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Thank you David. You know I was a little apprehensive about attending this year at SXSW. Its my second year here, and I had such an amazing, inspiring experience here last year, I was worried that maybe this year would not live up to the lofty visions that I had built up in my head. Luckily, those fears turned out to be unfounded. Its been an amazing conference so far, and I just want to say that Im honored to be up here presenting to you with an inspiring group of my peers. Over the past few days Ive seen and heard presentations that have challenged my thinking and inspired me to refine my outlook in so many ways. [Contact slide] Now, we dont have a lot of time, and I have lot to say, so if any of you would like to talk at length about this topic, please reach out to me on twitter or email, or just buy me a beer tonight if you find me around town. My contact info is up here on the screen, and I hear that Im a pretty approachable guy. Before I get into talking about social business tools and how we use them at my firm, I want to take a minute to discuss the context of what it is that I do. I am a producer. I build retail store environments. And much like a movie producer, my job and the job of our firm is to bring vision to life. [Advance]

Often starting from a clients pencil sketch, Well make a wireframe, a 3d rendering, sometimes even a full size mockup and eventually, hopefully, produce ten thousand units together with our global manufacturing partners, Throughout this process, our entire team has to manage communication across borders, languages, and cultures. Now, I am not here today to tell you that I have solved all of the problems facing the virtualization of the modern office environment, but over the course of the past 7 years, I have worked with a team of people located literally around the world. [Slide of NZ] Our research and development facilities are located in Auckland, New Zealand, [Minneapolis Team] our Sales office is headquartered in the beautiful city of Minneapolis Minnesota, [Slide of Chinese Team] And I oversee manufacturing operations out of our office in Jiaxing, China. And as you may have able to surmise, I am also in charge of the technology and collaboration initiatives that we deploy worldwide. Which is, of course, what brings me here to talk to you today. [Slide: collaboration] Structure (3:30)

If we think for a moment about how we structure collaborative work environments, whether were talking about studying with your classmates in school or working together in an office, the layout and structure that emerges tends to be very similar. And what also emerges, time and again is the disconnect between how we define our social interactions and how those interactions actually occur. Ive consulted with several companies to help them establish social tool implementations behind the firewall, and my first question to them is always, tell me about the current interactions in your company between people. and inevitably, they show me something like this [org chart] or this: [communication touch point matrix or RASI matrix] What none of them have done, not one, is ask me to come in for a week or two and watch them work together to help me understand how do they ACTUALLY work together as a team. [Slide transition] Because really, we are not defined by org charts or emails or communication matrices. Our companies are defined as the connections between our people.

So when we look at how we actually work together, taking into account not org charts but social interaction, the graph ends up looking something more like this. [slide of organic connections between people] What you see in this graph is the same group of people that we saw in that org chart a minute ago. But here we see how they actually work together [Spend some time on this slide] If I had more than 15 minutes to talk about it, I could go into detail, but suffice it to say, this graph paints a completely different picture of my company than the org chart that we saw earlier. Here, we see dots that vary in size based on their place in the org chart, larger dot means higher in the chart, you can see the CEO at the center as the largest dot, those with no direct reports are the smallest dots, and managers of varying degrees are all of the other dots in the middle. The proximity of the dots is driven by the frequency of communication between them; more communication means theyre closer together. This graph allows us to make all of the normal conclusions that we would about a common workplace, you can see the CEO speaks frequently to the managing directors and you can see clearly that dots tend to cluster by size. What we also see are some surprising connections. We see that some

people frequently communicate far outside of the org chart and far outside of their reporting hierarchy. So when we set out to build enterprise collaboration tools, we know that cant build for this [show org chart] Because, to be successful, we need to build for this [show graph] So to build for this requires that we change our mindset completely. If we approach the challenge of building collaboration tools as simply the virtualization of the org chart, we are led to believe that a systematic way of thinking can solve our problems. [Slide: Tubes] Systematic methods of problem solving work well in areas like manufacturing. If I want to make a metal tube, I know how to do that. Cut metal, roll, weld, polish, paint, package. I follow the steps.. Raw material goes in one end and finished goods come out of the other end. If I need more, I just scale up until I reach my capacity break even points. The issue is that human beings are neither scalable nor repeatable, and so in order to be successful in implementing systems for human beings, we need to transition from a systematic way of thinking to an organic way of thinking.

I mentioned earlier that companies are defined not by org charts but by the connections between their people. And so to build an effective enterprise social tool, we cant just build a virtual org chart, but rather, we need to simply build an environment that allows natural social structure to emerge organically. What do I mean when I say emerge organically? What I mean is that [slide change to plant twitter] Simple tools allow user defined structure. The first, and most common theme that emerges time and time again is that many simple tools perform better than few complex tools. Simple tools are far more versatile and adaptable, and through this adaptability they allow structure to emerge organically over time. Twitters value as a tool comes not from its capabilities, but rather its simplicity. It is so simple, in fact, that its users have been able to define its structure and mold it into the tool that provides them with the most value. Some of you may be doing that right now; Twitter did not invent the hash tag, [slide of hash tag search] yet through the system, users have created a structure that allows us to send a message about a session, and allows others to aggregate that information into real time feedback. Just in case you wanted to tweet that, our hashtag here is #socialbizmindset

