Archive for work

The Future of Writing at Work

Posted in Telecommute, Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2011 by Lance Strzok

As more and more people are writing and professing their opinions across more and more platforms of information sharing, one thing remains true across all of them – Content it King. Yep, what you say, its validity, conciseness and tone are all part of good content that will keep people coming back. In a world where people value every second of their time, if you can not provide that content consistently, then you can make it look pretty all you want, and tweak formats all day, but that won’t bring them back to read you again.

I suspect the future of writing in the office place will shift from Word and Open Office to open platforms where the words that you write are what is most important, and computers and editors will apply style, images and links to related content to enrich the content as a workflow process following its initial creation.

This makes the transportation and transformation of the words from one product into another so much easier, and style can be changed quickly and easily for past and future content. It is also easier to use and re-use it again in other products.

Think about it, how many times does the Word file you spend half an hour tweaking just so it looks right end up in several places and different platforms looking completely different? My own experience in this has lead me to writing in blogs, because it is just so easy to do. The files are small, transportable, accessible, open with a simple browser (no special or expensive software) and have some of them have built in spell checking as I write – not as a separate function. I can write from my desktop, laptop, phone, or TV and the content can be styled in any way I or someone else pleases. Not to mention that people can index it and discover it, as well as comment on it and share it with others quickly and easily. It also fits with my hope of where things will go in the future with regard to IT and work. Simple really, all I should need is an internet connection and a browser. Which is also why my recent work has been focused on browser wars and how they are doing against one another.

So to wrap things up, spend that extra half hour working on the content, collaborating with colleagues, checking your sources, and making your inner author voice shine through, and give a blog a chance – you might just come to like it for the same reasons I do.



What am I going to tell my boss (Draft – still want comments)

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by Lance Strzok

The internet just turned 40 last month, and no one would argue that the result of enabling 1/6th of the people on the planet to communicate and share information using this network has lead to enumerable unforeseen and unplanned benefits.

Web2.0, and its derivatives- Enterprise 2.0, Social media, Government 2.0, are now collectively a combination of ideology, and technologies that together are a disruptive technology with the potential to bring great power to those that leverage it.

We are not fostering the ideology or leveraging the technologies to an appreciable extent, and risk loosing much in the way of power and influence.

The problem is that we have had access to these Web2.0 tools for over 5 years now, with little progress in the way of integrating these tools into our business practices or replacing older tools and technologies. Leadership puts these concepts into vision statements, but does little in the way of delivering actionable plans and integration strategies. Meanwhile the grassroots efforts of many line employees that leverage the technologies have marginalized success, and meet with resistance from supervisors and middle management that have no direction from above on how and what to implement or allow.

This is further muddied with the heavily publicized failings and issues of the use of these technologies on the world wide web (www). You hear about negative issues spanning opsec of personal information and computer cyber security issues and concerns that do in fact exist- on that network. What they don’t talk about, and how the issues you hear about with these tools on TV and in various other media is the difference in attribution. Simply put, on the web, you can be anyone, and say just about anything. Whereas within enterprise
environments, many of these concerns don’t exist because your actions are attributable to you, and your cyber issues are largely behind the firewall. So it is clearly an unfair comparison, and damaging to adoption.

1. Ideology, values, and culture of the “adopters” -It’s about attitude, not Gen-X, Gen-Y etc…
2. Tools and Technologies that facilitate integration of the ideology in business and personal performance
3. Benefits of Integrated Social Media Strategy
4. Not a Utopian solution
5. Current and future tools and technologies
6. What is needed from leadership

The Ideology – (Heavy influence by Gary Hamel)

