No iPad in the Bathroom

Recently I participated in a high-level discussion hosted by HNi Insurance. Perhaps 20 owners of transportation and logistics companies were present. One participant, Joe, told us the story of the urinals in his company. "It's the best place for me to get information from my drivers about what is going on within the organization, and it's the best place for me to update them. I know they'll be there, so I use the urinal to communicate with them. If I write the information on the wall that I want them to know, or hang it there, they'll see it." This Joe runs 100 drivers around the country every day--no small feat. His company urinal is his social media.

Everyone in every workplace, everywhere in the world, every day, goes to the bathroom. More and more, social media is the one thing everyone in every workplace does, every day. In fact, your employees are using social media while they are in the bathroom, because you prevented them from doing it at their desk when you blocked Facebook. So they do it on the crapper with a device that fits in their pocket.

The question is not "How do we stop people from using social media?" or even, "How do we stop people from using social media in the bathroom?" The question needs to go the other way--not from the company into the bathroom, but from the bathroom into the company.

Here's a new question:

"How do we make the story about what our company does every day something that people would want to share with others?"

Fundamentally, everyone wants to tell stories. Every single human being is capable of telling stories, and does so, throughout life, as soon as the first language is acquired and thereafter until death.

Every job involves storytelling. Engineers on the shop floor tell stories about the machines with numbers. Customer service reps tell stories about their customers, who tell stories about the customer service reps to their customers. Executives tell stories about the past, present, and future, and board members suspend their disbelief for at least a third of the conversation. Sales reps tell stories about customers to other reps, their sales manager, the vice president of sales, and other customers. Marketing people tell stories about the executive's vision of the future, and hope the vice president of sales was in the meeting that day.

Knowing that this is true, and knowing that people will do what they need to do to tell those stories--up to and including an extended crap session--means that resisting this is futile. It's stupid. Give up. Control is a waste of your time: your mission is more interesting than whatever control you exercise over it, and your mission is the only thing your company does that will inspire your people to tell stories about it.

(Check back in a week for part two of this story.)

An Interview with a Cloud Tool - Dropbox

 The decision to bring a new technology into your company isn't easy. What is it? How do you tell people about it? How can it help? In this series, we interview a few key cloud applications we like a lot. An Interview with Dropbox


What is your mission?

Dropbox makes storing and sharing files virtually a breeze.

How do you make my life easier?

With Dropbox all files can be accessed anywhere there is Internet. Folders can be shared between people or kept private. Dropbox also acts as a secure backup for all the documents, with a great undelete feature. It can also be installed locally to insure that any files in a particular directory are always synchronized with the account.

Do you save my company money or time?

Dropbox saves companies a lot of time and money by eliminating the need for backups, by allowing for easy document, photo and file sharing and by making it easy to accomplish all these tasks. 

Are there other similar tools I could use?

A number of companies including industry giants Microsoft and Yahoo have tried to do something similar, but none of them provide such an easy to use intuitive, reliable and free interface today.

What makes you so awesome?

Dropbox literally takes a few minutes to configure and works by dragging and dropping files and folders. 

In 140 characters or less tell me why I should use you.

If you want your files safe, secure, accessible and sharable you want Dropbox.

An Interview with a Cloud Tool - Yammer

The decision to bring a new technology into your company isn't easy. What is it? How do you tell people about it? How can it help? In this series, we interview a few key cloud applications we like a lot. An Interview with Yammer


What is your mission?
Yammer is the way to have hallway interaction in a virtual workplace.
How do you make my life easier?
Yammer gives us the flexibility to talk instantly to the whole company, a particular department, or just individuals, one short idea at a time. Unlike e-mail it allows us to have messages that are visible to the whole company if we so choose, even if they are communicated between the individuals. Perhaps more importantly, Yammer is a way to interact rather than talk at people, because people can easily respond to one another. In this way, Yammer is more like chat or instant messaging than it is like email.
Do you save my company money or time?
Yammer allows the whole team to be aware of the conversations if they choose to be aware of them, while ignoring them if they choose to do so. It is much more effective then including everyone on cc in every e-mail. It saves a lot of time since it cuts down on e-mail volume tremendously, allows people to voice their thoughts at nobody in particular and feel as a part of community almost instantly.
In addition, Yammer can save money and time by reducing the need for regular update meetings. By cultivating a culture of sharing task and project updates through Yammer, the status meeting can instead be used to solve problems that are preventing work from being completed.
Are there other similar tools I could use?
Twitter and Facebook have similar microblogging capabilities, but unlike Yammer do not restrict the communication to one domain.  This allows for greater privacy and security of communication. Also, yammer is not quite as restrictive in the post lengths, which means that people who are used to e-mail will have a longer adaptation period before they learn to keep their messages short, but allows for the flexibility of writing slightly longer messages if needed. 
What makes you so awesome?
Yammer is free and it has cut down the need for e-mail communication by 80% while increasing the quantity and quality of effective internal communication. It is an intuitive tool that can be learned quickly. Yet, it is powerful enough to get the job done.
In 140 characters or less tell me why I should use you.
Yammer - the way to have water cooler and hallway conversations about work status that finally include the whole company, even the remote locations.

