Working Out Loud for a Better World – Part II

A friend sent me a story this morning that describes how officials in New York City have been frustrated with the city’s domestic violence problem, “Domestic Abuse Killings Climb as Murders Drop, Frustrating New York Officials.”  Among several issues, the story highlights the “spotty coordination and communication among the police, prosecutors, city housing officials and organizations that provide services to victims.”  This lack of information-sharing is not unique to New York City or any other jurisdiction.

I’ve often observed, quizzically, that a field so focused on “power and control” issues has so many power and control handicaps in addressing solutions associated with intimate partner violence.  One agency won’t share information with another for political reasons; one organization has a personal vendetta against another competing for funding; a national nonprofit has competing interests for exposure and support from a state and/or local nonprofits, etc.  Over the past two years researching how “things work” in this field, I’ve seen it all.  Power dynamics are at play that are counter-productive and antithetical to the mission of attempting to find real solutions to this social epidemic. But, I get it. The same fiefdom battles are present in corporate America.

Luckily, as an outsider to this work, I have a unique vantage point devoid of turf battles.  Also lucky for me, I have a decade’s worth of insight on how to engage a disparate community focused on a singular mission. Who knew my enterprise social expertise would serve me well in exploring innovative ways to make a difference on this thorny social problem?

Enter Yammer, the Microsoft Enterprise Social Network, and a risk-taking, progressive law enforcement agency comfortable working with partners to find solutions.

Serendipitously, I discovered the work the High Point Police Department (HPPD) was doing with its groundbreaking domestic violence program early into Big Mountain Data’s launch.  There were a number of programs and areas I wanted to explore with HPPD as an entrepreneur who had a lot to learn to get up to speed, so I invited the agency to join our Yammer network. I created an external network where we could focus on different projects and initiatives in a friction-free, egalitarian network. Over the past two years, about 40 different individuals have joined the network.  It includes law enforcement, film directors, university researchers, national experts on Domestic Violence, crime analysts, data scientists, producers, writers, and attorneys.  This unlikely team of allies came together to lend expertise to a number of projects we’ve been exploring.

yammer-hppd-wol

High Point’s current Police Chief, Ken Shultz, worked with us day-to-day for the first year or so on our various programs and initiatives as Deputy Chief.  I asked him if I could interview him on his experience with “working out loud.”  He was happy to comply.  “We’re used to working in groups.  We try to be very transparent with our community,” he said.  He admitted they weren’t sure what it would mean in time and resources to work so closely with us, but in hindsight, he said, “The work has been very successful.  The initial work we put in answering your questions has paid off drastically.”  He spoke at length about how our involvement bringing so many players together has helped the department expand and develop even better relationships within High Point.

You’re an outsider, but you’re seeing people who might have solutions for us; you’re bringing people in from outside and getting them involved. That’s something we would not have been able to do on our own.  We didn’t know who these people were; we didn’t have that ability to connect so the more people that have been participating in Yammer, the more connections we’ve had and the more resources have been thrown at us and the more support we’ve been able to have. – Chief Ken Shultz, High Point Police Department. 

The magic of “working out loud” is the instantaneous access everyone has to the conversation, the explanations, the decision-making, and the answered questions that benefit everyone in the network.  In tech terms, we call it the “network effect” of the increased exponential value of the network’s shared knowledge with every added node.  In this case, the nodes are people with expertise to bring to bear on a difficult problem.  These are experts whose paths might not cross – ever in their careers.

What’s next?

The High Point Model has tremendous potential to make a serious difference on how communities address domestic violence. HPPD has going on six years of experience with this approach, and new sites are expressing interest in replicating what High Point has done, every day.  We’ve begun a “Replication Sites” group in Yammer where sites all across the country can join our network and learn from those already in some stage of progress.  Effectively, new agencies coast-to-coast now have access to the institutional knowledge already resident within our network with the added benefit of being able to ask direct questions to people on the ground making these changes in their communities. New nodes = greater intelligence and knowledge-sharing.

In an era where so many have become divided and intransigent, working out loud humanizes us.  It keeps the focus on the greater goal we all agree we want to achieve.  Solving the world’s toughest social problems will take a village of committed souls bound by a united interest.  Working out Loud provides a path and a way forward toward that end.

