Hacking the Old Way of Working #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Title and Description: Hacking the Old Way of Working

During the past three years, the Port of Antwerp Authority designed a new process for generic knowledge work, supported with new kinds of tools. Our concept got awarded in Washington, which was a true confirmation, but it also started an important change project. The people factor (new skills, culture, communication) in change was underestimated. Hear about the dilemmas, disruption, tools, and trajectory and coping mechanisms.  It’s a process of thought and action combined in design, learning, experimentation and especially perseverance. Filled with tips and insights!

Speaker: Filip Callewaert, Head Information and Knowledge Management, Port of Antwerp Authority

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2016 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Don’t focus on the Eggs!.  We tend to focus too much on the eggs — the eggs are the results, the outputs of knowledge work. However, there is insufficient ROI on storing and organizing eggs that will inevitable rot over time. Instead, we should focus on the messiness and complexity of knowledge work itself.
  • How to focus on the knowledge process? Currently, much knowledge work is done in the dark, in solitary work or in Therefore, the answer is to enable observable work — by “Working Out Loud.” This serves to “lower the sea level,” thereby making more of the previously hidden iceberg of knowledge work more visible.
  • Keep testing your current ways of working — some of this works and some of it doesn’t:
    • Meetings — why do we have so many? How to have better meetings?
    • Project Management — why do so many projects fail?
    • Business Process Management — why are your process manuals covered with dust?
    • Personal Task Management — Me, Myself and My Silo
    • Team Task Management — how to introduce yet another tool for this?
    • Time Management — how to stop your head from hurting because of multitasking
  • How his organization improves knowledge work.
    • They work in the open (by default), where the content is available for immediate feedback.
      • Adaptive Case Management / Dynamic Case Management / Intelligent Case Management  — this is a process to “manage” knowledge work.
        • whenever they have a business challenge/ problem, they open a case
        • when problems get too big — open a case
        • their main ambition is to close the case
        • the case is “the single spot for action” for solving the problem — everyone involved in the problem does their work inside the case site in their social platform
        • they use templates to help structure their case site
    • They have 100% engagement/contribution. Because the case space is WHERE they work, there are no lurkers. This solves the 90-9-1 problem endemic with many social tools.
    • The case is a “container” but that container is open — people are invited in to help solve the problem.
  • New ways of working require new skills, attitudes, and behaviors.
    • content curation
    • community facilitation, platform building
    • conversation facilitation, moderation
    • “classical” information management
    • knowledge work management
    • critical thinking
    • meta-management (social learning)
    • information design
    • way-showing (wayfinding)
    • design thinking
    • working out loud
    • “Tweeting” (give the essence of information in 140 characters of less
    • empathizing
  • Book Recommendation: When Thinking Matters in the Workplace: How Executives and Leaders of Knowledge Work Teams can Innovate with Case Management by Keith Swenson.
  • How to Succeed in this work.
    • get acquainted with the “new stuff” and how it impacts your work
    • remain an “eternal learner”

Using Lenses to Right Fit Social & Collaboration #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Title and Description: Using Lenses to Right Fit Social & Collaboration

Organizations have been deploying new digital work platforms and services the past few years. Quite often we hear that the tools don’t matter that much, just get one and use it. Adding a community manager and digital transformation specialists helps, but the tools don’t seem to do what is needed. The question is constantly, “Do the tools fit our needs?” and also “We see value but it seems like it isn’t quite right.” Well, not only is getting the right help important, it is important to right fit the tools to the needs and uses. The uses and needs can be complex and diverse. This session helps break down the diversity, enabling the dimensions and their elements to be viewed properly so what is relevant for your organization can be seen through the use of social lenses. Using the lenses as a diagnostic tool to understand what works and fits and where there are gaps and needs helps bring clarity. But, greater clarity is provided when pairing the lenses to view different perspectives clearly.

This is particularly helpful for improving use and knowledge flows through the organization’s understanding of the right fit of tool(s) and services. Using the lenses to see the relevant dimensions and how they intersect not only helps organizations understand the needs for today, but works as a valuable method for framing an adaptive road map for the coming years. Having clarity to see the smaller actual pieces enables sensing their changes in order to adjust and adapt with more clarity of understanding.

