Thoughts about Top-Task Management

Top-task management is a method championed by Gerry McGovern to improve and optimize websites. I’ve been thinking about this method for some time now. I was planning to start by sharing my understanding and experience with the method. But then I bumped into a post about the limitations of the top-task management approach by Philippe Parker. Bottom-line of the post is that top-task management doesn’t work for sites with which you want to achieve engagement.

Top-tasks vs. engagement
I’m sure the top-task approach can work in some cases, but I see too many consultants always applying this method. Top-task management tries to make something simple when it can be simple. But I see it applied to websites when the need is complex as well.  A task is clean and can usually be clearly described. But real work like searching, learning, listening, processing is messy. Parker says: tasks are not the only thing people come to the site for. He goes on to say ‘engagement’ is the other reason why people go to sites and use them. He points to platforms for engagement (not tasks) like Facebook. I find ‘engagement’ a very vague and broad term. If I were a top-task proponent I would say: updating and interacting on Facebook can also be seen as a task. The task to inform your friends and the task to reply to your friends’ update.

Top-tasks, conversation and context
Would it help if we changed the term ‘engagement’ for ‘conversation’ or ‘networking’? Conversation and networking relates to the things we do on Facebook. And I would like to add ‘context’as well, because I think focusing on tasks alone is too limiting. Yes, there are situations people just want to get things done on a site. But most people also want to know what they are doing and why it works in a certain way. For that reason context is important. Context helps people define meaning and make better decisions (and do the right task).

I agree with Philippe's final statement. The big issue is the barrier between both, making it easy to switch between tasks and engagement. Or in my terms: between tasks, context, and networking.
I’m curious if you think this makes sense.

How do I consume and share social and digital media?

Oscar Berg wrote a blogpost about a short discussion we had on Google+ recently. In his interesting post he shares how he consumes and shares social media. Over on his blog I commented on his post by asking him some questions about his strategy.
But I thought I'd share my strategy here as well. I've shared my strategy in the past, but it has changed over the years. Here's my current strategy in one picture:

A couple of remarks about the picture:

  • I use Flipboard to interact with my Twitter Lists (3 lists) and Google+. I also consume the HBR-, National Geographic-, Vimeo-, and Instagram-feed there. I read interesting tweets right away or email them to my inbox to read them later.
  • I view my Twitter search every now-and-then on But will move that to Flipboard as well after reading Oscar’s post.
  • I read my feeds in Google Reader. If I want to read a post I star it and make sure I find time during the day/week to read the starred items. When I know I’ll be offline and have time for reading, I’ll save posts to a Dropbox folder to be able to read it whereever I want (Dropbox supports offline reading).
  • If I find a post interesting I post it to Twitter, Google+ and/or LinkedIn using a Chrome extension. Some of the interesting links are also bookmarked in Diigo (and I back them up to delicious). I like Diigo because it allows you to bookmark a link and also highlight text in the post.
  • I use blogger (my blog) to write about my work learnings.

So, what is your strategy? Is it comparable or a lot different from Oscar and my strategy? Please share it so we can all learn from each other.

A Google Glas intranet?

Most people know the history of the intranet. And if you’re older you will have experienced its history. Many organization that have had an intranet for years are looking for ways towards a modern and future-ready intranet. But what is the future of the intranet? Many intranet experts and organizations are thinking about this question. Are we eventually going to be apply to wear the intranet?

From intranet to social intranet 
There’s lots of talk about using social media within organizations. In short this is also called the ‘social intranet’. The intention is to have an intranet that is more than most are used to: news, procedures, who-is-who and the restaurant menu. A ‘social intranet’ should make us forget the old intranet. The old intranet that often hardly supports the way employees do their daily work. 