 

 

 

 

 

Fracking for Value in the Enterprise

This year in 2012, now that Jive customers are relatively comfortable working in this new way, Jive is pushing customers further and helping them discover the business value buried in their organization that can be extracted. It’s kind of like fracking in the bedrock of the enterprise for stored value.

Finally getting around to publishing some thoughts from JiveWorld 2012.  Jive has always been a leader in pushing the hot buttons on social.  In the beginning, at JiveWorld’s inaugural event, the theme was decidedly about educating the market to “think different” and ingrain a social orientation toward reinventing work and customer outreach.  The market actually needed a lot of hype to get some lift in the early days.  Jive set a high bar on energizing its early adopter customer base.

I wrote then, in 2009:

It takes a startup like Jive to inject innovation, creativity, passion, and excitement to this sector.  Jive is releasing a ground-breaking set of features that will set a new high bar for excellence in the category.  I’m certain the tech bloggers will cover the announcements in depth, but in brief, Jive is announcing an iPhone app (plus an email-driven enriched BlackBerry experience), very slick MS Office integration, and a bridging capability that will unite internal and external communities.  All this in addition to the series of announcements Jive made previously that include social media monitoring and a SharePoint connector.

What’s significant about the Jive announcements is the company’s commitment to releasing timely, innovative new capabilities in response to customer feedback and requests.  I’m here at JiveWorld, the company’s first customer event.  From the energy circulating in the crowd here, it’s obvious to me Jive is customer-driven and loyalty from Jive’s customers handily delivers repeat revenue as well as product improvements.

Jive’s ability to manage the books, pay careful attention to its user base, invest in educating its partners and employees, rationally identify its target market, as well as manage its growth effectively squarely positions the company uniquely from other startup competitors in the space.  Further, it accentuates the advantage startups have over the large enterprise vendors where releases are timed in years, not months.

This year in 2012, now that Jive customers are relatively comfortable working in this new way, Jive is pushing customers further and helping them discover the business value buried in their organization that can be extracted.  It’s kind of like fracking in the bedrock of the enterprise for stored value.  Chris Morace, Jive Chief Strategy Officer, calls it finding the “money laying around” in your organization when you start viewing your organization in a modern way and start using social technology strategically.  With the 6.0 release, the Jive platform itself is morphing into a dynamic institutional intelligence engine that “knows” you and can help you improve your job performance. This is the kind of education and innovation that marks the next stage of evolution in social business transformation. The company has published a guidebook for customers on Business Value with over two dozen specific examples of how Jive customers are realizing hard dollar savings, productivity gains, improved outcomes, and accelerated outcomes.

It occurred to me during the conference that Jive is the real deal on this and way ahead of the social brat pack of competitors pushing into the space.  In the end, it will be great to see all social platform vendors educating customers on where and how to apply social for business advantage, but so many of them are still where Jive was a few years ago relative to basic evangelism and market education.

Value case – Teletech

That said, I picked up on a case study that interested me from my fellow Enterprise Irregular compadre Esteban Kolsky’s panel on “Approaching Customer Service from the Customer’s Point of View.”  It was a comment made during the opening remarks by panelist Lamont Exeter, Executive Director at TeleTech. He said that working socially had actually enabled the company to change a business process that led to a vast improvement in how they handle their escalation process on customer trouble tickets. Considering TeleTech is a the leading business process outsourcing provider of technology-enabled customer experience solutions, I found this to be not a trivial remark. For years, I’ve been pointing out that the opportunity in social is to improve outdated business processes that were originally designed for the industrial age. “Socializing” existing business processes will only get us partially to the potential results inherent in a true social business transformation.  This is exemplified in the TeleTech case.

I followed up later with Exeter, and he explained in detail the business process improvement he mentioned on the panel. A singular changed process resulted in several gains for a TeleTech client. In the old way of doing things, a customer would call with an issue. If a process or procedure change was required , the associate would send an email or manual spreadsheet report and a team leader would open up a ticket.  Then, IT  or a subject matter expert (SME) would either fix the issue and close the ticket or close a ticket without communicating the reason back to the associate.  It generally took about 5 days, on average, to move through trouble tickets and in neither case would feedback be provided to the associate who initiated the ticket. This resulted in associates feeling as though they were not “heard” or valued.

