Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Boston KM Forum: Virtual Teams


At yesterday's Boston KM Forum on virtual teams NetAge CEO Jessica Lipnack had a snappy comeback for the built-in bias of the newest wrinkle in what has KM done for me lately: Can we measure ROI on virtual teams? Her response? "Do we ROI face-to-face?" Her point besides the implicit one that this is a fundamentally off-balance, curveball question is that face-to-face is romanticized and that many of us have purely virtual, deep and caring relationships.

She and her husband Jeff Stamps also related an ongoing consulting engagement with the U.S. Army through Fort Leavenworth with their Battle Command Knowledge System teams (BCKS). She mentioned the audacious leap forward in the learning curve to support today's tight deployment schedules. The biggest visible leap? Lieutenant General Bill Caldwell's notion (now carrying the day) that all commanders need to blog in order to graduate from the program.

WBUR's New Production Media manager Ken George told us about Wordpress is content management system for Onpoint -- a major bump up in quality and dial down on production costs. They've been using Twitter to trigger tweet-ups at the station: "Anonymity is not your friend" is the lesson drawn from adding authenticity to engaged listeners of the station. Ken's convinced that fostering community is the key to preventing BUR from becoming disintermediated or marginalized like other traditional media. What I'm not convinced is that BUR is all that forthcoming or genuine about sharing the aggregate responses they get from the community -- let alone responding to a popular will or common interest defined by these outreach efforts. Case in point: we learned here that last week's pledge drive was actually met.

We also learned that the social media team would love to "ditch" the legacy BU database for "something that works in 2009." It's a complex issue involving multiple departments and the twittering profiles just may force it to happen in a manageable time frame (my conclusion, not Ken's).

Kate Pugh asked an excellent question about forum facilitation and whether it might be possible to introduce the skill-sets of the NPR talk hosts, perhaps in a social media milieu or even a more formal channel. Ken didn't think those skills overlapped much due to vast differences in the message volume. I get this from the operational side. But from a community-building perspective I couldn't disagree more. Would I double my donation so I could hear Tom Ashbrook ruminate about facilitation. Absolutely!

IBM Product Manager Suzanne Minassian (tekmoda.com) shared that she's a graduate of the Bentley Usability MBA Program . Suzanne guided us through the evolution of bleeding edge social media inside the firewall -- that's a seven term oxymoron in most organizations but certainly not IBM. Increased skills was the biggest internal payback in the justification for investing in social software. To Jessica's earlier ROI point again the question here is more revelatory than the finding itself.

Reduced travel, voicemail traffic and time savings per week based on self-guided problem-solving were all factored into the internal business case for social media. One inside tele-rep claimed that her client prospects increased significantly by embedding activity templates modeled after her own process flows in her intranet profile. From a usability perspective Suzanne evangelized about the "happy hour" ambiance delivered through an effort called Beehive, a more photo-based and feedback-driven version of the original template profiles developed 4-5 years back.

KMA's SharePoint Usability Consultant Sadie Van Buren talked about personal use of social networking tools and the slippery in-betweens of consuming and producing social media. Sadie referenced the Forrester framework for levels of engagement between active and passive users. She uses screen shots as illustrations in her documenting SharePoint issues that she reproduces and solves. Gratitude compels Sadie to post her own use cases.

"Build your network of other people like yourself who can help you" was the conclusion drawn from a story Sadie told. She demonstrated the real and lasting value found in assisting a fellow usability expert named Sue Hanley whose reputation preceded her but whose postscript includes looking to Sadie for guidance in solving some business issue that soon ensued after their first virtual meeting. We did devolve into one SharePoint digression where Sadie revealed her secret recipe for convincing risk-averse enterprises to adopt internal wikis. The secret is to introduce wiki-shy clients to "a multiple set of easy-to-edit webpages."

Dave Wallace walked us through some of the misfiring and lessons drawn from 'n kaboom rise and dive-bomb ash 'n crash of ZoomInfo. Dave also posted a predictability market postulation for using social tools for handicapping next probable headlines behind virtual team-building.

Finally the most off-agenda development of the day was the emergence of Larry "it's-broken-until-I-fix-it" Chait. Besides his credentials as the former CKO of ADL and co-founder of the Boston KM forum I had no idea that lurking below his what-me-tweet and who-has-time-to-blog skepticism Larry is a one-man geek squad: witness, some workarounds with his latest ASUS laptop that would have never occurred to me. I'm the guy who sends the machine back when the lights don't come on.

Co-founded Lynda Moulton has published a reading list here.

3 comments:

Marc Solomon said...

Can't get OpenID/TypePad auth to work to comment on your KMF blog, but wanted to send (public) props. Good luck in the new digs!

mikegil / mikegil

David Hobbie said...

Thank you Marc this is a useful summary of the event. There was also some interesting Twitter backchannel that can be reviewed at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23kmforum .
David Hobbie (@KMHobbie)

lwm said...

Good take on all speakers. I'll post the link on KMF. lwm

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