ITSinsider is Heading to… Paper.

Early this morning around 3am,  in the throes of insomnia, I finished listening to Ed Snowden’s interview with Kara Swisher. It was one of the many interviews he’s been giving about his new book, “Permanent Record.” Like Swisher, I honed in on his “romantic” attachment to the early Internet and what the space meant to him as a young adolescent, and perhaps what he still thinks it can be today, presumably, if people will just do the right thing and stop using their power for no good.

Oy. Good luck with that. I’m on #TeamSnowden at least in the same way Swisher is. At the very least, he succeeded in ratcheting up my interest in reading his book.

I started the ITSinsider blog in January 2006. To refresh your memories, that was before the first iPhone release. I had no idea what I was going to write about, nor did I have any idea what a blog was or how to do it. I only knew I had to write my way into remaking a career for myself after being a stay-at-home Mom for five years. Being out of the technology field for five years was like being in a cave for 50 years. The catch-up factor was ~10x. I struggled to become relevant in those early days. But, eventually I did. It’s amusing to read how I did that in the early entries on this blog.*

I found my footing in the dawn of the web 2.0 phenomenon that morphed into the “enterprise 2.0” movement. I’d like to think I helped shape that movement. Like the young Snowden, I had an idealistic, altruistic belief in the goodness of decent people to share and collaborate for a better world.  I encouraged hundreds of corporate professionals to attempt to “#changetheworldFTW.”** In their own ways, they did. I have receipts.

My former colleague and friend, Dion Hinchcliffe, recently presented at a digital workforce conference and announced to his audience that, “For the first time in human history, we are all connected.” And more importantly, he noted this milestone as, “An Unprecedented Power of Incalculable Value.”

I could not agree more with Dion. But maybe not for the same reason. I love seeing the enthusiasm on the social web for all things “digital workplace.” I love seeing my friends making inroads with these revolutionary concepts including collaboration, transparency, trust, and breaking down silos.

From the very beginning, although I believed that these new tools and philosophies would lead to accelerated innovation and profitability, privately I always hoped greater transparency would deliver a greater sense of responsibility. I hoped that as professionals had more views and access into the goings-on of the corporate machine, they’d begin to question upper level management decisions and their personal role in any harm their companies were committing in the pursuit of profit. That twang of guilt is the seed of real systemic change. In this way, I think about Snowden and other whistleblowers who’ve come forward.

More recently, I enjoyed learning that the employees of Facebook are using its social collaboration network, Facebook Workplace, to voice their dissent over the company’s policy to allow false advertising on its platform.

The Internet of 2019 headed into 2020 is a far different place than when I first wrote about it in 1984. The best education that came from those decades of web maturity was not learning about the technology, it was learning about humanity. It revealed who we are. The good, bad, and the ugly.

I’m no longer an “insider” in tech. I’m very much an outsider. I’m grateful to the field of technology for my long-tenured career and the many adventures it afforded me. This blog will now retire and, ironically, turn from 1s and 0s to paper. I will create a volume of books out of the 125K words of this blog, so I have my own “permanent record” of this exciting and important second wave of my career. I’ll put it on my bookshelf and look at it from time to time. Of course, you can buy a copy if you’d like.

Thanks for being a reader these many years. I’ve enjoyed writing for you here. You can find me writing today on Medium and on my personal blog. I’m looking for new outlets too. I won’t be writing about about tech, but I’ll still be writing for many more years to come.

Namaste.


*In reviewing my early posts, I realize I have a lot of men to thank for my comeback in tech. That’s a tough circle to square. I highly recommend every woman in tech my age near retirement read Danah Boyd’s Great Reckoning speech. In the ways I was complicit and aligned with the patriarchy in tech to advance my career, I have regrets. I’m with Danah. Let’s change the norms.

**That’s change the world for the win.  A win for humanity, ‘k guys?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Working out Loud for a Better World – Part I

working out loudIt was about six years ago that the concept of “Working out Loud” started picking up traction in the blogosphere. It was an easy way to describe the contagious, fun way to work in a more transparent, generous, and authentic way.  Of course, you needed a platform to work out loud on, but the tribe who was following this new mode of corporate conversation, communication, and collaboration was already well aware of the power of enterprise social networks.

My friend, Bryce Williams of Eli Lilly, an inaugural member of The 2.0 Adoption Council and later a Change Agent as well, had attended a panel at the 2010 Enterprise 2.0 conference, and heard the term used loosely to describe this new phenomenon.  Bryce, a regular blogger, then remixed the phrase to create an entirely new way to look at working collaboratively in a large enterprise social network.  His original blog post describes his thinking.

Of course, the purpose of the Council in those days was to accelerate learning and sharing, so it wasn’t long before others started remixing and re-purposing what Bryce had started.  The most notable WoL champion today is my hero John Stepper who left his investment bank day job to strike out on his own mission to spread the love of Working out Loud to the ends of the earth.  John’s book, Working Out Loud: For a Better Career and Life has become the revered playbook for this fast-growing movement. (There’s a web site too.)

We’ve been saying in the Change Agents Worldwide network, that we can “feel the tide is turning.”  Last week was international #WOLweek, and while scanning the post-election news, I serendipitously stumbled upon this incredible photo on Twitter:

This 8 x 12 foot sign was literally affixed to an office building in Sri Lanka. Who would have imagined in those early days, circa 2009, that this could possibly result from a group of like-minded, random people who came together to improve the world with enterprise social networking technology?  I could.  

The big story behind the phenomenon of this worldwide movement is just starting to unfold. Of course, talk of a possible Slack IPO doesn’t hurt. But truthfully, Slack was late to this game (2013) and had been working somewhat independently of the community that fueled the organic adoption of social tools. The way had been paved by many that came before Slack took off.  For instance, McAfee’s seminal piece in MIT SMR is already a decade old.

I’m just as excited as ever about the possibility of enterprise social tools to improve life on the planet.  In fact, I kicked off my social impact startup, Big Mountain Data, using Yammer. Part II of this post is next that explains that.

Welcome to the future.