Speaker: Thomas Vander Wal, Sr. Consultant, Adjuvi, LLC

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2016 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Don’t Start with a Tool or Service First.  Most organizations end up with an enterprise-wide platform because it was bundled “free” with another tool. Often, the free tools and services do not quite fit the need. 
  • Start by Understanding Your Needs First.
    • Common, shared working spaces
    • Increasing knowledge sharing
  • Don’t Default to Closed Node System.
    • Top down
    • Approval-centric
    • Slow to spread
    • Slow to change
    • Knowledge is buried — it is hard to search, it is hard to find knowledge. Therefore, the focus is on training to help spread the knowledge
    • Email is the “poster child” of the closed node network
  • Open-Node Systems.
    • Emergent
    • Sharing-centric
    • Nimble and adaptive
    • Understand that things are constantly changing — this is both accepted and accommodated by the way we work
    • Knowledge is searchable and linked — even among disparate services or repositories. By having things in an open-node environment, the links among knowledge “light up the dark web inside your organization.”
    • Focus on helping rather than on training
    • Open digital conversation
    • Supports collaborative and collective living documents — they change to reflect current realities
    • All history and transitions are viewable and available
    • Conversations around objects occur with those objects in clear sight –e.g.,  connecting comments to the object that is being discussed
  • What’s the most valuable? While the final decision is good to know, it can be even more helpful to have access to the thinking that led to the decision. This allows a later pivot, without having to redo the entire decisionmaking process.
  • Social Progressions. This is how to develop and scale new ideas
    • Sparks — individual ideas that arise in disparate places and seem to be pointing to a useful pattern or direction.
    • Campfire — bring together the various disconnected items into a central place where a a group can discuss it “around the campfire”
    • Bonfire — add more fuel, bring in more people, widen the discussion in an open environment
    • Torch — safe, reliable, repeatable in different environments. This is what you have to create in order to share the ideas that emerged from the sparks to campfire to bonfire process.
    • Organizations with 1 social platform have a high probability of having two or more platforms.
  • Differing Perspectives.
    • Personal — in a social environment, people need to know what they are working on, information regarding who and what they need to know to get my job done are within easy reach.
    • Collective — getting into the open the information from individual understanding that now needs to be made available to others.
    • Cooperative — once the information is the open, allowing people to draw connections between those materials and themselves. (Example: seeing that someone else has an understanding of an issue that is similar to mine. We have a connection that might be worth exploring.) This operates at several scales:
      • Individual
      • Team
      • Group
      • Community
      • Network
    • Collaborative — this involves moving a disparate group of individuals into a single whole.
    • Social Working Array — you need to be able to see all of these perspectives as they occur across the platform and across the organization: Collective, Cooperative, Collaborative
  • Social Scaling.
    • Humans are mostly social by nature but often are not social at scale.  (See Reed’s Law.) People move up and down the scale. This needs to be accommodated by social platforms.
    • Most people are most comfortable interacting with a small group of others they know; their comfort decreases as group size grows.
    • Humans naturally build groups and clusters to ease interacting with large groups
  • Team Needs. The most frequently occuring group is the Team. They interact at the 70% level. (By contrast, Communities online tend to interact at the 30% level.) You need to understand the needs of a team as it operates:
    • tasks
    • status
    • process
    • progress
    • calendars
    • decisionmaking
  • Social Groups and Walled Gardens.
    • Closed groups (closed node) tend to have high adoption and activity rates as compared to open groups. This relates to a lack of comfort with sharing in a more open environment.
    • We need to create comfortable spaces with permeable walls. See Donald Appleyard’s “Livable Streets” for a similar approach in a physical (rather than digital) environment. Having front porches helped people in their houses feel more comfortable coming outside and hanging out on the street. Having front windows helped people on the street understand the people in the houses better.
  • How to Improve your online groups? Have a team that includes the following:
    • Community manager
    • Social interaction designer
    • Social scientists — they see strengths and gaps in the social interactions within the group
    • Knowledge manager
    • UX/User Research
    • Change Manager
    • IT Dev/ Integrator
  • Typical Problems.
    • Services go away — so plan redundancy/failovers
    • Change is constant — so plan to be nimble
    • Plan for continued security, privacy/permissions and changes in scaling as they occur
    • Plan for the many pieces that exist in your system — you need integration/interoperation, umbrella services, community managers/navigation

