Guest Lecturer: David Allen on GTD

As I mentioned in this post, David Allen’s work with GTD was a major focus of the content here in the pre-SMUG days.

Through this video, I’ve invited David to be a guest lecturer for the SMUGgles, giving an overview of his GTD methods and how and why they work.

(Well, in reality, Google invited David to to address its employees, and because of the magic of YouTube we all get to listen in.)

I highly commend this to your viewing:

And if you don’t have the book yet, you can order it below:

Chancellor’s Choice Award: Tweetie

The SMUG Chancellor’s Choice Award is presented occasionally to social media tools that aren’t free but are good values, as judged by the SMUG Chancellor in his sole discretion.

The first category to be presented is Twitter Clients for iPhone, and honorable mention goes to:

Twittelator Pro


I had previously used Twitterific and the free version of Twittelator, but for the $4.99 upgrade the benefits of Twittelator Pro are immense. Among my favorites are support for:

  • Multiple accounts, which means I can engage with both@leeaase and @mayoclinic tweets, and can switch between the two in a few seconds.
  • Subgroups, which lets me pull out “Top Tweeps” to follow more closely from among the more than 1,000 I’m following.
  • Search, which lets me follow relevant tags like #HACon09 or terms like “Mayo Clinic”
  • Landscape mode Tweeting, which gives me a bigger keyboard for my larger-than-average thumbs.
  • Segregation of @replies and direct messages, and ability to toggle among them quickly through the bottom navigation.

This upgrade to Twittelator is an excellent value. Still, in the category of Twitter Clients for iPhone, it comes in second to the winner, which is:



Like Twittelator, Tweetie ($2.99) can handle multiple Twitter accounts. One disadvantage is that when you open Tweetie or switch between accounts you don’t see the little red numbers over the Replies or Messages (as you do in Twittelator) that alert you to Tweets in response to or directed to you. Twittelator is therefore a bit faster for quick monitoring of Twitter accounts. No red numbers in Twittelator means no Tweets that need response. In Tweetie you need to check each tab.

Tweetie also lacks the Subgroups feature that Twittelator has. But I expect I will be using Tweetdeck for my “Top Tweeps” monitoring. My iPhone client’s main function should be to enable me to respond to tweets while I’m on the go. And for this, Tweetie has several advantages:

I really like the Tweetie interface. What got me to try it was a tweet from @shelisrael, who said:


Tweetie is just very elegantly designed. It doesn’t seem to have quite as many features as Twittelator, but the ones it has are stunningly simple.

For example, the name of your currently active account is at the top of the screen in Tweetie. That keeps you from mistakenly tweeting a personal message from a work account.

Another thing I love is that I can view followers on Tweetie and make decisions to follow them. Even better, the most recent followers are on top, so I can probably disable the new follower email messages from Twitter, and just do all of my Follower maintenance from Tweetie when I have free moments. That will make my email handling more efficient.

Either Twittelator or Tweetie will make you more productive than the free Twitter clients for iPhone, but the Chancellor’s Choice goes to Tweetie.

Announcing the Chancellor’s Choice Awards

One of my basic approaches to social media is to maximize what can be done for free. I do this partly to prove a point; to eliminate excuses by showing how much you can do without spending a penny (and without requiring the support of IT).

And of course the other reason is: I’m cheap.

Having seen a recent article by Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal with a list of his favorite iPhone apps, and having just spent money on an iPhone application for the first time last weekend, I thought it would be good to create the Chancellor’s Choice Awards.

Chancellor’s Choice recipients are social media tools that have caused me to pry out the wallet and flip over the debit card to get the security code…to actually spend money on social media. These aren’t annual awards; I’ll present them whenever I buy something in social media and find it worth the cost. And they’re not subject to vote: they’re just my personal opinion (not that of my employer or the SMUG student body.) I welcome your nominations or contrary opinions, however. Leave them in the comments.

The Chancellor’s Choice award also carries no cash value, and there’s no lovely statuette or red carpet media gathering. If the recipients would care to offer tear-filled speeches in response, they can send me a link to their uploaded video, and I’ll update the award post to embed it.

The first Chancellor’s Choice award will be presented tonight. If you have non-free social media tool nominees to suggest, share them in the comments below.

Yammer 105: Making Yammering Effortless

I have found that when we introduce new electronic tools to the workplace, the adoption and usage varies inversely with the amount of effort required. There also is a significant direct relationship to the perceived benefit, but the basic questions are:

  1. How difficult is this going to be?
  2. How much do I need to change what I’m already doing?
  3. What’s in it for me?
  4. What’s in it for us as a group?

The first two questions can trump the others. No matter the payoff, if it’s too much of a change or is perceived as too difficult, you won’t reach the critical mass of users that will make the answer to #4 compelling.

When it comes to politics, it seems we all want change. But in the workplace we like our routine.

If individuals can see a personal benefit that doesn’t depend on everyone else also adopting the technology, that can help the adoption get started. And if that adoption can draw others along, so that they contribute to the greater good with very little modification of their current routine, well…

That’s change we can believe in.


