Online Identity Management – Crowd sourcing the Marketing Script

Reflections on our weekly readings on Identity Management… from an ENT2.0 perspective

Background 

When it comes to Enterprise 2.o and concerns for SM integration into the business environment, risk management issues reach the top of the list for concerns for using it and or excuses for avoiding it.  Of course this makes sense, as for many firms – their stock value is only as high as their customer’s regard for their brand.  In most traditional large firms, teams of marketing folks carefully craft the brand image, with skillfully chosen verbiage, logos, fonts and images to convey the essence of their product/service.  To use Goffman’s theater metaphor, this group of “insiders” might be seen to operate like a collaborating group of writers idealizing and producing a script for the inanimate actor… the brand.

While there are many “stage hands” behind the scenes that enable the brand to play its role as the scriptwriters intended, i.e. (designers, manufacturers, customer service support, logistics, etc.), for the most part – it is the marketing arm of the business, (with some occasional help and guidance from the legal department) that is either credited or cursed for the performance of the brand in the marketplace.  The brand image (i.e. identity), is what the marketing team says it is.

Leap forward

Consider now for a moment a brave new world; a business environment where due to transparency and accessibility of Ent. 2.0 tools, the script for the brand is in the hands of the entire firm (more or less).  Through tools that allow us to collaborate both inside and outside of the firm; with our business partners, customers and suppliers, the brand takes on the role as conceived, written and directed by all of the “stage hands” including marketing;  a sort of crowdsourced script for our actor the brand.  It is at this point, the lawyers and financial analyst responsible for risk management are all running for the doors and selling off their company stock.

Step back

The situation with this forward looking Ent 2.0 business environment is only scary, if we doubt the ability(skill/talent), credibility(maturity/wisdom), and intentions(understanding/ethics) of our workforce to effectively communicate brand value.

It is on that note that Ent 2.0, like other forms of social media, are not innately good or bad – they are rather tools for communicating that if improperly managed, can forever damage the identity of the brand (or person) behind them.  In that way, Ent 2.0/SM is no different than other forms of mass media… use them wisely, they are your friend – do otherwise, and you will be picking yourself up off of the Wallstreet trading floor with the other sell-offs.

Importance to Research & Interests

As was suggested by many of our readings, users of the tools should be carefully trained on the ramifications of information put forth; they need to be made aware of analogies like backstage/frontstage; policies for use and control need to be in place before the first Tweet, Blog or Wiki are created to mitigate risk and maximize reward.  In the busy-ness of doing work in the wide open space of social media/Ent 2.0, people need to be made aware and reminded of the need for a split identity.

As I move forward on my case studies, I will be looking for comments around policy and training to see if this idea of “preventative medicine” is part of the  Ent. 2.0 deployment mindset.  I will also look to see if there is any relationship between the absence of these policy and training perspectives and the success/failure/rejection of Ent 2.0.

Personal Identity

On a personal note, my approach for managing my identity online has been one of conservatism.  Essentially, if I control the amount of material associated with my identity out there, then the likelihood of a negative identity is reduced.  I frequently google various versions of my identity to see what comes up, and monitor that for appropriateness.  As is, I limit my web identity to my professional/academic identity or a “secret identity” that has no relation to me whatsoever, and leave the majority of my personal/private identity to be left invisible to the masses.  This is growing harder and harder to do, but I believe from the perspective of my own risk management, this is the right approach for me.

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Researching Enterprise 2.0

My research project will involve developing an in-depth literature review on Enterprise 2.o integration into firms.

This extensive literature review will incorporate both academic publications as well as less formally published case studies related to how firms are integrating Ent. 2.0 technologies.  The goal of this literature review is to develop a clear understanding of “The current state of Ent. 2.0 at the firm level”.  The benefit of investigating case study research is that these studies allow the inclusion of multiple sources of evidence to investigate a given topic in a real life environment. (Yin, 1989).

Effort will be taken to accumulate the largest possible body of knowledge on the topic in order to enable proposal development for subsequent large-scale research as part of my dissertation research on knowledge transfer.  Depending on the volume of accumulated literature, it is conceivable that the deliverable could incorporate a proposed (or initiated) research design involving content analysis and/or use of Radian 6/Visible Technologies as the research methodology.

Yin, R. K. (1989). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage Publications Inc.