– Contributing and Sharing – The speed, agility, access to information and communication of the network surpasses individual performance
– Transparency – We each can see what and when others contribute
– Trust – Through transparency we can develop trust and meaningful relationships
– Impact – Desire ability to impact my organization
– Agility – Facilitate a fast pace, minimize bureaucracy
– Easy – Low barriers to contribution
– Egalitarian – Your ideas sink or swim on their own merit and are not based on personal credentials
– Networks are self organized and defined – not prescribed
– Leaders serve rather then preside
– Resources get attracted not allocated
– Power comes from sharing accurate information not hoarding it
– Opinions compound and decisions are peer reviewed

The tools and technology –

There was a time when the tools we had at work were far superior to what we had access to at home, and in some areas, that pendulum has come 180. These tools are readily available at home, and are a large part of many people’s personal productivity. These tools enable and enhance the activities that are valued in Social Media ideology.

Tools and Technology
– Blog (WordPress)
– Wiki (Wikipedia)
– Instant Messaging (Chat)
– Web based file servers for various media (Flickr, Picasa, Google Docs)
– Social Bookmarking
– Keywords and Tags
– Social Media platforms (Facebook, MySpace)
– Emergent Social Software Platforms (ESSPs)
– Podcasts
– … Many more

Not really going to talk tools, there are too many, and I am grateful to have access to so many for my work. There are classes you can take to learn about the tools and how to use them to achieve results. What is important to mention is that I have a choice, not one solution that was handed down from corporate IT with a mandate to use it.

These tools have some characteristics in common. I like the mnemonic SLATES coined by Andrew McAfee to discuss those similarities.

– Search – Ability to search within the tool
– Links – Ability to link to other information
– Authoring – Give people the ability to interact with or author
– Tags – Keywords associated with an item
– Extensible – Can be improved and made to work with other tools
– Signals – Can send you an option in notification (email, or RSS)

Benefits of Integrated Social Media Strategy –

Not a Utopian solution –

Current and future tools and technologies –

What is needed from leadership? –

Stated social media goals and guide rails that provide and encourage adoption within the firewall while considering security and expectations when using tools that interact with the world wide web.

Verbalized recognition and encouragement of the use of these tools by managers and employees whenever possible within the firewall for enterprise related work.

Encourage leadership to create a culture in which calculated risks can be taken without fear of loosing job, innovation can take place at the lowest levels of the organization, employees can and do impact how things are done. Understand that flaws will come to the surface, and be ready to engage the workforce on how to fix them in an open and transparent way. I am reminded of forums, and the solution cannot be to simply turn them off. They may have shed light on some of the shortcomings, but ultimately, they represented the silent voice at the table.

Recognize the values of the coming workforce. Understand the tension that may exist with current leadership that came into power under a somewhat different set of values and a different culture to form the existing business model. State a desired direction to evolve from that model toward a new model in which risk, trust, sharing, and collaboration resulting in products with great depth of knowledge and transparency of contributions are to be rewarded.

Empower and encourage network and team building across the entire enterprise utilizing these tools and leveraging those networks and teams against mission areas. Actionable plans put into place and motivated engagement.

Search out and hire people that demonstrate high performance and the skills to integrate their talent with a network of similarly interested and talented people.

Recognize and reward adoption and evolution toward the new model.

Ensure that middle management and immediate supervisors encourage the use of and adoption of these tools by the workforce.

I believe that general
managers are the single most important constituency for tech-
nology success or failure within an organization; yet very few
books or other materials are written especially for them.

[Andrew McAfee]

Thanks to Contributors:
-Dave McDonald
-Joseph Boutte
-Justin Franks
-Andrew McAfee
-Nick Charney
-Brock Webb
-Chris Rasmussen

Resources and links

What am I going to tell my boss?

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by Lance Strzok

I am drafting an argument that I am presenting to leadership tomorrow. I have 15 minutes to describe, educate, and influence our organizations burgeoning Social Media strategy.

For those of you that both actively and passively interact with this blog, please consider taking a moment to comment below with what you think the most important points of that discussion should be.

My outline thus far has (in no particular order):

Quick intro to E2.0, Web2.0, Social Media, Gov2.0 terms.

