A working model of ‘Social Capital’

I’ve been indulging in Wikis a lot this year.

I wrote quite a bit on the topic here and elsewhere, recently. And his Monday I was in charge of the wiki portion of what amounts to the launch of the first open source business development plan in Sustainability, for Arizona. More about this here.

So on Wednesday, when I visited Gangplank to get a better sense of this remarkable working environment I could not help notice the parallel.

If Gangplank is a piece of software, it would most probably be a Wiki!

It’s a a true collaborative space, whose ‘permanent residents’ (independent businesses) don’t pay rent, though they get to use the utilities, the workspace, conference rooms, wifi etc for no charge. Derek Neighbors, co-founder of Gangplank and our guest on the radio show this week, prefers to call this an investment in ‘social capital.’ It reminded me of another semi-financial term used in the book Groundswell –how collaboration earns a person ‘psychic income.’

But to get back to the topic of wikis, if you consider how much time has gone into Wikipedia –approximately 1 million man hours, according to Clay Shirky-– it is a model that works even among largely anonymous people. So of course it world work when you get a room filled with creative people.

Just step into Gangplank, and you’ll see a working model -or a ‘use case’ if you prefer another geeky term!

Podcast on Green Teams

We had a jam-packed radio show on Green Teams this Wednesday.

If last week was all about the external aspects of greening an organizations -buildings and facilities management– this week was all about how health care organizations build green teams. The best practices, and the learning moments.

  • Colleen Cusick of Johns Hopkins Health System talked about the sub-groups in the team that take leadership in many sectors of a health care system.
  • Joan Plisko talked about the corporate culture that drives behavior, and the need to have everybody on the same page.

Here is a link to the podcast: http://bit.ly/your3BL13

Barrier for social collaboration: integration not motivation

I’m attending a webinar right now on ‘Leveraging Social Software for Increased Employee Engagement and Performance’ with Michael Fausette and Steve Paul.

Interesting slide here, earlier on, based on attendee poll.

The biggest barrier to collaboration appears to be:

NOT lack of collaborative tools

BUT: lack of integration with other systems, and that some in the organization won’t use the tools provided

The product being featured is Spaces, an enterprise platform for collaboration from Moxie.

Perfect timing for a discussion today on our radio show, at www.your3bl.com, where we are taking about Green Teams –Part II of our series. The typical tools teams have always been comfortable with are IM and email, while the more social tools such as Wikis and Twitter or even Sharepoint, pose too steep a learning curve to team members.

I’m going to ask our listeners to take a quick poll during the show to tell us what type of tools they are using today, and what they might consider for their team.

If you care to listen in, here is a link to the live stream: http://bit.ly/Your3BL
The show is at 7.00 pm (Pacific)

  • Ping us at @your3bl
  • Email us at contact@your3bl.com
  • Call us, toll free at 1866.536.1100

Does your company have an idea funnel?

Everyone has ideas, right? You hear them in the most unexpected places. In the gym, waiting in line for check-in at the gate, and at places like …Quirky.


It’s one of the latest in the batch of idea generating sites, where the wisdom of the crowds reigns. Runs riot, really. A wide open pasture, with the two ingredients ideas thrive on –rewards and recognition.  OK, make that three things. Add ‘Community’ too.

Quirky.com is a fast-paced idea hub, where people come up with sensible, practical solutions that may not be as quirky. It urges the community with this:

The horses are at the gate, the gun’s about to fire… ladies and gents, step right up and place your bets. We have a bunch of new product ideas for your perusing pleasure.

The “Foolproof Patio Composting Bin” had this detailed sketch. (Enlarge it by clicking on image.) Another stylish spatula set was on sale, because it went from idea to market because enough people voted on it!

How it works is Quirky’s product development team takes an idea and lets the community vote on it. They ‘pre-sell’ the product and then manufacture it. Revenues are shared with the inventor/idea generator.

So what if companies could take this process and let it loose among employees? What would it take to create an idea funnel that taps the passions and ideas that arrive with us at work?

Managers who are receptive to feedback and product development suggestions tend to open the funnel at formal brainstorming sessions. These are not exactly the  moments when the most crazy (or should I say ‘quirky’) ideas hit us. Quirky.com is just one of the ways to get your employees’ creative juices flowing. A few others are beginning to try their hand at funneling.

And you thought that My Starbucks Idea was just a bunch of over-caffeinated people with light bulbs going off in their heads…