The Organizational Strategist

October 29, 2009

Twitter Exploration, Results, and Future Possibilities


-Introduction-

In an earlier blog article, I wrote about Twitter. In it, I introduced what the online product is, how it can be used for personal and/or professional application, and some tips on how to use it optimally. That article can be found by clicking here. Also, I mentioned some areas that I wanted to look into. I’ve since researched Twitter, explored its usage through my own accounts, and more. Those areas that I have investigated are as follows:

  • Monitor an organization’s happenings (Microsoft’s Windows 7 release in this case)
  • Network through Twitter
  • Explore the Twitter applications available
  • Research developments within the Twitter organization and future implications on usage

I’ll start by reporting about my exploration of the wealth of information available on Twitter applications. What I primarily wanted to get out of searching for Twitter applications was easier desktop management of my messaging, known as “tweeting” in Twitter-speak. This is because I do not have Twitter installed on a phone and I have multiple accounts, which means I have to manually switch in and out of my accounts to get into them via my computer.

-Twitter Applications-

Of the desktop Twitter applications, TweetDeck is by far the best received by the general user community and website reviews for using Twitter. I’ve enjoyed using it and it really helps. It does this by allowing me to manage and be present (monitoring tweets, making my own tweets go out simultaneously via different accounts and tools, and filtering) in my different twittering/status updating avenues. For instance, I have my two accounts (professional and personal-friends-only) displayed side by side showing columns or tweets. Those columns can be custom searches, tweets from those that I’m following, direct messages, mentions of me and more. Additionally, TweetDeck allows me to pull in my Facebook status update feed, which is really helpful. Most of my daily happening updates go out to both my friend-twitter feed and Facebook feed. My professional feed goes out through my professional-twitter feed and to Facebook and/or my friend-twitter feed, if I desire. The most helpful site that I found for simply comparing desktop applications can be found here. For a second opinion and more information, try this site. To download and use the TweetDeck application, the site page, which includes a download link, can be found by going to the TweetDeck website.

Twitter has a number of applications that are available to it. Beyond account management and user interface applications, there are many applications that give additional information. This can be especially interesting if you are using Twitter for your business purposes. Some of the added benefits of these applications are scheduling your tweets for specific times, allowing others to tweet about your blog posts, setting up a tag cloud from tweets, getting trend information, and much more. I found a site that is the self proclaimed “ultimate” list of Twitter applications that includes about 20 different applications here. Another interesting find is a blog that is devoted to Twitter applications. To keep up with the blog go to this URL.

-Twitter Networking-

Twittering for job searching has definitely been helpful. I’ve found a number of professional people and organizations to follow. Some examples include my professors and their speaking engagement or research updates, Hay Group citing discounts for particular products, Microsoft stating some of its clean tech and environmentally friendly activity, my professional colleagues, company representatives from companies that I am interested in learning more about and job postings from recruiters. Searching on company names, professional learning interests, specific named individuals, and through social navigation have all been helpful for me as I expand what I follow on Twitter.

-Monitoring Organizational Happenings via Twitter-

Twitter has trends that can be searched on and pooled from anyone posting a tweet. The trends can be identified by their hash mark in the message. For instance, if there was a popular topic on Halloween that was a Twitter trend, it might be marked as #Halloween. A Twitter search could be done on “#Halloween” and a list of recent posts with #Halloween in them would display.

Monitoring the twitter trends is interesting too. I previously mentioned the Sidekick data loss problems that were happening, which I had seen by checking out the trend on T-Mobile. I later found out from a Microsoft Press Release that the Sidekick data can be restored, according to Microsoft. I also read about the number of Windows 7 media releases, parties, and business predictions. The Tweets were proclaiming high and wide, mainly from my more technically oriented friends and Tweeps (Twitter friends), about #win7. From what I could tell, the major points were Mac vs. PC types, trepidation about upgrading and the potential problems that may ensue, and Microsoft champions touting the wonders of the new operating system. This kind of conversation or tweeting is what I would expect from a successful product launch. On a side note, I did find and subsequently follow the sustainability Microsoft Twitter feed (Microsoft_Green), mentioned above, which updates on interesting points about what Microsoft has been doing in regards to its sustainability efforts.

