Tag Archives: social media

Social media at work – 4 years on!

By Elisabeth Goodman, 28th November 2017

Four years ago, in 2013, I wrote a blog on the ROI for social media for SMEs based on a seminar that I delivered for the Cambridge Network [Social Media – What’s the ROI? Cambridge Network Breakfast Meeting for SMEs].

I conducted a poll before the event, the results of which suggested 3 main benefits of using social media for SMEs:

  • Building ones reputation
  • Making connections
  • Developing knowledge

Three years before that, in 2010 I wrote about the wider relevance of social media to organisations, with a strong emphasis on facilitating knowledge sharing and creating a sense of community. (I referenced communities of practice, and communities of interest.)

This year’s November-December issue of Harvard Business Review carries an article by Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley.  They reference a McKinsey Global Institute study of 4,200 companies of which 72% reported using social media for employee communication.  They also carried out their own research across a range of sectors.  (See reference under the illustration below.)

What managers need to know about social media_HBR Nov-Dec 2017

Illustration from: What managers need to know about social media. Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley. Harvard Business Review November-December 2017, pp. 118-126

Social media tools cited include Yammer, Slack, Chatter, Microsoft Teams, JIRA..

The benefits of social media for organisations

Leonardi and Neeley’s research came up with some additional angles on the benefits of social media:

  • Greater collaboration and sharing of knowledge across silos in an organisation
  • The ability to make faster decisions, and the ability to develop more innovative ideas
  • Enabling employees to become more engaged in work and in the company

The results of their 6-month study with a large financial firm also indicated the value of social media in identifying and being able to get in touch with people with the necessary expertise to meet a business goal.

So, the value of social media still seems to be based around connections, reputation and knowledge, along with feeling part of a community.

It was interesting that the main reasons the authors found for organisations adopting social media were: “other companies are so we should” and “we want to attract young talent”.  Few used a solid business case as their rationale!

Traps and guidelines for social media in the workplace

Finding the right balance of informality / formality in using social media within organisations

Leonardi and Neeley’s research suggests that “millenials” find it harder to adopt social media within organisations than older people do, whereas the assumption is often the other way around.

The reason given for these different levels of comfort is that “millenials” use tools externally for personal reasons – and so can struggle to adopt the right level of informality for use of the tools internally.

However, it is often the informal conversations (around outside interests for example) that can help people to relate to each other – and so open the way to asking for help and sharing knowledge.

Leonardi and Neeley suggest that managers “spell out the rules of conduct”, encouraging and role modelling informal conversations and steering clear of any formal postings.  These rules of conduct would include protecting confidentiality and any regulatory or legally related information.

Clarifying and communicating the purpose of social media in the organisation

Because conversing through social media can be a somewhat gradual process, people might not always recognise that they are gaining new knowledge and learning through it.  The authors suggest that people can gain “meta knowledge” about the go-to people with expertise.

There is also a risk that the knowledge gained may be misleading.  Just because someone is sharing knowledge over social media does not mean that they are necessarily the go-to expert, or that their knowledge is comprehensive.

Leonardi and Neeley suggest that managers make the purpose of using the social media clear – which of the benefits would their organisation like to emphasise? The authors also suggest that people build their “ambient awareness” of how the social media are being used by their colleagues, so that they can draw more informed conclusions about the quality of the knowledge shared.

How do these findings relate to your experiences of using social media within organisations?

What are people’s level of comfort with social media?


RiverRhee’s training, workshops and coaching for managers and teams includes topics relating to knowledge sharing and collaboration.  Click here to find out more.

Is it helping to build engagement, collaboration and knowledge sharing?

Is it leading to better decision making and innovation?


About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.




Here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014!

End of year holidays – a time to rest and renew our energy for new beginnings

The end of year holidays and the beginning of the New Year are a good opportunity to rest and renew our energy for whatever our chosen direction in life!

They’ve worked their usual magic with me and my enthusiasm for gaining new knowledge has been especially stimulated by two recent BBC productions that I caught through the combined powers of my iPAD (my new toy earlier in 2013) and BBC iPlayer.

Kirsty Young’s “Desert Island Discs” guest Ray Mears on the 5th January was a real inspiration.  He seems to have such a clear and apparently simple direction in life in his career as a ‘woodsman’.  The presenter and no doubt many listeners like myself were delighted by his phrase: “deassimilate from the cyber hive”. (We’ll ignore the fact that that’s how I heard the recording!).

Being a student of or for life?