An Interview with a Cloud Tool - Prezi

The decision to bring a new technology into your company isn't easy. What is it? How do you tell people about it? How can it help? In this series, we interview a few key cloud applications we like a lot. What would Prezi say if you could talk to it? 

What is your mission?

My mission is to put fun and creativity back in to presentations.
How do you make my life easier?
Instead of slides, I give you an infinite plane, with infinite zoom. You put your big picture--and all the little details--into me. Then, you tell me how to explore your big picture, and zoom into the details when you want. By doing this, I make it easier for you to demonstrate, present, and share complex ideas with people. I can help you draw pictures more clearly by arranging your ideas the way you think of them. While you are giving your presentation, my simple interface makes it really easy to annotate your talk--so when your audience asks questions, you can update me on the fly without even thinking about it. If someone asks you a question, and you need to explore a different part of me, or go 'off track' in your established agenda, I can zoom out and zoom right back.  
I'm a very simple and intuitive tool. I can be learned quickly. Almost anyone can learn how to use me in a few hours of practice.
Do you save my company money or time?
If you sell things that are complex, I can make them dazzling. If you use me to explore your complex product or service with your customers--instead of just showing up and throwing up with a standard presentation--I can make your sales cycle take less time. That means more money, right?
Are there other similar tools I could use?
There are two other tools that I'd consider friends. One of them is Ahead. Ahead is more complex than I am, but in some ways more powerful. If you have a designer's skills, Ahead might be a better tool for you.
What makes you so awesome?
I am an exciting online presentation tool that makes it easier to think, share and express non-linear concepts. Tools like PowerPoint use slides, and are linear. But people aren't linear. I work the way people think. My canvas gives you the flexibility of looking at multiple ideas at once to see how they are connected or to zoom in to the specifics and show the details. 
How does the Bucket Brigade use you?
They use me to present almost all of their ideas. For instance, James has made over 100 copies of me so far. He shows me to new clients, existing clients, partners, and uses me to organize his thinking. The Bucket Brigade also uses me when they do live presentations on various topics to a larger audience--and even when they want to send a proposal to a client. I make it easier for the Bucket Brigade to explain what it does. 
In 140 characters or less tell me why I should use you.
I will help you make jaws drop while you explain complex non-linear ideas, help get you more questions from your audience, and help integrate your notes into your presentation on the fly.

YPO Meeting Notes 1-12-10 Social Media Presentation Hosted by Beer Capitol, Waukesha WI

Focus: Save money and create value by leveraging internal culture and social media technology.
Problem: We have creative people, but we need technology that supports a path of least resistance to creative thinking and idea sharing.
E-mail is the primary tool of most professionals, but it's antiquated. (invented in 1960, this is a millenia in tech years)
Copies saved on your computer, servers abroad, and on the PC of the recipients
Duplication - time invested finding and recording new data.
Version Control - time invested sorting and reconciling disparities in versions.
More overhead hardware/HR/energy costs for supporting e-mail.
Spam blocking (wasted compu-cycles and software license costs)
Mobil support license costs
Old paradigm Vs New Paradigm
4 Walls Vs Cloud
Internal Vs Public
Business application of social media and cloud computing
What are the top 5 questions you get asked as a business leader?
What are the top 5 questions you ask each week?
Where are the answers to these questions?
Social media allows these Q's and A's to be available on demand, more quickly and with less effort than our old paradigm
Collaborative benefits of social media and web based solutions
Increased efficiency of the communication and collaboration due to real time content management.
Smaller, more easily consumable data that is succinct. (yammer?, google docs)
Green infrastructure from a marketing perspective. (outsourcing to green data-centers)
Tangible benefits of social media and web based solutions
Ease of integration
Open standards
Lower database overhead and administration costs.
Green infrastructure from a financial perspective