    • Selection & review — have a six-month tool review, understand the balance between change and stability and long-term assessments; keep your vendor assessments fresh

Promoting Your ILTA Session Through Social Media

Social Media Prism - Germany V2.0 Social media is now so much a part of our lives that it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have immediate access to the deep (and occasionally trivial) thoughts of people far and wide. With the ubiquity of social media comes the challenge of using it for good. To that end, the International Legal Technology Association hosted a webinar on July 17 for the speakers who will be presenting at ILTA’s upcoming annual conference in August. The focus of the webinar was twofold: (i) to provide an introduction to social media platforms that can help speakers promote their sessions and (ii) to offer some micro case studies that illustrate how social media can be useful in life generally and, in particular, in connection with the conference.

Rachelle Rennagel (conference co-chair) welcomed webinar attendees and then introduced JoAnna Forshee (@InsideLegal), who provided the introduction to social media. Next, Charles Christian (@ChristianUncut), David Hobbie (@KMHobbie) and Mary Abraham (@VMaryAbraham) presented the micro case studies. (For another summary of the webinar, I’d encourage you to check out the tweetstream using the hashtag #ILTA13.) Charles Christian gave webinar attendees a journalist’s perspective on social media and its best uses. He emphasized quite rightly that it’s important to keep the “social” in social media. This means engaging in conversation rather than in self-absorbed one-way broadcasts of opinion. David Hobbie provided a behind-the-scenes view of what he does to carry off the significant challenge of live-blogging conference sessions.  He reminded attendees that good blogging helps establish the writer as an effective communicator and can lead to speaking opportunities and career opportunities.

Social Media and Me

During my allotted time, I covered a variety of topics: the social media platforms I use, how they have been helpful, and how I’m intending to use social media in connection with the ILTA conference. I was glad to have this opportunity since social media has changed my professional life. While that may seem like an extravagant claim, it is absolutely accurate. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • Blogging gives me an opportunity to read and write about the key issues relating to my work. In fact, because I’ve had to read widely in order to write, I sometimes joke that this blog has given me the equivalent of a graduate education in my field. Best of all, it didn’t require any student loans.
  • Twitter does several things. First, it is my news filter — bringing to me the headlines, articles and blog posts that I need to read to stay well-informed. For example, when Charles Christian has some breaking news about the legal industry, I find out about it through his tweets. Secondly, Twitter allows me to participate in online conversations regarding issues relating to my work. Since it is rare for a US law firm to have an army of people interested in knowledge management, I have used Twitter to connect with an online community of knowledge management experts around the world. They keep me up-to-date in my field and provide crowdsourced answers to my questions. Finally, Twitter is how I have found and recruited many terrific speakers for ILTA conferences and other conferences. It’s a goldmine of talent.
  • Google Plus sits somewhere between a blog and Twitter. It allows you to write more than 140 characters at a time, but isn’t as big an obligation as a personal blog. Best of all, it spawns lots of interesting conversations.
  • LinkedIn is my rolodex. It’s how I stay in touch with the folks I know and it lets me get in touch with the folks I’d like to know. I recently went through a job transition. LinkedIn has been vital in getting the word out to friends and colleagues around the world.

Social Media and the ILTA Conference

Given that I’m such an advocate of social media, how will I be using social media in connection with the conference? Here’s what I told the webinar’s attendees:

  • Since I have a blog, I’ll be using it to promote my sessions. (Now don’t you wish you had a blog too???) Seriously, I’ll likely also promote other sessions that strike my fancy. And how will I discover those other sessions? Primarily through word of mouth from trusted sources. I’ll also use the conference website to see what sessions are most interesting to me.
  • Before conference, I expect to be tweeting up a storm. So if you tweet about a conference-related issue and use the #ILTA13 hashtag, I’m liable to retweet your tweet to my network.
  • During conference, social media  becomes especially important. Over the last few years, I’ve developed the practice of live-blogging keynotes and conference sessions. This often means that I take notes during your session and then post a summary on my blog as soon as the session ends. Sometimes, it means that I’ll translate your pearls of wisdom into 140-character nuggets and tweet a constant stream of your brilliance as you speak during your session. Once this gets going, people around the world jump in and send their props to the speakers via Twitter, as well as their questions and comments. Suddenly, we have a conversation in the conference hall and with the Twittersphere simultaneously. So don’t be surprised if I raise my hand in your session and read a question or comment that has come in via Twitter from some other part of the world.
  • While I know this won’t happen to any of you, I have to confess that in dull sessions, sometimes the best (and only) action is in the Twitter back channel. People in the audience start venting there about the session and it can get pretty funny.
  • A word of warning: If you’re on a panel, be sure to monitor the tweet stream for your session. It will tell you if your audience is getting fractious or if your virtual audience has questions. These are good things to know.
  • Here’s a tip for when you’re attending someone else’s session: During the first 10 minutes of the session, pay attention to the tweet stream from other sessions. If your session proves to be not exactly what you hoped for, you can jump ship and go immediately to the session with the fabulous tweet stream.
  • Finally, during conference I also use Twitter and Google Plus to organize last minute meet-ups with other attendees — it really helps make the conference more social.

Social Media after the ILTA Conference

  • After conference, check out the blogs and Twitter to see the reaction of your audience to what you had to say during your session. There almost always are round-ups of the sessions that individual bloggers found most interesting.
  • One last thing: every year I hear from someone who tells me that they used my blog posts and tweet stream to prepare the report that their firm required in exchange for underwriting their trip to conference. Since this year’s conference is in Vegas, you may want to use social media resources to help you provide an especially detailed report just to prove that you really attended the educational sessions in the conference rooms rather than the ones on the casino floor.

[Photo Credit: Birgerking]




Solve Critical Business Problems with Social Software

dollar sign $ For most sophisticated companies, the issue of social software is not a new one. If you’ve read my reports from the Enterprise 2.0 conference, you’ll see summaries of some interesting and innovative deployments of social software within the enterprise. But for every success story, there are far too many organizations that have “tried social and don’t understand what the fuss is about.”  In other words, their internal deployment of social media tools has not moved the needle in terms of their business performance.

What’s Gone Wrong?

Here are just a few of the many examples of things gone wrong: For some, their social software experiment was initiated by a few enthusiastic individuals or teams at the grassroots level who were unable to obtain the requisite management support for their efforts. For others, there was a top-level edict that “we should do social,” but that edict was not supported by significant participation by key leaders within the organization. Another dead end is the social platform that is launched with much fanfare but does not integrate smoothly with the systems of record, with the systems in which the core of the business takes place.

As a result of these and other missteps and miscalculations, we haven’t seen the wholesale adoption that one might expect from a set of tools and capabilities that have swept the consumer web.

How To Make it Better

John Hagel, co-chairman of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, has some excellent pragmatic advice for organizations: Use social software to solve problems that matter to your business. In a CIO Insights video interview (see below), he recommends the following steps:

  1.  The senior executives of your organization are typically measured by financial metrics, so start with the financial metrics that are the most challenging or present the greatest business opportunity.
  2. Then drill down to the operating metrics that drive those financial metrics. For example, are the financial metrics on revenue growth impaired by operating metrics that indicate a high level of customer churn?
  3. Then drill down further to the frontline metrics. In the example of customer churn, do the frontline metrics indicate poor customer service or inadequate responses to customer requests?
  4. Ask what you can do with social software to help the customer support function reduce customer churn. This is a real problem worth solving that can have a meaningful impact on business performance.
  5. Develop a social software plan that reduces customer churn and generates meaningful metrics.
  6. Collect metrics that demonstrate your success at the operating level and in terms of the positive impact on revenue.



In a similar vein Alan Lepofsky, VP & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, recently provided a step-by-step approach to implementing social software for what he calls “purposeful collaboration” in which employees use social software hand-in-glove with the business processes and tools that help them get their work done (see video below):

  1. Investigate a key business process inside your organization that currently presents challenges (e.g., is new product development too slow?). Identify what part of the process needs improvement.
  2. Determine how you need to improve that process. What are the relevant milestones and goals you would like to set?
  3. Identify appropriate social software that can help you improve that process. Look for social software that integrates neatly with your existing key business tools; be cautious about purchasing a standalone platform. And be sure to confirm that the social software can be deployed in a manner that meets your business needs (e.g., via the cloud, mobile-friendly, etc.).