The social media tools and the properties of what makes those tools successful, (SLATES).

The values and culture of the coming workforce that want access to these tools and are used to working as networks toward a common goal.

How to create an environment that allows these new workers (and their networks) to succeed or exceed current efforts against stated goals.

This culture is not about superstars, but large numbers of high performing individuals working as a network, enabled by these technologies, and motivated by common values.

Again, if you see anything glaringly absent, or you think it more important, please let me know.

I am going to post this work this evening when I am done writing, and your thoughts and comments will have been considered.

(Have a terrific week).

– GLS.

Chirp – What am I going to do with that?

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Lance Strzok

This week Chirp was added as a service to our enterprise. Chirp is much like Twitter, a micro-blogging service.

At its core is the ability to write 140 characters of text in a message box, and broadcast it too everyone in the enterprise. Each Chirp has a time stamp and who sent it attached to it and are chronologically ordered.

Sounds like something you may not want to do – or is it?

Well, what if I said that the only people that would really care would be the people that choose to listen to you. They choose to follow you because they want to hear what you have to say, and if that changed, they could simply choose not to listen anymore. You can likewise choose to follow those people that you want to listen too, and if that changed, you could self select not follow them anymore as well.

Like many very flexible tools, there are a lot of things you may be able to do with this tool.

I would like to share some ideas that I am going to use this tool for since I have been looking forward to something like this for quite some time.

I have been waiting for a tool like this primarily for its logging features. One of those features was the ability to easily put down what I do during the day, that I can recall later. I wanted to use this to help me when I am asked to provide input for end of year performance assessments. Long ago, I made recommendations on several ways people could keep track of what they do, but I wanted to make it easy, and this service gets us pretty close.

The service is primarily a text box that you can put up too 140 characters of information into. You can enter links into the text area, so if you choose to inform your network of followers (friends), then you can post that you are starting work on something and send them a link to that file. You can also simply make them aware of what you are working on that day. Or you can include a link to your finished work so that they can read it. There is a URL shortener that you can use to shorten long URLs if you need too. It can be found in the Tag|Connect (social bookmarking) service if you need it.

You can use it to create groups. After there is a group, and if you are a member of a group, you can track all group member “Chirps” and know what people in the group are saying about that topic. Groups are usually topic centric (like what forums used to be). When you click on the group, you can see all the posts (chirps) made to the group by group members.

In addition to groups, there is the ability to create your own topical “tags”. Those tags are prepended with a “#” symbol and look something like this: #collaboration for example. This means that anyone that adds #collaboration to one of their chirps, will automatically become a member of that “hash tag”. That post will show up if you click on that hash tag along with any others that are in that group.

So how am I using it in the enterprise? Well, for DCIPS, I am using a hashtag for each of the Individual Performance Objectives that I have this year. #GLS123IPO1 for example is a hashtag that will be where I collect all the chirps that are related to my 1st performance objective. That way at the end of the year, if I have used this tool to track the things I work on during the day, I can click on that hashtag, and it will chronologically list all the work I did on that objective this year. This should make creating my input for end of year evaluation easier. Also, since I can include links, I may make a unique hashtag for my products, and one for time keeping like #GLS123P and #GLS123T where the first would be products and the second time entries for recalling posts that describe when I arrived and left on any given day. I can use them where needed.

The tool also has a built in RSS feed, so that I can share with my manager what I am working on, where I am going too (meetings) and anything else I choose to share about what I am doing, and where I am at any given time. If my manager subscribes to my feed on that, and wants to know where I am, when I chirp that I am giving training in a specif place for a specific time period, then he and others can know where that is. Again, but only if I willingly and purposefully post those kind of entries. He may ask others to do it as well, and that is one way to keep track of what people are working on.

Alternatively, if our office had a group name, and we all included a !groupname in our chirps, then all the chirps with that groupname would appear in that space, and an RSS feed of that would be available for the manager in charge as well.

