meaningful to you) wants to be expensive. (…) Abundant information wants to be free. Scarce information wants to be expensive. (p. 97)
So, information is abundant now. Where’s the value now? Anderson quotes Herbert Simon on this:
In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. (p. 180, relate to this blogpost for more about information and attention.)
The rise of “freeconomics” is being driven by the underlying technologies of the digital age. Computer processing power halves in price every two years, the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. The internet combines all three. (p. 13, also refer to ch. 5) Google is mentioned as a company that makes more money as the costs of information falls. (p. 125)

Chapter 4 is about the psychology of free. It’s about the excitement we experience when something is free. But free also makes us think the quality must me less than with a paid product/service. And do you care about something you get for free?

What are the free rules? The ten underlying principles of free or abundance thinking are (p. 241):
  1. If it’s digital, sooner or later it’s going to be free.
  2. Atoms would like to be free, too, but they’re not so pushy about it.
  3. You can’t stop Free.
  4. You can make money from Free.
  5. Redefine your market.
  6. Round down.
  7. Sooner or later you will compete with Free.
  8. Embrace waste.
  9. Free makes other things more valuable.
  10. Manage for abundance, not scarcity. 
I enjoyed reading this book. The visual examples of free throughout the book explaining how free is/can be applied in different markets are insightful.

I’m not an economist. I read these books because they take me to the edge, challenging me to think and reassess what I’m doing. A big question for me and my work is: How far does free go for a consultant? For instance, I love to share what I know about certain topics. I’d happily go to a company, share my knowledge and leave without asking money for my vision/advice. When do you stop giving/sharing for free? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Bonus: I’ve collected some links about ‘free’ here. Hope this helps.

The Tipping Point – My Review


I read ‘TheTipping Point’ a long time ago. Then I wrote a short, boring blogpost telling you I read it. Recently I thought: I’m going to write a longer book review about Malcolm Gladwell’s book. In this way I can remember its contents more easily and, if you haven’t read it, inspire you to read it.

Concepts
‘The Tipping Point’ was my first Gladwell book. I wanted to read it because of my interest in social media and social networking (- later his take on the effect of social media in revolutions was highly debated…). The book is not about social media and social networking (tools). It’s about the underlying concepts of social media and networking. And, as I’ve said before, those concepts are important to understand.

Tipping
What is the book about? The subtitle of the book is: ‘How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference’. In his own words: “The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea, and the idea is very simple. … Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” (p 7)
There are lots of lists in this book, elements of what a Tipping Point is, what cause change and epidemics, etc. I’ll do my best and summarize the book for you below.

Epidemics
Gladwell starts out with looking at epidemics. He looks at epidemic to understand how change happens. But how does we describe an epidemic? He lists three characteristics:
“…  – one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment …”. “One of the three, the third trait – the idea that epidemics can rise or fall in one dramatic moment – is the most important, because it is the principle that makes sense of the first two and that permits the greatest insight into why modern change happens the way it does. The name given to that one dramatic moment in an epidemic when everything can change all at once is the Tipping Point.”(p 9)

Change agents
But what causes change? He mentions three agents of change and will extend them throughout the book. They are the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. (p 19)
With the Law of the Few he means that “a handful of exceptional people” ( p 21) do the majority of the work when it comes to epidemics. (p 19) The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a big difference in how much of an impact it makes. (p 25) And the Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem. (p 29)
A big question in Gladwell’s book is: “People pass on all kinds of information to each other all the time. But it’s only in the rare instance that such an exchange ignites a word-of-mouth epidemic. … Why is it that some ideas and trends and messages “tip” and others don’t?” (p 32)

Change roles
The answer is that the success of any kind of social epidemic is dependent on the involvement of people with special roles. (p 33) “I call then Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.” (p34) Even though research has shown that we are only six degrees apart, research also finds that not all degrees are equal. (p 36)
Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. (p 38) They have to know lots of kinds of people. (p 46) They span many different worlds. (p 49) (Granovetter’s work about strong and weak ties is also mentioned here.) A maven is one who accumulates knowledge. (And this person can also be a Connector.) (p 60) But they are not passive collectors of information, they want to tell you about it too. (p 62) Mavens want to help for no other reason than they want to help. This turns out to be an awfully effective way of getting someone’s attention. (p 67)  A maven is not a persuader. Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know. (p 69)
Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. “But there is also a select group of people – Salesmen – with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups.” (p 70)

Persuasion
How does persuasion work? There’s not an easy answer to that question. Here are some elements of persuasion: 1. Little things can make as much of a difference as big things. 2. Non-verbal cues are as or more important than verbal cues. 3. Persuasion works in ways that we do not appreciate.

