Business issues and the social web

I traveled to Buffalo, New York (yes, on purpose) last Friday to speak at the ASTD Niagara Chapter meeting about learning in the workplace through the social web.

There was a lot of energy and knowledge in the group. Instead of getting hung up on “what is Twitter?” type of  conversations (which I often get), we had conversations about bigger issues like control, privacy, standards, the role of L&D, knowing, and “why” (addressing what problem?).

I came away with this:

  • A business can not control the social web because employees are already using the very tools their employer wants to control. And, they’re using them to get work done, not to play Farmville.
  • The social web is not private. Once you create any type of content – a rating on Amazon, a blog, a comment – you’re privacy ceases to exist. However, the amount of privacy you want is somewhat within your control.
  • Fear (of loss of control and privacy) is best addressed by establishing standards for engagement and working with internal groups.
  • Understanding new roles is critical. Where can you be the most effective? Is it helping people find the right person or the right content? Is it helping people to access and retrieve information more efficiently?
  • Knowing is crucial…you don’t know what you don’t know. How is the work actually getting done?
  • Being able to articulate why the social web is right for a specific problem will get you needed resources. Don’t say “social.” Say collaborate, say communicate, say increase productivity, but don’t say social.

ASTD Niagara, thanks for having me. And, I must give a hat tip to my virtual cube mate Dave Ferguson for sharing some slides and ideas the night before the event. The photo in this post is from Dave’s presentation. It’s by LuluP on Flickr and represents Dave’s way of explaining things – in this case tagging. Thanks Dave.)

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