I have listed some things I am going to use this for, and in time people will use it for things I can not even imagine yet. But this tool allows for RSS, groups, tags, and chronologically lists the returns of those results. My peers and friends will likely “follow” my chirps, and maintain situational awareness of what I am working on and where I am as well as what I am producing and for which IPOs I am doing the work. They can see and join the groups I am in, or get feeds of what I am chirping about, what groups are posting about etc… My manager may choose to follow what I am doing, and I of course have a responsibility to chirp about meaningful things that are work related. We have all heard of the person “Tweeting out about going to get a drink of water” which has no real impact or significance and ultimately adds only to the noise around us. I should only hope that we use this tool to share things of value, what we are working on, who we are working with and what we are trying to accomplish. That would be the primary difference between what I Twitter about outside work, and what I Chirp about inside work.

If you like what you have read and found it useful, feel free to check it out, (it uses your intelink passport username and password. Once in, feel free to follow my chirps, ask questions, or post some of your own. I look forward to seeing you in there.

In addition to asking for constructive criticism on this blog post, I will part with these questions-
What are you using Chirp for? What may you use it for in the future? What did this tool make easier for you?

Individual Performance Objectives FY 2010

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2009 by Lance Strzok

1. Publish on Social Media and Collaboration.

-Compose, review and publish to the workforce, a quarterly newsletter “The feed”.
-Coordinate with the CIO, KM, Hopper, Innovation Office, KTP, Social Media, and Training departments to maintain status on programs, dates, and articles on related content of interest.
* Ensure that at least one article on relevant material is reviewed and included in the quarterly newsletter.
* Ensure that the status report items in the newsletter reflect current information on existing programs, and include new or dropped programs as well.
* Include one personal freeform exposition per subject area with an “outlook” and or “something to ponder” subject.
-Write on collaborative culture.
* How is collaboration different then coordination?
* What are some of the challenges to collaborating in our work environment?
* What are some of the fears of collaborating?
* What are some of the values, ethics, and motives in a collaborative culture?
* A definition of collaborative culture within our community.

* Supports CIO FY10 requirements for information sharing, knowledgement IAW

2. Social Media, Collaboration and Web Security Training

– Provide a minimum of 4 courses on Social Media and Collaboration to the workforce before September 30 2010. This course shall cover at a minimum A-space, Intellipedia, Inteldocs, Blogs, Intelink, Gallery, iVideo, Microblogging, IC-Connect, Sharepoint, Tag|Connect, and Instant Messaging.
– Provide social media and anonymous browsing training for a minimum of 3 opensource classes.
– Provide Social Media training to a minimum of 3 Tools 101 classes.

3. Provide consulting on Social Media tools to the IC, departments, divisions, fleet assest and individuals on an as requested basis. Provide chat room support to A-space, Collaboration Help, Intellipublia, Compass, and Evolution IC.

– Actively seek, identify, and make recommendations for business practices that may be enhanced with the use of social media tools.
– Document these activities with specific customers, providing clear problems and potential solutions for lessons learned and best practices usage.

4. Identify, test, and evaluate emerging technologies and best practices for incorporation into our IT enterprise.

– Implement 3 new technologies by end of FY10.

Individual Productivity

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , on September 8, 2009 by Lance Strzok

This is blog 1 of 3 blogs I will be writing on the subject of Web 2.0/ Social Media tools and productivity. The first will be on Individual productivity, the second on Team productivity, and the third on Community of interest (COI) productivity.

These blog entries are focused on my primary customer set – the government

For this first piece on individual productivity I am assuming that you have a subject you are interested in or responsible for, and that you are open to using some of the social media / web 2.0 technologies to potentially increase your efficiency, and or improve the quality and quantity of your work.

