The Power of 30: It Takes 30 Days and 30 People
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP email@example.com | | Tags:  ibm_redbooks keith_brooks ibm_connections connections
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Did you ever wonder how many man-hours and people it took for NASA to design the Apollo Lunar Orbit Rendezvous Module?
It took "more than one million man-hours of some 700 outstanding scientists, engineers, and researchers". (link)
In case you were wondering, "four thousand IBM employees, most of them from the company’s Federal Systems Division, built the computers and wrote many of the complex software programs that launched the Apollo missions and guided them safely to Earth." (Read more about IBM and the moon missions).
Why bring this up? Because not only did some of those efforts eventually trickle down to everyday systems, think about how much faster, one would hope, it could be done today. For example, SpaceX took 10 years to get to space properly and now they have the ability to return the US astronauts to space and the International Space Station.
Want to change the world? Start with your first 30 days. Executives are aware that their first 30 days mean everything to getting themselves ingrained in their new role. If you think about the effort to transform your business into a social business, it can be a daunting task. Unlike many other projects this one requires a sizeable entourage of testers to kick the tires.
If you can put 30 people on the task for 30 days that comes out to over 900 days, almost 3 years of effort -- and naturally no one would want to waste that time.
How do you pick the 30? Should they be line managers? Staff? Executives? Janitors? Sales people? Wait...janitors? Yes, I said janitors.
Why would we do this? Most likely yours are outsourced anyway, but if they are employees, this is your chance to get feedback on a solution that could possibly bring big benefits to your organization. Your janitorial staff knows more about your office than your HR does and their input could be quite productive. Plus they, in theory, interact with almost everyone in your company in one form or another. Is this a business benefit? It depends on the system you are putting in place and what one expects to gain from it.
IBM Connections could be used exclusively for internal or external purposes, or a mixture in between. Internally it is about making your world work smoother, faster and making it easier to save money but also earn more out of it. Your staff, from bottom to top, can do this, but you need to be all inclusive to get the full benefit. Yes, I understand, it is expensive to license every person. However it would cost not even 50 cents a business day per person, and at that cost, the reward and ROI is huge! I think so at least and so do these companies: Lowe's who spoke at Lotusphere 2012, TD Bank and many others.
Your 30 people need to be sharing people, not fiefdom builders or owners of silos. Profiles need to be filled in, data has to start being added and repeat the steps for the next 30 days. Practice makes perfect but it also leads to populated communities, wikis, files and activities. Am I moving too fast for you? Let's backtrack a second or two.
Profiles make the world go around. Profiles can be basic information, of course, but you want to expand the fields to include anything that would be specific to your company or industry. Ask who worked with a specific client, who has IT skills or speaks a foreign language or worked in an international location. The more information entered, the better off everyone will be, more importantly, the better off your project teams or succession planning. There is no limit once you get the basics done.
Once you have a profile, the next step is up to you. Start a community where you can store important documents or assign tasks (called activities) or begin with a blog or a wiki to help people gather information. The proactive pushing of notifications from the server to everyone means the second you post something new, anyone can see it and use it. Got new prices? Sales teams get updated instantly. Have new product snapshots, slides or videos for customers? They get an email and a link to come visit your postings immediately. Boss waiting on your expenses? There's a place for that too...and the boss gets a notification.
Take the time, play with everything you see. Be a kid again, for 30 days. On the other hand, you could continue doing what you have been doing.
Thirty days of communities, activities, wikis, files and it will seem like your whole world is inside of IBM Connections. Really, try it, you might like it.
*Read more about building daily habits
Keith Books specializes in Collaboration and Social solutions for Voicerite, an IBM Business Partner. Keith has spoken at SugarCon, Lotusphere, the View Admin conferences and other industry events on subjects around messaging and social leadership. Keith has written articles, books and blogs around IBM products and solutions for over 20 years.
Keith is an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader