Online Social Networks, Virtual Communities, Enterprises, and Information Professionals: Part 2. Stories

By Reid, Mike; Gray, Christian | Searcher, October 2007 | Go to article overview

Online Social Networks, Virtual Communities, Enterprises, and Information Professionals: Part 2. Stories


Reid, Mike, Gray, Christian, Searcher


Dave Snowden, former director of IBM's Institute for Knowledge Management and currently director of the Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity, believes, "We are only just beginning to explore the potential of storytelling.... There is considerable evidence that story will soon become the main tool in knowledge management programs and decision making." (1) Snowden is not alone in this view. "When undertaken thoughtfully, storytelling brings people together in an environment where they can share what they care about in creative and personal ways," says Seth Weaver Kahan, president of Performance Development Group and a leader in the practice of storytelling in business.

In this, the second of three articles about online social networks, social software, Web 2.0 tools, and virtual communities, we're mostly using stories from both vendor and buyer pioneers to communicate. We believe that storytelling works well for an audience of information professionals. Social networking guru Patti Anklam reminded us that Tom Davenport identified "serious anecdote management" (2) as a critical value measurement to justify building communities of practice (CoP) during the early days of knowledge management. Eugenie Prime, previous long-time head of HP's libraries, told us how she collected many stories from her library's internal "clients" for use in explaining the value of her library to HP executives.

The third article, "Applications," will combine software reviews, best practices, and some direct recommendations for information professionals. One goal of the entire series is to let information professional see the potential role they could play (and some already do) in the decisions, implementation, and management behind online social networks and virtual communities in enterprises.

We believe that information professionals have the right skills to launch and manage enterprise social networks for their organizations and that those who do take a leadership role in this area will benefit directly from their success. This hypothesis has proven true for Karen Huffman, an information professional at the National Geographic Society and a leader in implementing the new software and services. Not only did she win awards and recognition for herself and the National Geographic Society, Huffman told us, "A personal win, I come in in the morning and the corporate intranet is up and running with all our new Web 2.0 tools working. My management listens to what we librarians have to say. The entire staff works as a team and the organization benefits from all of it."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Blogging Helps McDonald's CEO Connect

McDonald's CEO Mike Roberts had just returned from a trip to Dubai. Blogging tools from Awareness made it easy for Mike to upload photos and stories he'd written during the trip. McDonald's employees were impressed. Their CEO was sharing casual, personal conversation about his experiences. Mike let everyone know he'd be at his "virtual desk" from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. People from McDonald's Canada joined and expressed concern about receiving no bonuses. Mike explained that bonuses are based on performance and reminded them that they had missed their numbers. The candid conversation was clear and helpful. While Awareness' technology made it possible, it took a CEO interested in using the technology to communicate with his employees.

SelectMinds' Online Corporate Alumni Social Networks Deliver a 15-fold ROI (3)

Since the year 2000, SelectMinds has been developing online social networks for corporate alumni groups. Its clients include JPMorgan Chase, Ernst & Young, Lockheed Martin, BearingPoint, Latham & Watkins, Schlumberger, and Deloitte. Diane Pardee, SelectMinds' chief marketing officer, told us how SelectMinds' clients were benefiting from its products and services.

A large professional services company we interviewed was very bullish about the real financial impact the creation of its corporate alumni social network had had on their business. …

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