I will assume you want or have a body of knowledge (BOK) that you consider to be true, but that you can add too or modify as appropriate, and that much of the content in your BOK has sources that can be referenced for more information. For some of you, this BOK may be a cabinet with folders and reports, but as we move along in the digital age, we may want to start to hold / put that knowledge into a knowledge management system. For many enterprise workers, your BOK is a personal folder on a network drive, but although that may work for you, when you are looking to work with others (team or COI), then some attributes of this folder you will want should be: well sourced, linkable, taggable, indexable, searchable, extensible to a Natural Language Processing tool (NLP), and some kind of tool that you can use to identify and remove probable duplicates, and a folder you can share with many people (fellow collaborators). If you are looking for a recommendation on that body of knowledge, I would suggest an enterprise wiki for the desired capabilities stated above.

I will assume that you are willing to be a part of a network of people interested in the particular subject you want to or are compelled to follow. I will assume you are active in forums or newsgroups on the subject you are interested in, and that you have established a community of interest (COI) or network of peers that you discuss the subject matter with. This is your known network.

I will also assume that you trust that the actions of other the other collaborators to be in good faith. You acknowledge that there are people working in the subject area you are following that are not known to you and are not yet a part of your known network. This is your unknown network.

In pursuit of understanding your subject, you read books, magazines, blogs, and internet content as well as view videos, and participate in chat on the subject you work. I also assume you have a standing search (discovery) for new content being created in blogs, wikis, forums, etc… This is your pulled information.

In addition to your personal search, I am sure your established colleagues and peers send you things to review and comment on, as well as include into your BOK. This information that they send you may come in various forms, email, blogs, twitter, facebook, links to journals, etc… This is your pushed information.

For this discussion we will call this new pushed and pulled information your discovery process.

This newly discovered content needs to be aggregated (gathered), self and peer vetted for accurate or inaccurate, information, and if warranted, merged with your BOK on that subject. We will call this filtering. As you filter and discard information that is not important, inaccurate, or already represented in the BOK consider tagging the articles you found new and useful information in. You may choose to also tag the ones that you discard with some kind of comment as to why you did so. With the information that you want to merge with your BOK, you will need references to the source person, journal, article, magazine etc… in accordance with local directives (ICD 206 – Sourcing requirements). We will call this merging and sourcing.

Those changes to your BOK are your own, and you may choose to modify it with comments from your peers and peer group (Potential use of Discussion Pages). Does this new information change any of your previous assessments? Is it consistent with your previously published work? Is it consistent with the work of your peers? Who should I send this too? Customers? Peers? (push). What should that update look like? Link to BOK, or tailored product in response to a vetted requirement? Some questions to act as a threshold for deciding whether to produce on this new information or not.

If based on this threshold, I have chosen to produce, has someone already started a new tailored product on this new information that I can comment on or add my information and thoughts too? Can I be a coauthor with them? I should probably search for who may have started it, and I would likely search our wiki’s, our social bookmarks, our blogs, our forums, our social networking sites and communities of interest in an effort to ensure I am not duplicating effort already underway. How and where should this tailored product be built? Where are my customers? Where are my collaborators? Can I write it in the domain of my collaborators, and then move it to the domain of my customers? How can my customers provide me good requirements if they can not view the “sausage being made”? Can I send them occasional or incremental updates to meet this need? Can I build this product in a place that my network of peers can watch it or take part in it as it comes together? Is this something we are going to claim as a jointly created product? What is the publication deadline, and who is going to ensure that it is cogent, meets the analytic trade-craft standards of (ICD – 203), is written for maximum utility (ICD – 208), can be reviewed for correct classification markings from the “Authorized Classification and Control Markings Register“, and have all of this done in a timely manner that allows the information to get too the customer before it is no longer relevant? Once I am reasonably assured it has not been started, I can start the tailored product to meet the specific customer requirement. We’ll call this production search.