I also appreciated Ray Mears’ approach as a “student of life”: how he seeks out the very best people to learn from about different aspects of surviving in the wild; his philosophy of deconstructing knowledge to understand all of its elements before putting it together again; and his enthusiastic perseverance in order to thoroughly understand a new area.

Learning from dolphins


I was also fascinated by the BBC’s two-part “Dolphins – Spy in the Pod“, the second part of which was on the 9th January.  The team used cameras hidden in mechanical squids, dolphins, turtles and puffer fish to film and learn about aspects of dolphin behaviour.  Some of the ways in which dolphins learn were especially interesting:

  • Young male bottle-nosed dolphins stay with their mothers, in an otherwise all female pod for about two years during which they are learning about different aspects of life all of the time.
  • When they are old enough to leave, they seek out a male pod to join, bringing their knowledge with them, and gaining new knowledge from their new companions.

It was evident from watching the programme that dolphins have great curiosity and a diverse way of communicating with each other by sound, touch and behavioural or body language.

Learning from each other

Learning from others is of course very powerful.  I’m looking forward to doing so in a seven-day NLP practitioners’ course that I’ll be attending in March, and also to learning about something called ‘Emergenetics‘ that I first heard about in December.  I want to explore the range of tools available to help us understand ourselves and each other – something that I’ll be writing about in the second book in my series of “The Effective Team’s” workbooks. (The first was on Change Management, this one will be on High Performance teams.)

I’m also looking forward to continuing my work on enhancing team effectiveness with my associates and clients in 2014.  Interacting with associates and clients is a great way to develop and shape new ideas – both for creating new programmes of work, and for stimulating the rich learning that takes place during workshops and other interventions.

Continuous professional development (CPD) and social media

Nor will I be ‘deassimilating from the cyber hive”!  Although it is good to take a break from it now and then: my idea for this blog came whilst I was on a four-hour walk on a crisp sunny morning in Cambridgeshire.  However, the increasing trend to make social media content rich is certainly a stimulant for one curiosity and one I’ll be looking to support as I gain more knowledge in 2014.

I often tweet (@ecgoodman) about what I’m hearing during APM (Association for Project Management), One Nucleus, Cambridge Network and CILIP events.  And what I learn also sometimes finds its way into my blogs and postings on Facebook, LinkedIn and, more recently, Google+ (I’m currently disentangling my duplicate accounts so make sure you access the right one if interested).

So, here’s to new learning and knowledge in 2014.  What areas of knowledge will you be learning about?


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale (and using coaching as well as training, mentoring and consulting).  Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma, is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management) and a registered Growth Coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme.

Reflections of a team facilitator

By Elisabeth Goodman


Summer is a wonderful time to reflect and play with new ideas.  I’ve been having a lovely time exploring Pinterest for new insights to inspire the teams I work with in workshops.


Pinterest has only been going since 2010 and although it already has more than 70 million users it is still not widely used by people in my community, so I was surprised at how much I have started to find in the way of pictures, annotated diagrams, mindmaps, and increasingly popular infographics to inspire and illustrate some of the ideas that I use for facilitation.

If you would like to follow me on my journey of exploration, please see my “Inspiring Learning” board.

But is Pinterest’s use of visuals for everyone?  One of the posts I found is a mindmap stating that we all think in pictures.  And yet the NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) representational styles are all about our different ways of representing and communicating information, suggesting that some of us prefer auditory, and others kinaesthetic (touch or feel) or auditory digital (‘self-talk’) representations.

Pinterest does include YouTube videos and audio files such as on this “youtube tips and tricks” board, but will that be enough to appeal to those whose preferred representational style is other than visual?  Pinterest statistics suggest that female users outnumber men by 4 to 1.  Perhaps we could get a demographic study by NLP representational styles?

Facilitating teams to help them achieve high performance

My colleagues and I have been facilitating a lot of team workshops – in fact that is at the heart of RiverRhee Consulting’s work for enhancing team effectiveness.  The goals and approaches that we use have been evolving as our clients ask different things of us, and as we’ve been developing our own expertise in the options available for helping teams to achieve high performance.

Team members benefit from additional insights on their own and others’ personalities.

Whether the team is relatively new, or has been around for a while, there is no doubt that gaining additional insights on people’s strengths and preferred ways of behaving will enhance relationships and build a stronger team.

A 1-hour icebreaker around the NLP representational styles, or a more in-depth 2-hour exercise based on MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can be powerful ways to kick off ½-day, 1 day or longer workshops.  The overall event might be focused on team building, managing change or overall team effectiveness.

People enjoy finding out new things about themselves and those they work with, and take away insights that they continue to reflect upon and add depth to as they apply them not only at work, but also in their everyday life.