Talking Cats, Teaching Dogs & feeling what it means to be TTT

You all know by now that I love a good title for my posts.  Something that might intrigue you to the point you will actually click, read, and comment on it.  I personally LOL (the old meaning that is – not the new) when I came up with this title, as I thought back to last nights presentation of Internet Culture.  What I learned from class last night was just how little I know about the internet and its culture.  I liken my internet experience to someone who frequents the library, but only reads from the autobiography section of books.  It’s not that autobiographies are bad, there are just so many more books in the library to be flipped through, read, shared and appreciated.  I would never consider being dismissive or even challenging those in the library who like to read self help books, fiction, etc. ; they are not better or worse than those who read biographies – they just have different interests, they are seeking something different from their choice of books, etc.  So, this was a Ahh Haaa moment for me.

While I really don’t get the 4Chan thing, … I am ok with it.  While I am a dog person, who could not appreciate the humor of a cute chubby cat that says funny things in kitty talk? – it’s funny and we all need a good laugh some time – there are REAL are health benefits to laughing! For the more serious side of the internet, flicker, youtube, yammer, etc. these tools offer tangible value to society in terms of collaboration efficiency, mass communication efficiencies, low production costs, etc. and their high usage and massive stored content are the very artifacts proving that.  The bottom line, we are diverse – the internet is a reflection of our combined society – therefore the internet is diverse.  We have so much to learn about it…

In terms of preparation for the class this week, it was so much better than the prior presentation.  Early collaborative brainstorming, direction consensus, self assignment all worked with the help of Google +, without all of the noise created by Twitter.  Twitter could then just be used for confirmations, minor clarifications, and approvals.  There were real benefits of Google + in that everyone had equal voice and the synchronous nature ensured there were no disconnects in our thinking; it was nice also just to see everyone’s face while we were talking.  I realized personally just how much I depended on that F2F channel of communication for understanding.   The downside of Google + and Google docs is that they are still working out a lot of kinks.  The help blogs say it all – and I am one of many that can’t seem to overcome the microphone/voice  issue; it is not an isolated case per the blog/comment logs.  Hopes are they will have it fixed BEFORE the end of the semester.  While it is good to see everyone and hear everyone – having to IM in place of talking is really cumbersome and takes away the synchronization value of the tool for me a bit.  Also, Google docs doesn’t always covert powerpoints cleanly to their format; it occasionally black screens slides with effects in them and or whacks the formatting, so that resulted in some awkward moments as we shifted from presentation to presentation.  Trivial in the realm of things, but a bit of a barrier for creating a fully collaborative presentation.

Finally, the “Back-channeling” (BC) that we did last night in class (thank you Hanjun for giving me the name) was for me exhausting.  I found myself unable to really give all of my attention to the presenter the way I would normally, instead I found myself distracted by the important, inquisitive and funny items everyone was sending by Twitter.  The real time nature of the BC discussion made it relevant, but it seemed to take something away from the presenter I thought.  Perhaps BC it is something that is an acquired art form like pacing yourself in a marathon; you won’t get it the first time you go running, but with experience – you choose your sprints wisely.

I am sure the time of the class didn’t help, but with all that information coming to you from all directions – it left me to invent a new “word” for our internet language dictionary TTT – To Tired to Tweet.  In the end, I learned so much last night… but for sure, I am going on a tweeting fast today after a TB (tweet binge) last night!

Finding Tweet-able Buddies

I must confess, this weeks post takes me a bit out of my comfort zone.  Tweeting to complete strangers honestly has a physical effect on me (not in a good way).  That said, I have found that finding interesting folks to “listen to” is becoming a bit more comfortable, albeit a bit of an art form.

My efforts to find people to follow in Twitter normally revolve around reading an interesting BLOG OR ARTICLE.  I have to say that until this class, I really paid little attention to the twitter and Facebook icons at the bottom of each article or post.  Now when I read something I find interesting, I automatically go there.  The thought is if they say something interesting in the news or on a blog, maybe they are saying something interesting on Twitter.

While this isn’t always the case, I have found that they are often sending links to additional information, conferences or other books/articles that ARE interesting, and so it becomes a bit of a bunny hole; You begin with them, but the journey there after has a lot of twists and turns along the way.  Along that path, you “meet” people you would have never found on your own, and hopefully – they prove to be someone interesting and Tweet-able.

Enterprise 2.0 – New tools for IT or cultural change agent for the industrial masses?

