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.
HIPAA in the IBM Cloud!
Wed, Oct 22nd 2014 8:15a Colleen Burns Cloud computing has matured dramatically in the years since IBM initially introduced social, mobile, meetings and mail cloud offerings.
Within the past two years alone, customers have reconciled many privacy and security concerns, and cloud adoption has soared. For IBM customers, this has been in part due to IBM’s cloud governance and controls at the center of our service delivery.
This is a true tipping point—where even companies in regulated industries are adop [read] Keywords: connections
Concrete Sunflowers May Bring Energy to Millions
Tue, Oct 21st 2014 9:12a Colleen Burns Did you know that concrete was invented by the Romans roughly 2,000 years ago? Think of the Pantheon, one of the most beautiful (at least to my mind) monuments in a city overflowing with stunning architecture. It was commissioned during the reign of the Emperor Augustus by Marcus Agrippa and its dome still holds the record as the largest ever built of unreinforced concrete. Yes, concrete.
I was thinking about concrete’s ancient origins when Gianluca Ambrosetti, head of research f [read] Keywords: connections
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Mon, Oct 20th 2014 10:12a Colleen Burns or, Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Data?
At work not too long ago I was looking for a particular statistic for a presentation. I found several relevant stats and perhaps not surprisingly, some of them contradicted each other. I was tempted to cherry-pick the stat that would fit best in the presentation, but my conscience wouldn’t let me take that easy way out. So I hunkered down for what I knew would be the arduous job of trying to determine which stat was considered the most [read] Keywords: connections
Thu, Oct 16th 2014 8:12a Colleen Burns Good afternoon, Bosses,
On today’s 56th anniversary of Boss’s Day I have a challenge for all you fearless leaders. Let’s call it: “Mission: Take Your Employees to Lunch.”
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the reworking of an effective workplace. You must select two of your team members to take to lunch – one of whom must be a millennial.
Once you have been seated at the café or restaura [read] Keywords: twitter
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We’ve already received some inspiring entries, [read] Keywords: connections
Brad Bird and the Shared Experience at the Heart of Movie Magic
Tue, Oct 14th 2014 9:18a Colleen Burns Readers of the Social Business Insights blog already know the power of sharing. Sharing information leads to efficiency; sharing expertise unlocks innovation; sharing data yields insights. In his TED@IBM talk “Dreaming Loves Company: Tomorrow’s Cinema,” Academy Award-winning writer and director Brad Bird explained how the shared experience lies at the heart of the magic of cinema. He was preaching to the choir as far as I, an avid movie-goer, was concerned, but it w [read] Keywords: connections
Trust in Transparency
Mon, Oct 13th 2014 8:11a Colleen Burns I did my luddite dad a favor and downloaded the latest weather app to his iPhone as he looked over my shoulder. I couldn’t believe his reaction when he saw me click “OK” to the following prompt: “Weather Would Like to Use Your Current Location.” It was as though I had just committed the most offensive crime known to man by exposing his whereabouts and intruding upon his privacy.
My dad immediately had me google how to disable the invasive l [read] Keywords: connections