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Friday, August 6, 2010

It doesn't matter what you say...

it's what you do that counts...

Jane Hart is trying to get a little campaign going for why social media should be allowed in the workplace.

I am a fan of informal (social) learning.

BUT. Today I agreed that we would shut off access to Facebook at our firewall! What a hypocrite I am

We have been looking into a number of system issues this week and our event management suite has been running very slowly.

It turns out that a number of my staff had been using the thin client application on which our system is presented to get round the group wide restrictions on the Internet. Essentially although Facebook is blocked at the firewall for the whole group, they had cleverly found a back door.

This showed up on the traffic reports which spiked at lunchtime.

Having found the problem our IT people deleted over 7GB of temporary Internet cookies from the server allocated a little more virtual memory and suddenly it's like we have a whole new application.

So maybe I shouldn't be allowed to lend my support to Jane's campaign. But in my defence people can still see LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, Flikr, Google Docs, Google Reader, Ning, Blogs etc. So it's not all bad.

The 10 reasons not to use social media that Jane is responding to are:

  1. Social media is a fad.
  2. It's about controlling the message.
  3. Employees will goof off.
  4. Social Media is a time waster.
  5. Social media has no business purpose.
  6. Employees can't be trusted.
  7. Don't cave into the demands of the millennials.
  8. Your teams already share knowledge effectively.
  9. You'll get viruses.
  10. Your competition isn't using it, so why should you?

Someone else can take up cudgels on number one and provide stats for the companies who use it. Number two is the job of the IT department. Number three is so absurd is hardly bears repeating. Numbers 4,5,6, 7 & 8 are all the same point poorly reformulated. If your employees goof off it's your fault as a manager; either give them something more interesting to do, motivate them, accept an element of goofing as part of life or find people who don't goof off. Number 9 is naive in the extreme, anyone who thinks they can control information has no job in management. And as for number 10, well that can't be answered just yet, only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Field of dreams...

"If you build it, they will come", is the death knell of many a self obsessed business model.

I have been wondering this week why so many people persist in paying significant amounts for something pretty, polished but ultimately irrelevant when it comes to workplace learning when they could have somethings (but admittedly not all) much more relevant for free or close to free.

Why do fully grown adults still fall for, "LOOOK! Shiny!!"?

Is the issue with social learning and open source solutions that we don't place enough emphasis on the cost of engagement? The cost of getting the horse to the water. Ultimately if you can get a horse into a classroom or onto an e-learning course you can shut the door either literally or figuratively and leave it at that. A tick goes into a box on the LMS and that's that.

We get so enthusiastic about all the things that the horse can do (I know I'm wringing the life out of this analogy) that we fail to get it there in the first place.

Would it be better to start by requiring a budget of £30k pa to cover staff time to prompt, provoke, post and other things beginning with p? Rather than focusing on the open source and free nature.

Or do we take the first law of Russian economics in the 1990's, "If you can't sell something, quadruple the price". Because what people don't pay for, they don't value...