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I’m on Facebook and Twitter 10 hours per day – My opinion? My lips are sealed.

I recently wrote a blog regarding the use of social tools and the challenges of adoption versus training. A tantalizing social study I recently ran across was conducted the Pew Research Center in conjunction with Rutgers University in New Jersey. According to this study, people who use Facebook and Twitter are less likely than others to share their opinions on hot button issues, even when they are offline. Researchers say they have detected a spiral of silence phenomenon. Unless people know their audience agrees, they are likely to shy away from discussing anything controversial.

“People do not tend to be using social media for this type of important political discussion. And if anything, it may actually be removing conversation from the public sphere, said Keith Hampton a communication professor at Rutgers University who helped conduct the study.

Of the 1,801 adults surveyed 86% say they would be willing to discuss their views about government surveillance if it came up at various in-person scenarios, such as at a public meeting at work or at a restaurant with friends, but just 42% of Facebook and Twitter users said they would be willing to post online about it.

What’s more, the typical Facebook user – someone who logs onto the site a few times a day, was actually half as likely to discuss the Snowden case at a public meeting as a non-Facebook user. Someone who goes on Twitter a few times per day was one quarter as likely to share opinions in the workplace as compared with those who never use Twitter.

To me, it rings the same sort of bells as business social. If users won’t voice their opinion in a personal social setting, it makes sense they would be even less likely to voice it in an on-line business setting.

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Hammer the Yammer

A week or so ago, I received an email from a Microsoft Yammer group that I belong to. The gist of the email offered prizes to individuals who used Yammer correctly. Basic usability, in other words, just don’t post to all, etc. I am curious to see what the result were and if the message sunk in. This was also a technical group, so one would have assumed that they could readily understand the nuances of the software to use it correctly. Obviously not.

Enterprise social is slowly gaining momentum, or at least is getting a push forward in many organizations. A productivity benefit, for sure, but hard to quantify. Microsoft has invested quite a bit of money, resources, and time after the acquisition of the software. Even so, since it is essentially being given away, it is still struggling in acceptance and adoption. Part of the problem, not just with Yammer, but many enterprise social tools, is workers just don’t want to use them. They prefer email, and their tidy applications all neatly accessible in a familiar way.

We have two sides of the coin here. The question then, is the acceptance of Yammer due to culture problem, or due to a lack of training and understanding of the benefits the software provides? Your call.

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Word of the Day: ‘Holacracy’

I just read a great article, “Is Collaboration Limited by Social Structure’, by Deb Lavoy. In this article, she outlines four organizational models and the pluses and minuses for successful collaboration. What struck me, first of all, was the term ‘holacracy’. This can be attributed to Zappos. According to Ms. Lavoy, “The recent announcement by Zappos that it was changing its organizational structure to a “holacracy” suggests that forward-thinking companies are taking it all very seriously. They recognize the emerging proof that a more collaborative organization is a more profitable one.”

To continue quoting the article, “in essence, the business becomes a hierarchy of self-directed and self-organized teams, governed by a constitution (at least it’s not a manifesto). This is somewhat reminiscent of the early work in Agile software development, with which it has some values and processes and general concepts in common — a ritualized structure and process for achieving highly flexible organizations.

Strengths: Distributed decision-making and self-direction better capitalize on human potential. Rituals and procedures oversee potential areas of conflict, clarifying decision-making in areas that a pull hierarchy struggles with. This theoretically will maximize learning, business outcomes and individual development.

Weaknesses: The general public doesn’t have much exposure to real life holacracies yet. Zappos is not the first to go Holacracy, but it is the largest. We don’t know how it scales. I would not be surprised if Holacracy followed a similar path to agile in terms of becoming a mainstream idea over the course of a couple of years, adopted by some and mangled by many, if not most.”

Now you know what holacracy is. Learn something new every day!

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Collaboration and Social Networking in SharePoint and Office 365

I believe in the past three years, I have once made a vendor pitch about anything, but I am making an exception. We have seen an upsurge in business social networking and the use of collaboration. This webinar should be a good primer on approaching these two topics as ‘business’ applications, best practices, user interface design, and achieving quantifiable business results. We have received such a great response.

The webinar, ‘Collaboration and Social Networking in SharePoint and Office 365′, is co-sponsored by Protiviti and joining us will be expert speaker, Maggie Searingen, an Experience Architect. Maggie is frequently speaking on this topic at SharePoint events and conferences.

Sorry for the direct pitch.

To access Recorded Webinars, click here.

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Collaboration – a Hot New Application? You’ve got to be Kidding Me!

There seems to be much more information regarding ‘collaboration’ as a hot topic. Perhaps because of the big push for Office 365? I really don’t know. I was wondering why collaboration is even a discussion item. Many of us are information hoarders, plain and simple. By telling me I must collaborate within corporate boundaries doesn’t really illustrate any value to me. What is rather strange, is that it is being marketed as an application so to speak. When did conversation or the written word become an application?

Collaboration, or lack thereof, can be attributed to the culture of the organization. Many corporate cultures haven’t really encouraged collaboration among colleagues and peers. More aptly, executive management hasn’t seen the value. But with many professionals working from home or mobile, collaboration does fill a gap in organizational communication. Some good, some not so good.

I think one of the biggest reasons that collaboration is not necessarily being embraced is due to a lack of time. I can’t speak for everyone but my workload is pretty demanding and although I will reach out to a colleague, spending time collaborating is honestly not my idea of a good time. For some, it is. Collaboration, without guidelines can revert to gossip, other subjects being addressed (that usually have nothing to do with me), and plain old company bashing.

The final reason I think collaboration is now a hot topic, is the big Microsoft push with Yammer and social. Are we being brainwashed on the value and importance of interacting socially in the business arena? Do we actually produce more accurate, timely information? Does it enable us to accomplish our responsibilities more effectively? What do you think??

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