The prior two posts covered Year ONE. Now, the following is a look at Year TWO, 2007.
RESEARCH -- TOOLS & CULTURE:
"Look with Honesty."
From the Employment Brand side of things, I was tasked by Jack Mollen, EVP of HR, to look "with honesty" at the culture, and on the perceptions of EMC as a place to work -- our strengths and our weaknesses. We had an eye to promote our strengths of course, and to improve our weaknesses. I surveyed our recruiters and recall that they reported perceptions of EMC, in the negative column, as being "old school; old processes; bureaucratic." The positive column had attributes such as "Results-driven, Successful, Brand leader, Financially Strong."
I met with a half dozen agencies on the HR and Marketing side of things to learn what other companies were doing to enhance their employment brands. In my opinion, there were not a lot of best practices to leverage -- for the EMC culture, at any rate. (posters, mugs, and/or expensive and deep process changes need not apply.)
Meanwhile, there were several pockets of people and activity taking place internally with social networks. Examples: in our CTO office with an Innovation Network; in our Content Management Group with Developer Networks; and in HR (yes, HR!) with an internal Ning platform for internal collaboration, and with career fairs in the virtual world collaboration platform, Second Life. There were also a few people who were blogging (I started around then), or who simply "got this world" and started to gravitate toward the conversation.
Major sides of the house were coming to the same essential conclusion -- and IT was bending over backwards to figure out ways to help, while keeping the IT infrastructure secure.
Momentum toward 2.0 was building -- but in an un-unified (schizophrenic?) manner.
MARKETING, HR and IT (and more Enthusiasts) CONNECT
The bloggers and project skunk works taking place in Marketing, HR, in the Field, and in the Tech groups started becoming aware of one another's activities, and began sharing their breakthroughs and tips. More and more social media light bulbs started to turn on in workgroups, and with leaders, around the company. We began bouncing ideas off one another and collaborating on projects -- a major one being our first, (internal) Global Innovation Idea Contest & Conference, where Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics, was our keynote speaker.
A "cease-exploration and experimentation" of sorts was called by Q3 of 2007, and we were all encouraged to focus on our efforts toward a singular internal social network and build from there. We called this platform EMC|ONE. Everyone interested was encouraged to join an email distribution list where we posed questions, voiced concerns, debated answers, and made streamlined decisions on the experiment. We discussed subjects such as "what communities should we launch on the network?"
[Answer: WE don't launch any. The people participating in the network decide what community groups to launch.]
I can not recall even ONE physical meeting during these "incubation of the internal social network idea" days. We had participants in the string from all over the world, and from multiple areas of the company. Titles made little or no difference in the debates. We were operating with the unsaid desire to do the right thing for the business, and in the process, stretched our individual resolve with "trust," over individual opinion and/or organizational constructs.
[Example: I recall the debate around having people learn 2.0 norms first "inside our firewall," vs. having it be cool for anyone and everyone to participate "externally" on behalf of EMC immediately as well. I was in the "inside and outside" immediately camp. I listened to the views of others, got over what I thought was optimal, and trusted the conviction of others to go with/encourage the "inside first" behavior model. In retrospect, I believe the "inside first" decision was the right one. While building the 2.0 skills of our workforce, I see the biggest benefit was actually the side effect of encouraging the formation of deeper, trusting relationships between the people of the company, (aka the EMC family) -- which has served the company very well once the EMCers started engaging "outside" the firewall.]
Check out the white paper Chuck Hollis wrote which covers 2007 & 2008 key decisions and approaches rather well, including points on the business case (or not), and the tech decisions. Chuck was an early leader and an evangelist on our journey.
See also the recent blog post on EMC's 2007 journey by EMC's WebMaster, Len DeVanna for the platform story. Len was an early leader as well, and had the added responsibility of actually managing the tech platform, the user experience, and building community participation.
EMC|ONE SOFT LAUNCH & PURCHASE OF SOFTWARE SEATS
Three of my favorite elements from the Marketing/Chuck and Len side of the journey were,
- "This is about social media proficiency within workforce as the key focus area."
- "We should figure out this space before our competitors do."
- "Funding for this is like a rounding error to our coffee budget."
The marketing group handled the (un-budgeted) cost question by buying software seats in small lots, expanding the purchase as the network was discovered and used ... and along the way by building and exceeding expectations. The soft launch of this tool -- word of mouth only -- was brilliant.
... to be continued
------------------- Talk Back ------------------------
Is there anything here, so far, that catches you off-guard, or of particular interest to you and your journey?
For me, a person generally affiliated with the Marketing side of the business, but was actually part of the HR organization at the time, I couldn't believe that the employees/workforce side of things was actually an area of interest from Marketing people. Marketing folks are ALWAYS focused on the customer, the products, and the competition, right?
Why did customer-centric marketing people care about employees?
They realized that if our people did not have the skills to engage externally in this 2.0 manner, we would be out-flanked by our competitors. They saw this as a skill that could and should be learned first inside (where it is better to make a mistake) ... so that when they're ready to go "outside" we'll know how to do it -- engage with customers and prospects -- well! Along the way, it was realized that there was an even BIGGER benefit to engaging first on the inside:
The hearts, minds and PASSION of engaged people are bigger than any sales & marketing budget on Earth.
-- Polly Pearson
@PollyPearson on Twitter