Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School lead a discussion with Christopher Keohane, Social Media Program Product Manager at Lockheed Martin IS&GS – CIO – Architecture Services and Shawn Dahlen, Social Media Program Manager, Lockheed Martin IS&GS CIO Office to talk about their Unity enterprise 2.0 platform at Lockheed Martin.
The Lockheed Martin guys really caught the attention of the crowd in their smaller session at the 2008 edition of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. This earned them a seat on the big stage.
They started with the business case. The 9-11 Commission noted that one of the problems was that information was siloed at the intelligence agencies. As a government contractor, Lockheed pays close attention to the government’s position. The appeal of a enterprise 2.0 / collaboration platform was the ability to create content and share it among the team.
In addressing the ROI concern, they made it easy by making a small investment. There was a budget available of a few thousand dollars for experimental projects. They got up and running in a small group with that small investment. [If your investment is small, the return does not have to be big to find a positive ROI. Start small.]
They knew legal would have questions and raise concerns. Christopher and Shawn approached them early to help with approval and buy-in. Legal was unfamiliar with the tools. But they were familiar with export laws, data privacy limitations and other considerations that needed to be in place.
Legal was able to help design the controls, processes, and procedures that would need to be in place to make Unity compliant with the laws that affect the internal operations of the company. They did not leave legal as a last minute approval to check the box. They got them engaged to help identify risks and problems.
[If you don’t bring legal into the process and leave them with a late in the process “yes” or “no” decision. You’re going to get a “NO!” Inevitably you will not have addressed an internal policy or regulatory concern. Especially if the project is being run out of the IT group, where they are often not involved in the business processes.]
Evolution versus Revolution
To echo the keynotes on Tuesday, Shawn and Christopher took an approach that was both evolutionary and revolutionary. Migrating from MS Word documents to blogs and wikis is evolutionary. Opening up the information for sharing is revolutionary.
The Generational Issue
Shawn and Christopher pointed out that the generational issue runs both ways when using 2.0 tools. They acknowledge that their team was a bunch of 20-somethings. They had trouble figuring out how to use these tools in the business setting. They had trouble using them to collaborate among themselves.
The older generation and managers of the business understand the business process. They were surprised that heir most prolific bloggers are 40-something senior managers. ( I am not surprised. I had the same experience at my old law firm when we started deploying 2.0 tools. The partners and senior attorneys contributed more information than the younger associates.) It is the seasoned workers who have the knowledge and understand the business needs. If the tools are easy enough to use, they will use them.
They used Microsoft’s SharePoint as the platform for Unity. When pushed, they neither endorsed the product nor said anything bad about it. They did acknowledge the difficulty in trying to customize the platform for different groups. The users found the tools easy to use and easy to see the migration from Word to blogs and wikis.
[I had a discussion with Mary Abraham of Above and Beyond KM about the Snake Oil of Social Media. As we became seasoned in our businesses, we learned to silo information because the technology siloed it for us. Email became our information source and collaboration tool. Email is inherently siloed. Trying to make it open does not work. My theory is that if you want to change the culture, you also need to change the technology tools.]
Sean and Christopher also found that you need to ground enterprise 2.0 in the needs of the business. Don’t be afraid of social media. Embrace it. Apply it to your business challenges.
Professor McAfee is leaving Harvard next month to become a Principal Research Scientist within the Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management. And his book, Enterprise 2.0, is coming out in the fall. You can download the first chapter for a sneak preview.
Thanks to Alex Howard of Digiphile and SearchCompliance.com for giving me permission to use his photo in this blog post.