Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My connected life changed with Twitter

I am just about to start working on a presentation I will be giving at Netexplorateur next Thursday and as I sit and gather some papers, some thoughts and some coffee, I look at Firefox opening ...

Gmail, Google Calendar, Linkedin, Facebook, Friendfeed open slowly and I also launch Twhirl. I can tell you I am rather tired at this time of the evening and feeling rather slow intellectually.

Then I notice an RT (retweet) from Bertrand Duperrin, speaking about how Michael Arrington was spat on the face earlier today. I read his post, which impacts me strongly.

And I start thinking about how Twitter and my small but growing Twitter world has impacted me since I became an active member about a month ago. I actually, right now, two minutes after my MacBook opened, feel much better, energized by all those guys I see working and reflecting on the same subjects I work on, or just twitting some news about their life, their friends or the latest news from their reader (right now, Andrew McAfee wondering whether executives should know about the cloud, and I'm answering yes, obviously).

The subject I am trying to organize my ideas about is "Management, mobile Technologies, stress and autonomy". Just thinking about Twitter, writing this post, I get at least one insight: To feel autonomous, not only do I need to learn about tools and usages, but more importantly I need to be a member of the correct community through the correct media. And I need to be able to change tools and communities if I change subjects. This is all about increasing intellectual and social mobility for all of us, empowered by mobile and social technologies, and seamless access to the cloud. Managing this is something corporations have not learned to do.

For me, Twitter is the place where I go when I am working or thinking by myself. Yes, not so much by myself, now. I am just beginning to understand it, I think this little tool has changed the way I work.

By the way, for those interested in Twitter, don't miss the great series from FastForward blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Web2.0 and profits ?

I was just pointed out this article by the Web 2.0 LinkedIn Community. It basically says that social media ventures will make no money, and be bought by other new start-ups which are trying to increase the utility of the web (location based servides and payment systems), that they dub web 3.0

The comparison with the glorious era of railways development has often been made, and yet it is useful to say it again: social media is basically a new kind of infrastructure that shortens distances and time between people (just as the railways did).

In the end, there will only be a handfull of social media companies around and they will regroup most social media vehicles (blogging, microblogging, video, presentations, podcasts, virtual, ...).

We are learning to "travel" in these new infrastructure and maybe some of the frenzy about blogging or microblogging can be compared to what happened to former generations when they discovered railways, cars or the telephone. I am happy to be part of the frenzy and more than thankful to Facebook and its likes.

I do not agree that money will not be made. But even more importantly, a huge value is just being created, a value that might be difficult to evaluate from only a short-time financial point of view. Strange that Fortune should appear to be this shortsighted.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Collaboration, business and democracy

I am working on a couple of "what's next" projects about corporate networks and communities, and this post by Jon Husband (The New Management - Bringing Democracy and Markets Inside the Organization), really struck me as very accurate.

One of the key milestones for widely and successfully deploying collaboration in an organization is the process for choosing a new governance charter. Basically, in my experience, after some pilot communities and networks have helped identify why and how a specific organization should deploy a collaborative way (to innovate further; to increase individual productivity; to bring its internal culture to the level of its employer brand; and so on), people start thinking about some key issues like:
- what name should we choose for this initiative,
- what rules should we have to organize our collaboration,
- how should HR processes change to take into account this new dimension ?

Bringing an answer to those questions is one of the key milestones to bring collaboration within the corporate culture. And, more than the answers themselves, it is how the organization choses to bring an answer to those issues (how it learns to think, design and decide collectively) that matters.

Why did Jon Husband post stricke me ? Well, I think we are at a time when the rules and governing principles of corporations are going to be built by the employees. That is, to my mind, somehow a move that "increases the democratic level" of the corporation.

Most governing principles used to come from power or from history: corporations internal organization codes and rules are mostly based on hierarchical decisions or on culture (the way we do things around here).

What I see now is quite different. Collaboration projects, and even more so if E2.0 tools are chosen and deployed wisely, can result in new rules and charters that have been collaboratively built and adopted. This is new and can be very powerful.

This is hapening. But we should not be too idealistic. I do not think this is about how the corporation will become a democracy (at least, not yet). I think it is about how the responsibility for the organization projects, performance and social role is more widely distributed and accepted than before.

By asking to build the rules, the employees are asking for more responsibility, and by launching these collaborative projects the organization is getting ready to share it. I could not say what will be the outcome of this. What I can say is that most corporations structure and processes will have to change deeply to benefit from this trend (see Martin's last post on Cisco for an example of change).