Now take a look at your organization. Is there a business challenge that really matters to your organization or its constituents? If standard approaches have failed to yield the desired results, is there an opportunity here to use social software to make a meaningful improvement in your business results? If so, is it clear what metrics you can track to actually demonstrate this impact? If your answers to these questions are positive, you may have a terrific opening to show your organization how social software is more than a trendy sop for the millenials and actually can be a useful tool for professionals of all ages within your organization.

The best way to make your social software deployment a real success is to tie it to a demonstrable improvement in business results.

That’s the path to success. The rest is up to you.

[Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds]


To the Barricades! Social Media versus Time Warner

Oxymoron In the middle of an otherwise unremarkable neighborhood association meeting this evening, my neighbor declared that he had to create a Twitter account right away.  What stunned all of us was the fact that this neighbor celebrated his 80th birthday several years ago. He is not exactly in the age bracket that you would normally expect to see flocking to social media.

What changed?

He was facing a situation that made him so boiling mad that he was willing to push out of his comfort zone to solve the problem. And what exactly was his problem? He was furious because he believed that he was paying an exhorbitant amount for his cable, internet and telephone service. To make matters worse, he was deeply disappointed by the quality of the service provided. And who is his provider? Time Warner Cable.

Another neighbor (in his late 50s) told us that when his teenage son had seen the family’s Time Warner bill, he uttered an expletive and then immediately set up a Twitter account for his father. Using that new account, the son posted a pithy tweet addressed to Time Warner (@TCW), complaining about the poor quality of the service and what he considered to be its outrageous price.

Now here’s the part that caught the attention of my 80-something neighbor (and the rest of us at the meeting, to be honest):  shortly after the teenager tweeted his upset with Time Warner, the company’s customer service department called them with an offer to make the situation better. Consequently, the neighbor with the tweeting teenager was able to report an improvement in service AND a substantial reduction in his monthly bill.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about a couple of dollars here or there. Rather, we’re talking about prices so high that Craig Moffet, an analyst at the Wall Street firm Bernstein Research, felt completely justified in making the following observation:

The cable distribution giants like Time Warner Cable and Comcast are already making a 97 percent margin on their `almost comically profitable’ Internet services.

Clearly, I’m in the wrong business.

That said, the reaction of my neighbors provides an important reminder to us all. Social media enables an extraordinary amount of direct communication. It has an immediacy and effectiveness that my 80-something neighbor had been unable to match using the traditional methods of letters of complaint or long calls to scripted customer service representatives. Social media also provide a very public way of communicating your concerns. My neighbor’s complaint letters are undoubtedly sitting in a circular file somewhere, never to see the light of day. By contrast, a tweet can be retweeted many times over and every iteration is recorded by the Library of Congress or one of the many search engines. If a complaint publicized via social media goes viral, then a company has a major public relations disaster on its hands. If you don’t believe me, just ask United Airlines about guitars (nearly 13 million views on YouTube)!

Thanks to social media, David once again has a chance against Goliath. Thanks to social media, the public can erect public barricades to attract the attention of companies that are much larger and more powerful. Thanks to social media, we have a shot at leveling the playing field.

Earlier this evening, I posted a tweet directed at Time Warner Cable. I’ll let you know what Goliath says.


[Photo Credit: Lyman Green]





New York, New York

After Sandy They say that the three most important factors in determining the value of a property are “location, location, location.” We’ve certainly learned the truth of that old adage this week. We were among the lucky ones who live in a New York City neighborhood that did not lose electricity. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for many of our friends:

  • Our friends K&R in Greenwich Village have no electricity, heat or water.
  • Our friend MC, who lives in Long Island, cannot use her car because (a) she doesn’t have any electricity to open her garage door and (b) the nearby gas stations don’t have any fuel.
  • Our friend KH in New Jersey is dealing with trees that fell on her property, as well as three kids at home. To make matters worse, she has no electricity and the local schools are closed.
  • Our friend JH’s home on the New Jersey shore was flooded. She says that even the dresser drawers contain water.
  • Our friend PS in Chelsea found shelter with a kind friend — until that friend’s home lost heat and hot water too. Now he’s looking for a way to leave town.

