5 things I learned – March ’07

March 28, 2007


Tim Milburn is host of this month’s Rapid Fire Learning at Joyful Jubilant Learning. Check out Tim’s item 4 and learn what he puts in front of his personal “greater than sign.”

Here are 5 things I learned this month.

Zac Crain for Dallas Mayor 2007. Paid for by the Crain for Mayor Campaign.1. Watching the unraveling of Zac Crain’s campaign to become the next mayor of Dallas, I (along with everyone else) learned that social networking alone is not enough to create a viable campaign. Despite having over 1500 “friends” on myspace, Crain was unable to secure the 473 valid voter signatures required to get on the ballot.

SXSW Interactive2. I learned that the next best thing to attending this month’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin is watching the videocasts or listening to the numerous podcasts offered online. [Just click on the image.]

jjl_lawb_banner.jpg3. I learned (from Dave) that if you “Cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one.” I also learned that JJL’s A Love Affair with Books introduced many outstanding books through a series of excellent reviews.

Social Media Club4. I learned that belonging to a particular generation (age) is only one of the determinates of whether individuals use social media to make online connections. I learned from Ann that curiosity and flexibility are factors, as well as how much utility one gains from online exchanges. Sunni adds that being generally comfortable with technology makes a huge difference when we start to use specific social media tools. Jason adds that the biggest factor may be how comfortable someone is with communicating personal messages in public, open forums.

go.jpg5. I learned practical techniques for identifying which professional activities make you feel strong and how to play to your strengths for the good of yourself, your team, and the organization. All of this courtesy of one book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. I recently enjoyed hearing Marcus speak in person (a story for another post.) He speaks as well as he writes, with a pleasant British accent to boot!

Well that’s it for me. How about you? Why not share your Rapid Fire Learning by leaving a comment here or writing on your own blog with a trackback to Tim’s Post?

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Geewiz on using internal blogs for effective team communication

March 20, 2007

If you haven’t picked up the feed for Jochen Lillich’s home of geewiz (a.k.a. blog of geewiz,) then click over and subscribe. You’ll be glad you did!

Jochen provides one of the best accounts that I have read about how to use an internal blog for communicating within teams. He describes how each IT team member makes a “daily” post to communicate four key items:

  • Results
  • Decisions
  • Findings
  • Good news

Our “Daily Blog” has become an important communication tool. Managers and coworkers get up-to-date information about what a team is working on, what’s going well and what problems arose lately—without having time-consuming meetings. And via the comment section, people can respond with questions or additions, therefore starting dialogues.

And there’s another, hidden advantage: by writing about it, people deliberate about their work. So, there’s not only a communication aspect, but also a reflection aspect in our blogging. Both effects combined really make the time spent writing daily blog entries worthwhile.

I am constantly reading (and sometimes writing) about differences between people who do blog and those who do not blog. In teams, however, there is just one group – team member’s who do communicate. The only question becomes how that communication occurs; one-to-one, one-to-many, face-to-face, conference call, e-mail, blogs, and wikis (did I miss something?)

The simplicity of blogs makes them a viable alternative that many teams have adopted. Blogs are both compartmentalized (one post at a time) and comprehensive (all posts are contained in the blog). Blogs are more easily searched than e-mail and not reliant on who kept or deleted which message.

Finally, Jochen points out that the “continuous flow of information about [the team’s] current work fosters transparency and the exchange of ideas and helpful hints.” Read the entire post here.

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Watered-down blobs of typeset

March 17, 2007

I thought you might like this slide as much as I do. It reminds me to keep working to achieve the purposeful intent of blog posts – to make them useful for readers – rather than allowing posts to become watered-down blobs of typeset.

The slide comes from Kathy Sierra as part of the Microbrand panel at SXSW. Her full slide presentation is here (4.7 MB). [Via Jake McKee.]

Kathy primarily expressed a message of blogging with gratefulness. Which reminds me…

Thank you for reading the Stronger Teams Blog!

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More questions about social media and generations

March 8, 2007

If you read my post from yesterday, you know I explored questions about the relationship between age, other personal traits, and social networking. I asked, Is social networking of the generation or in the genes? and shared my experience of knowing many baby boomers who “are technologically savvy, blogging daily and using social media like it was the best thing since, well, color television.

Today, Jason Chervokas has a similar line of questioning, Will the Me Generation Go Social? Jason is inclined toward a different conclusion and is well worth the read.

Will the generation whose media habits were formed by the heyday of network TV, change its behavior and begin doing the things social media participants do: contribute, participate, and tag?

I suspect that few boomers post pictures to Flickr, keep blogs, or tag links with del.icio.us. Partially that illustrates a technology gap. But more importantly it highlights the gulf that exists between the way boomers and their kids think of personal messages.

Jason makes the point that many people are uncomfortable with openness and publicly sharing ‘personal messages.’ He perceives this discomfort is greater among baby boomers than among younger generations.

Take a look at the full post and let me know how these ideas rest with you.

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Is social networking of the generation or in the genes?

March 6, 2007

Flowing out of last week’s Social Media Club meeting, Sunni Thompson offers an insightful, revealing post, Mind The Generation Gap. Take a few minutes to review Sunni’s post.