I have just read Putting Ent.2.o into Context by Andrew McAfee and there were some interesting comments some of which came from Laurie Buczek.  Ms. Buczek seems to be getting at the heart of the issue regarding Ent 2.0 and industrial adoption when she touches on the notion of culture. For sure, nothing will drive cultural change like a total upset in the corporate tool kit;  have you ever witnessed an ERP implementation?  Often you will hear how poorly these implementations go with harsh comments about the capability of the software, the usability of the reports, and the lack of adequate training.   I would argue however that it is rarely the ERP implementation that is to blame so much as it is the ERP system which forces the uncovering of all the rogue processes, unwritten corporate rules, and tribal knowledge that operate in a latent fashion until disturbed from its “natural state”.  To add insult to injury, the users feel subjected to the system design whims of the IT department that drive the radical operating changes.  

In reflecting on how  “Ent 1.0” implementations like this affect the corporate culture, it made me think about Ent. 2.o more deeply.  Ent 2.0 presents a bit of a paradox.  Consider for a second that in most firms the IT group/dept is the last bastion a silo’d organization that accepts little feedback or input; as a user -you are forced to take what they give you.  Imagine now the cultural change Ent. 2.0 represents for those who hold all the control (the IT Group).  Not only will they lose control, but worse yet… the users get to decide what to use, when and how to use it, and can change and reconfigure it on a whim!  How cruel this seems that the tools of the IT world could be turned against their very kind.  On the other hand, no longer can the masses blame the IT group for the lack of adequate tools, resistance to implement new options, or the absence of training.  The industrial USERS carry the burden to incite Ent. 2.0 use and make Ent. 2.0 effective within the business….(or not)….  not leadership, or heaven forbid the IT group.

So, Ms. Buczek I totally agree with your words, “Culture will change as a result of the pervasive use of social tools.  Lack of cultural change is not social business’s biggest failure.  The biggest failure is the lack of workflow integration to drive culture change.”   

Meet our new team member – her name is Twitter

It was more than just a little ironic that the week that we were assigned the group presentation activity via Twitter, I was teaching teaming to our freshmen engineering students.  Each of us in our class have far more team experience than most of my students, yet when placed in the unfamiliar landscape of using Twitter as a collaboration tool to build a presentation, many of us were reduced to mere babes in the woods.  In my teaming class, I spend a LOT of time stressing the importance of a few but essential elements of an effective team: 

1) Establishing a code of cooperation (COC)

2) Assigning responsibilities for the deliverable

3) Understanding/leveraging the inherent strengths of the individual in guiding team behavior

4) Communicate, communicate, communicate

 In reflection, I have thought about how the use of Twitter fits into these fundamental principles of an effective team, let me share…

COCThe very essence of Twitter seems to be oriented toward a code of cooperation of “when I have something to say – you, as my follower will hear to me”.  Observing the “real” twitter users, I see this behavior played out in their frequent observations put on record, and their followers making thoughtful -albeit 140 character long replies in near real time.  A subtle aspect of this COC is the difference between hearing and listening to someone.  I can hear someone without listening to them.  In either case, the game of Twitter requires you be IN THE GAME – no side-liners; you can only WIN THE GAME if you are carefully listening and replying to the tweets of your teammates, not just hearing them.  Learning Twitter as an application, getting comfortable with it, learning the sometimes cryptic and compressed language, and finding a way to access it in a timely fashion were all observed barriers to Twitter facilitating the teaming/presentation building processTwitter can be a benefit to effective teams by its very nature to facilitate rule #4, but as stated, you must be present to win.

Assigning responsibilities – This step seems straightforward (and really should have been for us), but for the synchronous nature of Twitter, and participant violation of rule #1 in Twitter space (Be in the game; Listen, don’t hear).  Everyone had the right idea – carve out a part of the presentation agenda, take responsibility for it and get going.  However problems arose when any one person lost synchronization with the Twitter thread; at that point, we found ourselves walking over the work of others, confused on how to hit the “undo” button and fearful to retreat to the position of doing nothing or waiting to be told what to do.  This again speaks to the culture or code of cooperation within Twitter; if we all have equal say – then who is in charge?  Twitter could have benefited us by using it to send a link to some form of poll where we could have taken a vote on who wanted to do what, then we could have divided the work using the timely replies of everyone.  We could have also used it to send out a simple Doodle scheduler to see when we might have met for a quick organizing meeting, so that we only needed to tweet updates and status thereafter.

