Look Ma, I’m on TV! (no, not the YouTube TV, I mean the real one)

CNBC video

Go figure (sorry for just a link… CNBC’s embed is having trouble with WordPress)

Now, I do have to say a few things about this. First, I was really disappointed that CNBC’s Power Lunch doesn’t offer lunch (kidding, kidding). Seriously though, I haven’t yet and probably won’t ever actually watch this clip because I feel completely squeamish watching myself on TV. All of my annoying quirks are far too exposed. So apologies if it stinks – I’m going solely on memory of how it went. Anyhow, the one thing I do remember is that I didn’t get to nearly any of the things I was hoping to talk about.

So to capture some of that mental prep I’d done, below I’ve crafted what my dream CNBC interview would have been:

How is IBM taking advantage of social networking?

A great question… (wink, wink) IBM has the largest community anywhere on earth of employees engaged in social networking! (can’t speak for extraplanetary entities) That translates into almost 200,000 on LinkedIn, well over 50,000 on Facebook, thousands of external bloggers, thousands on Twitter, 17,000 internal blogs, etc., etc. By virtue of our size and technically savvy employee base, there’s no other organization out there with the scale, size and potential influence. We still have work to do to make our efforts more connected and intentional, but the value is there now and the future opportunities are immense.

What are you all doing on these sites?

Work!!! We are doing our jobs – the same jobs we were doing before social media. But hopefully now with better access to colleagues, peers and expertise than we had before. These platforms remove all of the artificial and geographical boundaries you find in organizations that lock up knowledge and information. Instead of relying on your office neighbors or reporting line as the sole source of information, you can reach anywhere into the organization – or out of the organization – to collaborate, learn, listen and influence.In other words, we are on these platforms because we can do our jobs better using them. Sure, we like t0 share pictures of our kids on Facebook too, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Connections, or whatever to learn from the brightest minds out there.

Won’t employees just waste time if we give them access to these sites? [My favorite question, btw]

Not at all. Blocking access to these sites is a self defeating policy for two reasons:

  1. This is a reflection of poor performance measurement practices. If you want to restrict access to Facebook in an attempt to push employees toward productivity, then you aren’t focused on results; you are focused on process. And we all know that process doesn’t mean anything. If an employee is spending 50 percent of his/her time on LinkedIn and Twitter, but performs better than peers who don’t, perhaps that’s a lesson in itself? And if they are wasting their time, that too will come out when it’s time to measure results and performance.
  2. Think of the message this sends employees. “WE DON’T TRUST YOU.” I can’t think of many things that undermines any sense of trust between the institution and the employee than micromanaging how they spend their time. This has particular consequences when it comes to morale and recruitment.

Any parting advice for other companies looking to dip their toes in this water?

Another great question… First, I’d say be pragmatic about how you approach this. Don’t be afraid of the blurring lines between professional and private conversations of employees. That blurring already happens with phones and email. That it happens in social networks doesn’t really change much. Instead, focus on getting great guidelines in place and make sure everyone understands them. Based on our experience at IBM, the guidelines can’t be a top-down mandate. Employees should be part of the process in creating them. Our employees actually wrote the Social Computing Guidelines, resulting in self-regulating, very large, very well behaved community of active participants.

Do you have any advice for where to get a great taco?

Why yes, in fact, I do

So that’s my dream CNBC Q&A. To quote someone far more interesting than myself, “At the end of the day… I think the questions went… wonderfully well.


Some perspectives on ESPN’s new "social" media guidelines

This will be brief, but I did want to offer some of my own, personal perspectives on the issue of ESPN’s new guidelines for employee use of social media. I’m basing this on my own experiences here at IBM in helping maintain the IBM Social Computing Guidelines, which we’ve had now for over four years. The IBM guidelines were created, literally, by the IBM employees who were participating in these social spaces. I won’t go into too much detail here about it – but I’ve written up our experiences in a prior post for your reading pleasure.

Now, to ESPN’s guidelines. Overall, they seem fairly reasonable. ESPN has a business to run and they need to protect their reputation and revenue streams. I understand and appreciate that. Guidelines are absolutely essential for corporations to protect both the company and the employee. But, I did have two main reactions:

  1. They come across too heavy handed.
  2. They seem to have been created and communicated in a completely old-school, top-down manner without input from employees.

If my experiences at IBM have taught me anything, it’s the following:

  • Don’t create social media guidelines for employees without including employees in the process.

