Follow-Up on WGI’s Internal Blogging

It was almost one year ago that Shel Israel met with Andy Snodgrass to talk about internal blogging at WGI.

I had the opportunity to meet Andy and I had to ask him if anything had become of his interest in internal blogging. I was disappointed but not at all surprised to hear that nothing at all had come of it. It seemed apparent from his response that the idea was not even on the table anymore.

WGI like most companies in America are faced with an uncertain future. There is going to be a huge loss in resources and knowledge as Baby Boomers leave the workplace. There just are not as many Gen Xers (about half) to fill the vacancy’s that are coming and Gen Y is mostly too green to take on higher management role.

Andy admitted that social networking tools would be a perfect fit to solve their problems. He also brought up one of the best arguments as to why they dropped the idea: Baby Boomers won’t use the tools. Now my first gut reaction was: there are Baby Boomers who blog, followed by, if you implemented the tools, provided training and instituted a policy…. Then reality set in, yeah they wouldn’t use it. Most Baby Boomers are not going to use any type of social networking tool.

WGI has a good plan in place: As their engineers move into retirement, hire them back part time and team them up with someone they can mentor. A good majority of these Type A engineers would love an opportunity like this.

Then I thought a little more seriously about their problem. How do they pass on all of that valuable information from their aging engineers to the younger, just out of school engineers? One on one is great and invaluable, but how much information can be passed on and retained this way. WGI’s plan won’t work for each new hire. Even if they could get a one to one match up across the company you have personality differences and generational dynamics that won’t work in all cases. Plus how long will Baby Boomers really want to work or be able to?

Gen Y and a certain percentage of Gen X would willingly use new media tools. Combine those tools with the steps that WGI is already implementing and you have a real Enterprise 2.0 Knowledge Management solution. As the younger engineers learn from their mentors they can record and share that information with their peers. Blogs, podcasts, wikis, tagging, RSS feeds and all things geeky could make information sharing across the entire company infinitely more powerful than any currently available enterprise solution.

Obviously no solution is utopian, and there would still be many more hurdles to implementing a solution like this but it seems better than anything else I’ve heard of. Does anyone know of a company using new media for this type of solution? Can someone think of a better solution?

Additional Resources:
All Kind Food

Andrew McAfee

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Old Media’s Dead. Why Should New Media be Afraid?

In case you haven’t heard, advertising is dead.  And with it the oldest of old media is dead; newspapers.

Bob Garfield on the state of advertising:

People don’t like ads

Sure, when your ad characters draw a parade crowd on Madison Avenue or you strut up to the awards stage in Cannes with ratty sneakers and fake indifference, of course you feel loved. Alas, you aren’t, especially. In fact, you are mainly resented. A 2006 Forrester Research survey found that 63% of respondents believe there are too many ads, and 47% say ads spoil their reading or viewing enjoyment. This isn’t just talk. Depending on whose numbers you believe, between 50% and 70% of DVR users skip ads. The historical quid pro quo — acquiescence to advertising in exchange for free or subsidized content — is yet another casualty of the revolution.

Stowe Boyd on Journalism:

Journalists will, yes, have to get other jobs, or figure out how to make it online.

Yes, various services that newspapers provide to local communities will have to be accomplished in other ways. But all the money making aspects of what newspapers do will be dissected into more directed online sites — Craig’s List, Yelp, Moviefone, etc. — and the rest no one cares about much. Legal notices? Someone will create a site that specializes in it, and will charge for it.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other national rags (USA Today?) will likely make it, although their economics may change. But the average local newspaper is dead. Buffett said that newspapers are “a business in permanent decline.” If you draw the curve they are going to hit the bottom and bounce.

As old media spirals down it will of course take marketing with them.

But why should New Media be afraid?  As marketers scramble to figure out where to throw all that ad revenue social networks and other new media channels will rake it in.  But for how long?  How long will users continue to put up with interruption.  How long before MySpace follows old media to the grave because users are sick of the free ring tone ads?

Marketing is broken.  Marketing creates an artificial barrier between you and your customer.  No one believes marketers.  The best thing you can do is to talk directly with your customers and new media makes that possible.  Talk with them when and how they want.  Be there for them when they have questions.  Listen to them when they have suggestions.  And best of all, give them an experience worth talking about.

If no one wants to talk about you, you’re doing something wrong.

