Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Social Media is not just a single application

In some of responses received when talking about Social Media, the default mental model, that is referenced and spoken in context is Twitter. It often leads me to wonder, that are we using Social media in right context and frame or limit it to applications, that we know in this space.

While in my earlier 2 posts, I realized that when I started writing I too had a few tools that I frequent: LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs and wrote according to their functionality. But I then had to generalize it to mean any tool or software in this space. Few tools that I was a regular earlier were: Ryze, Orkut. For some reason, i could not be on Facebook still.

But these are manifestations of an idea around concept of social and community networks. The whole idea is to get talking, keep talking, get to share, set to learn...

Elastic Learning Design: How Social Media Transforms Course Structure

Sahana in response to my post on Ideanets, had the following comment.

"I love the idea of "ideanet" and these moving and expanding, gathering more and more force en-route. I can see an analogy to Twitter here--a collection of 140 characters coming from different directions, converging on certain topics and forming a veritable flood of ideas on that topic. From this mix emerges something that is powerful, innovative, transformation in nature."

I liked the brevity of the message here. What underlies this statement is a powerful message on what laser-focused topic discussions and little good digression can have on learning.

A similar format was started by our community at Ning. Join us to view the topics under discussion here.

In many cases, the output of a learning design is to create a table of contents or a course structure with limited amount of elasticity in allowing for change: Expansion, Contraction based on current context. The idea of elasticity in these instances is to make a remediation path or a custom learning path pre-configured to a certain assessment score. The role of social media has not changed it, but eliminated this constraint in unparalleled ways.

The funny thing is that social media is not a learning medium or tool.
It is an exchange medium
. It is a place to
  1. bond,
  2. develop relationships,
  3. collect,
  4. discuss,
  5. lead,
  6. participate,
  7. share your possessions: It could be your friends, knowledge, music collection, books, etc.
Yet, the revolution it brings on to learning and development on an individual is to challenge old notion of a structure and replace with a structure that is
  1. unstructured, yet
  2. dynamic,
  3. relevant,
  4. intuitive,
  5. appealing,
  6. important and
  7. hence ELASTIC in nature.
And yes, in these is true learning and spirit of learning that endures our lives. Hence design and invest in a social media program that even if 1% in your company is active, it is worthwhile investment.

But yes and again, having an Intranet portal or a technology implementation is not sufficient condition to be in social media community place. You need to buzz it every time, every occasion, every where. Have you done it ?

To enable such elastic learning design in a company/community cannot happen in a vacuum. Users just don't create content on their own. They need content to talk about, need to talk with people, to generates true social media learning content. Hence investing in e-Learning around the vision of taking the next big step in social media learning would get you better ROI strewn in the path of e-learning implementation.

A truly Elastic Learning Design will give the endurance of time, life-long support and automated self-coach vehicle with the promise of higher return every time the content is accessed by a consumer.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TOP 5 business considerations for Social Media adoption

Social media is a world to live in. As there are many tools, places to attract a social and cultural group, it is important to understand the prime considerations. While there can be an extended list, the below list is written in response to a query on "Why should I invest in Social Media Marketing, What should I not do and Is there something that I should be aware of?" for a prospect who is new to the subject.

Why should I invest in Social Media Marketing:
1. It is here to stay. It is real business. It is the potent marketing weapon for keeping your customers. Mark your presence TODAY to gain the social media experience.

2. As with age, social media gets stronger by the day. You cannot expect to build and stage manage one. The paradox is the more it grows, the more attention it deserves.

As with neighbourhood friends, social media networks at the most lie dormant. They never vanish. As we get energised when we bump into a long lost friend, the dormant nets just need a trigger to wake up.

Once out in the world, you are on your own is an oft mentioned saying. It applies to social media as well. The content you release in social media is for the world to consume. You never know who would like it and when. The paradox is to succeed in social media, you need people. You cannot make a mark on your own.