The importance of articulating the strategic context: vision, purpose and goals

Certainty and control: these are the two key enabling factors that team members identify when asked what would help them move more positively through their personal journey of change.  Understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ – the strategic context of their work – gives them certainty about what will happen and clarity about what they can control or at least be involved with going forward.

Encouraging senior and line and managers to articulate their strategic goals in terms of key messages grounds them in the practical reality of what they want to achieve.

Sharing these key messages face-to-face with team members also makes the managers more approachable and opens up opportunities for dialogue.

I’m excited by how working with managers on their strategy is becoming an increasing component of my role as a coach and team facilitator, both independently and with the government sponsored GrowthAccelerator initiative for SMEs.

Facilitating discussions for improving team working

Managers often wish that members would take more of an active role in improving how the team works.  The answer is to give them the opportunity to have their say, and to then shape the way forward.  A pre-workshop diagnostic on the different aspects of team working, as described in “Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks” can be very powerful for surfacing what’s going well, and what could be improved, especially with an outside facilitator collating the results anonymously into key themes.

It then takes only a little encouragement in a constructive workshop environment for team members to identify the priorities to focus on, along with suggested next steps and the roles they can play to address them.

Finding ways to make more of your team’s time and resources

Leaders and managers often approach us because they are looking for new ideas to address the nitty-gritty of how the team goes about its day-to-day work.

Their impetus may be a realisation that they need to do things differently in order to take on all the new things that their strategic goals entail.

There’s been a recent flurry of discussion in the APM LinkedIn group about the value or otherwise of Six Sigma and its focus on processes.  We use principles and tools taken from Lean as well as Six Sigma in our work with teams.  The opportunities these give for an open, constructive and fact-based discussion on how the team goes about its business has proved invaluable.  Contrary to what some protagonists claim, there is lots of scope for creativity, not only in the form of incremental improvements, but also for breakthrough innovation.  And yes, these workshops do make use of visual tools too!

More reflections to come

I’ll be continuing my explorations of Pinterest to expand my facilitator’s tool-kit.  I’m also looking forward to becoming qualified in MBTI Step II during the summer, so that I can further enhance team members’ insights into their own and others’ strengths.  Meanwhile, if you missed RiverRhee Consulting’s summer newsletter, and would like more food for thought, why not take a look at “Summer and the 3 Cs” now.


Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer, facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Social Media – What’s the ROI? Notes from a @CambNetwork breakfast meeting

By Elisabeth Goodman

Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community

Back in 2010 I wrote a blog about how Social Media could be used as a key tool for sharing knowledge and for business development, and effective ways to go about that. [Social Media: putting your and your business at the heart of your community.]  I had the opportunity to do something of an update on the topic at a Cambridge Network breakfast meeting on marketing for small businesses.

This time I focused on the kinds of returns on investment (ROIs) that Social Media can bring to SMEs, and how to maximize that. I was fortunate to be able to draw on the experience of others attending the seminar, and those interested but who could not attend, through a survey that they had completed beforehand.

Here is a brief synopsis of my presentation, the full slides for which can be found here. [Social Media – What’s the ROI? Cambridge Network Breakfast Meeting for SMEs]

By the way, the main tools used were LinkedIn and Twitter, with Facebook, blogs and Google+ following a little behind.

Social Media tools used by small businesses

Social Media tools used by small businesses

Why are SME’s using Social Media?

Building ones reputation, ones connections and ones knowledge continue to be the key reasons for using Social Media, as illustrated by these responses to the survey.

Main reasons why small businesses use Social Media

Main reasons why small businesses use Social Media

What is the ROI of using Social Media for SME’s?

Interestingly 3 of the 19 survey respondents stated that they had found none, whereas the other 16 had all found some return, even if not all of it was financially tangible.  They cited:

  • The value of Social Media in building strong rapport with existing and potential clients
  • Being able to get past the ‘castle guard’ barrier of more traditional ways of reaching out to new clients
  • The importance of ‘dancing as if no-one is watching’ i.e. being true to yourself and what you have to offer, with the trust that if you do so, people will come..
  • The richness of this source of knowledge about your clients, their challenges and issues, and as a general source of knowledge

We also discussed how we should be using Social Media as a complementary tool to other more traditional methods.  I used my own approach to illustrate this.

My blend of networking and marketing approaches to reach clients and keep informed about team effectiveness

My blend of networking and marketing approaches to reach clients and keep informed about team effectiveness

How to maximize the ROI for SME’s from Social Media?

