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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Continuing on the topic of crafting communication around change, some proposals will require a showdown for participants to directly wrestle with a new idea. Resolving concerns requires a lot of up-front preparation, and being open to negotiation.

Anthropologist Angeles Arrien identified four universal rules for effective communications, which could be considered to come into play here. Essentially, they involve risk and influence, but not total control:

Show up and choose to be present

Pay attention to what has heart and meaning

Tell the truth without blame or judgment

Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome

As a change instigator, having had time to prepare will help you remain in control of one thing – your own demeanor. Composure, as my acquaintance Mary Pool used to say, is power.

That power includes the ability to lower anxiety in others, who may be provoked since the idea of change causes discomfort. The more prepared, respectful, and unruffled you can be, the greater likelihood of ruling the day.

Although most people dislike confrontation, Buy-In authors John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead encourage welcoming objections so they can be resolved.

Their tips, primarily for meetings, were summarized in an Amazon.com comment by management consultant Robert Morris:

  • Those who oppose an idea should have the opportunity to explain their objections.
  • Their participation in the discussion should be welcomed, and treated with respect.
  • Before responding to an objection, offer reassurance that you understand it. Then offer a response that is direct, relevant, crystal clear, and sensible.
  • Over time, win opponents’ minds with logic and evidence and their hearts with respect.
  • Maintain frequent and cordial contact with opponents whom you respect; meanwhile, keep an eye on the few attackers who are potentially disruptive.

Although these tips are aimed for public meetings, they can be adapted to moves within an organization. For instance, tracking opinion correlates to taking climate surveys of employees’ moods.

As to considerations about what should be proposed, and who should do it, I offer a couple of parting words of advice.

I have learned through starting a press club that surveying people about what activities they want does not correlate to what they choose to participate in, after all. A better indicator of likely choices comes from modeling the experiences of similar organizations.

Meanwhile, more important than precise wording is who communicates the change, and in what form. Audiences will form an opinion that rests largely on the impressions created by the messenger and the delivery.

The final installment deals with reinforcing desired behavior once agreement has been reached.

 

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In lieu of an ending comment, today I’m opening with a lyric I caught the other day that indicated the digital age becoming, well, lyric – it was Peter Yorn singing, “I googled you in quotes and got no results,” which I found bemusing.

Socializing over the use of social media:

Speaking of getting energized by interaction, at the latest Social Media Breakfast – East Bay, a closing conversation about extrapolating guidance from past emerging technologies seemed to fire up the 20-plus participants present from around the bay.

Jen McClure of the Society for New Communication Research had presented results of a variety of studies about best practices among corporations (http://sncr.org/2007/12/08/research-educational-services/).

Adopting best practices seemed to leave attendees feeling somewhat uncertain about socializing the use of social media within an organization. The meeting’s co-organizer, Shel Holtz, said he particularly likes IBM’s social media guidelines (http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html).

Overall, the advice was to make employees feel safe by providing guardrails, not rules, while offering training and mentorship if desired.

I’ve always believed social media needs to be integrated into an existing communications program and serves as an extension to that – sort of like the way a car gets you somewhere quicker than walking. Ideally, you will have something of value to share! One measure would be if your posts are picked up and retweeted, or if the twitterstream is recommended by others using the #ff follow Friday tag.

Someone commented that some of the current social media issues in organizations are extrapolations of adaptation of past new technologies, such as email usage. That seemed like a good approach to lowering the barrier for making the adoption comfortable for employees and organizations.

When it comes to community moderation, I had been wondering about handling comments that are not customer-service issues. It’s been well-established that social media channels create opportunities to demonstrate responsiveness to concerns by stepping in to troubleshoot problems for customers when snafus are raised (similar to my friend’s serendipitous luck in having help finding lost luggage after she tweeted about her concern).

What about cases, say, of a Facebook fan questioning organizational directions, or hijacking the focus of the page?

It seemed to me the pre-existing analogies could be a public speaker’s need to handle a heckler, as well as dialogue between executives and employees within an organization, that serves to clarify decisions and hear concerns.

A pseudo-heckler, in the two-sided nature of discussion online, has about an equal voice to the speaker sponsoring the page. For handling vocal detractors, a couple of approaches come to mind. Communities tend to self-police, so another community member may chide the person. The analogy there might be someone shushing a loudmouth at the same table during a live performance. Or, a simple acknowledgement, such as during public comments at a local government meeting, could suffice to keep lines of communication open while not veering far off-topic.

Borrowing from an internal communications perspective, pointing a vocal online community member to resources that explain the organization’s stance could be compared to responding to an employee comment at a workplaceTown Hall-style meeting.

