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

From the blog

VMC Interview with Andrea Vasceralli and Luis Suarez

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesLast couple of days have been rather intense, specially at work, preparing for another business trip next week, lengthy customer workshops on Enterprise 2.0 and Social Software Adoption, ramping up activities from my daily work for what’s left of this summer and so forth. Which is why I didn’t get a chance to put together a blog post yesterday and why I am going to take a short break today from my series of articles on the Enterprise 2.0 conference highlights in Boston. But not to worry, I will continue with them shortly as well once again.

If you have been reading this blog for a while now you will know that for the last few years I have been living, and working remotely, from Gran Canaria, while still at IBM, my current employer. Yes, I know, there isn’t a single IBM office anywhere near me, closest one is in mainland Spain, but yet, I do have an IBM office in here, i.e. my own home office 😉

Plenty of folks wonder how I can keep working productively in such remote environment when both of my bosses are thousands of kilometers away from me; they keep wondering how I do keep in touch with my peers, customers, business partners, various other thought leaders in this 2.0 space; they keep questioning whether teleworking can be a realistic solution for the corporate world of the 21st century. You know the usual stuff most Web / knowledge workers working from home remotely get asked every now and then. Like where is your water cooler, Mr.?, or, like some of them would say over here, at this side of the pond, where is your coffee corner, my friend?

So far I have been able to share some of my thoughts on this subject, and several other similar ones, in a couple of blog posts I put together a little while ago under the titles "The Future of Work by Luis Suarez (Goodbye Cubicle, Hello Couch)" and "Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 46 (Living without Email – One Man’s Story. Are you Next?)", respectively. Well, it looks like now I have got another one to refer to. And this time around having done a live face to face interview with another good friend of mine, who came to visit a few days back: Andrea Vascellari. (Funny how I have met more people who do related work to what I usually do over here in Gran Canaria than when I was living in The Netherlands for over seven years! I wonder why … heh)

That’s right! A few days back, Andrea was over here in Gran Canaria, in Las Palmas de G. C., to be more precise, on vacation and we eventually spent a good afternoon enjoying the little pleasures this island has got to offer on a splendid summer Saturday afternoon. A couple of beers and an incredibly good conversation can do that to you!

Thus, as a result of it, we recorded a follow up video interview of nearly 27 minutes where we discussed a whole bunch of topics that he has put together in a lovely blog post over at "Luis Suarez – VMC Video Interview". To give you an idea of what you will find in it, here you have them once more:

"Questions & Discussion Topics:

  • What do you do at IBM?
  • How does it feel to work remotely for IBM from from Gran Canaria?
  • Some examples of social software implementation at IBM
  • Which is the response from the client’s side on the use of social software?
  • Did the need of adopting social software come from the clients of from IBM?
  • Do you think that social software could/can speed up communication processes within certain groups?
  • Which are the problems you are facing at IBM when trying to implement new tools/solutions?
  • How’s the feeling of working in a transparent environment?
  • How to overcome cultural roadblocks to innovation?
  • What do you think about Google Wave?
  • The more we move on the more skills are needed to get the best out of social software/tools
  • A world without emails
  • A world without emails – How was received by IBM?
  • The future of communications"

As you can see, plenty of ground to cover in those nearly 27 minutes on some of my favourite topics, including, of course, living "A World Without EMail" and what it is like not using corporate email any longer at work! (Although this week, I can tell you, it hasn’t been pretty, but more on that one later on!); so I am going to keep things short on this blog post and just point you to the interview itself, which I have also embedded below:

From here onwards, and to wrap up, I just want to send across to far, far, far away Andrea a big and special Thanks! for wanting to meet up while he was enjoying his vacation over here and for offering and doing the recording of one of our conversations. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you will, too. Many thanks, Andrea, and till next time we cross our paths or you may venture into coming back home 😉

Keep having fun!

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 15 to 21 (#e2conf Update on “Thinking Outside the Inbox!”)