From intranet to digital workplace 
For this reason the new intranet is also called the ‘digital workplace’ more and more. A new name to help us forget the old intranet and sell the intranet as an essential tool to support work. It stresses that fact that the intranet can be relevant to help knowledge workers get things done. Looking at the definitions of the digital workplace, it is intended to be a bit more than the ‘social intranet’. The digital workplace wants to be the place where a knowledge worker can do his/her work. Therefore it must also connect to and support the business processes (and related tools). (Of course this can also be done when it’s called a ‘social intranet’...)

From intranet to mobile intranet 
If the new intranet should truly support workers, it should also support him/her everywhere work is done. Therefore the logical step for the new intranet is to also become mobile. The knowledge worker needs access to the intranet everywhere he/she is getting things done. Slowly organizations are thinking about how to do this. 

But what comes after this? I want to share two of the steps I see. 

Location-based intranet 
When the intranet gets mobile access there will be a new demand for push-information. We have come to find push-informatie without context irritating. But when information is filtered based on your location, it could be useful. Services like Foursquare, Google Fieldtrip and Google Now give us glimpses into this future. In the same way this could be useful within organizations by providing information about nearby experts when you’re looking for help or which protocols apply to the part of the organization you’re walking around in. Furthermore location information added to messages employees are publishing also provided meaning and context. Posting a message in a factory can give it a totally different meaning, than posting it from a car on your way to work. 

Google Glass intranet 
One step further can relate to projects like Google Glass. Google Glass is trying to make finding and consuming relevant information and publishing it easier. You don’t have to carry your smart phone in your hand; information is projected right into your eyes so you can consume that information and publish and save content with easy gestures. Imagine the access to your intranet being like Google Glass. Everywhere you are you’ll have direct access to (the right internal) information. During meetings, on your way to meeting, when you bump into someone you planned to ask something, working on a document or product/service. The intranet is less and less something you go to, but something you wear. You don’t have to look for information, it will search for you depending on what you’re looking at and wear you are. 

What do you see as next-steps for the intranet? Do the above mentioned steps make sense? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, inspired by Dave Gray's work, I made the little drawings for this post by myself!

[This post was also published in Dutch on the Frankwatching blog.]

The Power of We and Me #bad2012 #powerofwe

It’s Blog Action Day again! And this year’s topic is ‘The Power of We’. What a great topic, don’t you think?

The Power of We
The Power of We is what lots of us are experiencing when we use social media. The fascinating reality that lots of people sharing what they think can change and create things. And if sharing doesn’t create things it can catalyze, support and accelerate it.
Just look at what Wikipedia has done for us. And what a simple tweet or lots of tweets can do. Or how a blogpost can trigger and inspire.
I don’t think we’ve tapped into the full possibilities of the Power of We yet. To me the key is to ask more questions. It’s something we should do, but I’ll just start with myself and encourage others to do the same. Why more questions? Good questions level us with others. It gives others a chance to relate to us and help us. We need more questions inside organizations, between organizations, from (local) government to the people, etc.

The Power of Me
I just wrote I’ll start with myself (instead of talking about we or they). Because, I think, the Power of We starts with the Power of Me. There is no we if we don’t have a bunch of interesting me’s. I think this is where the challenge of social media in general and especially blogging comes in. I hear the following phrases a lot:

  • I’m not going to blog until the organization I work for gives me an assignment to.
  • I don’t have anything interesting to share. Who wants to read my posts?
  • I’m afraid of what others will say about my posts.
  • I’m busy enough with my email and other tools. No time for the ‘social stuff’.
  • Blogging is only for the thinkers. My job doesn’t involve thinking, others do that.

I think most bloggers can relate to these statements. Explicitly or implicity they thought the same things before they blogged. But for good reasons they stepped over them and started blogging. Why?

  • Because they were finally convinced waiting for the organization or your boss to understand is not the way to go. These new social tools can empower me, showing we how it can be done.
  • By sharing their interests, they experienced there are more people interested in the stuff you’re interested in.
  • They found out that almost all bloggers are dead-scared the first time they publish their thoughts. And most experienced bloggers are every time they push the ‘send’ button.
  • They saw in practice social tools can make your more productive, by shifting communication and information streams from email to the new toolset.
  • They realize: Everyone thinks for life. Not only the ‘smart’ people. Everyone. Sharing your thinking helps you learn, connects you to interesting people, etc.