There is an enormous risk of wasting a lot of time and effort on Social Media.  Whist about 58% of our survey spent less than 3 hours on this per week, about 42% spent more than 3-5 hours per week.

So it is important, as in all business activities, to have a clearly defined strategy for our use of Social Media.  This model may work as one approach to this.

How do develop your Social Media strategy

How do develop your Social Media strategy

Other ways to maximize the ROI, by reducing the (unproductive) time spent on Social Media include getting some good training on how to use the tools and making the most of labour-saving ‘devices’ such as tools that enable you to publish updates to several platforms at once (Hootsuite, the update bar of LinkedIn, the publishing feature of WordPress are examples of this).  And of course there are businesses who specialize in managing your Social Media marketing for you.

Personally, I’ve found the 3 ‘I’s: Inform, Interact, Inspire – a really useful guideline to bear in mind in my day-to-day use of all of the tools.

Thank you To the small businesses who responded to the Social media ROI survey

I would like to especially thank those who participated in the survey, whether anonymously or by name.  Here are those who gave their names:

  • Robin Higgons Qi3 Ltd robin.higgons@qi3.co.uk
  • Karen James, Lilac James
  • QTP Environmental Ltd. infor@qtpe.co.uk
  • Amanda Brown, Managing Director, Alterra Amanda@alterra-consulting.co.uk
  • Mark Collingwood http://www.tonicfusion.com Tonic Fusion
  • Jamie Lesinski, Crossbar-fx, jamielesinski@crossbarfx.com 0, @jamielesinski @crossbarfx
  • Ed Goodman, Cambridge Business Lounge,
  • Richard Wishart, Delivery Management Ltd richard.wishart@del-mgt.com
  • Goncalo Syndicate room
  • Alexandra Murphy Cambridge Network alex.murphy@cambridgenetwork.co.uk


  1. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge management and change management. She provides 1:1 tutorials and seminars on how to use LinkedIn and other social media for personal and business development.
  2. Follow the links to find out about other ways in which Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.

The future of Social Media? Notes from a recent NetIKX seminar

By Elisabeth Goodman1

Adapted from the original NetIKX blog: Social Media – what next and what can we do with it?

This was the 3rd of NetIKX‘s seminars on the theme of social media, a topic which sits in the group’s 2010-2012 programme framework for Information and Knowledge Management under “Harnessing the web for information and knowledge exchange”.

Previous NetIKX seminars on this theme have explored whether social media should be taken seriously, and how social media could be used to achieve organisational goals and the implications for organisational IM / KM policies and strategies.

This seminar took a broad look at emerging trends and products, their likely implications, and how social media are being, or could be used.

The two speakers were Steve Dale, “a passionate community and collaboration ecologist, creating off-line and on-line environments that foster conversations and engagement” and Geoffrey Mccaleb who describes himself as a social media  / mobile consultant.

The common themes arising from the presentations, break-out groups, and concluding Q&A were as follows:

1. Social media have been evolving into so much more than plain communication tools.

Most readers will already know that tools such as LinkedIn are now key reference points for recruitment, but Twitter is also a growing reference source for this.

The political and journalistic uses of Twitter are also well publicised.

And most people will be aware of the increasing importance of social media for managing an organisation’s reputation: monitoring and responding to comments made by customers or would-be customers, engaging with customers, and generally generating related publicity.

2. A broader exploration of how social media are evolving

Facebook lends itself well to sharing information on interests and hobbies.  In fact I’m having great fun at the moment with a ‘cooking enthusiasts” group that I’ve set up with my friends, and their friends. There are other tools, such as ‘Pinterest’ that take sharing of this kind of information to another level.

Scoop.it, paper.li, Storify, Flipboard are all examples of how ‘social curators’ can bring together content from several different sources that may be of interest to their audiences.  Although we did not discuss this at length, this might be a tool that Library and Information professionals could use to help their end-users with information overload?

Some tools enable people to manage the sharing of physical resources (referred to by Steve Dale as ‘collaborative consumption‘).  Examples of this are ‘Boris’s’ bikes (the London shared bicycle scheme) and ‘airbnb’ to rent out ones house / bedrooms to visitors e.g. to the Olympics.  Might this be an alternative model for managing information resources between organisations?!

Managing big data is a pet subject of Steve Dale’s, with data sets such as medical and traffic data on the cloud becoming so large that they can no longer be managed with standard database management tools.  Visualisation and infographics tools are one way to make sense of them all.

