Notes on "Apply Strategy and Governance to Social Computing Initiatives" (NewsGator)

NewsGator hosted a webinar this morning on strategy and governance for social computing initiatives. Given that I’ve just published a book on strategy and governance for SharePoint, I attended. Greg Reinacker (@gregr) from NewsGator and Stacy Wilson (@stacylwilson) from Eloquor Consulting. Here are my notes.

Stacy went first.

What is Governance?
Although the call was about “social computing”, Stacy started talking about intranet and portal governance. Stacy said it was cross-functional and global; it’s not the responsibility of one person or one group.

The model directs:
– Strategy
– People (roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities)
– Processes
– Metrics (that matter to the business, quantitative and qualititative)
– Standards
– Policies, code of conduct

Stacy said this should be connected to the IT development framework and architecture processes … but governance is not one-and-the-same. It’s different.

Governance is NOT:
– just about managing content
– just about architecture
– just about the technical issues (also need to think about processes and people)
– hard … “it’s really a very simple set of processes”

What does governance make good business sense?
(1) A clear connection between intranet/portal/social technology and the business strategy and goals … “we don’t want to implement technology just because it’s cool.”
(2) Ability to leverage investments in technology and people across the entire business … reducing duplication of effort around social computing initiatives
(3) Faster, more strategic decision-making about tools, resources and content
(4) Clear ownership and roles, and accountability
(5) Tools that truly meet user needs

Stacy talked about connecting with the business strategy, eg, for driving innovation, delivering better service, encouraging collaboration, and more.

Case Studies
Four examples from organizations:

  1. A law firm … business need was to capture intellectual property and collaborate more effectively. Embraced blogging (searchable, archivable, and retrievable). They found that the greater ease of publishing increased the amount of content contributed. [Greg interjected and gave a demo of NewsGator Social Sites.]
  2. A software firm (Cadence) … business need was to create peer-to-peer dialog, and enhance the community’s ability to support itself. Embracing bloggings and forums. Put the community generated material directly next to the relevant community content. [Greg interjected again, and showed the community capabilities in NewsGator Social Sites; eg, enhancing the discussion capabilities in SharePoint, bookmarks, idea management].
  3. A global consulting and research firm (Gallup) … business need was higher productivity, customer service, reduced learning curve, and more efficient access to experts. When requests came in from clients, they took from days to a week to find the right people to answer the question. Created a very detailed profiling capability on its people to aid in finding. [Greg showed the profiling capabilities of NewsGator Social Sites, including the network graph. The network graph is clickable, so you can drill down. A second way to find an expert in Social Sites is to use the Knowledge Explorer, a tag cloud driven way of finding people.]
  4. A management and technology consulting firm (Accenture) … business need was to enhance service delivery by attracting talented people, building their skills, and encouraging collaboration. Went with a podcasting solution for internal learning and collaboration, and externally for attracting young people. Are also doing other things around profiles.

Stakeholders — Who are They?
Understanding your stakeholders is really important. Stacy started with a recommendation to read Groundswell.

There are different types of people:
– creators
– critics
– collectors
– joiners
– spectators (lurkers)
– inactive

Once you understand who they are, what do you want to do with them?
– listen to them?
– talking with them?
– energize them to action?
– supporting them in their work?
– enabling them?

Stacy gave an example from a firm, around strategy development.

If you require a business case, then go for it. It depends how much validation is required — eg, GE does not require any validation for its new application cloud. But that’s not true of most firms. Which elements do you need?
– Benefits
– Implementation processes
– Technology assessment
– Communication and rollout plan
– Measurement approach
– … and more

Stacy gave 7 questions to ask:
(1) What’s the problem you want to solve?
(2) What do you want to do? (listen, talk, energize, support, embrace)
(3) Executive support and involvement
(4) Are the right people participating enough from the start?
(5) Can we start small?
(6) Who are the superstars or rebels who can lead?
(7) Are we prepared for cultural and organizational change?

On the cultural change, the technology makes a difference. Eg,
– blogging … is giving away what I know
– Wiki … allowing others to change your work
– Microblogging … discerning what will offer value to others
– social networking … is about integrating work with personal stuff

[Greg showed another demo, of microblogging through the Activity Stream in NewsGator Social Sites. It can be integrated with Twitter.]

Policy
Here are some policy things to consider … although Stacy’s major point was not to write a separate policy, but rather to integrate the social networking policy into the current intranet policy.
– definitions
– images
– applicability
– consequences
– ownership
– privacy
– monitoring, review and audit
– appropriate conduct
– inappropriate conduct
– references to other policy and code of conduct

Questions and Answers
(David) “How do you get the boomers to share information, when they don’t want to?”
(Stacy) Four answers:
– Find the renegades and subject matter experts in the boomers, and get them out there.
– Use peer pressure from the renegades and subject matter experts
– Start with using the technologies within a defined group, not the entire firm
– Incorporate it into performance management objectives.

The research says that it’s less about age, and more about familiarity with the tools.

(Question) “What do you think about incorporating corporate news within community sites?”
(Stacy) A couple of ideas:
– There is a role for doing this, but you need to think strategically about it.
– Build topic news feeds that community members can subscribe to, either in their personal RSS reader or in the community page.

(Question) “How do you get legal and HR on board with this?”
(Stacy) Get them involved from the beginning. Get them on the governance team, give them some ownership in the governance decisions.

(Question) “Are the communities and profiles searchable?”
(Greg) Yes, it’s all integrated into the core SharePoint search capabilities, regardless of what you are using.

(Question) “What do you recommend about a small pilot vs enterprise wide?”
(Stacy) It’s good to develop a core group of champions, and a pilot can help with that. However, some organizations focus on the pilot group, but leave the technology open to others. They haven’t shut it down to others.

(Question) “What about employee privacy?”
(Stacy) There are significant regional differences … eg, much tighter regulations in the EU.

A couple of recommended approaches:
– when a new employee joins, put it in the code of conduct that they sign. If they won’t sign, it will diminish their effectiveness.
– for current employees, do an educational campaign to help them understand the benefits. They have to review and sign off on the documentation.

Update 7 hours later
Please now go and read my follow-on post after my discussion with Stacy.

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