So, for a powerful we, we need powerful me’s. All those me’s have an opinion about blogging, water, fashion, knitting, soccer, nature, famine, business management, innovation, cars, environment or … You fill in the blank.

So, what are you thinking about? Please share your thoughts. And join in celebrating the Power of Me and We!

Re: Which social media do millenials use?

Recently I had the privilege to give a guest lecture at the Hogeschool Arnhem & Nijmegen (college-level) about Enterprise 2.0. Just like last year I asked the students which social media tools they use and why. I like asking them this question, because it gives me some insight in adoption rates of tools and usage patterns.

Last years results can be found here. I'll share this year's results below. Of the 24 students I had in my classes:

  • 24 have a Twitter account, 6 actively use it and 2 others only consume tweets.
  • 24 have a Hyves account (Dutch social network, comparable to Facebook), 1 uses it actively and some go there every now-and-then.
  • Facebook is clearly taking over Hyves, with 20 accounts in the classes and they use it actively. 14 only consume Facebook updates.
  • Only 2 have a Foursquare account and use it actively.
  • 6 have a Google+ account and none of them use it.
  • LinkedIn: 16 have an account, 5 use it actively.
  • They all have to blog for these classes. Only 2 already had a blog before classes.
  • Instagram is not used actively at all, just 3 have an account.
  • Pinterest is a bit more popular: 6 have an account and 3 update regularly.
  • MySpace: 2 accounts, no active use, but some said they might go back now that MySpace updated it's look and feel.
Pretty interesting, don't you think?
The Dutch social network is even less popular than last year. Everybody has gone to Facebook. Most say they use Facebook to stay connected with friends. They don't follow brands there, they follow and interact with friends.
I'm surprised by how little Twitter is being used. I asked them why, but they couldn't really tell me. One said it had to do with open vs. closed. Someone else said: more of his friends are on Facebook than Twitter.
Just like last year LinkedIn is not used much. They'll use it when they grow up... ;-)
Pinterest wasn't even there last year, but is getting some traction from these youngsters.
Google+ is not used at all. Most said they don't see the added-value compared to the current toolset (Twitter, Facebook).
Blogging is stable: last year 2 blogged before they had to blog for this class. This year there were 2 as well. Same goes for Foursquare.
Finally, it's interesting to hear from the students some will give MySpace a new go after the UI update. They really pay attention to the way things work and what they look like.

What do you think of these results? What should we be learning from these numbers?

Lessons for big people from Caine's Arcade

You've probably heard of Caine and his arcade. If you have't please go and watch the 1st and 2nd video (below) about Caine. It's an inspirational and fun story. It reminds us how special, creative and fun kids are.

Imagine: Caine's Arcade Goes Global from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

After watching the 2nd video I was wondering what we learn from these video's. What are the lessons for 'big people'? These are some of the things I came up with:
  1. The video's reminded me that we all were once kids. And that even at an older age, it's importance to keep on being child-like. Just look at all the grown-up people that came to the arcade...
  2. Building things is an extremely important way to learn and get feedback. Caine built things because he liked to and hoped others would as well. The filmer taped the story because he liked what Caine had built and hoped others would as well. Etc.
  3. We need other people to be effective. Caine built the arcade, the filmer shared the story and people listened to the story. We need all of them, not just Caine or the filmer. And one is not better than the other.
  4. A story (told on film) is a very powerful way to be effective. Listening to the story and seeing the kid behind the story makes me reflect and think.
  5. One person can make a difference for a lot of people. This applies to Caine and the filmer/story teller.
  6. Doing something for someone else's benefit can go a long way. Again, this goes for Caine and the filmer.
Does this make sense? What are your lessons from Caine's Arcade?