Game-ification is an interesting exploration of how the ‘game’ attributes of user engagement, loyalty to brands, and rewards might be transferred to a professional social network environment.  In a previous seminar we heard how The Open University Library Services were already experimenting with using virtual reality tools as a support for their services.  Game-ification may take this further?

Augmented reality applications for golf let you know where the nearest bunker is and the direction of the wind.  Pointing your phone at the sky can give you information about the constellations. Augmented reality applications help you to look at your world in a different way.

Location-based tools such as Foursquare enable you to find out what’s near you, check-in, see who else is there, become ‘mayor’ of your local pub(!) etc.  ‘Easypark’ enables you to pay your parking fee and have a count-down to let you know how much time you have left to park.  There is potential for these tools to be so much more than a status update, because they tell others that you like something / somewhere.

3. Some final reflections on technology trends and implications

Technology cycles are usually 10 years long, and we are now 2 years into mobile technology and ‘apps’.  The anticipation is that mobile technology will overtake desktop technology within 5 years.

All the people that we interact with online represents our ‘social graph‘: who we know and who we respect online.  Our online contacts can have a tremendous influence on what we choose to buy – as I discovered when I found myself, somewhat to my surprise, purchasing something on Amazon that others had recommended without even ‘looking inside’ first.

4. Implications of what we heard

We explored several themes in our break out discussions and in the Q&A that followed:

  • The changing role of the information intermediary.  Are we being pushed out of our roles by these tools – or does our ‘cyberlibrarian’ or ‘curator’ role become even more important?
  • The associated information risk.  With a lot of personal information going on the internet / in the cloud, is there more scope for criminal activity and identify theft?
  • How to decide what tools to use and when?  The key is being clear about who we are trying to target and what tool(s) they would use.  Phil Bradley’s presentation and notes: “25 barriers to using web 2.0 technologies and how to overcome them” might provide some good insights on internal organisational barriers and how to address them.
  • Using social media tools within organisations.  ChatterYammer are Twitter like tools being used within organisations, and in some cases have a dramatic effect on lowering the use of e-mail.  Such tools could be excellent for idea generation and problem solving, or ‘crowd-sourcing’ within an organisation.


1. Elisabeth Goodman is Programme Events Manager for NetIKX.  She also runs her own business, RiverRhee Consulting.

2. See also Elisabeth Goodman’s blog on Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community

NetIKX write-up: Using social media to achieve organisational goals – the next steps

Follow this link for my write-up of the recent NetIKX Seminar: Using social media to achieve organisational goals.  Themes covered include:

  • A shift from skepticism about, to evangelism for Social Media?
  • Social Media can be used by Library and Information Departments for a diverse range of purposes
  • The adoption of Social Media will be evolutionary, with some people leading the way
  • There needs to be a fine balance between policies and trust
  • Increased adoption of social media by organisations will require a cultural change

Note: Elisabeth Goodman is the Programme Events Manager for NetIKX, and is also the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, providing 1:1 guidance, training / workshops and support for enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. She also provides 1:1 tutorials, seminars and workshops on the use of LinkedIn and other social media. Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog.


Transitioning Library and Information Service customers from consumers to collaborators – we still have a way to go..

Last week I attended Day 2 of Internet Librarian International 2010 (#ILI2010), to hear the latest on the use of social media in libraries.  The title of this blog is inspired by Dr Hazel Hall’s1 keynote presentation where she talked, amongst other things, about the need to help Library and Information Services users to evolve from merely consuming the information they receive through social media, to collaborating in its creation and evolution.

Two-way communication with customers on social media is hard to achieve.

Hazel Hall, and later speakers Karen Wallace and Nancy Dowd described how social media such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or just simple text messaging, can be used to extend information services.  Many Library and Information Services are using social media in this way.  However, from recent discussions at NetIKX2 seminars on social media, and also on SharePoint, truly two-way conversations and interactions with customers that will lead to actual collaboration and innovation are much harder to achieve via these media.

There are still untapped face-to-face opportunities for achieving strong customer engagement.

My train journeys to and from London and France, are great opportunities to catch-up on my reading, and the CILIP article on ‘customer journey mapping’3 was an excellent illustration of what more can be done to better understand customers’ needs and engage with them in service development.  Erika Gavillet gave examples of how sitting with customers whilst they use some aspect of her services, or having staff members be ‘a customer for a day’ can identify re-designs to make work spaces more effective, result in improved instructions, and generally help staff to engage more closely and effectively with their customers.

I particularly like the ‘customer journey mapping’ approach as it resonates with my view about the need to get closer to our customers.  Questionnaire-based surveys tend to be the default approach to understanding customer requirements.  However even short face-to-face or telephone discussions are so much more powerful in building the kind of relationship with our customers that can ultimately lead to collaboration and partnership.

