SCT: Social Collaboration Tips

Some of my most recent posts have centered around effectively using Social Media tools to collaborate and get work done.  I’m a big believer that Collaboration is the key to success. I don’t necessarily think that means sitting around a big table talking out ideas for hours (but more on that in a future article).  What I’m referring to is Social Collaboration.  Finding a platform that allows you to share and collaborate anytime, from anyplace, from anywhere you may be.

If used correctly, it is a powerful tool that no business should be without.  One reason that I think Social Collaboration fails is lack of social etiquette (or knowledge or proper procedures). It’s not typically the fault of the participant, they probably weren’t trained.  With that said, I’ve decided to start a series of tips that will hopefully help alleviate some of this.

I have no schedule for how often I post these.  As they come to me, I’ll post them up. A recent tip came out of pure frustration when I was working with a vendor.  I’m sure you are all frustrated at times with the people you collaborate with, so let’s have them.  I’d like to crowdsource this topic and build it up. Send me your topics, or articles or simply write you own and tag it SCT.

So how do you participate?

  1. Comment here
  2. Send me an email
  3. Connect with me on LinkedIN and send me a message
  4. Tweet me a topic
  5. Schedule a meeting in a conference room and we can discuss it
  6. Skype me
  7. Call me
  8. Send me a letter in the mail
  9. IM
  10. Other communication ideas you have (please see #1-9 for ways to let me know)

SCT: Don’t use a discussion to assign tasks

Social Collaboration Tip: Don’t use a discussion to assign tasks

Any Social Collaboration software worth it’s weight will have some type of ‘Task’ or ‘To-do’ functionality.  Basecamp has ‘To-Dos’. IBM Connections has ‘Activities’.  All too often I see people have a conversation in a forum or discussion thread and ask others to complete a task.  The problem with this is several things:

  1. It may not be fully defined task
  2. The person you are asking to complete it may miss it in the rest of the conversation
  3. Changes or additions to it can get lost in the conversation

Instead, you should take advantage of the system they provide. The ‘To Do’ function should allow you to assign it to a person, assign a due date and define/discuss the task at hand.  This provides you with a clear communication method to get the task at hand done.

SCT: Don’t hijack another post

Social Collaboration Tip: Don’t hijack another post

While it may seem like a silly statement to say, I see it all the time.  Just because it’s easier to ask another question or you think it relates to the topic at hand, don’t start another conversation in an existing entry. It makes it confusing to follow along with the original topic and causes people to abandon the question.  When you have several subtopics going on, the original idea gets taken over and is never fully discussed.

Instead, start a new topic for you idea, question or thought.  If relevant to the other topic, simply place a link to your new topic in the original discussion. This way, all ideas will get the full attention they deserve.

What do they really want?

You’ve heard me talk about my new role and it’s been eye opening to say the least.  Partly because it’s new.  Partly because I want to do so much.  Partly because it’s a constant learning experience.

It’s different than any other product I’ve ever worked with before and it’s the beginning of the journey, not somewhere in the middle.  One of the first things I had to do was step back and realize, my user was different than any other user with my previous products. Yes, there was some cross-over, but the majority had a different spin on who and why they would be using the product.  And what they wanted out of it.

Breaking it down by User types helped me get a better feel for use case of each.  Back in her days at IBM, Mary Beth Raven, wrote a lot about User Persona and the User Experience.  I find myself thinking back those articles and what they taught me.  You have to take yourself out of the ‘developer’ role and think not what do I want, but what does my user need.  It’s easy to forget this step.

Another recent article I read from the Beradi Group, spoke about the ‘9 Marketing Musts, Delivered by a Duck‘.  For those of you that haven’t heard, I giant 40’ duck has been hanging out on the Three Rivimagejpeg_0ers here in Pittsburgh.  While her article was marketing focused, the 5th item really hit home for me.

Made us feel something. At the Duck, couples hugged and things were downright joyful. We hummed Sesame Street’s 1970s hit, “Rubber Duckie.” We felt a sense of belonging and a pride that Pittsburghers were doing artsy, creative things. It made us think differently, too. We wondered if air kept it afloat, like a balloon. What happens to it in a sharp wind? Could it tear a hole? As art does, it shook us away from our day-to-day routine and helped us see things from a new perspective. That’s why we’ll remember it.

User are emotional.  They attach themselves to decisions they make and typically make those based on emotion.  If you don’t believe that, look at all the companies that leave IBM Domino & Notes for other email platforms.  It’s an emotional decision. You are never going to take that out of the decision making process.

As you build your customer experience, attach yourself to the end-user and the emotion that goes into buying and using your product.  Your end result will be better for it.

Organizing my thoughts

As I step into this new role of Product Manager, I find myself looking for better ways to manage my time, my resources and document the whole process.  I’m starting to take advantage of tools I’ve had around for quite some time.

First off, I’ve decided my team will use IBM Connections as our goto spot for anything and everything related to this product. Through use of the Files, Forums, Wikis and Bookmarks, I’m able to manage all aspect of the development process.  All of my competitive information and research I’m doing talking to customers, IBMers and IBM Business Partners is well documented and helps drive the direction we take the product.

I’ve also gotten back into using Mind maps as well.  Xmind has been my tool of choice and it has allowed me to build a nice visual of the Roadmap of the product I’m working on. The ease of clicking and dragging features and ideas around and placing them onto the next release cycle or moving them to spot for future considerations.  It also allows Management and Sales & Marketing to easily see what’s coming.

As I get deeper into this, I’m sure I’ll add more thoughts to this but for now would love to hear all of yours on what technology you are using to manage your time and resources.

Welcome to my Ramblings

For many years, I ran a blog, Lotusdr.com.  For various reason, I let it pass on.    As I take on new roles and responsibilities, I plan to use this site as my place to talk about IBM Connections, Social Media, Web Design and Development and all other things technical.

I hope in time to be able to pull over some of my old posts so they can once again be shared.

Welcome to the site, it’s a work in progress.