While I am going through a number of different blog posts sharing some of the major key highlights from the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston a couple of weeks back (Already!), I thought I would go ahead and share with you folks an interim article on my (weekly) progress reports of living "A World Without Email"; more than anything else, because it’s been nearly two months! (Yes, 2 months!! Goodness!), since the last entry I shared over here on this very same topic was quite a while ago.

And it would be even more interesting since it ties in, quite nicely, with one of the many highlights for me while being in Boston a couple of weeks back at such special event. But let’s start one step at a time. Last blog post I shared I put together a report that ended up with Week 14, so I am sure you may be wondering what happened ever since, right? Whether I have been able to keep it up, or give up on it altogether, I am sure you are wondering what’s been going on all this time. I have been sharing in my Flickr account all of the different weekly progress reports (Week 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20), adding some further thoughts along the way, but here is the latest one for week 21 (As well as all the others):

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 21

As you would be able to see, things have been going on really really nice, to the point where last week it marked the 2nd lowest number of incoming emails for this year with a wonderful 17 emails received! Great news, indeed! And for the rest of the other weeks things have kept a good pace of staying under control between 20 to 25 emails a week, which is rather close to my follow up challenge for this year on 20 or less a week. Thus getting there!

The interesting thing is that during those few weeks I haven’t shared the progress reports, lots of things have happened: recovered from the phishing attack in Facebook (Which was quite an interesting experience putting to the test my online reputation, like why would Luis send me this awkward link? Not to worry, I won’t!); was on the road again for another business trip; then the Enterprise 2.0 conference event itself and the usual stuff at work. And yet the number of incoming emails has been getting lower and lower, but still interesting as busy as ever through social software tools. I tell you, if things continue like this throughout the year, I expect to have gone well below the follow up challenge I set myself for at the beginning of the year. Remember 20 or less emails a week! Slowly, but steadily!

Ok, moving on! Hopefully, next weekly progress report I will share it won’t take two months for it to come through, since I already got a bunch of interesting links I would want to share with you folks that touch base on this very same topic of re-defining and re-purposing how we make use of email while at work and finally how we can, successfully, diversify our Inboxes. But that would be the subject for another blog post.

For now, allow me to put together over here the connection with one of the main highlights of Enterprise 2.0 in Boston a couple of weeks back. Remember Ulrike Reinhard and the wonderful interview she did with me while I was in Berlin for the Web 2.0 Expo on the topic of Thinking Outside the Inbox? Well, our paths crossed each other again while in Boston and Ulrike kindly invited me to do a short update / interview, where I could detail some more how the experience has been like of living "A World Without Email" and what I have been learning throughout all of these months (17 months and going!).

Of course, I couldn’t reject such a lovely and kind offer, since I thoroughly enjoyed the first interview back in October. So we went to the lobby of the Westin hotel and she hit the record button and right away we were talking again. And Update on "Thinking outside the Inbox!" is the actual outcome of that interview. A video that lasts for a bit over 22 minutes in which I touch base on what it is like having ditched corporate email for good; how much I rely now on the nurturing of my various social networks; how they help me collaboratively filter what I need and how I try to keep them as healthy as I possibly can so that I can trust them to help get the job done throughout the day, just as much as I am contributing myself as well.

Here is the embedded version, so you can start playing it right away. Or, alternatively, the direct link to it is here.

As you would be able to see I got to share plenty of details as well about how I decide to follow people across the board, whether internally or externally, in the various social software tools, including Twitter, which also provides an answer to those folks who have been asking me for a while how I eventually make use of such micro-sharing Web site.

Again, a big special thanks! to Ulrike for another very enjoyable interview that I had the pleasure to participate in and, even more, when such interview, and a couple of other things, sparked a superb conversation on something that’s been in my mind for a while now. Unfortunately, I can’t share many more details just yet. Other than it would involve … Gran Canaria 😀 (Thanks ever so much, Ulrike!)