-Recent Twitter Developments and Foreseen Implications-

Also, Twitter is now becoming a hotbed for future live monitoring and data analysis. I read in an Associated Press Article that both the Microsoft and Google companies are both diving into the streams of tweeting data. If done well, I can foresee these information sources enabling them to be both more reactive and proactive if they’re using pattern seeking, trending, smart heuristic based algorithms and long term analysis. Here are some of the business benefits that they can derive:

  • Timely and holistic public relations updates and feedback
  • Eager, free, and open feedback and input into products and services (think of the consumer research potential)
  • Massive crowd-sourced data mining

This could be an amazing way of absorbing the tweet trend data. That is assuming the organizations find effective ways to engage and solicit the kind of responses they want. The manner in which the Twitter public is engaged would be crucial though. That is because opening up a dialogue to get public feedback informs the public at the same time. If the public finds the new information displeasing, it may make for bad press. So, it may be a double-edged sword if used in that manner. I could see that it would be great in more of an idea creation phase of products or services with significantly less risk of negative reactions. After all, being open, sharing, and engaging is well known to be favored.

-Summary-

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed the professional and social returns I have received from Twitter. It’s a good way of keeping in touch and to get the latest news, regardless of whether it is opinion or research based. Twitter is an interesting medium for updates and sharing. The simplicity of the product is grand and the enormity of data is staggering. I expect that I am not alone in being interested in what lies ahead for Twitter and all of its tweeps.

-Hyperlinked Sites-

My earlier Twitter blog article: https://whittblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/twhitterpated/

The Twitter desktop application review: http://www.listio.com/reviews/2008/08/comparison-twitter-tools-and-applications/

Another Twitter application comparison: http://mashable.com/2009/06/27/twitter-desktop-apps/

The TweetDeck application page: http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/

Ultimate list of Twitter applications: http://techie-buzz.com/twitter/ultimate-list-of-twitter-applications-and-websites.html

Twitter application blog: http://mytwitapps.com/

Microsoft can restore Sidekick data: http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2009/oct09/10-15sidekick.mspx

Microsoft and Google both have rights to Twitter feeds: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/21/ap/tech/main5407305.shtml

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October 20, 2009

Triple Bottom Line Sustainability and Value Chain Analysis


Sustainability is a topic that has become more popular and compelling in recent years. However, there does not seem to be a single definition for the term. Many times sustainability is associated exclusively with environmental concerns, health, and standards. The green movement for environmental safety, climate control, preserving threatened or endangered species and so on is also often considered to be synonymous with sustainability. However, I will use the term sustainability as it relates to stakeholders and shareholders of whatever the product, service, or organization the term is being used to describe. Stakeholders and shareholders are included because sustainability relates to the triple bottom line. This triple bottom line is also known as the three P’s, which are People, Planet, and Profit. Other terms that are often used with triple bottom line sustainability are social, environmental, and economic. A truly sustainably acting organization would operate in such a way that it only creates value through its initiatives. The organization would not destroy value in any way for any of its inputs or outputs.

I grew up and am now back in the “Evergreen State” aka Washington State. Seattle is well known for being a “greener” area. Thus, looking out for ways of reducing, reusing, and recycling waste has become commonplace. Going for my graduate education broadened my understanding though. I was first introduced to organizational sustainability through the Business as an Agent of World Benefit and Organizational Behavior department in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case. There I learned how corporate social responsibility, taking proactive environmental measures and other helpful efforts where organizations, for profit and not for profit, can thrive through acting sustainably.

A helpful way to model where and how an organization’s influence, as well as what important factors there are to understand where sustainability concerns can arise, would be to map out a sustainability value chain. The value chain mapping shows the impact areas before, during and after the involvement of products and services from an organization. There are three segments to the value chain that relate to the organization: Upstream, Operations, and Downstream. Upstream refers to the activities and impacts that take place before the direct involvement of the organization. The Operations segment refers to the activities and impacts where and when the organization is taking direct involvement. Downstream refers to activities and impacts that take place after the direct involvement of the organization. Those segments address the economic, societal, and environmental impact areas.