[Laughter or awkward silence]

I have had great success deploying simple tools within our corporate environment as well. My experience has been that simple tools give us two advantages. [Slide: email comfort] First, Low Barrier To Entry. Simple tools lower the barrier to entry to allow even non-technical users to collaborate without any more effort than it takes to send an email. This is important, as users will gravitate towards those systems that allow them to accomplish their goals using the least amount of effort. Even in the enterprise, we love comfort food. Second, these same tools simultaneously allow more technical users to mold the tool around their own and the companys needs. Twitter has a really simple web interface, but also a powerful API. Even my most non-technical friends and family members can use twitters web interface, and software developers can extend twitter using the API. One tool, addressing the needs of two completely different groups, at the same time. [Slide: Basecamp] Another tool that I have introduced successfully at my present company is basecamp, and for exactly the two reasons that just mentioned. First, and most importantly, everyone in the company can

use it, without ever having to read a user guide or documentation; its so simple that its almost self explanatory . Second, the API means that we can all use this single tool in many different ways through the use of third party software solutions. [Slide: Quickfire App] Personally, my favorite add-on to basecamp is an app called quickfire. It does one thing: it lets me add items to a to-do list in just a few seconds. Now, I spend more of my time out of the office than in it, and for me, having the ability to pull out my phone and add a to-do item to a project is a lifesaver. I could go on, but the lesson here is that in order to be successful, we have to [me on a tractor slide] design for adoption To be successful in deploying these types of tools, we have to change our viewpoint, seeing ourselves not as manufacturers of the work environment, but rather, as farmers. We can only go so far as to create the conditions under which the crops of collaboration will flourish. It is then up to the plants to grow on their own, the same way it is up to our users to build their own structure around the tools that we provide to them.

Social Search


The next topic that I want to discuss is the intelligence of the network, and specifically the value of something called social search. Many of us in the corporate world have heard countless consultants tell us that our people are our most valuable resource, that when they leave we take all of our knowledge with them. Those same consultants have also told us that we should invest in a knowledge management system that we can use to capture all of the information out of our people and use it to build a corporate repository of knowledge. Today, I am here to tell you that these consultants could not be more wrong. And there are three major reasons. First, time. Now, I dont know about you, but I barely have time in my day to do all of the things that I need to do to get my work done. I will rarely or never have enough spare time to write a knowledge base article about a particular topic. So the theory that your employees are going have the time to contribute their knowledge to the knowledge base is absolutely false. Second, past theories of knowledge base creation focused only on the nodes and ignored the topography of the network, in essence saying that people have knowledge that exists only independent of the network in which they are in. [change to aardvark slide] What we see the consumer social space is actually the exact opposite situation; in fact it is not just what you know, but what you believe other people are likely to know that builds your own value in the network. In other words, your value is driven not just by your own

knowledge, but by you knowing what others are likely know; its ok if I ask you and you do not know the answer, as long as you pass my question along to the person that you believe will have the answer. [Change slide, polani] And lastly, many knowledge capture initiatives have failed because we have confused knowledge with information. This guy, Michael Polanyi, wrote about this distinction in several of his books, most notably his 1958 book entitled personal knowledge. In it, he discussed the concept of tacit knowledge. Polanyi believed that knowledge could be divided up between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Put simply, the difference is that explicit knowledge is information that can be separated from the producer without any loss in value. For example, if you needed to know how many vacation days you have at work, there are probably many people that can tell you, and in fact, its probably written down in the employee handbook. No matter the source, the value of that information to you is always the same. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge that gets at least some of its value from the person that has the knowledge. [Slide: bike ride] If I want to learn how to ride a bike, I could ask a bike rider, I could read about bike riding, but the reality is that there is no preparation that will make me into an expert bicyclist before I take my first ride. While one can know how to ride a bike, the transfer of that knowledge to another person, having not experienced bike riding is nearly impossible. Polanyi summed this up well with his famous saying, we know more

than we can tell And so the way that we go about capturing tacit knowledge is not with some flatfile database or information storage system, but rather with an evolving system that has no answers, but simply evolves to help us ask our questions to the right people. The premise of social search, as we see in tools like aardvark in the consumer space, is that we can ask around until we find an answer, and the system can learn not the answers, but the structure of the network, which helps us to answer subsequent similar questions more efficiently. We dont need to build a knowledge base, we just need to know the people that are our subject matter experts. So instead of thinking about knowledge capture, lets start thinking about building KNOWLEDGE NETWORKS within our companies. And on that note, my time is up, and I hope to see all of you out in town tonight. Thank You!

Special thanks to: Nicholas Metzgar for always believing in me, in the power of entrepreneurship and instilling in me the belief that there are few problems that cant be solved by putting on your headphones and wandering around the forbidden city. Thank you for inspiring me to be great.

Aaron Fulkerson For helping me see how open gardens allow the true structure of an organization to grow. I always knew open source was the way, thanks for showing me how. Rion Morgenstern For endless hours helping me refine my oration skills, and for always listening to crazy ideas over a beer at the pub. Jesse Rubin For teaching me that sometimes, the best way to get your point across is to speak softly and carry a big stick. My sister, Dena Diliberto for continuously reminding me that you should never take life too seriously, and enjoy it for the short time that were here.