Everyone uses email at work. Everyone complains about getting too much of it. If a tool can reduce unwanted and irrelevant email messages while still giving you access to the information if you later need it, that would be a great value, wouldn’t it? And if you could mostly use it right from your email client (i.e. Microsoft Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail), wouldn’t that make the burden of questions 1 and 2 almost nonexistent?

This post is mainly intended for my work colleagues, who are part of my Yammer network. But SMUGgles can learn from the basic concepts and apply them to your networks (although the links I provide to make it easy for my work colleagues to join and follow tags will not work for you.)

Five Steps to Making Yammer Effortless

1. Sign up for Yammer using your work e-mail address. This is covered in more detail in Yammer 101.

2. Make your E-Mail Settings tab look like this:

This will ensure that you get e-mail notices of new posts from any people you are following and for any tags (or topics) you follow. To cut down on unnecessary email, I suggest that you de-select requiring confirmation of posts via email and notification of new messages you post via email.

3. Follow tags that interest you or that are relevant to your work

For our Medical Edge team, follow #medical-edge

For our media relations staff, follow #media-relations, #press-call-alert and #story-idea

For our Social Media team, follow #social-media-team

How do you follow tags? Click the relevant link and once there, click the blue “Follow” button as you see in the example below:

4. When you want to send a message to other staff who are interested in these topics, instead of deciding what email distribution list to use, Yammer instead using the relevant tags.

In this way, everyone who has followed the tag will get an email. You don’t have to pick a distribution list. The users have self-selected.

In addition to the main tags that refer to the interest group that should receive the message, feel free to add any other tags that would help you find the message later. Creating a tag is as simple as putting a # in front of a #word or #phrase-joined-by-hyphens.

Once you have done the set-up in Yammer, which takes about five minutes, this is the only step that involves any change from the way you currently exchange information by email. You’re just using Yammer instead of a distribution list. And I would suggest that this is even easier than email, because you can just get to the point and the format doesn’t encourage rambling messages.

5. When you get an e-mail message from Yammer relating to one of your tags, if you have something to say, just reply via e-mail as you normally would.

Yammer will log your response and will send it to everyone else. You don’t need to log into Yammer and post your response there. Just send a plain old-fashioned e-mail reply, and Yammer will take care of the rest. Your message will become part of the thread…as the recorded customer service messages say, “in the order it was received.” The entire conversation and its resolution is archived for reference.

6. Read messages you get from Yammer, and then delete them. You don’t need to save messages, because if you later need them you can search for them within Yammer.

For more background on Yammer check out the full Yammer curriculum.

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Yammer Time(s)

Yammer, which I have been featuring in a new curriculum offering, was featured significantly today in the New York Times and its Technology blog.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Successes like YouTube, the online video site sold to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006, convinced some venture investors that building a Web site with a large number of users could still be more valuable than making money from paying customers.

Now, as the global economy enters a severe downturn, the relative merits of these two philosophies will be tested again.

The two poles of the debate are apparent in the world of microblogging, where people use the Web or their cellphones to blast short updates on their activities to a group of virtual followers.

Yammer’s business model is compelling, Mr. Sacks said, because it spreads virally like a consumer service, but earns revenue like a business service. Anyone with a company e-mail address can use Yammer free. When that company officially joins — which gives the administrator more control over security and how employees use the service — it pays $1 a month for each user. In Yammer’s first six weeks, 10,000 companies with 60,000 users signed up, though only 200 companies with 4,000 users are paying so far.

The founders and backers of Twitter, which has reportedly raised $20 million from venture capitalists, are just as adamant about their decision to grow first and monetize second.

I love Twitter. In fact, a Tweet from Dennis McDonald is what alerted me to the blog post, which led me to the article. But I think the real strength of Yammer is precisely that it didn’t make a choice between growing and monetizing.

It has a business plan.

It can grow immensely (as it has) through viral, bottom-up adoption. It’s mode of adoption isn’t really much different from Twitter. Anyone can sign up for free using a company e-mail address, and can invite co-workers. The only limit is that people from outside your company can’t be part of your network.

But for most businesses, that’s actually a plus. I can talk with my co-workers about what I’m working on, or share links, without the whole world seeing.

And I’m betting that with this New York Times coverage, the growth is going to greatly accelerate. I recommend you check out both the article and the blog post.

Yet despite being positioned for strong growth, the Yammer leadership actually has a plan for how to make money from the service; a fee amounting to $12 per employee per year.

Some companies may try Yammer and then decide to go with their own microblogging networks, completely behind the corporate firewall. But at least through Yammer they can experiment with the concept for free instead of spending a bunch of money on a new software package and trying to get employees to use it.

This is a variation of how Microsoft has driven Sharepoint, except the Microsoft staff already has strong relationships with the corporate IT departments. Microsoft gives Sharepoint to companies for a free trial, and then charges a large fee if they end up deploying long-term.

Yammer doesn’t have those IT relationships, and so is using a bottom-up strategy.

I will still use Twitter for connecting with the world, but it’s going to be fun experimenting with Yammer to see how it can help workplace collaboration.

Do you use Twitter? Have you tried Yammer? What do you think of the two services and how you might apply them in your work?

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