(Oh, in case you may have missed the various installments from the Enterprise 2.0 conference highlights I have been sharing already, here are Part I, Part II and Part III so far… Flickr picture shared above courtesy from Andrea Baker, a.k.a. @Immunity)

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Collaboration Matters 8 and 9 – Lotusphere Highlights with “Los Dos Luis”

A few weeks back I got invited to participate in a couple of podcasting episodes from the wonderful folks behind Collaboration Matters: Stu McIntyre and Neil Burston. And, of course, I couldn’t reject such kind offer. Even more when I found out the other guest for those two episodes was eventually IBM fellow colleague, and good friend, Luis Benitez (Not to worry, we are not twin brothers, despite what most folks keep telling us, even if we tend to look alike somewhat! heh) and on the agenda we were going to talk about Enterprise Social Software as well as detailing some of our key highlights from Lotusphere 2009, held earlier on this year in Orlando, FL.

And so we did take part on these two different fun podcasting episodes, where we talked about a whole bunch of different topics, but always with some of the best highlights, in our opinion, of Lotusphere 2009 running in the background. Now those episodes are readily available for replay and I am sure you may be wondering what we did talk about actually with both Neil and Stu, right? Well, here is a quick synopsis of what you will find in both episodes, to give you a taster of what to expect:

Collaboration Matters 8 – Los Dos Luis (36MB download and running for 26 minutes in Spanish with Neil)

  • Lotusphere – the excitement and the challenges
  • Successes and challenges for Social Software
  • Is Social Software "Mainstream"?
  • A Year without email – working in different ways?

Collaboration Matters 9 – LS09 Connectr BoF Review (41MB download and running for 30 minutes in English with both Neil & Stu)

  • What is a Connectr?
  • Who was there and what did we discuss?
  • Tools versus Enablement & adoption
  • What Social tools are people using – injecting Social Software capabilities into the existing application landscape
  • Actually using Social tools – asking questions and opening up the Silos
  • Do Social Software Best Practices really exist?
  • Who is driving social software adoption within organisations?

As you will be able to see plenty of really good and interesting topics where both Luis Benitez and myself shared our two cents on what we have been seeing in this social software space for a little while now and where we may be heading next. On episode #8 I even got a chance to talk about living "A World Without Email" and this particular episode may be more interesting to those folks who speak Spanish, since we had the entire conversation in Spanish! Funny enough, it’s probably one of the very few podcasting episodes I have done in my native language. Yeah, too funny!

On episode #9 you will be able to get a grasp of our first public reactions to the BOFs session both Luis Benitez and myself did along with Stu on the topic of Connectr. Perhaps one of the most engaging and interactive sessions I have been talking around the subject of Enterprise Social Software, adoption, social tools, the so-called "best practices" of social software (Priceless that one, I can tell you know, and something I will be coming back to shortly as well with a couple of follow up blog posts) that I can remember in a fully packed room.

So, I am going to leave it there for now, and would encourage you have a listen to episode #8 where you can find out plenty more about social software at the same time that you can practice your Spanish skills 😉 , or have that rare chance where you can hear me talk in Spanish about some of the 2.0 subjects I have been really passionate about all along. On episode #9 you will be able to find out, first hand, what we learned from the BOFs session (Connectr) we did at Lotusphere.

From here I just want to take this opportunity to share a special thanks! to both Stu and Neil for their time and for their kind invite to the Collaboration Matters podcasting show and to my tocayo for sharing along all of the good stuff he has been doing all this time in the field of social computing and, more specifically, around IBM’s Lotus Connections. Thanks, guys!