The important point of course is to join the conversation and have something thoughtful and respectful to share – building relationships by keeping the energy of interaction flowing.

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Remember the days when the World Wide Web was compared to a library containing books all laying on their sides with no indexing system?

Now increasingly sophisticated search provides valuable context for the next phase of our wired world, says John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Speaking at NextTech in Mt. View, he expressed hope of bypassing our current bottleneck in which data expansion outstrips computing capability. (Data has been doubling every 14 months; processing and storage, 18 – 24 months.) He anticipates efficiencies in handling the data will emerge, enabling, in 8 – 10 years, a Digital Self.

He predicts we’ll feel naked without it. And in just 2 – 5 years, he envisions computers will have facial expressions as well as language.

Then and now:

1) Web 2.0 was about read/write/play
2) Web 3.0 is about video, iTV, the geosocial Web, augmented reality, virtual worlds and mobile

The future, as we know it:
3) Web 4.0 will be the semantic Web

Today’s usage observation: Remember “data” are plural!

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I’ve been busy helping an interactive agency reengineer some processes and keeping track of our evolving field.

One of the advantages of living in the Silicon Valley area is hearing from experts here. The other night I attended an event at the Computer History Museum (which, coincidentally, my friend’s in-law runs).

The invitation-only event provided a future scan, and was put on by technology recruiter Dice as it gears up a new social-network interface.

Harry McCracken, called the #1 techie-to-follow on Twitter, obligingly ran down a list of his educated hunches about what’s in store:

1) Mobile (one of my faves) – the new third-generation standard, Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is billed to allow seamless access to any multimedia content anywhere with quicker, more efficient transmission. LTE will start to matter toward the end of next year and require new devices
2) ePaper will become more flexible and interactive with improved battery life to boot.
3) 3-D is coming to TV with some channels becoming completely 3-D. Although there are no standards yet, some gaming console software is written with 3-D in mind.
4) Fuel cells may appear in conjunction with consumer electronics in five years or so. Toshiba has an external charger now. Imagine a laptop operating with on-board power for 40 hours . . .
5) Augmented reality, which overlays the real world with digital information, is also imminently spreading. For instance, Yelp, where consumers review businesses, can potentially add GPS data to overwrite the physical information in front of you. One application for layering the web over the physical world? A full-size keyboard projected from a phone.
6) The cloud – data will live online to be accessible from anywhere
7) Wireless power, like the Palm Pre uses with inductive charging. In about 10 years, perhaps a laptop inside a case near a recharging station could recharge without physical contact.
And last, #8: Voice recognition will be possible with advances in computational power, Now it requires sending the information to a server – with Nexis One, emails can be dictated . . .

Other insights for future posts!

In keeping with closing with an observation, one mixed-up usage of language I somehow recall fondly was seeing a writer inadvertently write about “fermenting” revolution instead of “fomenting”. The phrase did paint a dynamic mental picture!

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The real and the virtual merged in some sense the other day on a social media-inspired trip.

I was taking BART into San Francisco the other evening for a holiday social event for the San Francisco-Silicon Valley Social Media Club.

The rail station was plastered on each side of the passenger platform with bright blue posters advertising the nano Flip camera — about 50 on each side, and that was all I saw advertised.

It felt like being immersed in a convergence of an actual ‘superhighway’ (well, a rail line) and a marketing blitz pushing a digital emergence.

Fair enough. Then, exiting the station back home, I glanced up to see a poster promoting an art college’s top tweets on Twitter. That coincidental sighting of a second digital technology splash made the excursion seem even more like whatever I and others are doing in a particular place could be likely to revolve around serving a virtual space.

At the  event itself, happily, people focused on mingling directly and digital devices were scarce, aside from taking a cell phone camera photos.

. . .

Speaking of devices, I heard of one convenience-inspired use of an iPhone the other day — someone I met bypasses using a copy machine and just takes camera-phone photos of financial documents.

. . .

It’s interesting to watch the emergence.

. . .

On a whole different topic of observation, it is also mildly amusing sometimes to spot drifts in usage. A case in point is when piquing interest becomes either peaking (like a zenith) or, even, peeking interest (like catching a peep of someone’s interest – ?)

If this were the New Yorker, I could end with a wry remark about the slip-up. But perhaps yours are even better?

//

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Word of Mouse

Somehow it all comes down to trust. My neighbor and fellow IABC member Shel Holtz was commenting at today’s second East Bay Social Media Breakfast that a dozen years ago the research emphasis there was on topics such as these . . . on the linkage between that quality and business communications approaches. (more…)

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