Who cares what I am working on?
Who cares what I have to say?
These questions were the gist of a comment left on my Microsoft and Microblogging post by Stuart Shaw.
I think Stuart hits on an important point, and it sheds some insight on why organizations attempting to embrace so-called 'Enterprise 2.0' or social collaboration that lead with simple status updates or microblogging certainly could face this issue.
If you think about corporate e-mail, the primary enterprise technology that microblogging and many other collaboration platforms are meant to supplant (or at least compement), this confusion and hesitation by some organizations and employees is understandable.
Consider the main categories of corporate e-mail message that a typical information worker receives and how they get dispatched. Fitting many of them in to the 'status update' paradigm is kind of silly. Now I know that there is much more to Enterprise 2.0 than the status update, but the culture of the status update is so prevalent in the 'social' world online, that it can often dominate the thinking in the enterprise, particularly among the rank and file workers that you are trying to reach.
E-mailed generic company announcements get deleted, lots of other emails are dismissed as unimportant, usually when you were copied on a long thread that you either are not interested in, or don't have any specific additional input towards. Most of the other emails, the ones that actually are important either consist of specific questions directed at very targeted people, or advance some kind of ongoing dialogue again with a discrete set of people.
And on and on. None of the typical corporate e-mail use cases really touch the 'What I am working on?' or 'What's Happening?' launching points that frame typical microblogging status updates.
Once an organization grows large enough such that people don't actually know everyone else personally, the idea of sending out a company wide e-mail essentially consisting of a 'status update' is pretty unusual.
And for many, if the message doesn't 'fit' into any of the familiar e-mail buckets, it can be easy to conclude that the message has no value, no one really cares about what I have to say, and to simply shrug and remain comfortable in the familiar tools and processes that have dominated workplace collaboration for that last 20 years.
So do the tools influence the messages themselves? Do they determine the kinds of messaging and information exchange that is 'acceptable'?
It does seem that we look at and assess new tools through that kind of a prism. If as a knowledge worker I only send/receive/evaluate a given set of messages, ones that support a defined process and reflect organizational norms, then it can be a significant switch to simultaneously adopt both brand new technologies and a new mindset and approach to communication and process.
The question I think many people (rightly) ask is, you have given me a new toy to play with, but I don't necessarily have anything new to say.