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KMOL Interview – Luis Suarez on Knowledge Management and Social Computing

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesWhile still recovering from a rather intense day at work, yesterday, that is, where even cloning would not have helped me address multiple conflicts with the various meetings I had to attend throughout the day, I thought I would drop by again and share a few comments on a rather interesting interview I carried out through email, a little while ago (How ironic, eh? heh – although the first initial contact was through Twitter, heh but you know how it goes; there is a limit as to how much you can say in 140 characters …); with the always insightful Ana Neves around the topic of Knowledge Management and how it has been currently influenced by the emergence of Social Computing within the enterprise.

What a pleasure it was, to say the least! A true honour and a privilege, indeed, since the interview was made for the super fine KMOL online resource on Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning. We covered a good number of different questions and all of them pretty relevant to some of the work I have been doing myself for a while in the area of KM, Collaboration, Communities and Social Computing. Yes, certainly, I know, my sweet spots. We even talked a little bit about what it is like living a "A World Without Email". So, as you can see, I just couldn’t resist the offer to share my two cents on a good number of the topics I am passionate about.

Now, I am not going to reproduce the entire interview over here, but would certainly love to point you to it. There is an English and a Portuguese version of it and, instead, what I will do, as a teaser, of course, is share the questions we tried to address during the interview. That way it will give you an idea of what to expect. So here you have them:

  • "There is a lot of theory around Organisational Knowledge Management and not much is shared about how it gets done. How is the Knowledge Management theory being translated inside organisations?
  • In your view, what are the main challenges organisations face when investing on Knowledge Management?
  • Are organisations currently more or less committed to KM?
  • What are the KM “elements” that can help organisations the most during the current economic scenario?
  • Some practitioners feel that organisations need the right culture in place before they can start a KM programme. Others defend that a KM programme can help create that “right” culture. Where do you stand?
  • How is it to live and work in a world without email?
  • Can organisations realistically aspire to release their staff from their inboxes?"

You may be wondering what I enjoyed the most out of the interview, right? Well, amongst several other things, the fact that Ana disagreed with some of my views, specially around the culture of sharing and whether it is a requirement or not for a successful deployment of a Knowledge Management programme. Fascinating, and very enjoyable, discussion that she has brought forward in a follow blog post under the title: "The Right Organisational Culture: A Requirement?"

And thus the debate is ON! Over the next couple of days I will be sharing my counter arguments hoping to keep adding further on into the discussion, but that would be the topic for another blog post. For now I leave you with Ana’s thought-provoking statement: "The Right Organisational Culture: A Requirement?"

What do you think? Is it a requirement? Is it not? Stay tuned for my follow up blog post on this very same topic …

(From here I just want to give a special thanks to Ana for her patience and support in hosting the email interview and for giving me the opportunity to share some further insights on a topic that I hope folks out there doing KM and Social Computing would be interested in reading & engaging with further … Thanks ever so much, Ana!)

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 11 to 14 (Email as a Collaboration Tool? No, Thanks!)

Gran Canaria - Driving through the countrysideDuring the course of yesterday a couple of tweets (Thanks, Sandy & Stewart!) over at Twitter (Where I nowadays get most of my dynamic feeds, I must admit) I got a couple of strong reminders to eventually share with folks a quick update on how I have been doing over the last few days, in this case, weeks, living "A World Without Email", that is, giving up e-mail at work. And here I am, once again, putting together another blog post where I will be sharing a quick update on how things are going.

I cannot believe that it’s been four weeks already since I last blogged on the topic, but I guess that’s what happens when you keep having fun, eh? However, I am starting to think that it may not be such a bad idea to eventually share the progress reports over at my Flickr account on a weekly basis and then perhaps recap every month on a single blog post detailing what’s been going on throughout those weeks. That way I will avoid boring you to death with countless progress reports entries on this blog on detailing what it is like not using email at work. I know I may not be able to share some further insights on interesting links I may bump into, but I think I am willing to give it a try.

