Following on from my post on the weekend about Wikipatterns, and thanks to Jeremy Thomas, I heard about Chuck Hollis who is driving the adoption of social media at EMC and sharing his experiences through his A Journey In Social Media blog. If you’re looking for a case study of large organisation trying to make the transition to Enterprise 2.0, then this work in progress is worth reading from the start.
Now, EMC provides a range of information management related services and products, including Documentum (for enterprise content management) and eRoom (what they describe as a “Web-Based Collaborative Workspace for Distributed Teams“). However, Hollis isn’t using EMC‘s own solutions – instead he’s opted to use Jive’s Clearspace. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about collaboration software vendors who don’t use their own tools, but don’t jump to conclusions about his reasons as he makes a point that really caught my attention:
“We didn’t see this as a document-centric problem. We think social media is all about communication, not creating vast repositories of stuff. So we weren’t interested in Lotus, or Sharepoint, or even EMC’s eRoom and Documentum products. We know we’ll need stronger content management capabilities in the future, but we don’t expect Jive to provide that in their product, only the ability to integrate with stronger back-end content management and workflow platforms.“
There is a lot in this paragraph we could discuss, but for now I want to zero in on a point I’ve made on many occasions about form vs function. I like the fact that he identified their functionality need as communication, rather than that they needed “blogging” or a “wiki” (i.e. form). And he is right, neither eRoom or Documentum are designed to support that so he picked an off the shelf product that would. Hollis explores document-centric versus social collaboration further on his other blog and after describing the evolution from transactional collaboration to the failure of first generation knowledge management comments:
“I think that the document-oriented collaboration vendors are a good starting point, but they’re going to have to re-think their user interaction model substantially using social media concepts: blogs, wiki, forums, chat, etc.“
“I’ve seen some eRooms that have been built and used by our Documentum brethren. Some of them are vibrant, participatory and interactive places in their own right. A few are excellent examples of SM and community principles at work.
But that same tool, in the hands of the rest of EMC, turned into a document dumping ground.“
He then offers us eight lessons from that eRoom experience:
- Users of a tool have to be helped to learn to use the tool in the intended manner;
- No private spaces;
- No avatars or pseudonyms;
- No explicit guidelines regarding conduct;
- Some communities are inherently temporary in nature;
- Not everyone will get to build a community just because they asked to;
- Lurking is free; and
- Don’t get heavy-handed on taxonomy and classification.
Well, don’t you think those are pretty good patterns for both document-centric and social collaboration?
Thinking about this I also have a sneaky suspicion that, as with eRoom and other similar collaboration tools, past and present, that have spiraled out of control, we will also find that adopters of social media tools are going to experience the same disappointments if they don’t follow patterns like this and those identified in the Wikipatterns book. But don’t forget – this anti-pattern is a collaboration challenge, not a solution specific challenge.