My Sharepoint Conference Notes #congressp

SharePoint is used by many companies. Lots of them are struggling to use it strategically. How can SharePoint become essential for our organization? How can organizations drive SharePoint adoption? These are questions I hear a lot from customers.

There are many SharePoint conferences out there. Do we really need another one? My colleagues and I at Entopic found many conferences address SharePoint from a technology and developer perspective. Which is great. There is clearly a market for this. However, we wondered if there are also conferences that address the business- and user-side of SharePoint. We found only a couple world-wide. For this reason we thought it would be good to organize a SharePoint conference with a business focus. And apparently more people were looking for something like this. There were 300+ attendees.

Symon Garfield kicked off the conference with a keynote about how to implement SharePoint successfully. Symon discussed several reasons why implementations fail. Like policitcs, not understanding SharePoint, no feeling for information and knowledge management, no senior management support, etc.
Symon proposed a four step approach to a successful implementation: governance (beware of the tech-focus!), strategy and business case (connect Sharepoint to business processes!), business architecture (know the internal workings of the platform) and transition (make sure you have an adoption plan!).

This last steps leads us directly to the second keynote of the conference by Sam Marshall. Sam's keynote went deeply into SharePoint adoption. He started out by asking the audience who's Sharepoint implementation has a larger 'human' than IT budget. Hardly anybody raised their hand... Sam shared the MARS model with us and discussed it in detail. The model has 4 steps:
  1. Mandated
  2. Accepted
  3. Rewarding
  4. Stimulating
Sam showed how these steps could work when organizations would like to have employees fill in their profile.
I enjoyed Sam's talk. I liked the way he drilled deeply into adoption, clearly showing us all that adoption is not easy and should not be an afterthought.

There were two rounds of breakouts. The breakouts were about Sharepoint for websites, intranet, internal social networking, Sharepoint 2013, etc.
I went to two interesting breakouts. One was lead by Jan van Veen and was about how he positioned their local intranet in a world-wide SharePoint intranet. The other was by Ellen van Aken and she showed how SharePoint can drive business value by supporting business processes.

All conference slides can be found here.

Learn from other intranets, join the Digital Workplace Survey

What is the best way to benchmark your intranet? How can you learn from other intranets?

Comparing intranets
There are many ways to find intranet inspiration. Among others you can:
This list doesn’t mention listening to your users, because I assume you're already doing that…

Digital Workplace Survey 2013
Another way to learn from others is to join intranet surveys. The most well-known survey is Jane McConnell’s. Jane is a well-known intranet expert. Jane’s internal research on intranet has been going on for years now. The scope of her research used to be intranet and has broadened to the digital workplace. Many organizations participate in her research. The survey is broad and deep. Filling out the survey takes about an hour of your time. For this hour of your time you get a free copy of the report. The report is a perfect way to benchmark your intranet. Compare your intranet with the results of the survey and you’ll know where your intranet needs development. Or you might find your intranet belongs to the select class of intranet leaders. 

Please participate!
I highly recommend partcipating in this survey. Just by filling in the survey you learn a lot about the facets of intranet. And you also get the final report which is loaded with inspiration and learning points. I too am curious what the results will be and will blog about them when the report is out.

Personally I hope more Dutch organizations will participate. Last year just one did… I know of many interesting intranets in Holland that others can learn from.

Are you planning on participating in Jane’s survey? Let me know. And I’d also like to know if you will not participate this year.

Do you have more than 150 friends?

Do you know more than 150 people? You probably don't. And do you have more than 150 friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter? You probably do. But are they really your friend? Do you really know all 150 of them? I don't think so.

