ALI Post-Conference Workshop

Vivien Dai and Marady Hill of Bonfire Communications are presenting a workshop called How to Leverage New Technologies to Drive conversation and Collaboration Within Your Organization. They started with a recap discussion, asking everyone to share the insights and challenges they are taking home from the last two days.Some of the points participants mentioned:

  • Start small
  • Just try it
  • It’s OK to fail and adjust
  • Cut through the fear, particularly of security. People can lead through email or phone, so this is not really a new risk.
  • Set expectations. Not everyone has to participate. Just because not 100 percent of employees will use the tools doesn’t mean they don’t have value for the ones who do.
  • These tools will be key for attracting new talent in a younger generation.
  • Find the promoters and those with the need. Look at what the business need is and how you can solve it, not “I have some shiny tools in search of a problem.”
  • Use Open Source and don’t make it too complicated. Post your need on Craigslist and you can find a developer who will help you solve your problem inexpensively so the ROI hurdle won’t be too high.

OK, everyone…What were your key take-aways from the last two days?

AAA and American Express Case Studies


In contrast to Kevin from IBM, David Kligman from the California State Automobile Association (AAA), talked about an incremental project he implemented, which is a means of having a feedback string for its intranet newsletter aimed at 12,000 employees.

They’ve had over 5,000 feedback comments so far. It cost them about $3,500 in employee time in getting this project implemented.

David’s advice for Editors based on his experience:

  • Don’t make it anonymous
    • More value in discussion
    • Richer dialogue
    • Accountability
    • Other opportunities for anonymity (employee surveys)
  • Don’t leave questions hanging. Find someone who can answer.
  • Don’t let IT overcomplicate things.
    • Create easy sign-in process.
  • Monitor but don’t obsess.
    • Get your communications team involved.
  • Include sidebars with questions to prompt employee feedback
  • Let conversations run their course (even the critical ones)
  • Spread the word that it’s safe to say what you think (counsel executives.)
  • Send articles to execs as a heads up
    • Jump into conversation if needed
    • When responding, thank employees
    • Don’t be defensive
    • Don’t reprimand employees for speaking out

I think maybe what we’re looking at with the IBM presentation vs. some of the more grassroots tactics is that IBM is a huge, tech-oriented enterprise with lots of experience with online communities and tools. Best Buy suggested failing fast and learning from mistakes. I think that was the CDC approach, too.

Kit Thompson from American Express had a similar story.  They have a moderated discussion board. They didn’t have any budget assigned to this. They had someone with tech smarts on their team, who was able to cobble this together with existing tools.

It’s like Zig Ziglar says, “If you wait for all the lights to be on green, you’ll never leave the driveway.” I think with an emphasis on having a complete enterprise solution to integrate everything you will load the project down with so much cost that it will be hard to prove success.

For most companies, I think it’s much better to go for small wins like AAA and American Express have. You can worry later about integrating everything later if necessary.  And if you’re an IBM with lots of experience with these tools, now may be the time to integrate.

Kevin Winterfield on IBM Social Networking

Kevin’s presentation is called Making IBM Small: How Social Networking Can Turn a Corporation Into A Community.

IBM is enabling the endeavor through Social Media. Every IBMer has a blog and can start a wiki instantly without asking anyone.

Projects form and morph. Teams couple and de-couple to serve clients. The organizing principle that brings employees together is no longer the enterprise, it’s the endeavor.

I got the sense that Kevin didn’t want too many details about what IBM is doing to be published to the world. So instead of going into those details of his demo, I’m going to publish instead his “9 suggestions for going social at work” as a separate post.

Chris Heuer Workshop on Tagging

Chris did an exercise on tagging, in which he had us all put post-it notes on our badges regarding three things we like to do. Then we circulated and looked for people with common interests.

He showed a video on tagging by Technorati, and also the popular tags on the photo sharing site, Flickr.

He also shared his tags for socialmedia.

Chris says people are tagging for their own purposes, so they can find things more easily later. It’s not primarily an altruistic endeavor. By tagging they can have a URL reside in multiple folders instead of just one.

The added benefit of saving things in this way and making the tags available publicly is it helps others, too.

Hearing Chis talk gave me an idea for another course I need to add to the SMUG curriculum. That will be part of the Core Curriculum, and will be called Social Media 106: Intro to Tagging.

Until I can get that written (or until Chris writes it for me as a visiting professor), these notes from his session will at least give an intro to the intro to tagging.