Leveraging individual strengths In a team, there can’t be all leaders or all followers, and at some point, we have to own our role in the team.  Those roles change and morph based on the skills and abilities of the individual in the team, and the task.  Below is a table of team roles by Belbin (1981).  Re-reading the Twitter thread, it is easy to see examples of how the team members for the presentation attempted to play the various roles; Chris and Hanjun filled action oriented roles, Geovon demonstrated people oriented roles, Xin, Jing & Quincy all filled thought oriented roles, etc….  The problem was that the speed of Twitter didn’t really allow those roles to mature.  Further, being willing to step up and offer yourself into a role is a very complicated negotiating process that didn’t seem to fit Twitter very well.  Twitter could have been used as Geovon suggested to have some sort of Face-to-Face video conference, in which we could read the body language and interpret more clearly the verbal cues as to what everyone was good and comfortable in doing to benefit the team.

Figure 1: Belbin’s Team Roles1

Action Oriented Roles

Shaper

Challenges the team to improve.

Implementer

Puts ideas into action.

Completer Finisher

Ensures thorough, timely completion.

People Oriented Roles

Coordinator

Acts as a chairperson.

Team Worker

Encourages cooperation.

Resource Investigator

Explores outside opportunities.

Thought Oriented Roles

Plant

Presents new ideas and approaches.

Monitor-Evaluator

Analyzes the options.

Specialist

Provides specialized skills.

CommunicationWell, communicate we did and Geovon’s graph said it all in the final presentation!  However, the graph also showed that we each operated on different schedules (early birds vs. night owls).  This too offered challenges to the necessary synchronization of all parties into the Twitter threads.  Because of Twitter’s speed, if you lost an hour of listening and participating, you may have lost your assignment, role in the team, or even your very direction.  Twitter’s benefit was the real time nature of constant communication (lots-of-data exchange); its drawback was the same – communication with a fire hose.  If we had thought of Twitter not as a tool in the process, but as an additional team member, we would have considered its strengths and weaknesses, and leveraged it appropriately,  – not forcing it to work against its very nature.  If Twitter were a team member she would be our Specialist.

Overall, this was an amazing, immersive, sometimes painful learning experience from which I have mined many golden nuggets.  I have learned first- hand how incentives can motivate change, I have witnessed interesting and complicating team dynamics in the Web 2.0 world, and I have benefitted by testing what I teach about teamwork, and examining closely the paradigms that can arise in the social media space.

Citation: Belbin’s Team Roles Understanding Team Roles to Improve Performance, 1981. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_83.htm, accessed 9/8/2011, 10.19pm

Chicken, Egg or Barnyard?

In the last class we spent some time discussing the various definitions of Web 2.0 and debating the how and where some of the Web 2.0, SMS, Social networking puzzle pieces all fit together.  I remember flashing in one moment of the discussion to the timeless question of which came first – chicken or egg?  Luckily as the discussion went on, I was able to advance this simple mental model to a more academic mindset of the discussion which led me back to readings by Gieryn (1999).  I have been pondering these writings for a few weeks now, and in the context of Web 2.0, they offer an alternative view for the discussion of defining the elements the social media domain.  Let me explain…

Perhaps an alternative to a Venn diagram to display the elements of Web 2.0, we could conceive of a cartographic diagram… simply put – a MAP!   Why is this an alternative worth considering?  Well, it not only allows us to consider the relative connection of Web 2.0 elements (chicken to egg), but also allows us to consider where the chicken and egg might reside in relation to each other (in the barnyard vs. in the hen-house) and draw comparisons to other yet to be developed Web 2.0 platforms, widgets, apps,  et. – or the NON Web 2.0 world (TV, Phone, face-2-face discussion, Web 1.0…). 

Cartography can also help us consider what kind of people and cultures might reside in the various map locations, by using the topography of the map to develop mental metaphors for the “local peoples” dwelling places.  The most wonderful thing about maps, is they are never wrong and also never completely right either; they are created through a unique perspective, but it is only one perspective.  They can change with the view of the beholder, or the change of times – they can become useful artifacts of both history and technology.

 In a Web 2.0 world, I suppose we would all be allowed (and encouraged) to add to this map, allowing it to evolve into the space  and depiction we could all agree is “just right” to describe it.