Branding is also a route to greater partnership with our customers

As Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley of the University of Warwick Library explain in the October issue of Library and Information Update4, branding is not only about names and logos, but also about the quality of our information products and services, and, most importantly but least tangibly, about the actual and perceived value of what we deliver to our customers.  When customers truly identify with our brand, not only will they use us in preference to others, but they will also advocate us to friends, family or colleagues, and take greater interest in how we develop our products and services.

As Karen Blakeman powerfully illustrated with an anecdote in her presentation at #ILI2010, a library user might tweet about the lack of books by a particular author in their library, so that social media can be a valuable, and possibly essential way to monitor user feedback on our brand.  But we still have a way to go to really engage customers so that they become not only consumers of Library and Information products and services, but real partners in their development.


  1. Dr Hazel Hall is Director of the Centre for Social Informatics in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. She also leads the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Hazel was named IWR Information Professional of the Year in December 2009.
  2. NetIKX – www.netikx.org
  3. Erika Gavillet (2010).  Short cuts to satisfied customers.  Library and Information Gazette. 2-15 September 2010 p.11
  4. Antony Brewerton and Sharon Tuersley (2010).  More than just a logo – branding at Warwick.  Library and Information Update. October 2010 pp.46-48
  5. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the links to find out about how Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.  Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog.

Crowd-sourcing and tagging: an application of knowledge management to continuous process improvement and innovation

Guest blog by Matthew Loxton1

This discussion is about Process Improvement from a Knowledge Management perspective, but rather than covering the topic from the stratosphere, I have chosen to dig into a very specific and somewhat narrow slice – the use of internal crowdsourcing and tagging as a conduit to producing (and encouraging) process and other improvements.

There are two pathways involved in how knowledge and process-improvement work together:

–      Ongoing or incremental process improvement in the Kaizen spirit, where small incremental changes are made by the practitioner in response to observations. This is essentially a “heads-down” effort that can result in building changes in the business process-flow (with[i] or without process tools).

–      Big-bang innovations that could lead to paradigmatic changes in anything from processes/procedures, to methods, to products, to strategic direction. Usually these come about not through maturing ideas in a domain or Community of Practice (CoP)[ii], but through importing an idea from an external domain where it was matured – most likely in an entirely different application.

In this blog I will address both of these with a common infrastructure and approach, but before we get started, there is a video that I need you to watch – because I am going to base the discussion on what Clay Shirky presented at TED Talks entitled “How Social Media Can Make History[iii]

Identifying controlled vocabulary to make it easier for people to share their knowledge

What I want you to imagine is combining a Controlled Vocabulary, Tagging, and the kind of internet behavior that Shirky described in the video.  By using your entire staff (and possibly partners, customers, and visitors) as a crowdsourced monitoring system for process improvement, you can have process improvement built into the framework itself and make use of the goodwill and cognitive excess that the people possess.

Imagine for instance that you settle on the tag #Fail as a term to describe something that is wrong – this could be anything from a problem in a parking bay, to something misstated on the corporate intranet, to a broken manhole cover on the factory floor.

With a smidgen of software tools to display a crowdmap, reports tagged as #fail can come from any number of sources – internal twitter-type text messages, images or video captured with cellphones, PC screenshots, emails, and so on.

Instead of having to first find the right form, fill it out, and send it to the correct department, the individual has a single place to go and a simple mechanism to tag something using whatever capture medium they have at hand or find convenient. Using a controlled vocabulary shortens the amount of description needed, and using tagging based on a controlled vocabulary enables easy capture without requiring a significant investment of effort by the individual – both making participation more likely.

Using tagging to address errors, failures and to innovate

The same mechanism used to tag errors and failures can be used to celebrate something[iv], to draw attention to something innovative, or to ask for help by simply using the internal vocabulary with which everyone should already be familiar.

Since tagging isn’t limited to canonical structure, several tagwords can be used in conjunction either by the originator or by any subsequent handlers of the message or contributors. It also easily enables “me-too” behavior in which a situation that gets reported by one person can trigger recognition by others, who can then in turn add information as a refinement or as further information.

For example, let’s say that a screenshot of an error message is captured with tagwords of #fail and #IT.

The IT department would be able to pluck the incident from the tag cloud, know who sent it and where they are, and then further code it with tagwords to refine the responsible IT group like #serverteam, and right down to the responsible individual, #bjones.

If more people recognize the situation as something they have encountered, they can simply add to that, and both geographical and rate information would be immediately apparent.

