In January I decided to start using Twitter (MinLii) … My learning style is activist, so often I like to try out first, and them later to look in more details.
And now later has come. I want to better understand how can microblogging, and micromessanging be used by global R&D teams, and what can be the possible benefits and possible dissapointments.
So first I checked our definitions from WikiPedia
- “Micro-blogging is a form of multimedia blogging that allows users to send brief text updates or micromedia such as photos or audio clips and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio or the web. “
- Micromessaging was not there yet – however people seem to use it alot.
And I realized that I have been micro-blogging with Facebook – for quite some time, used instant messging, and text messages for ages. It seems to be that people take new communication practices in use – without knowing their definitions. Well we live and learn.
Then I decided to use Twitter Search for finding related articles, blog posts etc. – and that was very successful, got some good, practical examples. All links are collected to my Delicious site – with tag microblogging .
So how could microblogging be used and help global R&D teams?
You would have to decide weather to use microblogging application in-side your company firewall for your internal R&D team only, or would be benefial and possible to use open microblogging system.
Here are commonly used examples for possible benefits of microblogging – applied in R&D context:
Emergency Broadcast System: – Messages of crucial errors & fast tracking of existing possible solutions & knowledgeable experts. Active scouting among experts.
Knowledge Management: Sharing lessons learned & experiences among interested people – in serendipitous way. Even if there are no problems/issues people can recommend each other examples, offer information, connections. With microblogging R&D people can combine their talent and tacit knowledge.
Training: Microblogging can help new team members to learn, offer communication channel for coaching, provide information of interesting new articles, research results etc.
Expert Identification: Microblogging can help to find experts and enables them to share their expertise. If they are willing to do so. Via microblogging existing solutions are not only shared the one that asks the question – it can quickly spread to wider user group. It also enables peer -review on the fly – if other team members are active. The messages can also be used and searched after wards. Using tags or other identifiers (e.g. # in Twitter) can help.
Inclusion of External Stakeholders: in case of working in open context, microblogging with external application can help work with external stakeholders. Widening your search globally.
This all would depend if R&D people are working as a global team, or are they rather isolated individuals focusing on certain detail aspect- who do not really benefit from sharing, but from being able to concentrate, think and work by themselves.
Microblogging can also be disturbing – the team would need to agree about basic principles for using microblogging. If only few persons are willing to share & participate – the benefits will not be accomplished, social media tools need a group of active people to participate in order to work. Would R&D team members be willing to change they communication practices?
There are different kind of possible benefits for new, recently hired people, more experienced people, people with wide contact networks etc. etc. Networking skills & positive attitude for knowledge sharing can help. However, the team itself will create the practices and see the benefits as well. How could microblogging system to created in such way – that information would flow freely, create natural patterns? The patterns in the ice are frozen… like information in databases. Microblogging systems are more dynamic – like waves… Interesting theme – that seems come up again and again…
Have to think more about this… I would like to develop a short, practical guide for R&D teams, how to set up a successful microblogging activites. Perhaps with a short reality check of their working context, then easy step-by-step instructions how to start, quickly and example of agreed ways of working, that could be modified… a sanity check after a while – does it work, or not, or what … and try it all this out with some global teams.