A long time ago I ran into Robert Dunbar's research on social networks. I wrote several posts about Dunbar's number and have been collecting interesting links as well. Just recently Dunbar was interviewed  by Technology Review about his number and social networks.
What is Dunbar's number about? His research basically showed...
...that humans have the cognitive capacity to maintain about 150 stable social relationships. 
The first time I read this I thought: What?! But it's is now my experience this is true. Even for social media friends and followers. I follow way more that 150 people, but I know and truly engage with 150-300 of them.
Of course Technology Review was also wondering if Dunbar himself still thinks his number still hold in the social era. Has the number changed due to social media. This is his response:
Apparently not at all. It is important to remember that the 150 is just one layer in a series of layers of acquaintanceship within which we sit. Beyond the 150 are at least two further layers (one at 500 and one at 1,500), which correspond to acquaintances (people we have a nodding acquaintance with) and faces we recognize.
All that seems to be happening when people add more than 150 friends on Facebook is that they simply dip into these normal higher layers. If you like, Facebook has muddied the waters by calling them all friends, but really they are not.
To me this also has implications for organizations as well. If Dunbar's number is correct companies larger than 150 employees have a problem. Employees simply can't know each other anymore. So, employees can't know what (all) other employees know. Shouldn't this have implications for the size of organizations? And isn't this also a good reason to use internal social tools, as they can make visible what other employees know and support the stream of information in the organization for effectively and quickly?
I don't know if it had to do with Dunbar's numbers, but there is a Dutch entrepreneur, Eckart Wintzen, that split his companies every time they grew larger than 50 employees. And Dave Gray's work on podular organization fits perfectly with this as well.

I'm curious what you think of Dunbar's number. Does it relate to your practice? And what are your thoughts on Dunbar's number and organizational size?

UPDATE (2 hours later): Talk about serendipity! Just hours after I published this post, ReadWriteWeb published a post about the same topic: 'Facebook Friends: How Many are Too Many?'.

Is email dead? Or is it moving to social networks?

Is email here to stay or will it die? Will it die because social media is here or will something else replace email?
Recently Steve Dale wrote an interesting post about this topic. It's titled 'Email is dead: long live email!'. It was discussed on G+ and the blogpost itself has many interesting comments. I thought I'd share my comments here as well. Please read Steve's post first. I think it's an important post for social business people.

Steve lists several reasons to use (and keep on using) email:
  1. Email arrives near instantaneously. It can be accessed from almost anywhere. It brings not just text, but pictures, documents, links, and more.
  2. Email is great for non-urgent communication. Things that don’t require an immediate response that others can deal with on their schedule.
  3. Email can provide a powerful documentation trail. Unlike text messages or phone calls, email provides an authenticated audit trail of past communication. It is hard to deny past actions and messages when there is a clear history.
  4. Email is one of the best mediums for communicating across time zones. It allows people on different schedules to communicate at their leisure.
  5. Message formatting features come as standard.
  6. The email client is a personal information management database. It can be browsed, sorted, filtered, tagged and searched. Features which I’ve yet to see implemented in most Enterprise Social Software activity streams.
  7. Email can be closely integrated with business workflows, where an action or decision is required.
  8. Email provides an (almost) foolproof 2-way authentication, hence why it is still used by nearly all online service providers to verify new accounts.
This is a good list. I'd like to add a 9th reason to use email: it’s good for 1-on-1, private/confidential communication. On the other hand, like one of the commentors wrote: This 9th reason may even be the only good reason to use email. The rest of our communication can move to SNA’s, although DM-ing and Messaging in Facebook still seems to be somewhat shaky. And risky… We’ve all tried to DM something that popped up in our public stream anyway, for instance…

But still, email is clearly moving to social networks. The thing I like about that is that communication is being done in a platform that is open by default instead of closed, like email. It triggers us to think open first and make something private if needed.

Moreover, emailing itself is changing rapidly. We used to use email like paper letters. Instead of writing “Dear Sir [content] Best regards, x”, we now just write “Thanks” or “OK”. Email is being used more like messaging and chat.

I love Steve's point about educating people to use email. This is a huge issue. Some time ago I asked someone (who is about 40 years old) to forward an email to me. He didn’t know what I meant and how he should do it… This is funny, but also a pretty serious issue. An even bigger issue is that people don’t use email (and other tools) productively. They simply haven’t learned how. This has to do with learning features of email, but also with learning a good and sound knowledge work process. I use ‘Getting Things Done’ for instance. It has increased my productivity in a big way. When I tell about GTD and train people in the principles it’s a revelation to them. I think 9 out of 10 people don’t control their email and related social tools. They just let it come at them and are overwhelmed by the amount of information every day.
We have work to do! :o)

To wrap up this post: the inventor of email also agrees with Steve! This post was also discussed on G+.