Using tagging in this fashion also enables big-bang innovations by creating a messaging portal through which paradigmatic innovations can penetrate the organization.  A person can notice a method or concept or product matured elsewhere, capture it in any way that is convenient and immediate, and tag it so that it can be noticed and reacted to within the organization.


Building on foundational Knowledge Management principles like knowledge-sharing behavior and tagging, and using them in this way across the intranet to foster and enable improvement can not only save costs, but can lead to dramatic innovations with far-reaching effects for the organization.


  1. Matthew Loxton was previously Global Director, Knowledge Management & Change Management at Mincom.  He is currently seeking a Management Position in Knowledge Management or Organizational Development at an innovative organization.  You can find out more about Matthew at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mloxton
  2. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the links to find out about how Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.  Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog


[i] Using a tool allows the next enactment of the process to be created without any special training or even announcement having to take place

[ii] The friction between CoPs generates both new ideas, and exposure to ideas that have matured in other disciplines or geographies by stepwise changes. The region where CoPs overlap usually has practitioners who can translate from one domain to another.

[iii] [http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html]

[iv] As per Dean Kamen’s statement that “you get what you celebrate”

Social media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community

Communities of practice and social networks

Practitioners of knowledge management, sociologists, and many other business and academic professionals recognize the importance of ‘communities of practice’ or ‘communities of interest’ and social networks both within and across organisations for general human interaction, problem resolution, creativity and innovation, and personal or professional development.

Techniques such as ‘social network analysis’ have been designed to identify the existence of social networks and the people who act as the focal ‘hubs’ or ‘nodes’ within these: the people who, irrespective of hierarchy, others are drawn to as centres of expertise, intelligence, information or support.

Organisations, recognizing the importance of ‘communities of practice’ (those who are carrying out related work), and ‘communities of interest’ (those who have a common interest in a particular field), will seek to encourage and support such groups across the formal organisational structure.

Social media undeniably provide individuals and organisations with a further means of supporting such communities and networks both within and across organisations.  This blog describes how social media in general, and the use of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs can be used strategically to put you and your business at the heart of your community.

The importance of defining your goals and strategy for social media

Although people may have unspoken objectives for using social media, as with any endeavour, some up-front planning is likely to result in a more effective result, and a more efficient use of your time.  (Social media, like e-mail and general use of the internet, can be an enormous consumer of time!)

Objectives for using social media may include one or more of the following:

  1. A need to document and build up connections with those with whom one wishes to keep in touch e.g. when leaving a job, starting up a new business
  2. To create an on-line presence and monitor reputation e.g. to aid with job hunting, establish or maintain the credibility of a business
  3. To look for opportunities e.g. jobs or prospective clients
  4. As a resource for developing an area of expertise

Social media need to be used as part of a wider strategy

Whatever your or your organisation’s goals, the adoption of wider tactics than using social media alone will enhance your use of these tools.

1. Documenting and building connections

A good place to start is to define your target audience: the types of people that you want to connect with (whether they be colleagues, associates, clients, prospective clients) and the organisations, geographical and professional networks or locations, and areas of expertise in which they might feature.

As relationships are built on trust, and trust depends on interaction, just having people on the equivalent of an address book is not enough.  Both the act of making connections, and the building of relationships will be enhanced by face-to-face interactions, so that it’s important to find events (conferences, seminars, trade fairs, networking meetings) and initiate conversations with existing and prospective contacts.

With these foundations and supports in place, then the tools available on social media can be used in the following ways to build your electronic contact list:

  • Uploading your existing contacts from e-mail
  • Looking for possible new contacts or followers amongst your connections’ contacts, followers or lists (on Twitter)
  • Searching for new contacts or followers using terms or key words of interest in the social media tools themselves, or in directories such as Twellow and BlogCatalog
  • Joining groups (on LinkedIn) or communities (on Facebook)

2. Building an online presence

Again, it’s important to start by developing your personal or business profile on paper, or at least as a separately distinct document: your c.v. / resume, or your business plan.

