I’m back…

It has been a while, there was the small matter of growing a baby and then keeping said baby happy for the last 7 months. But yesterday I found myself back in the comfortable saddle of work and it was like i’d never been away. Except I have, and instead of being responsible for one little human I am now responsible for two…

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Whilst on maternity I have had some time to reflect and think. And there has been a lot to think about in 7 short months the UK voted out of Europe, Trump voted in and our news is dominated with the horrors that are still taking place in Syria, Yeomen to name but a few. Some days the world feels like a very scary place, unsafer, more worrying. And I probably do worry a lot more now because I have these two small people to consider.

Communities and social media has played a massive part in the outcomes of some big events and over the course of 2017 we will see and hear more through our mediums of choice. At times i’ve felt incredibly overwhelmed and frustrated and as someone with a huge social  media footprint i’ve found my timelines bombarded with desperation, negativity and anger from all sides of the political spectrum. I’ve seen friends, families and work colleagues fall out as individuals wear their heart on their sleeve when it comes to their political persuasion.

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution of sorts and that was to be more thankful. I wanted to try and cancel out some of the negativity with positivity. I wanted to put it out there to the universe that I am thankful for the big things, the little things and everything in between.

So i’d like to put it out there that I am thankful for meeting some wonderful new people in 2016. One in particular inspired me to explore my creativity and turn on my sewing machine. So when the world outside is feeling all too much I explore a new community i’ve immersed myself in, as I start to get to grips with the basics of sewing and take on some new personal projects.

I am also thankful to be able to get back to a job I enjoy very much and I hope I am able to continue sharing my community experiences with you through 2017.

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Choice, variety and back to basics…

This week we’ve had the pleasure of having a student on work experience join our team, she’s 16 and has just finished her GCSE’s. We had a coffee and a chat and I asked her what three apps she couldn’t live without, she listed Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Tumblr as her top three, this was in direct contrast to my cousin (age 14) who listed Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter a few weeks earlier when I asked her the same question. Snapchat is clearly the favourite of the moment. But where one listed facebook messenger as her most used app, for the other it was a no no with her friends and she favoured Instagram. Interestingly they both agreed Twitter was boring.

Our world is filled with no end of choice and variety, we have a never ending diversity of needs, interests and expectations. However when this plays out in the workplace it makes us unproductive and siloed.

When I first took on the role of Community Manager at Pearson my first challenge was to merge 136 intranets into our new Enterprise Social Network (ESN) fondly named Neo (powered by Jive). Our objective was to break down silos, create one source of truth and have one platform where we were all equal. Five years later Neo is going strong but i’m starting to see more collaboration tools enter the mix, teams and departments are starting to think about using other tools.

Now I’m hardly the digital Luddite, in fact I’m normally an early adopter but I just can’t help having this niggling feeling – introducing more tools is only going to exasperate the challenge and silo information and teams further. How much productivity do we lose just trying to figure all these new tools out? The resources needed to implement, engage and launch new platforms is immense, I should know i’ve been doing it for one platform for the last five years. What seems to be forgotten when we’re all excited about all the shiny whistles and bells the vendor is promising success relies on – PEOPLE. You can throw new technology, more apps, customised systems at a problem; but if you don’t tackle the behavioural change your tools will fail.

There will always be thousands of apps and tools being marketed at us to “simplify” our personal and work lives. How we respond and adapt to these changes will become our most useful skill at work and at home. However at work our goal is to add value to our business, before considering if we need another tool or another way of doing things, we should invest a little more time talking to our people and fully explore the tools we already have. Are we using them to their full advantage?

I’ve personally spent the last two months speaking to colleagues, learning about use cases, hosting focus groups and surveying our community. It has been enlightening i’ve realised 2015 is the year we strip Neo back to basics and revisit engaging our community with all that it has to offer, especially since we’re upgrading to the cloud this summer!

We have quite the task list and as I work my through our Neo Improvement Project I will happily share the experience here…