Life after Hurricane Sandy has been one of discovering new flexibility and new limits. Many of us have learned the huge value of working remotely — especially when most of the bridges and tunnels connecting Manhattan to the rest of the world are closed and when subways and commuter trains are out of commission. Face time suddenly becomes less pressing when there are other (virtual) ways of completing the work in a timely fashion. Add to that the fact that some office buildings (like mine) have electricity, but no heat or hot water, and then you begin to appreciate the advantages of working from home

Sandy has also reminded us of the value of staying connected via social media. Texting and Facebook have been lifelines for people trying to contact friends and families in the storm-affected areas. For those of us dealing with the aftermath of the storm, social media has allowed us to help each other with words of encouragement and practical acts of kindness. Friends on Facebook have posted information on subway openings, where to get a free shower or WiFi, and where to find places to charge your electronic devices. Meanwhile, Twitter has been an important source of official news and an essential part of emergency communication plans, according to an article today in The New York Times:

With Hurricane Sandy, public officials and government agencies have embraced social media to a greater degree than ever. For proof, look no further than the Twitter feed of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York: 400 messages on Tuesday, 300 on Wednesday and well over 100 on Thursday, featuring everything from photos of storm surge damage to updates on power restoration.


Although phone service has been spotty in some places across the Northeast, people with working signals have been reliant on texting and social networking to a degree not seen during previous disasters.

According to Frank Sinatra, New York is the city that never sleeps. But if you take a look at the fantastic photo of Manhattan by Brian Angell that I’ve posted above, you’ll see that a significant part of the city is still dark. Here’s hoping the lights come back to the Big Apple soon.

[Photo Credit: Brian Angell]


JAG Connect:Army Lawyers go Social #ILTA12

Col. Scott Reid is the Chief Knowledge Officer of the US Army JAG Corps. The JAG has about 2,500 lawyers, plus almost an equal number of support staff, plus the same number again in the reserves. Their offices are in 21 countries.

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2012 Conference 2012. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Their Strategy for Enterprise Social Networking. They aimed to create the largest network possible, keeping in mind costs, intuitive usage, respect for the Department of Defense firewall. They had very senior support from the start. Their key knowledge management presence is on milBook, which is part of milSuite. It is built in Jive. They also have a blog function (using WordPress) and are working on Eureka, an idea generation/evaluation tool. The JAG presence on milBook is called JAG Connect.
  • Support/Administration. Each group in milBook is is hosted by a lawyer who is given specific responsibility for the role and community. They have over 15,000 individuals participating in 2660 communities. Approximately 20% of the members are contributors. (This is far better than the 90-9-1 participation rule.)
  • Gamification in milBook. They award points to contributors. You can win extra points for providing an answer that someone else finds helpful. This gamification has proven to be a very helpful way to motivate and reward participation.
  • More Like This. MilBook uses tags to find similar content and serves it up to the reader automatically.
  • Lessons Learned. (1) Have a strategic plan. (2) Have communities that reflect functions rather than just the organizational map. (3) Marketing is key to encourage participation. (4) Include a pilot to test bugs and to win senior support. (5) When considering how to motivate participation, consider Daniel Pink’s observations regarding autonomy, mastery and meaning. These are key intrinsic motivators. The gamification also helps, but it provides extrinsic motivation.

[Scott, please review and let me know if my rapid transcription contains any errors. You and your colleagues have a terrific story. I want to be sure I reported it accurately. Thanks!]


It is Time to Get Serious About Social [McKinsey]

Social Media ROI What would you say if someone offered you the opportunity to free up as much as 25% of the work week for more productive purposes? Would you be willing to explore this further or would you discount it out of hand as wishful thinking? What if the source of this claim was the McKinsey Global Institute, the management consulting firm’s research organization?

The McKinsey Global Institute has just released a new study, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, that examines the potential impact of social technologies in four sectors: consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing, and professional services. This report makes the sit-up-and-take-notice claim that these technologies “could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value across the four sectors.”

That’s a lot of zeroes worth of added value. In fact, the study estimates that “by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent.

For those of you tend to skip over claims like this, I’d encourage you to back up and take another look since one of the sectors examined in the study is the professional services sector. That includes your law firm. If you were to read the report from the perspective of a legal professional services firm, what might you learn? Here are some money quotes from the study’s abstract:

Two-thirds of this potential value lies in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises. The average interaction worker spends an estimated 28 percent of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20 percent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. But when companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35 percent, the time employees spend searching for company information. Additional value can be realized through faster, more efficient, more effective collaboration, both within and between enterprises.