Now, with TeleTech’s Iris community (powered by Jive), frontline employees can comment on a process and the SME is immediately notified – cutting out all those time-consuming steps.  The SME gets a notification from the frontline team and has 24 hours to reply. The official new time to resolution has been slashed to 17 hours and 43 minutes – a 567% decrease!  The process has a transparent gamification element that motivates employees to close out tickets as fast as possible too.  In addition,  the client cut eighty-eight percent of their ticket reworks because everyone sees the same problem and common answers are available on the community.  It’s internal “crowd sourcing.” The time saved on this resolution efficiency enabled the client  to reassign thirty-three percent of its staff to more productive work, further saving the client labor costs.  By changing this process, TeleTech increased customer satisfaction, saved on labor costs, and now has one of the most competitive low in-bound call volume records in its industry.

Another interesting aspect of the TeleTech case study is the deliberate integration of Jive with 8 different technology platforms including Bunchball (for gamification), leading CRM systems, a learning management system, an employee performance system, and a micro-learning tool.  This myth-busts the notion that all social platforms are islands of irrelevance.  The smartest companies are way ahead on the integration curve and weaving social into the corporate enterprise stack by clever use of API integration and other web services.

All told, the conference was great for all the right reasons.  It was pure pleasure to talk to Jive customers at our 7Summits booth on the exhibit floor, learn from the presenters, and indulge in the hyper-networking that goes on at industry events.  I look forward to continuing to expose the business value cases I’m uncovering with our clients.  Some of them, frankly, are blowing my mind.  For a better understanding of how 7Summits approaches unlocking the value in enterprise by retooling business processes for social, see this introductory presentation by R.J. Reimers.

 

 

 

More Serendipitous Social Upside Vignettes

Continuing with my series on unexpected windfalls and other business benefits realized from socialworking, here are two more examples.  I need to anonymize these to protect the member companies.  One is a large retailer, the other is a large life sciences multi-national.

Social Delivers the Goods (and more)

We’ve all had that experience when we waited for that shiny, new appliance to be delivered.  In this case, it was a washing machine.  Our member, a large retailer, prides itself on its service to customers in its appliance department.  When the delivery driver arrives at the home, they pick up the old appliance, install the new, test it for 15 minutes, and teach the homeowner how to operate it.

This leading retailer delivers thousands of appliances every day.  Delivery drivers (independently) were starting to see problems with a particular model of washer.  As it turns out, a fitting on the back of the washer had been changed by the manufacturer, and they were leaking after installation. The vendor didn’t know about it, the merchant didn’t know, and the drivers definitely were not informed the manufacturer had made the change.  But, the same problem was presenting itself around the country from different stores delivering the appliance.

A few of the delivery drivers turned to the company’s community space and asked, “Is anyone getting leaking problems on this model of washer?”  Once they realized what happened, they were able to stop a problem that would have been a major issue in returns, liability, flooding basements and utility rooms, simply because the manufacturer had decided to change the fittings and didn’t inform the merchants. (Do I hear social supply chain anyone?)

The activity stream of collaboration and sharing got the message to the merchants and back to the vendor and the problem was fixed in a matter of weeks vs. months.  Without a social platform for this mass-scale type sharing, it could have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to customers’ homes, diminished customer experience, aggravation, etc., before it bubbled to the surface in a meaningful way.  “The platform gave them the opportunity to share.  Now, the enterprise has to listen,” said our member.