Context and stickiness
So, we’ve seen that in epidemics, the messenger matters: messengers are what make something spread. But now this book also stressed that the content of the message matters too. And the specific quality that a message needs to be successful is the quality of “stickiness”.” (p 92) And stickiness is hard in this information age. (p 99) There’s too much information to pay attention to.
The Law of the Few says that there are exceptional people out there who are capable of starting epidemics. All you have to do is find them. The lesson of stickiness is the same. There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it. (p 132, also refer to the book Made to Stick for a more detailed approach to stickiness)
Stickiness is needed to spark epidemics. When is an idea sticky? When it’s memorable and moves us to action. (p 139) (Stickiness relates to the messenger, contagiousness to the messenger. - p 234)
But this doesn’t mean a sticky idea will work in all contexts… Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which the occur. (p 138) “The essence of the Power of Context is that the same thing is true for certain kinds of environments – that in ways that we don’t necessarily appreciate, our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances”. (p 152)

In sum
At the end of the book, I think this paragraph sums up the book’s main thrust:
“Epidemics are, at their root, about this very process of transformation. When we are trying to make an idea or attitude or product tip, we’re trying to change our audience in some small yet critical respect: we’re trying to infect them, sweep them up in our epidemic, convert them from hostility to acceptance. That can be done through the influence of special kinds of people, people with extraordinary personal connection. That’s the Law of the Few. It can be done by changing the context of communication, by making a message so memorable that it sticks in someone’s mind and compels them to action. That is the Stickiness Factor. But we need to remember that small changes in context can be just as important in tipping epidemics, even though that fact appears to violate some of our most deeply held assumptions about human nature.” (p 166)
(Note: Gladwell also mentions the Dunbar number in the context of social channel capacity. (p. 177- 179) “The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.”)

Evaluation and questions
I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m wondering what type of role I play: Maven, Connector or Salesmen. What do you think you are? And what role do I play according to you?

Some things in this book are easy to apply. The Dunbar number 150 for instance. Acknowledging I can keep up with that number of people helps a lot. Other things are harder to apply. For instance, making an idea sticky. Maybe I should read ‘Made to Stick’ to learn more about stickiness. In any way Gladwell’s book does push you to experiment with stickiness, instead of just sending out ideas and hoping for the best.

This book has a clear link with social media, social networking, communities without talking about the tools. As I’ve said before I think it’s important to understand underlying concepts of social media. We’re so focused on the hottest tools, we forget to ponder about what makes them run.

If non-verbal cues are so important to make a message spread, what does this mean for digital communication? More communication via video (like Skype)? Are emoticons enough in textual communication?

Because of information abundance we have a stickiness/attention problem. Could we say: In the past we had a spread problem? The networks weren’t as extensive and fast as with the internet. And now we have a stickiness problem? The networks are fast and extensive, but there’s lots of information to filter.

Finally
Have you read The Tipping Point? If you have please let me know what you thought of this book (or point to your review). And I’d love to hear your thoughts about my questions/remarks about the book.


Extra
An extra present for you: A list of 12 mind-blowing concepts from Gladwell's book.

Why is Intranet so Easy?

Recently I blogged about why intranet is so hard. This struck a cord, it seems, because it received several good comments!
At the end of that post I promised to write about the easiness of intranets as well. My post about intranets being hard didn't want to imply it's impossible or frustrating to develop, implement and maintain an intranet. The fact that it's hard intrigues me and keeps me interested in intranet.

However, intranet can also be easy I think. I'll explain why here. I'm really curious if you agree/disagree.

Intranet deployment is usually a complex exercise. Lots and lots of requirements from different people and roles are collected. And these are squeezed into one overall intranet concept. Then building and deployment begins.

But what is an intranet? It's a collection of webpages, containing content, linked together. Sometimes added with a couple of web applications, like a people finder. Yes, the Digital Workplace.
So, why don't we just give that the functionality to create internal webpages, content and links to employees and get out of the way? Maybe with the exception of a central newspage.
The employees will publish information they find useful to capture and share with others. They'll link content, pages and people. They'll read the information they want to read. They'll decide what news is. They know what information they need to get their work done. Etc.

I take this approach because lots of intranet research shows employees only visit a couple of pages. Namely the newspage, the people finder and the daily menu of the internal restaurant. The actual intranet is small.

Subsequently the role of the intranet team is not to implement and maintain the intranet. Their role is to nuture, cultivate and maybe structure the intranet, like Jane McConnell says in this good blogpost. And, together with IT, offer intranet functionality and build web applications when needed (i.e. it is requested for by employees and can't be built by them). And fulfilling these roles is the hard part. :-)

What do you think of this approach? Is it too easy?