The amount of value individual companies can capture from social technologies varies widely by industry, as do the sources of value. Companies that have a high proportion of interaction workers can realize tremendous productivity improvements through faster internal communication and smoother collaboration.

To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.

I’m betting that the law firm that masters social technologies would be a very attractive place to work. I’m also betting it could attract the high-performing knowledge workers it needs to be hugely successful. McKinsey calls the potential impact of social technologies in the enterprise “transformative.” Have you considered what these technologies could do for your firm?

[Photo Credit: Mark Smiciklas]



The Post-2.0 Era: Social in the Context of My Work #e2conf

Larry Cannell is Research Director at Gartner Inc. At Gartner, he writes for information architects and everyone they influence. You can reach him on Twitter: @lcannell.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2012 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Innovations Since 2006. Social network sites, smartphone and tablet apps, business applications are all using activity streams. This has resulted in a more tech savvy user with greater demands in the workplace. And, it has changed the technology conversation within the enterprise.
  • Individualizing the IT Experience. For years, IT has delivered an “application-centered” experience. Now IT needs to provide a “people-centered” experience at work. This is the great lesson from mobile devices and apps. It also represents a huge change for IT.
  • What Does the Enterprise Social Experience Want? (1) Focus on the individual; (2) leveraging familiarity (e.g., familiarity gained through consumer social experiences on Facebook and the like), (3) acknowledge constraints — these are inevitable given the business, confidentiality and security requirements of business.
  • The Social Online Workplace. Start with social messaging, then add collaborative content, as well as content from business applications that matters to the individual. This is an “inside out” focus that begins with the individual. The activity stream shouldn’t be in a separate silo — it should be available in different form factors and displayed within the context of where the individual chooses to work.
  • How Can IT Enrich the Enterprise Social Graph? IT knows who works with whom. And IT knows what applications everyone uses. Imagine what could happen if IT could surface application data within a social graph? For example, showing John Doe information produced by Jack Smith because they both work with the same business application and are reasonably proximate within the organization’s social graph. IT could also recommend that John and Jack follow each other or get to know each other based on their shared work interests.
  • Social Network Aggregation Services. Similar to other aggregation services such as search, these social network aggregation services combine content from multiple sources. This is challenging, the work is not trivial — it requires more than just APIs. Consequently, vendors will have to offer something more sophisticated for information architects.
  • Working with Email and Instant Messaging. Each system works with different lists — address lists, lists of people I’m following, friends lists, buddy lists, etc. Rather than juggling all of these, we should be able to have a single list of the people I’m in contact with.
  • Working with Documents. For years, we’ve put documents in files. Overtime, these become blackholes of content. Often, they become personally owned. Cannell believes it would be better if they were group-owned. This would facilitate collaboration. Then the activity streams could be integrated and displayed for the group.
  • Portals. Portals are not de facto social. When badly implemented, they simply open a window on existing silos. They don’t fully integrate the content.
  • Search. There is significant overlap between search and some social functionality. However social software is having an impact on search. For example, activity stream filtering/visualization. This is a newer way of doing faceted search. In addition, integrating tag clouds and allowing search on those could be powerful.
  • Impact of Social on Business Applications. The innovation lies in displaying activity streams and social graph information within the context of a business application. Admittedly, this could give rise to security concerns: who controls access to an object embedded in an activity stream?
  • What Should IT Do? (1) Focus on providing people-centered experiences rather than application-centered experiences. (2) Do not push social networks as the next email system. This diminishes the role of social software and may mislead the user. (3) Rethink IT priorities to enable “individual first.” Simplicity is personal and contextual. Reconsider “need to know” policies in terms of sensible information reuse. (4) Solicit line of business ownership. Treat social as an extension of business processes. (5) Data management and availability is critical. Data may be siloed and noisy. It will need to be aligned. (6) IT cannot own the social experience, it can own the technology. IT can help businesses understand the value and step up to own the social experiences.
  • IT matters more than ever, but IT needs to change its priorities in order to be relevant in the Social Online Workplace.

