New Blog Up

My new company blog is now online.

equintconsulting.com

Check it out.

This blog will remain active, but I will use it mainly for personal musings. Most of my writing energy is going to go into E Quint for a while as I try to get some business going.

Blog Carolinas Information Release

Blog Carolinas

A Conversation about Social Media in the Enterprise

  • See how Social Media is impacting your Marketing and Communications Strategy
  • Learn how Community can serve as a model to improve your organization’s productivity
  • Meet others that are dealing with the same issues you are.
  • Talk to experts in the fields of On Line Reputation, Search Engine Optimization, Web 2.0 Technology and On Line Community Building
  • Experience cool new stuff

Event Details

Date: May 9, 2008

Location: (Map)

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
800-243-6534/919-549-4691

How to Register

You can register for the event at: http://blogcarolinas.eventsbot.com
Blog Carolinas is a free event but is limited to about 200 attendees, therefore registration is necessary to attend.

Sessions & Format

Scheduled sessions include:

  • Listening to the Conversation about your Organization
  • Engage your Customers in Conversation
  • How is Social Media changing PR?
  • Recruiting Digital Natives
  • Be Prepared, Sharing Information is a Culture Shift

All sessions will be conversational, no long boring Powerpoint presentations.

Confirmed Session Leaders include:

Who Should Attend

The objective of this event is to begin bridging the gulf that currently exists between the current developers/users of Social Media tools and those organizations that have not yet adopted those tools. Each group has much to learn from the other, and a conversation is the best way to begin to build that bridge. So there are really two audiences for this event:

  • People that are currently familiar with Social Media, and want to see it used more effectively in professional and organizational settings.
  • People that do not currently use Social Media, but have heard from friends and main stream media that it may be of benefit to their organization.

So let’s start a conversation…

More information about the event can be found at: http://www.socialtext.net/blogcarolinas

(Disclosure: Blog Carolinas is being produced and hosted by E Quint Consulting.)

Communication is the Heart

I have been struggling recently trying to figure out my “product”. I need to be able to describe what it is that I bring to the table for a client. I know I CAN bring value, I just couldn’t quite put it in words, that quickly and easily, conveyed that value. I guess what I have been searching for is a clear problem or need that I can apply my solution to. That age old problem of everything looking like a nail to my hammer.

All of my rhetoric and elevator pitches so far have been about how I solve problems. I have not been speaking in terms of the problem to be solved. This morning I think I have come closer to articulating the problem statement.

Communication is at the heart of any organization:

  • communication between managers and employees;
  • communication between functional areas;
  • communication with stakeholders and customers;
  • communication within project teams…

and I have yet to see the organization that has perfected the art of communication.

Enter social media and the community. By embracing a community model, any organization can take a quantum step forward in their communication effectiveness. This is where E Quint comes in. As a Community Architect, I use a structured approach to:

  • assess and understand the current communications ecosystem
  • develop a blueprint for improving communication structure and processes
  • help implement a new infrastructure for conversation

Improving the effectiveness of organizational communication will lead to better decision-making by organizations, which of course leads to what everyone wants, a better bottom line and the ability to keep on keeping on.

What’s a Community Architect?

Since I started using the phrase Community Architect the other day, I have been trying to figure out how to explain what one is in a pragmatic way. Or, in other words; what do I deliver?; what is my product?

The first thought that has come to mind is that my deliverable to a client is a Community Blueprint. Development of the blueprint would involve several stages which would define the activity of the engagement. The components of the Blueprint (or whatever product name I settle on) will include:

  • Goal definition – A conversation with the Sponsor of the initiative to determine what they are ultimately trying to achieve. Setting of objectives.
  • Environmental assessment – Review of the current situation, internal and external, with respect to the goal and objectives defined
  • Stakeholder engagement – An active process of bringing all stakeholders (or representatives of all stakeholder groups) into the conversation. Stakeholders will begin using light-weight community based tools at this point in order to see and understand first-hand the concepts of community based collaboration.
  • Roadmap Creation – The process by which stakeholders will identify processes, structures and behaviors necessary to meet goal and objectives.
  • Tool selection – The process by which stakeholders identify specific tools, and vendors that will allow the Roadmap to be implemented.
  • Construction – Setting up the tool infrastructure.
  • Habitation – With the tools in place, the process of encouraging use of the community.
  • Final Inspection – Review with the sponsors to confirm that goal and objectives have been met.

If you will notice, this approach does not distinguish between building a community that is fundamentally internal or external to the boundaries of the enterprise. My belief here is that most communities will span that divide, making such distinction irrelevant. But in those cases where a true internal or external community is prescribed, the process should still be valid.

Branding E Quint

Ever since I started thinking about starting my own consulting practice, I have been talking to people to get advice. The one bit of advice I have been getting consistently is to be able to clearly, and quickly, state what irt is that I do (or will do). I am finding that to not be an easy task.

What I know is that there is an opportunity to help organizations rethink their structure and processes. Now I am not the first person to see this, …duh. So the question is what am I bringing to the table? My first response was Social Media expertise. But I think that terminology is going to give me problems on two counts. First, I think it is a difficult conceptual jump for most people to go from Organizational design to Social Media. Secondly, I think the term Social Media is always going to conjure up visions of technology.

So I think I am going to steal a page from the Citizen Agency playbook and start thinking in terms of Community.

Re-Imagine the Organization as Community

My elevator pitch? Let’s take a shot …

I am a consultant that works with organizations to help them look at their structure, processes and culture from a community perspective. I want organizations to consider all of their stakeholders as a single community as opposed to discreet constituents or demographic groups. I want organizations to move away from the traditional “Us vs. Them” mentality: management vs. employees, marketing vs. engineering, customers vs. customer service. I want to see an engaged conversation between stakeholders. And lastly, I want to help facilitate that change.

What do you think?

Re-Imagine HR

I did a blog search on “issues in HR” the other day and the results were much as I suspected. The big issue that came up time and again was finding key talent. My own experience indicates that recruiters are, in fact, leading the way for adoption of social media in the HR world.

But let’s look at this a little deeper…

Let’s say an organization does a great job of finding the best talent by virtue of their excellent use of social networking. Now they have all of these hot new hires, what next? Once inside the organization, your “leaders of the future” are typically faced with a very traditional, hierarchical organization. If this “hot new talent” is buried under bureaucracy and fighting turf wars, is the organization really making the best use of their abilities.

Come to think of it, maybe we had the right talent on board all along, it was just inaccessible due to the prevailing culture. So let’s take a look at that culture (that is so prevalent in most organizations today).

In almost every organization I am familiar with the things that are rewarded include:

  • Performance (beating your peers)
  • Expertise (hording information)
  • Managing (telling others what to do)

Very seldom do I see sharing, collaboration, or stewardship at the top of the list of how organizations actually behave. I wonder why…? …can you say “compensation and reward systems”?!?

My point here is that organizations are not going to get better and smarter simply by hiring new islands of knowledge. Organizations need to learn how to build better boats for traveling between islands, and this starts with getting people to want to build boats. By re-imagining how we recognize excellence, we can begin to see sharing, collaboration and stewardship as the driving traits of an organization.

If, and when, this happens, employees will be begging for the tools that facilitate those processes. The technology to do so will simply be an implementation tactic.

Organizations may come to find that they had the key talent in place all along…duh!