An interesting thing happened on my work laptop recently. Skype disappeared. Outlawed, banned, relegated to the scrapheap of history. It is, apparently, deemed unnecessary for my needs. It turns out that our preferred collaboration tool of choice is Lync. So everything else has gone. Which is all well and good, except that nobody asked me my opinion first, and i’m the one collaborating with it. If they had, this is what i’d have told them:
We need some established, core technology: we need to surround that with layers of semi formal, social technology, and we need to maintain space for new technology. This space for innovation and play should be owned by the community, not distilled out from a technical base.
Why? Because it’s the connection that’s important, not the technology, because one size does not fit all, because informal technology fosters social learning and, most importantly, because in the Social Age the hierarchies of communication are subverted by the desire to communicate. And where there’s a desire, there’s a way. There’s no way you can bring all your conversations into one space, and the very act of trying will kill the conversation. But in the Social Age, the conversation is what counts: it’s where i take the knowledge and, alongside my communities, i create the meaning. And it’s the meaning that makes me (and the organisation) agile.
I should point out that i have every sympathy with our (and any) IT team: keeping a fleet of laptops on the road, along with the chilled rooms of servers and antiquated fleet of Blackberries, whilst dealing with my numerous inane queries about how i’ve broken something must be an unenviable task. It’s just that the mindset of control is outdated. It’s not just about Bring Your Own Device. It’s about Bring Your Own Community, and my community is agile. If i want to engage, i need to be agile too.
It was Beth that introduced me to Skype Coffees. Fill the kettle, boil the water, filter the coffee, log in to Skype, and away you go. Skype coffee is what you do when you can’t catch up over a real coffee, which for Beth and I is most of the time, as she lives in Manilla and I don’t.
Now, i could have a conversation with her about using Lync, or we could even go retro and use the ‘telephone‘, but that’s not the point. Our communication is about content, about story, about curiosity and about sharing. In the last week Beth has sent me two articles that have been relevant (in line with Harold Jarche’s PKM model, Beth always adds value to what she curates!)
Sam’s been challenging me too: Vine is a video micro blogging tool that lets you create six second loops (now owned by Twitter) that i had initially dismissed for organisational learning. But after our conversation last night (via Voxer, an asynchronous walkie talkie App on the iPhone) i’ve tried it again today. You can see the results if you download the Vine App and search for me by name!)
Informal technology can power social learning: the space is less important than the conversation.
I have two phones: my work phone and my personal one. On my work one, i can’t send pictures. Why? I have no idea: sharing is a key trait of social leadership, so i need technology that lets me share. I’m not filling my day circulating pictures of amusing cats dressed as Darth Vader: i typically take photos of things i’m reading, designs i’m proofing, things that challenge me and circulate them to people who may find them relevant. Social behaviours in the Social Age.
Our organisational view of technology needs to be agile: no longer will we be procuring technology or systems to last us for five years. Instead, we will be using boutique offerings that speak to each other closely that support our performance in the moment, that make us agile. It’s the social way.