As a hypothetical example, take a manufacturing company as the context. I put together a PowerPoint slide to identify the areas should be addressed in order for the manufacturing company to act in a sustainable manner.

Value Chain Example 

 With a more specific example, the economic, environmental, and societal activities and impacts become clearer. In order for a company to be more sustainable, it would need to partner with upstream and downstream organizations to make the entire value chain more sustainable.

In future posts, I plan to use the triple bottom line as a frame of reference to use and help explain how organizations, products, and/or services are or potentially are not sustainable.

October 17, 2009

Market Leadership Requires Enduring Strategy

Filed under: Strategy — Tags: , , , , , , — Whit @ 5:03 pm

Strategy, according to a highly respected and well known professor of mine, Richard Osborne, who is well known as “The Gorilla”, is defined as “the alignment of resources and capabilities to win in the market.” I immensely enjoyed his class on managerial consulting while studying for my MBA. The definition has served me well for many dialogues, modeling, and then planning the implementation of the strategy.

An enduring strategy requires making that alignment of resources and capabilities effective in the market environment and a lasting advantage over whatever competition is fighting over the same market. Major companies, like IBM and Google, are showing that their strategies are paying off for them, even though many companies are suffering from the present economic challenges. The Associated Press posted that Google and IBM third quarter results were good, each in their own ways. Google’s search based ad clicking and IBM’s technology services have been very lucrative for their organizations. The core business derived from the capabilities and resources of Google and IBM are winning in their market spaces right now.

There is much that can be discussed on strategy. The competitive analysis and market forces in play are often discussion points that contribute significantly to a firm’s strategy. Understanding the most profitable market segments to capture is a tantalizing pursuit. However, these endeavors alone will not ensure a lasting win in the market. They are very helpful and important to win in the current market environment, but the path to create that win is vital for the ongoing success of an organization. Building and developing the organization’s combination of resources and capabilities to be unique and/or very difficult to replicate paves the way for maintaining market leadership.

We can see that IBM and Google have been winning in their markets with the ability to prosper as they have. IBM, for instance, has its strategic partnerships and service contracts. Google has its data capabilities and search algorithms. There are many more aspects of each company that are strengths and aid in the success of their respective organizations. Yet, in each of those examples of organizational resources and capabilities, other organizations would find it remarkably difficult to duplicate. The partnerships and contracts with IBM serve as an ongoing source of business and barrier to other companies. Replicating the data storage/retrieval techniques and technology would require major brain power and funding to undertake.

Strategy is a major interest of mine. I have found that having a diverse background helps with the situational understanding, formulation, and implementation of strategy. I’m always interested in learning more and collaborating. Readers, what areas are of most interest? Which challenges might be helpful to explore?

The link for the Google article can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113841901

The link for the IBM article can be found here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113841812

October 13, 2009

Twhitterpated


I’ve been trying out Twitter this past summer. In this short time, I’ve experienced some of the good and bad aspects of using the service. The good is that I’ve been able to connect with friends, colleagues, and organizations. The bad is that I do occasionally get over-twittered aka “twitter pated” from the entries that talk about eating a sandwich or similar mundane information.

For those of you who may be thinking “What the heck is a Twitter? Isn’t that some kind of a bird call? I know my nephew is sometimes a little twit…” or similar thoughts, Twitter is an online social networking and social navigation application. More specifically, it is called a micro-blog. That’s because it allows short and pithy updates to a community of followers or readers. By saying short and pithy, that means 140 characters. That’s characters (letters, numbers, and symbols) only, not full words. The 140 character micro-blog posts on Twitter are called “Tweets”. Many people use Twitter on their internet enabled smart phones to send updates on what they have been doing. What people say on Twitter will vary from insightful and helpful to silly or completely nonsensical.

In looking into Twitter, I quickly found that having two types of accounts was very helpful. One account includes my professional colleagues, interesting organizations, and other peers. The other account is with my friends for everyday information; where I can talk about the great honey roasted turkey and colby-jack cheese sandwich that I just had. Both of my accounts are low in followers so I haven’t been able to get the quick feedback that Twitter is famous for giving. That aspect will hopefully come with time. I have found interesting articles, helpful tips, and new areas to explore from monitoring my professional connections’ tweets. In my informal account, I have been able to stay more in touch with friends from across the country.