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Business Social Networking and Cisco are just the tip of the iceberg.  Social networking is coming to the business world in a big way.  As I said here, traditional marketing is not where the power of new media will be fully realized.  CRM is one obvious application that is taking advantage of.  But they are not the first one to enter that arena; Cerado has quietly been promoting their Haystack, inverted social CRMish product for a while now.  A quick search for Office 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 will reveal a whole industry ready to boil over.

I think that the best is yet to come in regards to enterprise Web 2.0 applications.

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Twitter Craze Feels Like MySpace Back in the Day

So back in 2003 I heard about this brand new site; MySpace. At the time I owned a skate shop in Las Vegas and all the lurkers we’re obsessing over this As they explained how it was soooo much better than Friendster, I decided to give it a try.

One of the things that struck me right away was this sense of belonging to something. There was this basic carnal need to be on the “inside” when everyone else was on the outside. The best part was watching people who swore they would never join MySpace get hooked and start acting like junkies. It was an obsession to see who had left you a message, who added you as a friend or if anyone had commented on your pictures.

Things feel remarkably similar to the ongoing Twitter craze. There is this sense of belonging, of connecting to people that you don’t know. Communicating instantaneously with hundreds of people is amazing. According to, Twitter has grown almost 108% in one month to 35k people. And according to Blogpulse Twitter went from being mentioned in 1% of blogs back in mid February to 10% of blogs by mid March.

It is impossible to compare the growth of MySpace or YouTube to Twitter; two are platforms and one’s a channel. Here lies the real power of Twitter: Who has more power: a site that millions of people visit each day and stay on average of 20-30 minutes? Or a utility that is always with you via web, SMS and IM?

You have the capability to use Twitter like a hybrid IM/blog right from your Twitter page. I rarely use this page. I run Twitter from my Google Talk, which is run through on my Blackberry. This allows me to have Twitter on my phone without having to give out my cell phone # or have to pay for all the additional text message charges.

The challenges that are ahead for Twitter are that of scale. Can they continue to handle the load? MySpace crashed a lot back in the day, but something about the service kept people coming back.

Twitter has been having similar problems; so far people are sticking with it.

Twitter already has bands jumping on board. Can Twitter ad features like MySpace has? We have yet to see anything new from Twitter (I bet they’re just trying to hang on right now), but the users are taking care of that; there are plugins for WordPress, there are Twitter specific search engines plus Twitter mashups are popping up all over the place. Some bloggers have abondoned their blogs in favor of Twittering.

Many people are already predicting the demise of Twitter. I think they’ll pull through just fine. Twitterers seem pretty willing to live with the glitches caused by the sudden increase in users. I think Twitter is one of the newest ways to stay connected and will change the face of social networking. You think MySpace is looking at a way to copy Twitter? I do. And if they don’t someone else will.

Recomended blogs on this topic:
Micro Persuasion
Tac’s Twitter Page

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On Phenomenology and Web 2.0

What is the big deal about New Media?  Why do people think that anyone cares enough about what they have to say that they start blogging?  If you don’t know, you are obviously not blogging.

On my new business cards (when they get done) my title will say Phenomenologist (it was that or Prototypical Nonconformist).  Phenomenology is a type of research that requires the researcher to experience that which they are studying as a complete participant, not as an outside observer.

If you really want to understand what all the hype is, get involved.  At least try it out.  Start reading blogs, listen to podcasts (you won’t ever miss the radio).  Start your own blog, you can even start it privately.

There is a whole new level of collaboration and innovation that is happening on the web and if you’re not involved you are missing it.  Even if you’re reading blogs and watching what’s happening, you won’t be getting the full advantage the the social web has to offer.

Yes, New Media/Web 2.0 is overhyped.  No MySpace/Face Book is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Twitter is cool, but not THAT cool (ok, maybe it is).  But collectively the power of all of these mediums combined is revolutionizing the way that people communicate and collaborate.

The businesses that “Get It” will have a significant advantage.  This is definitely a case of first mover advantage, if you play the “wait and see” game too long, it will be too late.

How can you figure out if this is the right thing for you and your company or what is the best way to implement it?  Become a Phenomenologist.

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My Feed Addiction

Steve, over at Micro Persuasion shares some tips on how he manages all of his feeds with Google Reader.  If you’re not using Google Reader, I highly recommend it.  You get cool stats like this:

From your 119 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 1,195 items, starred 33 items, and shared 21 items.

