I was reviewing my emails and various reports early one morning at the office. Whilst deep in thought about the day of meetings ahead, I was somewhat startled by a message that came up on my pc via the company’s internal MSN Messager along the lines of “Hey Sal, how’s it going?!”. I asked myself “who is ‘Johnny BB’ and why has he decided to rudely interrupt me in this rather informal manner?” I was not impressed and decided to ignore the message.
I found out the identity of the ‘annoying mystery MSN Messenger’ when I attended a board meeting later that day and the CEO asked me if I had received his message!
I have always felt uneasy about involving myself with overly-informal, social chit-chat at work. In particular those less-productive conversations that tend to eat-into valuable time because staying focused and ‘cutting through the ambiguity’ of creative environments is important if you are wanting to be ‘busy being effective’ rather than simply ‘busy’.
Having said this, I do think sharing ideas and knowledge is critical to the success of businesses such as the collaborative process of problem solving, which we all know creates competitive difference. Whilst this idea is nothing new, making use of social media applications to facilitate the sharing of knowledge is something that businesses have considered only recently but shied away from because of their ‘public’ nature according to Jim Rapoza’s article Labs@Work featured in eweek.
Jim reviews SAAS (software as a service) products Socialcast, Socialtext and Huddle as access-controlled ‘non-public’ alternatives to Twitter and Facebook that enable business users to share what’s on their mind, have special topic discussions and manage projects amongst colleagues. They mainly differ from IBM Lotus Notes, MS Exchange and MS Sharepoint because they have a micro-blogging ‘twitter-like’ function that executives can use to track ideas, themes and issues.