We all have the experience of using items in ways for which they were never intended. Sometimes this works great – a paper clip makes a perfect tool for pressing reset switches; a coin can make a handy screwdriver. Other times, it's a recipe for disaster – using my knees to control the steering wheel while unwrapping a drive-through burger. And then on occasion, things seem to be working just fine, but over time unfortunate unintended consequences begin to emerge.
I help run the IBM Redbooks social media presence (Facebook and Twitter). We recently adopted IBM Connections to manage tasks across our team. Before that, we managed our entire team through... calendar invitations. Along with the date and time of the next meeting, each calendar invitation contained meeting minutes, an agenda, and a spreadsheet attachment with important project details (monitoring schedule, IDs and passwords, and so forth).
Now yes, as a social media team, you'd think we'd know better. You'd think we'd recognize the perils of running a social business in a calendar application. But it was easy to adopt, and for a good while it mostly worked just fine. That was until some of those unintended consequences started to creep in.
Here are our Top 5 unintended consequences of running a social business with calendar invitations, and how an IBM Connections community saved us:
Who has that file?: Our trusty calendar invitation contained most of the information we'd need, but it was far from exhaustive. For example, we held a list of subject matter experts who could help get answers to questions from fans. The trouble was, that list was stored in a file on someone's computer. When I couldn't remember who the subject matter expert was for a question about the Emulex 10Gb Virtual Fabric Adapter (and it most certainly wasn't me!), I'd need to ask the person who held that list. With IBM Connections we store all common project information like this within a shared community.
Where did all the data go?: As the project information in the calendar invitation grew, we used the reschedule feature. Rescheduling a meeting invitation preserves all the existing information within it (creating a new meeting does not). One week, I declined the meeting invitation, and the invitation disappeared from my calendar completely! I had no access to all the important project information within it. With IBM Connections, I have access to our project information whenever I have access to a web browser.
Remind me of that URL again?: Social media is a growing domain, and soon a Facebook and Twitter presence were not enough. We added IBM Redbooks pages for LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. And before long I'd forget where everything was. The Bookmarks feature of our IBM Connections community shares these URLs across the entire team.
Have you got the latest copy, or have I?: Putting project information in a spreadsheet attached to a meeting invitation seemed like a good idea at the time – until the spreadsheet needed updating. We included a list of “Question of the Week” ideas in this spreadsheet. If I wanted to suggest a new Question of the Week, I'd need to find out who had the latest copy of the spreadsheet, ask that person to add my idea, and then hope the person remembered to reattach the spreadsheet to the meeting invitation. Using the Activities feature in our IBM Connections community has revolutionized this process. Each member of the community can add new Question of the Week entries to the Activity, see what other members have contributed, and keep track of which ideas have already been posted.
How do we get our new team members up to speed?: Over time, new people joined the team. They'd typically have a lot of questions. Questions that had previously been asked and answered by existing team members. Those conversations typically took place over email, and it was never easy to dig out the answer to a question asked six months ago. “I've got the answer to that in my mail archive... somewhere.” With Forums in our IBM Connections community, new members have access to all previous discussions. A quick read gets them up to speed on all the issues we've already encountered, and provides a valuable skills transfer asset. No more digging in mail archives.
Ultimately, we outgrew the calendar invitation approach. When we started out, this approach seemed fine - our team and scope were small. But we hadn't considered how the project would grow. Using IBM Connections from the start would have allowed us to accommodate this growth.
So that's our Top 5. I'm sure we're not the only ones finding unintended consequences in the way we use our calendar. What's your calendar story?
Martin Keen is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader in Raleigh, NC, USA. He has led the development of over 30 IBM Redbooks on topics including WebSphere, Business Process Management, and enterprise. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRTP.
Reimagine work in the cloud
Fri, Nov 21st 2014 6:12a Colleen Burns This week you heard about IBM Verse – a new cloud solution to help you re-imagine the way you work. We’re excited to be at the forefront of delivering these capabilities first in the IBM Cloud.
It’s easy to get started today, taking advantage of the latest capabilities from our social and collaboration cloud offerings.
We have some great new capabilities coming this month, designed to help you:
collaborate more effectively and securely with storage [read] Keywords: collaboration
Designing a Better Experience for a New Way to Work
Thu, Nov 20th 2014 9:12a Colleen Burns Designing a Better User Experience
Put the user first. It’s such a simple idea, but to come up with a truly user-friendly product is no simple feat. We all know this intuitively, based on all of the frustrating interfaces we deal with on a daily basis. It happens so rarely that it seems like some sort of alchemy when it does happen.
A big part of the problem is that too many tech companies in particular think that the more features they can pack into a product, the better. They don [read] Keywords: connections
KISS: Keep It Small, Stupid
Wed, Nov 19th 2014 9:12a Colleen Burns We are all accustomed to reading books and articles that reference history, be it in the form of mythology, old wives tales, ancient civilizations or breakthroughs of the past two centuries. So when I read Shane Snow’s book, Smartcuts, and heard him speak at the IBM Verse event in New York City, it was startling to hear him refer to transient, specific events from the past two years. For example, with an entire chapter of his book devoted to the fast rise of YouTube phenom Michelle Pha [read] Keywords: connections
Now We Really Can Work Smarter, Not Harder
Tue, Nov 18th 2014 10:18a Colleen Burns At today’s New Way to Work event in New York City, IBM’s Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, Information and Analytics Group, spoke of a new class of enterprises that are data-rich and analytically driven. These organizations are combining data and analytics with cloud, social and mobile technologies to transform the very way we work. This combination of technologies and the work of these organizations is leading to a new transformational moment, creating what Picciano calle [read] Keywords: connections
Our Ecosystem Speaks: Spotlight on Business Partners
Mon, Nov 17th 2014 12:19p Colleen Burns As in previous years, we are thrilled to highlight partner solutions in the Spotlight on Business Partners track. These sessions are some of the best examples of integration and interesting use cases from trusted, savvy partners.
Attendees to these sessions will:
learn about partner solutions that you could use; and
get inspired and learn how to integrate your own solutions to products within the IBM portfolio
A few examples of this innovation include Trilog’s [read] Keywords: connections
Excellence is never an accident: Building a smarter workforce
Fri, Nov 14th 2014 9:18a Colleen Burns Posting on behalf of Megan McNamee
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. -- Paul J. Meyer
In this incredible time of competing pressures—demand for profitable growth, financial market volatility, political uncertainty—finding and engaging the right employees in the right behaviors in the right job remains a critical component of how companies thrive. Business leaders a [read] Keywords: collaboration
Which email confession hits home for you?
Fri, Nov 14th 2014 8:18a Colleen Burns You know you're guilty. Hit reply all for no good reason. Emailed something to the wrong person. Not included the primary recipient. Missed an important email. Forgotten what you were working on because you have so many windows open. We've all done it. We need a new way to communicate. IBM is going to help you find a #newwaytowork. Codename: IBM Mail Next is mail like you have never imagined. Join us for this epic event at 11am ET on November 18. You will be among the first to learn how [read] Keywords: ibm
#20Questions with Leah Lawrence
Thu, Nov 13th 2014 8:19a Colleen Burns Meet Leah, User Experience and Visual Designer for IBM, who spends her days in the Austin Design Lab re-imagining how we design and experience our products and solutions. Recently Leah has been focusing on re-thinking something that has essentially remained the same for over 20 years: email! Get ready to learn how she sums up the Codename: IBM Mail Next experience to why the "Container Store" is her design inspiration. [read] Keywords: connections