The rewards of over-sharing

Many of our members (some say, like Sisyphus) are trying hard to change the culture at their large organization to encourage new social behaviors.  One of the killer tools in the social toolkit is the “work out loud” axiom.   Work out loud dictates that rather than burying your work in email threads or unsharable telephone calls, you publish what you’re doing and thinking online in a collaborative space (all day long) so others can learn what you know, and likewise, you can mine the intelligence of others’ expertise and experience.   This sort of thinking often falls into criticism from those who are not enmeshed in social business transformation.  The particular vignette  I’m about to discuss cropped up in a thread in the Council where I was grousing about grief I was getting in our Enterprise Irregulars back channel on social business.  My EI compadre, Esteban Kolsky, had expressed his opinion on all things social with this comment directed to me:

…that has nothing to do with being social, and they are not mutually exclusive. you can collaborate without being transparent or authentic – and the whole Kumbaya aspect of being social has been overplayed and shown to have not correlations with real business results. The whole “social” revolution is not about producing more data (as most people expect) but about purposeful engagement in new channels – which if you did not know how to do before, you cannot do now. Know who you engage and how, not just throw you stuff out there for everyone to pick it up. Twitter is no more than an awesome and free PR tool, not an engagement network. Facebook is no more than a way to stay in touch with friends and family. If you can prove otherwise, I am listening- but the people with the best results in the “social” world will tell you it is not simply about “being out there” or being transparent or authentic or collaborative.

Of course, I politely disagreed with Esteban, but in the subsequent discussion with the Council members, a number of great gems emerged to reinforce my opinion.  One of which is the following shared by one of our Life Sciences members:

“Serendipity happens. If you just wait to share until someone ‘needs to know’…you miss potential opportunities. We had this happen a few weeks ago. A marketing person shared information openly to create awareness about their approach to a new project…and someone from research saw it, and commented about some existing data from her department along the same lines. The two teams got together offline as a result and saved us tons of money thanks to knowledge re-use and reduced duplicate effort. Without just ‘being out there’ for the sake of ‘being out there’…that wouldn’t have happened because we are too large to identify all those opportunities on purpose.”

I asked him if he could quantify the savings.  He investigated it and related this to us:

Savings from serendipity: $250K – a planned research project was cancelled thanks to the shared learning across departments.  The existing data was determined to be more informative toward the cause than what the new project would have generated anyway.

Increased Sales: Sales projections estimate a potential sales increase of $30M over 5 years, thanks to the improvements applied to the marketing approach.

Intangibles:  Better insight into customer experiences, leading to improved resources that aid in providing better outcomes for the consumer.

So, by being transparent, authentic, and collaborative in this new way, the member company decreased operational expense by $250K and potentially added $30M in future sales from this single event.

Another member, Joachim Stroh, summed up the conversation neatly with this illustration.

Enjoy!

Serendipity Happens… to Deliver Million$

As the world turns… social, expect to be surprised by the fruits of serendipity.  When large workforces embrace working socially, or as I love to call it – in “socialworking” mode, they discover new ways of solving problems and creating opportunities.  Insights are revealed in the fluid web of connections and sharing. We’ve seen a dramatic mood swing toward all things social this year.  Even the naysayers have been touting the benefits of working socially recently.

I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight just one example of how working in a truly social organization delivers benefits that could never have been predicted in an executive conference room undergoing the scrutiny of a hard-core ROI analysis.

 

The Million Dollar Cry for Help

This vignette comes from our member Andrew Carusone at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. who told the story at our workshop this summer.  Lowe’s on-boarded 100% of its employee base to its collaborative platform, IBM Connections last year.  That’s every executive, store manager, retail clerk, and stock boy on the payroll.  The entire Lowe’s workforce of 289,000 employees have access to Connections.  What’s interesting is that less than 17,000 of these employees are salaried employees, and even less are members of the management team.  The challenge for the Lowe’s social business team is to inspire the employee base to turn to the platform in the course of their normal day’s work.  For some employees, it comes naturally.

During beta tests, an enterprising Paint Department employee decided to try something new to demonstrate the ease of cleaning a Teflon paint tray.  She poured latex paint into it, let it dry, and then peeled the paint out whole.  She left both the paint “mold” and the paint tray on the paint counter.  Customers were amazed and delighted. Suddenly, she was sold out of the paint trays and shoppers were clamoring for more.