So I have started a tailored product, how can I make it the best that it can be? I created the page in a wiki, and I gave it a smart descriptive name that is consistent with naming conventions. I have laid scaffolding (sections) to the tailored product that are consistent with previously published works, and with current guidance on how that information should be formatted and the content of those articles. I have included some initial metadata in the layout as well. I have added “Categories” to it to act much like tags. Now I can copy the link (URL – uniform resource locator) to it, and go back to the same areas that I went too for production search of someone already starting that report, and post a notice or statement that I have begun work on that product at the following URL… With a note on what it is, and who it is for. I leave a blog entry that describes the work to be done, and what specifically I am trying to answer. I link to it from social bookmarking (for the unknown collaborators that search for tags in social bookmarking tools). I send it to my established network in channels that I know they use. Some only use email, some are members of communities of interest, so I will post the work I have begun in a thread there because I know that they will see it and have the opportunity to work on it. They probably have an rss feed set up for new threads as well as other signals that identify when I am working on something of interest. I also mention it and the associated keywords (metadata) for that product in a chat room or two related to the subject if it exists with the knowledge that chat room tools that search for key terms will notify others as from my unknown network as to the work I have begun. It is not much to start on, but it clearly states what I am working on, the requirement, the customer, and is a call for collaboration. We’ll call this production declaration.

Now that my known network and potentially my unknown network of peers are aware of the work in progress, I can get to work on the meat of the tailored product. In general, there will be a executive summary and bottom line up front along with why it matters, who it is for, and what the particular, specific, requirement is that this product is in response too.

This is similar to college writing in that each part of the summary should link to some part in the document. I may have already laid out the scaffolding if this is a standard type product that is done fairly often. My choice and recommendation would be to use a wiki for the creation of and collaboration on this tailored product. I can slap on a (in draft banner) and (after sending a link and making discoverable via social bookmarking) my known network, my unknown network, and others can comment, change, improve, watch and edit the content that is being created – as it is being created. Those same people can invite others to watch and participate on the article or simply ensure that related content is correct that may pertain to their subject matter expertise either directly or indirectly. It is important that I set a date for completion, simply so that I can publish, but that does not mean that the content cannot live on as a living document. It also means that this is where we can pick up from again when we get back to the topic.

Another important part of completing the work in the article is to wikify and link parts of the report to related content. I may include a link to my peers related content on that subject as well. Make it rich and include a link to a survey if they choose to take it.

Once the document is completed, then distribution becomes the focus. You should send a note to the same locations that you did your “production search” for work in progress, and where you sent your “production declaration”. Whatever distribution medium you use, I would recommend you enable a way of tracking who downloads the document, and a way for readers to rate and comment on your work. We’ll call this the feedback loop (required by ICD – 208). In addition, you should make it easy for others to tag the document in its natural location so that it can be found more easily. Register the product in several places and give it meaningful metadata and tags. Again, use the chatrooms and COI pages to advertise the completed work. You may think that mentioning it earlier for people to watch may have been enough, but a lot of times, people will want to just wait for the finished product, and not be a part of “making the sausage”.

The information you get in return on who downloads the document (happens when you use knowledge tree document management system), and who comments can indicate your unknown customer base, that along with your established customer base you can start to work with for future articles that address features you may want to have and include for future work. Lets call this customer service and closing the loop as well as generating requirements.

Who tags the article is another source of information, and you can search for pages that link to that article as well (see google hacks tip on using “link:”).

So what you may see is that there are the tools, (technology) which has something to do with enabling this kind of approach to individual collaboration. Then there is your known network of people, and the unknown network of people that may be able to contribute to your understanding of the subject. There is a body of knowledge on the subject, and there is ongoing discovery of new content related to your subject that is continually taking place. There is a source repository, There is tailored product creation, continual product vetting, and then distribution, feedback and planning for future work. Looking at each piece a little closer, you may see that key technologies enable this kind of production, and I think I have described when you may use some of these here.