5. The name, fame and spread of word for you is real. People recognize you for what you have done to them and develop a self-interest to propagate it in their crowd. How many times, have your customers referred you multiple times to multiple friend of theirs and take special interest for your business? Social media people do it. The motive here is "association" with like minded people and it is amazing to see how many people like you for who you are.

What should I not do:
1. Social Media is an organic evolution and not an instant gratification project. You get to see people following you, reading your content after you achieve critical mass. The unfortunate part is that the threshold is not a constant and varies from individual to individual. So without patience and focus, do not enter this world.

There is no room for translucency in the name of transparency. You will be exposed if there is a hidden catch.

3. Do not pay for social media activities and think people with wages can deliver to you. They can at most help you. But if you are not there, your efforts in social media is not recognized. It should come from within. Authenticity is always tested on you by the entire world.

Always be responsible. There is no pardon for transgression of social morality or insensitive wit.

5. It is a culture and cannot be made a rule/mandate. If you cannot be part of it, want to modify the rules, do not enter through the door.

Is there something that I should be aware of:
1. Social media will always remain a child. It is your own child. You need to give it attention always and cannot end loving it. It means you need to be a caring parent and enrich this medium with your attention and love. The constraint is you cannot get busy and leave this to junior staff to handle on their own.

2. It is a one-way street. Once in social media, orphaning or dormancy is a major flaw. Never get in without sufficient time or with half-hearted move. The efficiency of social media is directly proportional to the activeness on your part and activeness in equal proportional of network team.

3. The time to give information is when it is created and immediate. Back dating and back tracking information is not a worthwhile exercise.

4. Thankfully, it is technology that powers it. Paradoxically, it is not technology that drives social media. It is people and real people, with authentic values, special interests and good content who are still a minority in the social media world.

5. Irrespective of who you are in real world, social media recognizes 1 role: Specialist.
Explore, Research, Assimilate, Investigate, Analyze and then capture them suitably to share them for the world to know you.

Would love to hear about relevant and similar posts for own improvement.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Employee Evaluation: It is not just Performance

The distaste in professional life, is that performance alone doesn't matter in retainer-ship of employment.

The blog Why Haven't You Fired Him Yet? , is a very good read. Good performers should also be good at creating deterrents around them from being tossed out as fantasized in my earlier post.

The blog is truthful about the practical fact that to a certain level, we tend to expect a mandate and homogeneity from fellow colleagues with our own internalized systems, while becoming uncomfortable with little threats to the thought process. In our management circles, we discuss an employee viability in cost terms, and performance is always a second priority (not without reason). The costs are:
  1. "Management Overhead Cost": Inclusive of performance is the analysis of the fact whether the resource needs to be managed not only for work, but for the self-team-organization balance. It many times, unfortunately, means and is used for "falling in line", when it actually should be used to analyze, the management attention created to address a probable negative impact. For example, a resource is self managed, goes about the job in a routine fashion, and completes the job allocation in their own style. They should ideally be more, right?
But if there is a mandate that knowledge sharing is a need and must, and the cultural aspect is neglected for personal gains, then the management over head in ensuring the cultural balance is prominent than performance required.

Similarly, there is something in the mannerisms that the next level performers find choking in the superlative performer, the management over head to elevate the next level performers to the superlative league is a crucial factor in the evaluation.
  1. "Peer Value Cost": This cost is measured in comparable terms. Again, it is often than not, misused, as a favoritism, while it is to be measured to value the attention(brags/self mentions)-attraction (perks/salary) -assertion(Choosing work, being finicky of others work ) ratio vis a vis performance.
This is typically manifested in teams where employees come from different profiles: Some working their way up through experience, while others have a degree to boot at the same level, or in some instances, the variable attention just for the prestige associated with the school.

In a team of equivalent talented great employees, the overhead of giving disproportionate attention, attraction and assertion to a particular employee would mean other equated employees would leave/live with heart burn that would affect the morale, brand of the organization.

Hence while it is important to lay down the performance parameters, it is equally important to be conscious of the associated costs and keep them to minimum for a self-standing success.

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