Why? As far as I see it, there are a few reasons:

  1. Corporate-only mandates instill a sense of distrust between employee and employer. Nothing says we don’t trust you like management saying out of the blue that you aren’t allowed to do “X” or “Y.” If employees are part of the process, then this becomes a moot point. But by mandating behavior on employees you turn off those who are most likely your most valuable assets in the social media space. After all, nothing is more powerful for a brand than to have its employees out there talking to clients, customers, partners and – in this case – fans.
  2. Missed value. The suits in CHQ (yes, I’m one) can never know all the ways that employees are finding value through social media. And much of that is bringing value to the corporation. So to dictate rules without the perspective of the employees means a lot of potential value can get lost.
  3. Employee “ownership” of the guidelines results in a wonderful phenomenon: better behavior and a self-regulating community. We do no policing of employees in social spaces at IBM. One of the reasons for this is because the other IBMers – the ones who helped write the guidelines – keep everyone else in line. Positive peer-pressure if you like. And if you were trusted to help create guidelines, naturally, you are more predisposed to understand them and to follow them.

Social media in sports is still in its nascent stages. Heck, I even have my own little story about it. I’m very interested in seeing how professional sports leagues, organizations and media outlets ultimately find the balance for all of this. But one thing is for sure, they should all listen to employees and fans as their starting point.

Update: looks like someone else picked up on the IBM example too.


IBM’s submission to the Dept of Homeland Security regarding Social Media and Privacy

For a while I’ve been wanting to put together a longer post detailing the full background behind IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines and some our Social Computing experiences overall. While you can glean quite a bit about those topics by perusing some prior posts I’ve written and presentations I’ve given on related topics, unfortunately, I just haven’t gotten around to putting it all in one place.

However, I was recently involved in a small project that helped capture much of this content. Along with a few colleagues, I was asked by Harriet Pearson, IBM’s Chief Privacy Officer, to help put together a public submission to the Department of Homeland Security as part of their Privacy Workshops they hosted in Washington D.C. earlier this week. It was a great exercise to capture many of the lessons we’ve learned at IBM over the years about privacy, guidelines, boundaries and institutional opportunities in this space we now term social computing. The paper was selected for review at the workshop, so you can read the full submission here on the DHS site (warning, pdf).

There are a few parts I wanted to call out here regarding IBM’s experience in this area (I’ve added emphasis below):

As we all know, another major shift occurred early in this decade with the emergence of Web 2.0. These new capabilities were enormously empowering for individuals – facilitating not just global access to information, but the capacity for anyone to become a global publisher for free, in minutes. In addition, the distinction between “inside” and “outside” became far less exact or defensible. This holds enormous potential for enhancing collaborative relationships, but also raises significant issues with regard to security, privacy and governance

Based on our previous experience, IBM recognized the opportunity to tap into individuals’ use of social media as a way to flatten a geographically and organizationally dispersed employee population and to encourage more learning, collaboration and development – both inside the company and with external parties. Further, our research indicated that the personal interactions individuals have with IBM employees – online or face-to-face – have a more powerful influence on shaping the individual’s perception of IBM’s brand than any other form of communications, marketing or advertising.

With that in mind, in 2003 IBM was one of the first companies to provide employees access to social tools – blogs, social networks, wikis, video and podcast publishing — inside and outside the firewall.  We did so in order to encourage collaboration and provide greater outside exposure to IBM’s greatest asset – its employees.

In providing such unfettered access to Web 2.0 technologies, the company’s management – and IBMers themselves – were not blind to the need for appropriate governance and risk management in relation to how these tools are used.  In an effort to protect the IBM brand and employees themselves, in 2005 IBM became one of the first corporations to issue specific guidelines for employee behavior in social computing environments. Now called the IBM Social Computing Guidelines,  they were initiated and written in significant part by interested employees themselves, were created on an internal wiki, and continue to serve as the framework by which employee behavior is guided in these online social contexts.

By empowering all employees to participate and engage within the clear framework of the IBM Social Computing Guidelines, IBM and its employees have embraced social media in dramatic numbers. Following are a few examples of some of the tools most popular with IBMers: 

  • Internal blogs: 60,000 users, 17,000 different blogs
  • Internal wikis: 1 million page views per day
  • Employee-created podcasts and videos: more than 8.5 million downloads
  • Facebook: more than 70,000 employees
  • LinkedIn: more than 250,000 employees

We believe that IBM’s experience over the past 25 years has shown that, with the proper guidelines and instruction for employees, the use of Web 2.0 technologies by large organizations can be managed and an open, more collaborative and efficient environment developed.

The paper then goes on to describe some more prescriptive recommendations for how the government can engage – safely – in these spaces. But if I were to sum it all up in just a few sentences, we believe the businesses – and certainly governments – have much to gain from empowering their employees to engage in these environments. And by working with employees to establish clear – but fair – guidelines for behavior, organizations can do so without opening themselves up to unsatisfactory levels of risk.