First about Sunni

Sunni explains how she was raised to be familiar and comfortable with computers. She started using the Internet in the early days, continued through college and relies heavily on social media to maintain connections with family across the country. Her primary news sources are national, with little local news. Sunni explains the effect:

As a result of having spent the majority of my adult life firmly entrenched in learning, researching and collecting news and information on the Internet, I find that I am fairly disassociated from any sense of locality.

During the discussion last week, we considered whether there was a whole generation similarly lacking a sense of locality and, therefore, unlikely to be interested in local elections, such as the Dallas mayoral election. Again, from Sunni’s post:

I DO care, but because of my submersion in the world of Internet news, my understanding of politics and issues is heavily slanted toward a national scale. If it’s not covered by NPR, The Daily Show, or my favorite local blog, I won’t know about it.

Then about me

Understand that I am quite a bit older than Sunni; we are definitely not of the same generation. However, we share much of the same perspective about our “place” in the world. Although I still live within about 10 miles of my childhood home, I view myself as a citizen of the planet more than as associated with any particular place. Perhaps because I have settled where I was born, I view “place” as a matter of chance or circumstances more so than an indication of who I am as a person. I am from Dallas, but Dallas is not who I am.

The other commonality Sunni and I share is that much of our active, engaged, daily world is virtual – here with all of you. By definition, that implies that less attention goes to our place of residence. This is a relatively new phenomenon that was not available during my youth. Now that the opportunity is here, I have embraced it and it seems right.

Finally, the question

Is social networking of the generation or in the genes?

I have no doubt that many, many more young adults are wired and comfortable with social media than are so in my cohort. However, I also have no doubt that many baby boomers are technologically savvy, blogging daily and using social media like it was the best thing since, well, color television. From all generations there are also those that shun technology and could care less about connecting to anyone they cannot see, hear or touch.

This makes me think that having a propensity to engage in social networking on the Internet may be a very personal attribute – in our genes more than our generation.

The generational influence, then, would mostly be a factor of opportunity and comfort; older folks have to work harder to learn new skills that were not taught during their traditional school years. I know a bunch of older, life-long learners who have made this investment and would now be just as lost without social media as I would be (and apparently Sunni too.)

I sense that locality has less significance now than it did 20 years ago. Maybe it’s part of the whole flat world phenomenon.

I’m interested in hearing from you, no matter your generation, about the relationship between age and social media and sense of locality.

Are others like me, feeling as much or more connected virtually than to a particular geographic setting?

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Social Media Club Dallas discusses tools and votes

March 1, 2007

Fantastic discussions last night at the Dallas meeting of the Social Media Club. Tony Wright of Kinetic Results lead two main discussions – one about useful tools that attendees “simply cannot live without” and another about the role of social media in political campaigns.

Useful Tools

Lauren Vargas, founder of 12comm Public Relations and author of Communicators Anonymous, has already cataloged the various tools discussed. Here is the list and check out Lauren’s post for more details.

  • PSD2HTML: Fast, high-quality XHTML / CSS markup!
  • Jott: Free, telephone-to-email service that you need on your speed dial.
  • Spinvox: Voice message to text, and more
  • Picnik: Online photo editing
  • WatchetShot: Screenshot freeware
  • TinyURL Creator: Firefox add-on for quick Tiny URLs
  • Basecamp: Project collaboration
  • Accomplice: Free, project management suite, syncs with Outlook and PDA, Lauren’s “must have” recommendation, my next download!

Social Media in Politics

I was a bit surprised by the topic at first; I mean, is it safe for clubs to talk about politics or religion? However, excellent input from the likes of Jake McKee, Sunni Thompson and Blake Poutra insured a lively and insightful discussion.

A big question was whether candidates who embrace more openness, and who’s campaigns utilize social media, will benefit from doing so. Like I said, a BIG question leading into the 2008 national elections.

Much closer to home, we examined the website and MySpace page for Dallas mayoral candidate Zac Crain. Crain is very engaged in social media and has over 1500 people who have signed up as his friends on MySpace. Whether amassing virtual friends can result in polling booth turnout is well worth watching.

I want to write more about the discussion of social media and campaigns, but that will have to wait for another post. For now, check out the blogs of the smart, talented members of Social Media Club Dallas and consider whether making its next meeting (or a meeting in a city near you) should be on your agenda. Hint: It should!

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SOB Conference 2007

February 18, 2007


Those are some of the avenues for experiencing a Relationship Bloggers’ Conference and Networking Event… the first ever

SOBCon07 will include an evening and a day of community, strategy, and information about the art, technology, and science of relationship blogging for 250 experienced bloggers. The event will be held May 11-12 at the Hotel Sofitel Chicago O’Hare.

A host of outstanding bloggers, including Liz Strauss and Phil Gerbyshak, will demonstrate how to take existing blogs to the next level through interactive presentations on publishing, design and branding, tools, analytics, social networking, marketing, and coaching, from the perspectives of the blogger and the audience. Among the speakers will be one of the Internet’s most interesting and engaging writers, Terry Starbucker.

This event has the potential for collaboration at the finest, which you know is music to my ears.

Take a look at the website today and register early; seats are limited.

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