Friday, July 16, 2010

Coming to Grips with a Social Way of Working

Over the past years, I've come out of my shell. Having been in IT and also online for many years (CompuServe and before), I've come to really embrace my online activities and a new way of working and interacting with peers, colleagues, and friends.

I tweeted about it recently referencing this HBR blog post: 10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life.

(note: originally posted July 16, 2010, and refreshed Dec 4, 2010)

It's true, my online life and my off line life are merging and the online aspect makes my off line aspect more fulfilling. Enough of that "navel gazing", lets talk about what has changed in my daily activities.

Mobile is the "Tipping Point"
First of all, I do everything on my iPhone or iPad. I was a blackberry user for many years and watched my social circle expand greatly when I switched to the iPhone 3Gs about 14 months ago. With a powerful mobile device, the 10 items listed below can be done very frequently throughout the day. Without a "smartphone", you're limited to finding time to fire up a computer on a wired LAN connection or locating a wifi hot spot and laptop to engage in social media. It's just too much trouble.

News is Targeted to me
1. Twitter is my central information source. I've stopped watching local and national news. I've stopped reading newspapers. Occasionally, I read the local page in my local paper, but other than that, most everything I see, I've already seen in twitter. I'm selective who I follow and look for people who have something to say that I find interesting and engaging.
2. I get my weather from my iPhone / iPad Weather Bug app. Often, I don't even check the thermometer outside when I wake up. I just check the Weather Bug app on my iPhone for the current temp and forecast.

Communities are "Where it's at"
3. I use Socialcast and Yammer all the time for several important communities. At work, it's part of a large network of 4000+ employees all around the world. Within a peer group (20Adoption Council) Socialcast is the platform for very active conversation throughout the day with others who think like me all over the world. Google Groups and Yahoo Groups along with a couple of private email lists still feel like communities, but they are losing importance.

Email is much less important
4. I use gmail for my personal mail and make a point to keep it completely separate from my company mail. My day job mailbox is squeaky clean with only company business. Anything personal goes to gmail.
5. Most of my gmail is made up of lingering e-newsletters and notifications of what is happening on my social sites. Very little actual 1:1 communication happens there any more. When it does, I often miss it
6. I text a lot, but still keep it within my current 200 message monthly limit

Professional and Personal Networking
7. I make a point to connect with nearly every professional I meet on Linked In. I started there about 4 years ago and have seen that network recently exceed 850 connections.
8. Facebook is great and I use it regularly to keep up with non professional contacts (family, friends, people who my family would join for dinner, you get it). I keep that very personal and generally closed. I have about 100 "friends" there, and stay away from the high school reunion crowd. That was a long time ago...Why would I want to share my personal life with them now?

Location Based Enjoyment
9. I enjoy experimenting with Foursquare and Gowalla right now, but limit my "friends" there to people I'm comfortable with knowing my whereabouts.

Central Document storage with Crowd based Authoring
10. I've been using Google Groups, Google Docs, and Yahoo Groups for some time now for controlled online sharing. These are good, but I see them being replaced by crowd friendly tools. I'm really liking my recent experience with a consumer wiki tool from PBWorks. I have found it very useful for crowdsourcing links. See what I mean at my E20 Wiki Workspace.

There you have the basics. The reality is most of my communication throughout the day is on my iPhone or iPad through Twitter, Socialcast, gmail, Foursquare and Facebook. I check into my corporate email now on my iPad, but am not tied to it like I am my personal feeds. I find I am more and more comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas with trusted colleagues. This steady stream of information can be intimidating, but I've come to a point where it's OK to miss something even if it was a message addressed directly to me. If it is important, it will come again.

Willing to Foot My Own Technology Bill
It may go unsaid, but I'll say it. My personal technology and productivity tools are much more powerful and flexible than those provided by my corporate employer (or any corporate employer for that matter). I don't mind. In fact I prefer it that way. I like the flexibility and much prefer using my own tools just like I enjoy driving my own car and dressing in my own clothes when I come to work.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Please share this post (RT) and add your comments below.


  1. You described what I've noticed in my life myself perfectly.

    Great reflection!

  2. I'll offer a vehement me too. Especially in the last para. I'd like to be able to evolve my practices and improve efficiency where IT depts can't seem to. Hoping for good tech, thoughtful governance and appropriate employee education to make that happen. Great post Jim!

  3. Nice post, Jim. You're describing what I'm going through, I just don't have an iPad yet. Getting an iPhone was another big tipping point for me as well.

  4. Great post, Jim. You've done a great job of making a snapshot of the new personal and professional communications mode. Many of these ideas have been expressed before, but you've done a great job of bringing them together in one clear description.

  5. Great article Jim! I need to get an iPad now!

  6. I think the key is we now view work differently. People used to view work as something like school--it had rules, you followed them, and it was self-contained.

    Now we understand that work is more like a startup--it's up to us to get results, and we need to use whatever tools we think best to get those results. Waiting for someone else to provide the tools is no excuse for inaction.

  7. Great comments all. Thanks for your added insight (and confirmation that we're all experiencing this in similar ways))

  8. Dead Spot On Jim. You were correct in stating that we both shared some similar conversion experiences getting out of our 1.0 shells and truly wearing our 2.0 skin.

    Take Care,

  9. Hi Jim,

    Great post!

    I am reaching out to discuss an upcoming Social CIO series by Jostle ( in which we would like to feature you. We're highlighting only the best and are interested in hearing about your challenges, successes and best practices. If you are open to participating, I have a short set of questions which I can send via email.

    Look forward to hearing from you,

    Director of External Relations
    Jostle Corporation