Companies invest in social platforms to involve their entire workforce and external collaborators in a cycle of change and creativity. Connections is like a canvas: ready to host the colors of this wider collaboration with very malleable tools. Today's post is at the heart of what I value the most: injecting creativity in the use of our social platform.
Is a blog necessarily monotone? With its personal journal format, some may think this is a boring format but it is not. A blog can be entertaining, informative, and inspiring. It can be more than a two way conversation happening sequentially. Here is an example. Last year, a friend sent me a Powerpoint containing over a hundred pictures of the most amazing places in the world... none identified. I recognized some but identifying the others was an impossible task for one. I ran an Advent calendar, crowdsourcing the pictures in a blog - "Please help Santa pick a place to rest after the Holidays... he received the following postcards without insight on where they come from". With the diversified background and cleverness that only a team can provide, we identified every place and created new bonds. Whether the pieces of your puzzle are words, concepts or images (as in this case), no challenge is too large for a team. With a little enthusiasm and imagination, blogs can bring people together.
Ideation blogs surface ideas that are most popular with a crowd. It's the triumph of the most ingenious ideas. Beyond its expected use of bubbling up the most popular ideas, what can it be used for? How about to reveal affinities? By asking worldwide account managers to vote or add to an ideation forum to represent their customer priorities, we defined our team's agenda for the year! I have also seen an ideation blog ingeniously used on a restaurant's Web site to allow its customers to rank their menu items. Aside from providing the restaurant great insight on their food for continuous improvement, I made the most of my visit thanks to the previous customers. Picking my meal from this ideation forum was much faster than reading a series of comments to sort it out!
Forums organize a discussion and questions by topic. Yet, it allows some disorder by pinning a topic or two for higher focus. Forums are great for brainstorming, for thinking with peers. We used forums to collect and share the insight from critical situations, gathering post mortems and lessons learned. To reinforce the learning across the globe, we organized friendly competitions in popular game formats (like Jeopardy and Family Feud), hereby inviting a second exploration of the content. We are using forums to collectively curate educational content - social learning. With its ability to flag questions answered, forums are the best to ask questions to a wider network when you are not sure who might be able to answer, providing you plan for a moderator to move along unanswered questions.
Wiki is the most structured of the collaboration tools, the most organized as it was originally created to support co-authoring and collective reuse. A hierarchy of pages and subpages, peer and child relationships, wikis also help draw mental maps of a topic. A third dimension, versioning, allows readers to travel through time and see how the knowledge morphed under collective action. I have used wikis to support collective writing, to assemble documentation and to produce dashboards. They are one of the most helpful social structure that merits a blog post on its own. I plan to go into more details in a future post.
Activities are guardians of recipes of success. Activities are made of comments, to dos (multiple levels of depth) and sections to group them logically. One of the best use of activities is to organize a project. Once completed, you can reflect on what worked and what did not, and create from it a template for reuse. It takes the guessing out of repeating success, especially practical for less frequent procedures. Activities are of great help to ramp up new hires or to build agility within a team, putting every chance of success on their side. I used activities to plan deliverables, to log activities and discussions, to track results. From a single drag and drop, it's a great way organize in a snap noteworthy information for future reference.
Beyond looking at these social tools included in Connections separately, you can also mix them for your needs. For instance, I used wikis and activities together to build a two part tool to help managers support career development. Because they are relatively static, activities provided the common steps for the professional to follow. The activities linked to sections of a more dynamic wiki for choices and suggestions. This wiki was crowdsourced with my peers and was updated as the year went by. So it was always current for the professional with the most recent discoveries of an entire team of managers. A perfect combinaison for the need.
When tied up by routine work, you can spend less time being creative. We don't meet people always through the same way, why should technology force us? A set of flexible tools in a social platform is important to stimulate creativity. In your social toolkit, which tool is your favourite to stimulate the creativity of your network? I would love to hear about it.