Another recent San Jose Mercury News article confirms much of what I’ve mentioned and says a bit more, especially on the networking and job search realms. The article has a bulleted list of do’s and don’ts for Twitter job hunting, which may be of interest. Here they are:

DOS AND DON’TS WHEN JOB-HUNTING ON TWITTER

1. DO follow potential employers to learn more about their products and service.

2. DON’T get sucked in; get the information you’re looking for, then get out.

3. DO use multiple Twitter profiles — a personal one, for instance, as well as those created specifically to follow certain employers.

4. DON’T use a silly or cartoonish icon on your profile — it could turn off a potential employer.

5. DO use directories like Twellow or Mr. Tweet to help you locate other professionals and trendsetters in your field.

There are a few aspects to Twitter that I have yet to get into.

One of the areas I haven’t used Twitter for much yet is to look up target companies to monitor what’s being said about them and subscribe to their feed(s), if they have them. T-Mobile is a company of interest for me and today I was watching the various complaints and comparisons being said about their products. Evidently the Sidekick phones can delete user data. Imagine somehow losing all of your contacts at once. That would be awfully frustrating. I’ve read that T-Mobile is issuing a $100 gift certificate for those who have such data problems.

Twitter also has a number of different applications available. These applications can be used to sort feeds, link accounts, navigate, organize and more. Since my phone is not a smart phone, I don’t have internet connectivity. So, much of the convenience that many Twitter users enjoy, I won’t be able to access. I do hope to get such a phone sometime, perhaps not a Sidekick though, and enjoy the tweets as they come and go.

Marketing and branding initiatives are yet one more realm that Twitter has helped. I can see how product updates, previews on service releases, short introductions to articles and more could be a great fit for a company’s marketing, public relations and branding initiatives.

From these Twitter-offerings, I am going to explore what I can. I’ll certainly tap into the networking and company searching points as that’s a particular area of interest for me at the present. From a desktop client perspective, I’ll search to find what apps may be a good fit for me too. I will plan on updating this blog with a follow up on what’s gone well and what hasn’t for me. Feel free to follow me on my Twitter page. Links to do so are shown on the right hand sidebar of this blog.

The article mentioned has been hyperlinked to easily direct readers. In case that’s not working, the URL is as follows: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_13474050?nclick_check=1.

October 12, 2009

Unfortunate trends for Gen Y and more


Generation Y has been an interest of mine for some time now. My interest comes from many angles, but my being on the cusp of Gen Y and Gen X is a major part of it. Another aspect that I want to keep up on is how Gen Y will impact business and how best to work with and/or lead them. During my Masters in Positive Organizational Development and Change degree, I did a leadership paper on how to lead Gen Ys. I may do another post on that in the future.

To give some background, the time period Gen Y usually starts is in the early to mid eighties. The actual range varies depending upon the studies done and how the boundaries are defined in the study, of course. Generally speaking, most Gen Yers, also known as Millennials, are entering the work force or have a handful of years of working experience by now. This places them in entry level positions, where learning is absolutely critical to prove oneself.

Unfortunately for Gen Y, many of the jobs they want and potentially need to get into are less available right now. The world wide economic downturn is certainly a huge set back for everyone. However, that makes it even tougher for a newly minted college grad. How can they get an entry level job, which ironically often require a few years of experience, when they have to compete against seasoned professionals? Why would a company hire a new grad when they can get a seasoned veteran for the same price?

That’s not the only challenge and this next one extends beyond the plight of Gen Yers. There is an even smaller ratio of available company jobs than there might have been if this recession took place several years earlier from now. Baby Boomers have an extraordinary work ethic and they are staying at their job longer than previous generations have. A recent MediaPost article states that the long time veterans are staying on for the following “psychological and social factors:

  • ‘to feel useful’
  • ‘to give myself something to do’
  • ‘to be with other people'”

While I applaud the stamina and dilligence, this trend will lead to systemic problems. If the veterans are not vacating their roles, others will not move up the corporate ladder. This will make it so others do not have as many growth and learning opportunities. Beyond that, there are simply less jobs available. That compounds to make it so that Gen Y and others have a tougher time even getting into the workforce. Gen Y will be forced to wait or take jobs that they aren’t hoping to get into, meaning not in their industry(ies) of choice, and so their initial years in the workforce won’t be building toward long term efforts.