Your known network of peers is important, and that would be people on distribution lists, and previous work that you have established means of communicating with. Then there is your unknown network of potential collaborators that you will want to find and add to your network of people that work on your subjects. These people can be found in emails, forums, linked in, history of wiki pages, “who is watching” on a wiki page, bloggers in same subject area, people in social bookmarking that tag things the same way, chat room people searching for the same terms, authors of books, journals, articles, videos, podcasts, and other media. These people can have a huge impact on your work, for better or for worse, but your network is worth trying to expand.

There is a body of knowledge (knowledge management tool – wiki) that is easy to search, link to, author in, tag, extend, and get signals from. This body of knowledge should be indexed by something like Google desktop, or Aduna – Autofocus so that you can find information easily. To extend that, if you can get a program with a natural language processor to ingest the files there you can do a lot more with them. These items should be something you can tag as well. There is a method of discovering new information, and getting signals that the new information exists and needs to be ingested and vetted for consideration of the accuracy and meaning of as well as possibly added to BOK and whether a tailored product is warranted and if older assessments can be confirmed or need to be reconciled with the new information. Discovery is important and there are many ways to search many sources, this is where considerable work and efficiencies can be made.

I made the argument that content creation can happen in a blog with comments, but that an enterprise wiki for production would be the preferred way to go. This differs from a non enterprise wiki in that in an enterprise wiki – you are not anonymous. You have the indirect comments of the discussion page and the best track changes and logging of who is doing what that I have ever seen. You can “watch” the sausage being made, and receive notifications when someone changes or adds to the content. I think this is a far superior content creation and vetting tool that puts the content in a place where others can do anything from watch it, to just waiting for it to be finished. Everyone comes to the content, not the content being sent all around and then hobbled together in a less than timely fashion prone to mistakes and loss of time.

Lastly in distribution and advertising. These tools are very useful in getting the word out and linking to new and relevant content. Some allow you to see who is downloading the information, and some allow you to link to surveys and to tag documents into social bookmarking systems. These have numerous benefits to future work and tracking down the customers you know and those you don’t know about and should start to add to your information distribution network. Some of the tools I mention getting familiar with for ease of use in this kind of environment would be: Google notebook, or MS Onenote for easy sourcing and compiling research notes A chat tool or two, not all protocols are the same, so I would suggest you use Pidgin or Trillian that support more then one protocol A Sharepoint folder (or personal folder) of your own, or knowledge tree document management system that allows you to index and search your content as well as tag that content and create links to individual files in that content so that you can send out links, not documents Image gallery with tagging/linking capability – Picasa, Flickr Video gallery with tagging/linking capability – YouTube Email system with distribution lists and the ability to tag and share documents/ calendars, etc… – Zimbra Aduna Autofocus for indexing and search Google desktop for email and content indexing Feedreader or other RSS aggregator for RSS feeds (signals of new content) A Mediawiki driven wiki (Oh the power of a wiki- living documents with embedded history) Something like FaceBook (Keep me in touch with my colleagues/friends and their activities) Podcast aggregator (to keep track of new content in podcasts for listening to on the way to work) WordPress blog (blog in as big a space as possible) Chat room surfing tool that notifies you of new content or keywords – Google alerts For other suggestions, see my list of favorite software here.

Some everyday items/actions to consider: * Log in too and check to see if any of my watched pages on any of my wikis have changed. I may want to set up an e-mail or RSS signal/service for those notifications. * I may want to listen to podcasts on topics I care about for the rest of the time I am driving in or just NPR. * Once you have your network of known colleagues, search for other areas they are tied into like blogs, twitter, linked-in, facebook, and search for ways to automate notification of activities on their part. Refresh that network each time you start a project in a certain area because it will change form time to time. * Search for new writing on your topic at all times, and grow that list of contacts continuously (google alerts are excellent way of setting up searches for new content). * Figure out who you are a kind of consumer of, and who is consuming your information. * Set up a feedback loop *Continually groom your BOK, network of collaborators, and document your work. On a final note, this is only a beginning, and this information will grow and improve. To you, good luck, and thank for reading and leaving any thoughts you may want to leave on this post. I genuinely hope it helps you in your endeavor to collaborate more effectively as an individual or team, and to the contribute to the accurate information available to myself and others.