The employee turned to all of her traditional channels to get additional inventory.  She accessed the company’s enterprise inventory system, however, like most major retailers, the business process tightly controls the amount of additional inventory employees can request.  After exhausting other traditional sources, the employee then turned to the Connections platform and asked “out loud”* if anyone knew how she could get more inventory.  Funny thing happened.  Although everyone felt her pain on the inventory shortage, they started replicating her paint mold/tray demo in their stores.  And guess what?   Suddenly other stores were selling out of the paint trays too.  As interest in the thread and the display idea grew in popularity, sales skyrocketed.

When applied on an enterprise level, the unique display idea represented more than a million dollars in additional revenue of the SHUR-LINE Teflon 9″ Metal Tray.  With that single serendipitous public share –employee-to-employee – at the kind of scale that Lowe’s enabled with its full workforce deployment, ideas like this can easily pay in full for the technology platforms that enabled it.  And this is just a single example.  Our Lowe’s members say these examples happen all the time.  I have a few more along these lines from other members I’ll post in the future.

What’s interesting to me in this example is that when the sanctioned business process that the Lowe’s employee was “workflowed” to use failed to deliver, it prompted her to seek out alternatives. (The company regulates how much inventory a store can order and when.)  She also reached out via other channels: email, phone calls, etc., with little success.   It was only after she circumvented the traditional sources and leveraged the power of pull within her employee base, did the company realize this unexpected windfall in revenue.   Not because she was able to order more inventory (her original ask), but because she shared her clever merchandising technique with the employee base creating demand for her idea far beyond her single store.  As Andy says, “What felt like a pebble – landed like a stone!”

It was the innovative idea that went viral in the company, resulting in the huge inventory demand (and subsequent sales) corporate-wide.   Smart employees throughout the ages have always found better ways to accomplish their goals, but these massive collaborative platforms are yielding leapfrogs in productivity and serendipitous wins on a large scale.  Be sure not to overlook this important upside of working socially.  In other words, “Be careful what you don’t ask for, you just might get it.”

*We talk a lot about “working out loud” in the Council.  Try it.  It just may delight you. 

Social Business on the Ground

When we set out to investigate case studies, we were looking for “slam dunk” examples where 2.0 initiatives were inextricably tied to business results. In effect, we wanted to begin to dispel the criticisms that e20 was just the next silly, narcissistic exploit to enter the enterprise on the heels of yet another consumer fad: web 2.0.

Well?  We didn’t find those “slam dunk” examples. But, neither did we find any “failures.” What we did find was a massive movement shaking the bedrock of enterprise as we know it. The enterprise plates are still firmly in place, but our investigation revealed tremors– sudden energy being released among the employee population that is poised to crack the foundation of business as we’ve known it.

Time and time again we heard, “This is the most important initiative I’ve ever worked on in my professional life.” There’s something chilling, something inspiring about the people and companies who are leading the charge toward reinventing themselves to become socially savvy. As you read through these profiles and cases, you’ll come to appreciate while all of these companies are still early in the process, they all are confident they will succeed in their long term goals.  Some are realizing early successes already.   The prevailing operational mission at present, however, is to succeed at catalyzing the “ideological reformation” at the root level of the organization that needs to take place before real business value can be extracted, measured, and fine-tuned.  It’s a bit of a Catch-22, and almost as maddening and dangerous as originally described in the novel that coined the phrase.

We will continue to track the progress of these early adopters.  Regardless where you are in the spectrum, we all succeed when every case succeeds.  We’d like to thank IBM and MIT’s Center for Digital Business for lending support and sponsorship to this series of cases and profiles. Special thanks to all @20adoption members who participated in the series.

Current profiles and cases are posted on The 2.0 Adoption Council web site.  Feel free to download at will.  We have a few more coming, as well.

The Chief Evangelist Officer – How does your CEO compare?

We have a wide range of experiences with executive support relative to adoption of 2.0 in the Enterprise.   Some of our members are ecstatic when their CEO blogs on an internal platform without first going through PR; some try to keep the initiative under the radar of the leading executives.  We’ve seen it all.

That said…

This video by member @ted_hopton‘s company, UBM, is the new standard-bearer.   For all of you battling for executive support, watch it and weep.  🙂

Of course, we all hate the fact UBM calls its socio-collaborative platform a Wiki, but we’ll take it.

Awesome job UBM team!