Leverage Special Purpose Social Software

 
 
By Ross Mayfield  |  Posted 2009-05-08 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tactic No. 5: Leverage special purpose social software

There are bloggers who are replacing e-mail with social software successfully. It's not just about reducing e-mail, but utilizing Web sites for communication efficiency and effectiveness (because of their focused structure). LinkedIn is a better tool for referring new contacts. Dopplr is great for sharing travel plans. Flickr for sharing photos. Delicious for links.

As with private work spaces, these Web sites might create new, separate inboxes for you to manage. Ironically, for those who don't use advanced tools such as dashboards and newsreaders, the e-mail inbox becomes a place that notifies you about communications in other places that you go to for good reason. And that lets e-mail stick to what it does best.

In summary

I don't take the extreme position that e-mail is wholly unproductive. The issue isn't the cost of e-mails but how to increase employees' return by working together better. A major contributor to e-mail overload is broken business processes. When an environment changes, business processes fail to adapt, causing exceptions. We don't have good tools and practices for resolving these exceptions, let alone learning from how we resolved them so we can keep inputs, processes and outputs up to date. Instead, we follow the path of least resistance, through e-mail.

Learning is lost in private inboxes. In their book "The Only Sustainable Edge: Why Business Strategy Depends on Productive Friction and Dynamic Specialization," co-authors John Hagel III and John Seely Brown not only identify that most employee time is not spent executing process, but handling exceptions to process-and those exceptions are the greatest sustainable opportunity for innovation and adapting to turbulent markets.

Eugene Eric Kim, founder and executive director of a think tank devoted to improving collaboration and knowledge management, says there is "no such thing as collaboration without a shared goal." With every group with which you regularly communicate, one of your goals should be to increase communications efficiency and effectiveness.

Without these shared goals and practices, behavior will not change. And with the new technologies available today, you have the opportunity to transform communication habits into collaborative best practices.

 Ross Mayfield is co-founder, Chairman and President of Socialtext. Prior to Socialtext, Ross served as vice president of marketing for a Fujitsu spinout, and as CEO of an enterprise risk management software company. Ross also co-founded and served as president of RateXchange, a leading B2B commodity exchange for telecom. Ross served as the marketing director of the largest, privately-held telecommunications group in Eastern Europe, and was the internal lead manager of their initial public offering. Ross also founded an ISP, a Web design company, and has served on a number of advisory boards of high-tech startups.

Ross is a former advisor to the Office of the President of Estonia and began his career in the non-profit sector. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Los Angeles and completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) program of the Anderson School of Business. A noted blogger and industry expert, Ross is a serial and social entrepreneur. He blogs at http://ross.typepad.com. He can also be reached at ross.mayfield@socialtext.com.



 
 
 
 
Ross Mayfield is co-founder, Chairman and President of Socialtext. Prior to Socialtext, Ross served as vice president of marketing for a Fujitsu spinout, and as CEO of an enterprise risk management software company. Ross also co-founded and served as president of RateXchange, a leading B2B commodity exchange for telecom. Ross served as the marketing director of the largest, privately-held telecommunications group in Eastern Europe, and was the internal lead manager of their initial public offering. Ross also founded an ISP, a Web design company, and has served on a number of advisory boards of high-tech startups.Ross is a former advisor to the Office of the President of Estonia and began his career in the non-profit sector. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Los Angeles and completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE) program of the Anderson School of Business. A noted blogger and industry expert, Ross is a serial and social entrepreneur. He blogs at http://ross.typepad.com. He can also be reached at ross.mayfield@socialtext.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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