Shaping Social Business Ecosystems as Learnscapes

August 18, 2009

shapeThe emergence of social media provides people inside and outside organizations with a way to actively speak about, speak to, and engage the product and service offerings of enterprises. Currently, 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content and 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands. Enterprises, on the other hand, listen to, engage, and act on insights gained from social media.

A recent study of social media engagement by Ben Elowitz and Charlene Li covered the 100 largest brands and, among other conclusions, noted that,

One recurring theme throughout these case studies is that engagement cannot remain the sole province of a few social media experts, but instead must be embraced by the entire organization.

Channels, policies, processes, touch points and transactions are increasingly viewed as parts of the social experience organizations use to encourage employees in collaboration (also known as — Enterprise 2.0), and engage customers in conversation (also known as — social media) for the purposes of innovation and transformation of the business. The common goal of the ongoing discussion involves transforming business practices to incorporate social relationships into the value proposition to customers and other stakeholders.

Integrating engagement into enterprises is crucial to strategic efforts to use social software throughout an ecosystem, inside and outside the formal organizational hierarchy, as social business design. My contention is that such integration is most likely to succeed with a focused approach to informal learning. In my last post, Scalable Learning and Learnscapes in Social Business Design, I offered the following point.

The concept of learnscape is a useful framework for thinking about the strategic challenge to the range of learning activities occurring as companies attempt to create feedback loops between their brand experience and the functional areas of their enterprise, especially in regard to the multidisciplinary collaboration needed to make these efforts successful.

The concept of a learnscape, initially outlined by Jay Cross, focuses our attention on designing ecosystems to heighten the innovation and performance of people. I lay out some thoughts about learnscapes and shaping ecosystems below, using key concepts from the Dachis Group’s framework, initially discussed in an earlier post on HP’s WaterCooler project. I don’t claim these insights provide proven techniques for shaping enterprise ecosystems. But, I do think they point in a useful direction for those thinking about Enterprise 2.0 and social media strategy to keep in mind. Read the rest of this entry »


Social Software, Community, and Organization: Where Practice Meets Process

September 18, 2008

Ross Mayfield of SocialText recently pointed to a longstanding issue involving the relationship of organizational practices and organizational processes. He offered a discussion of distributed collaboration and community, specifically on the question of which organizational stakeholder is the most effective leader of community (internal and external) initiatives. Ross suggests that even though we may see the emergence of a Chief Community Officer to align and coordinate internal and external communities, communities are more likely to arise around organizational processes as 360 degree process communities.

In my view, approaching distributed collaboration from the standpoint of community alone, especially communities internal to the enterprise, is overly restrictive. Collective understanding and collaborative understanding, as Thomas Vander Wahl makes clear, are different parts of what he refers to as the social sofware stack. Without getting overly picky, let me agree with Ross’ point that the development of internal communities in enterprises will most likely occur around the way process owners manage routine work and its exceptions. Nevertheless, the distinction Ross makes, following Mike Gotta, about the difference between processes (how work is supposed to get done) and practices (how work actually gets done) really indicates a need to keep in focus the range of connections and interactions that social software enables.

Read the rest of this entry »


futuremelbourne: Wikis in City Planning

July 16, 2008

Howard Rheingold provides an interesting video podcast of an interview with Mark Elliott regarding the use of wikis in city planning, particularly in Melbourne. The Melbourne wiki uses the tagline, “the city plan that anyone can edit.” Mark indicates there were 500 registered users and 7,000 visitors to futuremelbourne.

I’m not convinced by Mark’s concept of stigmergy, analogizing patterns of insect behavior — specifically ants — to the activity of participants in a wiki. However, his overall point about the benefits of using wikis for collaboration between public officials and the community in civic projects, such as the New Zealand police act wiki, is persuasive.

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Flowgrams: A New Way to Screencast

July 8, 2008

Screencasts are effective ways to share ideas, images, concepts, experiences, and a range of information for a variety of purposes including eLearning, collaborative problem solving, or just fun. I just ran across a new technique for doing screencasts called a Flowgram.  Eric Schonfeld over at TechCrunch describes it as,

…a full-screen player with what appears to be a screencast with a voiceover. Except that you can control the pages by scrolling up and down, watching any videos that might be on the page, or clicking on the live links (which takes you out of the Flowgram to that Website, but if you hit the back button it picks up where it left off). You can also add comments and share the Flowgram via a widget…It’s an interactive screencast, a way to synthesize the Web by pulling different pieces together The voiceover acts as the glue. It can be used for slide shows, travel guides, tutorials, sales pitches, or just to explain something to a friend.

I’ve signed up for the private beta access program so I can build a few Flowgrams of my own to get a better sense of how this tool compares to applications like Captivate or Camtasia. After briefly interacting with several of the Flowgrams available it looks quite promising. I like the ability to scroll pages as well as play videos embedded in pages presented in the Flowgram. I’m not sure why the developers decided to navigate out of the Flowgram when you click on a link that takes you to a page outside the Flowgram, rather than opening a window to view it, but when you click the back arrow the flow of the Flowgram seems to pick back up where you left it. Take a look at Flowgram for an overview.

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Collaborating with Twitter: More than social networking?

March 30, 2008

I’ve started using Twitter lately. Not because I just learned about it. I’ve known about it for some time, but didn’t need the added social networking juice it provides. For those of you who don’t know about Twitter though, you can see a good overview in Lee Lefever’s “Twitter in Plain English” (Thanks to SoulSoup2.0 for pointing out the video.)

Nancy White’s Twitter Collaboration Stories blog offers a range of possibilities for Twitter collaboration. However, the development of WordPress’s Prologue makes it increasingly possible that corporate enterprises can implement twitterlike collaboration behind the firewall. The implications for project management and performance improvement through dynamic eLearning are very promising.

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