Take a read through the paper and let us know what you think.


Twitter and the U.S. Open – Was I the first??

BethpageLogo Readers of this blog know two things about me. 1) I love food; and 2) I do social media “stuff” at IBM. They may not know that I also have the awesome job of doing communications around our sports sponsorships (I know, I know… pretty great gig). IBM sponsors only a handful of sports properties, but the ones they do are all top tier: The NFL, The Masters, all four tennis Grand Slams and the USGA, which administers the Men’s, Women’s and Junior and Senior U.S. Open Championships.

So, to get to my point… in thinking about the intersection of social media and sports, I came to the dorky conclusion that I may have been the first ever person to tweet from a U.S. Open when I did so at the 108th U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines last year. Now, I’m not claiming to be the first to tweet about the U.S. Open. I’m saying I might be the first to tweet from the U.S. Open. If I’m correct, here’s the immortal tweet that is going to put me in the golf history books:

US Open Twitter 1

Profound stuff.

That was followed by a few other tweets during the course of the few days I was “working” at the event, including:

How do I come off thinking I’m the first to tweet from a U.S. Open? Well, consider the following:

  1. No fans are allowed mobile devices of any kind on the course. That eliminates almost everyone else.
  2. The only people allowed to have mobile devices are very select USGA employees, credentialed golf media and select USGA partner employees (i.e., me).

Since Twitter wasn’t even a gleam in Shaq’s massive eye in June ’08, I think I’m safe to assume none of the credentialed media at the Open were on Twitter. So while I might not be destined for the history books, I am going to claim my place in geek history.

(Oh, and for any of you who can prove that I wasn’t the first person to ever tweet from a U.S. Open… Shhhh… Keep it to yourselves. I need something to tell my mom so she can be proud of me)

* * *

So, on a very related note, tomorrow morning I’m heading back to the Open… this time to Bethpage Black for what is looking to be a complete washout. We’ve got some conversations lined up with media, so our turnout may be higher than expected since there might not be any on-course distractions to deal with. At least, that’s my silver lining to some wet, gray clouds.

Now, for all of you who can’t actually be at the course tomorrow (pity), here are some non-TV ways you can enjoy the U.S. Open this year, thanks to IBM and the USGA:

  • USOpen.com for real-time scoring, HD-quality live streaming video of the marquee groups on Thursday and Friday, live video of the 17th whole Saturday and Sunday, and lots fun things for golf geeks: videos, interactive games, history, etc.
  • iPhone. Twice a year I get iPhone envy. During the Masters, and now during the U.S. Open. The iPhone app is pretty awesome, with live streaming video, real time scores and player profiles.
  • Twitter. Thanks to Ashton and Oprah, there are plenty more folks than me to follow on Twitter for this year’s Open. Best bet is to follow the official Twitter account for the U.S. Open/USGA. USOpen.com has a nice page where you can get that feed plus links to some of the golf pros using Twitter.
  • Facebook addicts can pimp their profiles with a US Open Widget to add to their profile. (For anti-Facebook-ites you can use the widget on any profile/blog/web page).

That’s about it. Now we just need nature to cooperate and it ought to be an amazing Open.


My Twitter life, as a Wordle

I’ve always wanted to generate a tag cloud of ALL my public Twitter posts. The problem is that most services, like TweetStats, will only take a small subset of the most recent posts to analyze. With the help of a great friend, Sacha Chua, who helped me scrape all 2000+ Twitter posts over the past few years (using Python and Perl scripts… stuff I don’t understand), I was able to create a word cloud via Wordle of all my public tweets:

Wordle: Adam's public tweets

 

Frankly, I was surprised tacos weren’t more prominent in that tag cloud. I see this mostly as a function that my priorities are misaligned. (Mental note: more tacos, less work). But Sacha also helped me do some other analyses too. Perhaps the most interesting is the break down of how many times I respond to certain people. Here’s list of the top 21 people I speak to most on Twitter:

89 @junkstar
56 @aneel
49 @elsua
41 @derekbaker
31 @edbrill
28 @turbotodd
27 @timwasher
23 @stevemann
23 @Macker
21 @tiffitis
20 @Scobleizer
20 @kid2dog
18 @sachac
18 @roonoid
18 @monkchips
18 @jenokimoto
18 @briancroxall
16 @ragtag
16 @jowyang
15 @wonderwebby
15 @shelisrael

Personally, I feel like I’ve gradually begun to use Twitter less and less as it’s gotten more popular. Call it the inverse Ashton Kutcher effect. But the tag cloud and @ list at least give a window of where I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past few years, what I’ve been talking about and who I’ve been spending it with.

Oh, and my first ever tweet? Appropriate:

first tweet