E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Narrate Your Work, Working Out Loud, with Google Plus

Gran Canaria in the WinterAll along, and ever since I started making use of Google Plus, over a year ago, I have been saying time and time again how, to me, it is probably one of the most powerful Social Networking Sites available out there on the Social Web, allowing us all, knowledge Web workers, not only to live social, but also to get work done, never mind the huge amount of deeper conversations one can certainly host over the course of time and that we are starting to see more and more by the day now that a whole bunch of people are starting to realise the huge potential versus other social networking tools. The combination of multiple levels of interaction from a same single user interface is a killer. Public vs. private vs. dedicated interactions – through circles -, offline social networking through text, real-time with IM, videoconferencing with Plus Hangouts, one of my favourite features, without a doubt!, broadcasting events through Hangout On Air, a phenomenal mobile experience with stunning iOS Apps for both iPhone and iPad, etc. etc. are just a few of the capabilities that have made Google Plus escalate to number #2 position for yours truly of social technologies to enjoy nowadays. And I suppose I’m not the only one thinking along those terms.

But I’m now wondering whether we may all have an opportunity to up the game for Google Plus and try to prove what’s really made of. Take it to the next level. Show and demonstrate how it can take productivity and effectiveness into new heights and how it can help you build your online reputation like no other social networking site may have done in the past, perhaps with the well known exception of your own personal business blog, as I have blogged about it in the past. Well, here’s what I am doing to level up Google Plus then for myself…

I have always been fascinated by the whole concept of narrating my work, working out loud and observable work (a.k.a. #owork). I have blogged about them in the past already a few times and it never ceases to amaze me the huge impact each and everyone of them have been having in helping transform the corporate world as we know it, within the larger context of Social Business. Once again, nothing to do really with technology, but more with attitude (One of my favourite key terms when talking about corporate culture as of late. Isn’t it everything about attitude and what we do about it?), with that shifting of gears, of mindsets, of human behaviours, where knowledge workers become more open and transparent about their own workload, strongly believing that by doing that not only are they helping themselves to become more effective and productive by raising their visibility by demonstrating their subject matter expertise, but also helping others excel at what they are good at, along with helping their organisations build a huge amount of information and knowledge flows freely available to everyone, where before they were all trapped in a good number of corporate silos, regardless of the current excuse du jour. 

Well, in that context of narrating your work, working out loud, I keep getting asked by folks outside of the firewall what it is that I do for work eventually inside IBM as a Social Computing Evangelist. And all along I have been trying to do my best in describing what I have been up to and what it is that I try to achieve at the end of the day. However, all along it’s been a bit of a challenge on its own, because in the vast majority of cases despite my eagerness to try to become more transparent and open on what I do to folks outside the firewall, external social technologies still keep presenting a good number of challenges: Twitter with the silly 140 characters limitation, amongst several others; LinkedIn because of the hugely aggressive Terms of Service which still continue to be a complete turn-off for yours truly; Facebook not much anymore since I deleted my account over 2 years ago and haven’t had a need to return back to it just yet (Doubt I ever will, since it’s kept that personal use flavour ever since I left it); Slideshare because of how heavy centric it is on presentation materials and a bit too tough when I no longer do them for public speaking; and a whole bunch of other starting social networking sites that bring forward lots of promise, but that they then end up being acquired by other major players and there goes all of the excitement.Gran Canaria in the Winter 

Till we then bump into Google Plus itself, indeed! And that’s where it clicked for me a little while ago now, because the limitations  from other social networking sites are just not there. Quite the opposite. It’s got that unique opportunity to explore it for a good number of use cases from your day to day work and eventually see which one would stick out the most. I have got to admit that for a good number of weeks I struggled to keep up with it, having long periods of silence or sudden bursts that even me, I thought, were a bit too much over the top. All induced, perhaps, by some of the habits I have built up already over the course of years from several other social networking sites. But once I learned to build a new set of habits for my use of Google Plus things have finally clicked. And all thanks to a one single key concept that we all seem to be taking for granted, perhaps far too often, but that’s is critical to any good social networking behaviour: engagement.

Yes, in Google Plus I no longer get to post as frequent as I perhaps do in Twitter. I’m lucky if I get 1 to 3 to 5 updates per day, depending on the context of what I may be doing. I am now totally fine with that! Just as much when a day, or two, or more! go by and I haven’t shared anything. That’s fine, too! I decided what I want to do is focus on the long term of the interactions, pretty much like with blogging and realise and embrace that some times you would have something to talk about and that in some others it’s much better to sit back, relax, enjoy the conversations flowing by and keep learning. In Google Plus I do care more for the conversations, taking the time to respond to each and everyone of the comments that come through, pretty much like I try to do on my personal business blog. Main reason being that it’s much easier to keep up with than with other social networking sites. I hardly ever share, broadcast any link, unless its content is just so powerful that I feel compelled to engage on a follow-up conversation with various people. I have built up the habit of sharing and commenting on links to other interesting readings, more than anything else as a learning experience for yours truly when interacting with others, build a bunch of food for thought which will then be reflected on upcoming blog posts, like this one. And so forth. 

Essentially, what I decided to do with my Google Plus experience is to tailor it to be half way in between short bursts to connect with people all over the place, to then spark conversations on topics we both / all may care about and feel very passionate about and eventually develop deeper thinking about them that will see the end-result in blog posts. And over the last few weeks that seems to have worked incredibly well, to the point where one of the threads that I have started in there helped me prepare (Thanks ever so much everyone who participated in it!) the flow for one of the most important presentations I may be delivering in my lifetime next week Friday in Zurich. And this is where I feel narrating your work by working out loud with Google Plus would probably be my main use case for G+ from here onwards. 

Gran Canaria in the WinterThat’s right, from now onwards, I plan to continue making use of the following hash tags to share a glimpse, or two, of what it is that I go through at work as a social computing evangelist with the aim of inspiring some more observable work coming along. So, to that extent I will be using #elsuasworkbook #narrateyourwork #workingoutloud #observablework #owork plus whatever other hash tags related to the context of what I will be sharing. One of the other perks and advantages of doing so as well is to be able to capture plenty of the activities I’ll be involved with throughout the year, so when year end comes along I will have a good overview of what I may, or may not!, have accomplished throughout. And since it’s going to be shared out there in the open and transparently, I am hoping it would also benefit other folks as a result of it. 

Thus, if you are just catching up now, and would want to take a peek of what I have been doing over the last couple of months, go ahead and dive into it, see how narrating my work is helping me become more effective and productive at what I do with Google Plus and I do hope as well some of that content shared may be compelling enough for you to drop by and share a comment or two and keep the dialogue going … I will surely be looking forward to it! Pretty much like I have been doing on this blog all along… Yes, I know what you may be thinking about … will Google Plus replace this blog over time, like it’s done for a good number of people out there already? No, I don’t think so. At least, not yet. My blog is still my blog, my voice, my online CV, my business card, my virtual self. Google Plus though is just about to help amplify and augment that voice one notch higher…

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