To bring this home, companies need to take action. Companies need to take action both for their own long term sustainability and for the sake of their stakeholders (employees, shareholders, customers, etc). Beyond that, Gen Yers need to have opportunities to rise up. Knowledge management has long been a hot topic, but this needs to become a proactive and not just a reactive measure. New and existing lower ranking employees will need opportunities to grow, either through their own promotion and initiative or by having avenues of growth created for them. Thinking of long term strategy, a company needs to constantly be cultivating its employees, especially those companies and industries where expertise takes a long time to create. What would happen if there was a 5-10 year gap in the corporate ladder and experience? What many companies are trying to do is to shift those who are in retiring ages and those who are important and likely to leave, for whatever reason, to more mentoring, teaching, and coaching roles. This idea seems like a great one to me. This will still keep the expertise available for the important business challenges, help ensure that the knowledge/skill is passed on, and satisfy the veteran’s desires to stay active, involved, and social.

I’ve seen knowledge management and personal development done differently in many ways. In some cases, I’ve been really impressed with a company’s efforts or forward thinking. However, I’ve also been worried for the long term business stability, strategy and sustainability of very impressive companies. Regardless, this is a topic of importance that will not soon go away.

Note that this post was edited slightly after its initial publication.

October 10, 2009

A bit about me


The internet, as I see it, is a meritocracy. This information superhighway often allows for everyone’s ideas to be given the benefit of the doubt until some sort of value judgment can be made. Having a reputation or credit can help tremendously in this avenue. For instance, the onion, while a fun read, will not give relevant research information like the NY Times might present. Reputations can be built in many ways. In this medium, it is harder to know the value of a person’s contributions quickly because the context, background, or other helpful information is not known.

  As such, I figured that having a background on me would be helpful to help balance and inform where I’ll be coming from in my posts. My professional adventures started in the Midwest with my technically based studies. I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Evansville (Evansville, Indiana). That degree and time lead to a handful of years experience working in small software companies with mostly antivirus/security, simulation, scenario planning, and visualization products. There I had a handful of roles ranging from quality/testing to development to project management/auditing. After that experience, I got accepted to Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management full time MBA program. That was a wonderful experience which opened up doors to big technology company work, consulting, and a vast growth of knowledge breadth and depth. There I worked with IBM for a short span in their Extreme Blue program in a project management and consulting capacity for Apache Geronimo and IBM’s other open source initiatives. My MBA also led to a Masters degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change from the same business school. The combination of degrees and experience has given me a good platform to work with people in many different roles and functions. During my time pursuing Masters degrees, I was consulting off and on in small and large projects from individual coaching to leading large scale change efforts. Soon after graduating from my second business degree from Case, I had a great time working with the Organizational Effectiveness group in Boeing doing Organizational Development (OD) consulting efforts.

  That only gives a fraction of my experiences. Further details can be found by going to my LinkedIn profile. In reading this blog, please do bring up any questions of interest. I am open to sharing from my experiences and background. However, there is much information that is not mine to divulge and so I may have to decline commenting or referencing information.

Greetings and introduction


Hello reader(s),

  In this blog I, Whit Tice, plan to discuss the various areas of interest and initiatives that I have regarding business, technology, and organizational development. Some of the areas that I will likely talk about will be business strategy, appreciative inquiry, triple bottom line sustainability, new gadgets and gizmos, and generational interests (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y/Millennials, etc). More topics and the variety will likely change and evolve over time. I welcome your input as a means of open sharing of interests, resources, and ideas.

  This will be my first foray into blogging regarding professional interests and activity. As such, please ensure your contributions and, of course, mine are professional. Thanks for your interest and time!

All the best,

-Whit Tice

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