Surviving Social Software Fatigue #e2conf

Alan Lepofsky (Vice President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Inc.) discussed some of the challenges facing social software and how to address information overload. His excellent slides are available on Slideshare. You can reach him on Twitter: @alanlepo.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2012 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • We’ve Been Chasing the Shiny New Toy.20 years ago, we thought that email would be the answer to all our problems. We were wrong. Then we thought it would be Knowledge Management. Now many work places won’t let you even mention knowledge management or KM publicly. Then we thought it would be portals. Not so much. Finally, we’ve pinned our hopes on social technology. How long do we think that will last???
  • Navigating Activity Streams.We thought that surfacing activity streams would increase transparency. The concept was that by consolidating everyone’s information in one place, all of us would be smarter. Unfortunately, we’ve been drowning in information. After all, if you can’t handle your own email inbox, how can you ever hope to manage the “social inbox” that includes everyone’s information?
  • What’s the Solution? Filter that Activity Stream. We can filter our stream by person, by group, by tags/topics, by key word or phrase, by time, or most importantly, by what most needs my attention. Tibbr allows you to create custom filters. Jive lets you to filter using a drag and drop function. Filters like these allow you to create custom streams. However, vendors tell us that most users rely on the default settings and don’t customize their interface. So it’s important that the vendors fine tune the algorithms. Alan thinks that Zite has found a great way to adjust what you’re seeing by allowing you to ask it to “show me more from….”
  • Another Solution is to Organize into ListsGoogle Plus has done a good job of letting users to filter by individually created lists (e.g., Circles). Similarly, Facebook and Twitter have lists. However, in order to benefit from this, each user needs to set these lists up themselves. That may be more work than some are willing to invest. However, lists organized by people don’t always talk about the topics you care about. Therefore, it would be helpful to organize activity streams by interests, by topics.
  • How to Manage Activity Streams.(1) Don’t put stuff in a stream that doesn’t belong there. (2) Implement a user interface that allows users to aggregate multiple streams (e.g., Tweetdeck or Hootsuite). (3) Organize content via lists. (4) Provide several notification options. (5) Manual filtering. (6) Automated filtering via analytics. (7) Showing what’s hot, what’s trending. (8) Crowd-sourced curation: taking advantage of the liking or flagging or tagging that your friends and colleagues do.
  • Aggregated Social versus Integrated Social. There are unstructured business process such as status updates, sharing, Q&A, exception handling and expertise location. However, organizations also have structured business processes that work well and shouldn’t be jettisoned (e.g., Sales, HR, Markteing, Supply Chain, Engineering, Learning, Suport/Service.) If would be great if you could add a social layer to those structured business process and their existing tools. One approach is to put everything onto a social platform that aggregates all activity streams and business processes and displays them through a dashboard. This surfaces information to a wide audience and it enables discussion. However, this approach typically just links by to the system of record. It doesn’t embed the object. One solution is the “embedded experiences” approach (e.g., IBM Connections lets you see an object in a stream rather than forcing you to the underlying silo or tool). A different approach is social integration inside core business applications. For example, you add a social layer to well-established business tools (e.g., SAP), so the user does not need to skip back and forth between the application they work in most often and the company intranet/blog/wiki.
  • What About Me??? When users log in, they want to see what they individually created, what they commented on, what they have “liked,” what I should be working on next. Take a look at likeabilitee — it’s a new tool for Facebook that allows a user to see materials according to what’s important to that user. It literally puts the user at the center graphically and show the user what resonated most with their network. Cisco is doing something similar. It allows you to sort materials based on what the user added/shared, the things people commented on, etc.
  • Social Task Management. This issue focuses on helping users figure out what to do first, what tasks need to be completed. Several vendors are working on solutions that range from standalone functionality (e.g., you have to go to the vendor’s site to log tasks) to functionality that is embedded in social software. Some file sharing tools have added a task management layer that allows you to place work flow around the content you are sharing.
  • Requirements of Task Management. Projects/milestons, repeatable tasks, commenting, workflow/dependences, etc. Imagine if this was integrated with your HR system. Wouldn’t that make it easier to generate periodic reviews? What if task management was integrated with the Finance system? Would that help capture billable tasks better?
  • What’s Next? Sentiment analysis that helps you understand which of your employees are happy or disengaged, which ones are a flight risk. Big Data should be able to improve recommendations and search results.