That’s only about 40 posts a day, that’s actually a little low.  But that’s only counting the feeds I have in Google Reader.  I also use Google Personalized Homepage, where I manage all the local feeds I track, plus some special interest topics, like music, for a total of 55 feeds.  Then I use the Wizz RSS reader for FireFox, where I follow 10 alert feeds, through Technorati, and Diigo and the 23 daily “must read” blogs I follow.

Here’s my shared Google Reader feeds.
My tags feed.
If you want me to find a site just tag it for:tacanderson in and I follow that feed too.

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Boise Business Blogging: Much Ado About Nothing?

Recently the Idaho Statesman ran a story (2 online) on business blogging in Boise, here and here. I realize I’m a little late on this, but somethings been bugging me since the story came out.

Several local blogs happily pointed to the story 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  I’m sure their were others, but that’s what I found.  Ken did a great job on the story; considering what he had to work with.

Fishers and Mobile Data Force, we’re the only two non consulting companies he sited.  How many Boise companies, that are not consultants or media, can you name that blog?  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Besides the previous two, here’s what I got:  A Plus Benefits, Saguaro Canyon, Technology Law Group, Treetop Technologies and of course HP.  There are 40 local blogs I know of, 30 that I subscribe to, and of those maybe 10 that I would consider active (or any good).  Mostly it’s a lot of early adopters, consultants and media.

We all know that Boise is about two years behind.  Is it finally Boise’s turn to catch up with new media?  Or is it still too early? Heck BlueLine’s the only “agency” that blogs.  Brian works at Closed Loop, but Id Ad Agencies is his personal blog, MMG has something akin to a blog, but there’s no feed or comments, it’s just a news pop-up.  Even with Jamie at the helm, a self profesed new media guy, es/drake doesn’t have a blog.

Maybe I’m missing some.  Let me know if there are any Boise business blogs I’m missing, I’d like to know.  Maybe John Foster knows.
BTW, here’s my favorite local blogs, not already linked to :
Kinetic Shift
Blogging Expertise

Ready Point Click
KickStart blog

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Transparency = Trust. Trust = Greater Profits.

For a long time now I (and many many others) have been talking about transparency. I’ve even gone so far as to translate it into to corporate speak by telling companies that they need to adopt a Transparent Business Strategy. Most people when I say this nod their head and agree with me as if to say “oh yeah we have one of those,” which is quickly followed by a slight look of confusion as they start to wonder what that actually means.

The goal of a Transparent Strategy is to have trust.
To have trust in others and to have the trust of others.

I hate throwing around the much over used word, “strategy” without some context. The best definition of strategy that I’ve heard is: to create fit within all practices of an organization. Each function of a company should support the other business functions to drive profit. That is the goal right?

I believe that transparency drives trust which drives greater profits.

  • When your employees trust you they will work harder.
  • When your customers trust you they are more loyal.
  • When your stakeholders trust you they are more likely to invest in you.
  • When your strategic partners trust you they will more likely share valuable information.

I don’t know a single company (I’m sure they exist somewhere) that doesn’t want to have the trust of their customers, or the trust of their employees. Far fewer companies are willing to trust their customers or employees. Most say they do, but how many actually do?

If a company trusted their employees, why would it be so scary to let them blog or have an internal forum? If a company trusted that their customers would come to their defense if some wayfaring naysayer wondered by, why wouldn’t they have a company blog?

Of course an even more poiniant question is: if a company has trust in themselves what do they have to be afraid of? I think they are afraid of the truth.

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Communication Convergence

Mike Manuel is one of my favorite bloggers and has been for quite a while.  His posts are always thought provoking.  This one especially struck a nerve with me.  He points out the amount of overlap in companies and agencies right now surrounding new media.

Media Guerrilla: New Media Twister, Everybody’s Playing…
Some folks will say that with this convergence comes a collapse, at least for some sectors and disciplines, but I honestly couldn’t tell you which ones. Personally, I don’t really care, it’s a fun time to be in the soup.

I love communications.  I love online communications.

This has lead me to do online PR, new media marketing, which lead to SEO, I do internal communications, work with IT people to develop intranet platforms.  The list goes on.

Am I trying to be all things to all people?  As consultants we all do to some degree.  I’ve always done these jobs because of a love for the work.

Helping people communicate with people online.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Who cares if it’s internal or external to an organization?  Who cares what it’s called?  But like Mike points out; it sure is fun.

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