Establishing company web sites, writing blogs, white papers, publications, giving presentations and identifying key words (or tags) that represent you and your company’s areas of expertise will all provide concrete and substantial material, which you can then draw on in using social media as follows:

  • Creating your profiles (LinkedIn will upload your c.v. / resume as a good starting point for this)
  • Establishing internet links back and forth (which will help with search engine optimisation ‘SEO’)
  • Participating in group discussions and ‘Answers’ (LinkedIn)
  • Sharing helpful information through your ‘status updates’ (LinkedIn), ‘newsfeeds’ and discussions (Facebook), or tweets (Twitter)
  • Participating in ‘tweet ups’ (Twitter): virtual conversations initiated at particular dates / times, or to coincide with live conferences or seminars.
  • Establishing searches on Twitter and GoogleAlerts to monitor tweets or blogs that might be mentioning you or your company in a way that might affect your reputation

3. Looking for opportunities

Recruitment agencies, job fairs, professional events, publications, market research, on-line job sites are all important resources to consider in addition to social media.  It is still a fact that face-to-face discussions, personal connections and referrals have a higher success rate in creating opportunities than on-line resources.  That being said, social media can be useful in the following ways:

  • Job listings within groups, and job search tools (LinkedIn)
  • Searching companies of potential interest to find existing or new connections within them (LinkedIn)
  • Generally searching or following companies to find out more about them (all tools)
  • Participating in relevant group discussions in a generally helpful manner

4. Learning and developing yourself and your business

Becoming a member of, and participating in professional organisations, attending relevant events, reading hard-copy publications, and online resources are all obviously good opportunities for learning and development.  They also support all the previous goals as well!

Increasingly, these organisations also have social media presences, which enable a sustained dialogue within their communities of interest in between face-to-face events, and periodic publication schedules.

Following the organisations on Twitter, Facebook  and in LinkedIn groups also provides greater awareness of upcoming events, as well as advance notice of who else might be attending to support greater networking.

Finally, LinkedIn’s ‘reading list’ gadget is a useful resource for finding books that members of your network are reading that might be of interest to you, or be a good point of conversation in building your relationships!

Conclusion: how to enhance your social media skills

Trial and error, learning from your friends, reading online resources and books on the subject attending seminars and 1:1 coaching are the many options available to help you enhance your skills in social media.  Some specific resources are listed below.

In addition, the following will give you and your organisation a greater guarantee of success in placing you at the heart of your community:

  1. Having clear goals and strategies for your use of social media
  2. Thinking holistically about all the approaches you might use, of which social media would be a part
  3. Putting an emphasis on being helpful to your fellow community members
  4. Making your use of social media part of your daily, weekly or monthly routine


  1. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. She provides 1:1 tutorials and seminars on how to use LinkedIn and other social media for personal and business development.
  2. Example of a related seminar: Using social media to support, market and develop your business, 5th July 2010, St Ives;
  3. Presentation to NetIKX, January 2010: Using LinkedIn, Blogs and Twitter for networking and communities of interest
  4. Social networking tools, empowerment and knowledge management
  5. Follow the links to find out about the other ways in which Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your and your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.

Elisabeth Goodman’s blog: a summary, some statistics, and a hiatus whilst I focus on some publications on Lean, Process Improvement and Team Effectiveness

WordPress has some fascinating tools for monitoring the level of readership of blog postings.  Here are the statistics (as of 30th Nov 2009) on all my blogs since I started posting them in July 2009

Title Views
Knowledge assets have been walking out o 232
Deep Visuals Ltd – how Kodak’s knowledge 194
There’s more to decision making than mee 76
URS – a case study of an organisation th 76
Why conventional knowledge management, p 73
Creativity and problem solving – applica 61
Personal reflections on living through c 53
(A consultant’s) Life is like a game of 33
(Project) leaders empower, (project) man 32
We are still in the knowledge age: are w 27
Powerful quotes for strong performing (e 24
Using surveys and other approaches for d 24
Taking control of your working life as a 22
About 14
Is the key to empowerment to adopt a sel 13
Look for what your customers want… 12
Social networking tools, empowerment and 11
Aptitude, Attitude, Plenitude and Servit 10

It’s also fascinating to monitor what happens over time, as new blogs are posted, reference is made to earlier ones, links are made from my accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn, or from others’s blog rolls.  Lots of interesting insights from the perspective of marketing strategies, and the use of social media.

I am going to have a brief hiatus in my blog postings as I focus on a number of other publications: articles, a section in a book, a book, a conference paper – relating to Lean, Process Improvement and Team Effectiveness.

Any interested readers are very welcome to follow my updates on these via my accounts Twitter (ecgoodman) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin/in/elisabethgoodman).

More blogs will follow in due course on the topics relating to RiverRhee Consulting’s 4 main areas of expertise for enhancing team effectiveness for improved productivity and team morale:

  1. Focusing on your customers
  2. Simplifying and streamlining what you do
  3. Optimising information and knowledge assets
  4. Ensuring successful business change

Follow the links for more information about RiverRhee Consulting, and about principal consultant,Elisabeth Goodman.