Slugfest -Team blog, Team e-mail, or Team Wiki page?

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , on October 31, 2008 by Lance Strzok

So I feel honored that a friend of mine has asked me to help her leverage the web2.0 tools that we have in her work environment. I want this blog to focus on customer / team communications. I want to discuss the benefits of having a group or team communication channel, what options there are, and make a recommendation that they can use. I would love it if everyone that reads this would take a moment to share their thoughts or opinions.

Benefits of a customer to team account –

– There is one receiving location for questions related to work that anyone in the group may be able to answer. Since there are a number of people that may respond, the response time may go down which may improve customer satisfaction based on timeliness. The richness of the response may be greater when more people have the opportunity to weigh in on the topic at hand. You could think of it as a group response and by not using e-mail, selecting say a wiki or blog, there can be edits and modifications that make the response richer, and if chosen by the recipient, they can be notified of updates to the response beyond that of the original response.  If you choose a blog, you will need to make sure everyone in the group has admin privileges so that they can make edits to the responses. Additionally, you may want this information to be discoverable, search able, and retained for knowledge management. This means bringing it out of email silos and onto a platform that can meet those requirements. Once you make the decision to move it to a blog or wiki instead of email, then you get some of those benefits and some added flexability. Understand that email has its place, in short, use it for person to person conversations of a personal nature where you don’t want to expose that information to others. If it is work related, you should consider the group account.


– Now we will need a notification system for when an email comes in. In email, that is pretty straight forward, in a blog, you will need to syndicate the reception feed and everyone will need to monitor that feed so that the awareness is high and response times are low. With RSS feeds, if you already have some set up, you can export your OPML file and share it with others so that they can import it and add it to their own. Or you can have a separate OPML file for the team that you want them to monitor. OPML files simply make sharing RSS feeds easier. In the case of a wiki, the notification system can be linked to your e-mail, or sometimes you wiki software may syndicate your changes so that you can monitor them with your RSS reader. Now having the question come to the team in one location (wiki or blog), needs to be linked to a threaded response so that you and they can choose to monitor that thread and not all questions and responses that come into or leave your team. You will want to link these blog or wiki entries together so that you can refer to all the other relevant blog or wiki entries. Your options here seem to be to set up a separate wiki page under the team page to address that customer and that they can watch, or direct them to a blog. I would think that sticking with one and not mixing the two would be easier then say receiving in a wiki and responding in a blog. I think I am most comfortable with wikis, so that would probably be my preference. In this case, I would receive a question on a wiki page that I direct customers too by including it in my signature. When they leave a question, I would create a response to that question as its own page, and establish links between the page I created and the reception page. Then in the response, link back to the reception area, and put together the response. Let the customer know where the response is and what options they have for viewing it, as well as getting updates for it. I would let them know they can choose to watch that page, respond to that page, or even edit that page. For this to work in a blog, I would have a common reception area, then start a blog in response to the customer, and both parties would monitor that blog with the appropriate links to other relevant blog entries.

E-mail –

– I have little experience with team e-mail accounts, so I would ask that people really fight for their ideas if they want to argue their points on the benefits of team e-mail accounts.  My immediate suggestions are that since they are not platforms, then your search engines may not be able to discover or search for information in that area, and it is not incorporated into the archive and backed up.

Recommendation –

– I vote for the wiki.

Implementation –

– Establish a mindset, explain what the team blog or wiki page is for, and how it should be used. I would mention that links are preferred to attachments, and that links between the receiving page and the customer thread be established and maintained. Monitor the activity and be ready and available for questions on specific issues as they arise. Work together as a group to figure out what you think is best, this may promote buy in by the individuals, and keep morale high.

Please leave your CONSTRUCTIVE comments below.