Conference Notes

Implementing Connections in the Real World of Gore: Successes and Pitfalls, Brian O'Neill (Social Connections V, Zurich)

Brian O’Neill is presenting a case study on implementing IBM Connections at Gore. Brian is one of the organizers for Social Connections, and has come across from the United States for the conference. Brian is a social business and collaboration specialist at Gore. Some notes:

1. W. L. Gore and Associates was founded in 1958. It’s privately held. Have just over 10,000 associates. Have locations around the world. Gore has a range of product lines, including Gore-Tex.

2. Gore is already social – no hierarchy, no bosses, one-to-one communication, teams are organized around opportunities, and collaboration has always been emphasized. Gore believes in the power of small teams. But – associates are around the world, and they need to find a new way of collaborating.

3. Started with IBM Connections 2.5 in 2010. Have gone through various versions. Now have 2,200 users – but it is growing. The focus on Connections is on global project teams; it’s intended to be a business “pull” rather than an IT “push.” Ran some tradeshows (roadshows) around the world, to inform associates about what was available. Have not emphasized the profiles and networking aspects, because there are already strong networks among people.

4. Take a consultancy approach to business teams at Gore. Interview the group. What tools are you using today? What’s not going well? Then identify a team champion. The team determines what training will be needed, and is delivered via web conferencing. Then schedule a follow-up to provide ongoing support – 3 months, 6 months, 12 months touchpoints. Created a community called “The Friendly Guide to Connections,” to provide a way of associates sharing ideas and exploring how they can use IBM Connections.

5. Lessons:
– Passionate team champions make all the difference. Without team champions, communities die.
– One bad apple can ruin it all.
– Training is key, but not on the “click here to do that.” Rather, focus on how to do real things with IBM Connections.
– You Stink at Collaboration + Connections = You Stink at Collaboration. You need a whole lot more than just technology.
– Eat your own dog food.
– Different teams get different types of success.
– Shut off old ways if possible. For team champions, “You sent me an email attachment. Can you put it in the community please.”
– Teach your users about tags from the very beginning.
– It’s hard for users to grasp the idea of organizing content without folders.
– IT users are very critical.
– People find value in little things – the small words of encouragement, the feeling of being connected.
– Remove barriers and make it easy. Have relaxed the initial requirements for signing up to Connections.
– Hire expert Connections administrators.
– Manage user expectations – eg., Connections is not perfect, Connections takes work, Connections is not best of breed. But … it’s pretty awesome.