If you would want to still see those weekly progress reports here in this blog, leave a quick comment sharing thoughts and I will try to accommodate accordingly. For now though I am just going to point you to each of the different weekly reports from the last four weeks and just share with you a screen shot from the last one of those, so that you can see what’s been happening. Thus here it goes:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 14

As you would be able to see, things have been going exceedingly well over the last few weeks, except perhaps for last week, week 14, where both Wednesday and Thursday were just far too email centric and I think I may know what the reason was. People couldn’t find me online readily to engage through my usual various social software tools, more than anything else because of how incredibly busy those couple of days were with what I call meetings galore, which means people decided to send me an email instead. That would teach me again next time to take care of my agenda and schedule much better than what I did last week!

Either way, the rest of the other weeks things have settled down on that limit of roughly 20 to 30 emails a week, which I think is rather nice if I compare the results during those very same weeks last year. I was just getting started with the experiment and was averaging 42 emails a week. This time around, in year 2, that average is down to 27 emails a week, which means that, if things continue to go like they did last year, by the end of this year I may have well exceeded my follow up challenge of receiving 20 or less emails a week on a really consistent basis. Exciting stuff! I can’t wait to see what would happen then, but I guess we will have to wait and go step by step …

Ok, now on to the interesting couple of links I would want to share with you folks to give you an idea of how I think email is going to have a tough time surviving in its current (mis)use. Let’s get things rolling!

Five people collaborating on a tender via mail…

Brilliant blog post put together by Oscar Berg, over at Content Management Connection, where he gets to describe the typical scenario we have all gotten exposed to over the course of the years on what it is like trying to collaborate through email with, say, five people to share and exchange feedback on a specific file. Pretty revealing discourse of interactions, I can tell you. You should read the blog post, because as you get to finish it you will be nodding rather heavily, strongly agreeing with a situation you have seen and experienced far too often! Perhaps too much…

To me, that blog post is a clear reminder of something I said a while ago and which I would not get tired of mentioning again: email is a pretty good communication tool, but it does a very very poor job as a collaborative one, and therefore we should distinguish communicating and collaborating are two completely different things! Oscar’s blog post is just another indication of that thought!

Oh, and while you are reading it through Oscar concludes his article with this quote:

"How would this process have looked if they had used a wiki instead?"

Well, let me help you answer that one by referencing what, to date, is perhaps one of my favourite blog posts of all times over at the super fine Wikinomics blog: Wiki collaboration leads to happiness. In it you will find a graphic put together originally by Chris Rasmussen that explains what collaboration would be like through a wiki in that very same scenario vs. email. Wonderful and a must see!

A world without Word

In a very interesting, and rather shocking blog post (Read through it and you will know what I mean with shocking), Bill Roberts of Swirrl shares some further insights over at Stewart Mader‘s wonderful Grow a Wiki blog on an initiative he has been doing for a while, which is basically separate himself from the print world and gradually moving away from Word (And Office, I would think) into other online spaces where content gets shared without placing too much focus, or as much as we all used to with Word, and other productivity suite tools, into the format itself.

That basically means he is relying more and more on wikis, blogs, etc. etc. to help spread knowledge across, instead of "closed" attachments like Word documents that usually have gotten around through email. I bet by doing this he is consistently reducing the amount of email traffic he gets, not only from not sending those files anymore, but also from getting emails back at him asking him where such and such Word document is stored, who has got the latest most up to date document or, just simply, where did we leave things again after our last everlasting threaded email conversation that no-one can make any sense out of it anymore?

In a way, I am pretty much doing the same. It’s very very rare for me nowadays to eventually write an office document from scratch and then share it across; I rather prefer to use a wiki or a blog for that (Or some other social software tools that would fit in within a specific context much better). Main advantages I see of doing that? Well, mainly openness and transparency where others and myself get to collaborate on public spaces, internal or external, exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge, brainstorming, innovating and whatever else.

Bill’s initiative may not be as radical and controversial as the one I am doing, but he surely proves it can be as equally effective and worth while a try. Thus next time you are thinking about putting together an Office document, re-think, and see if you could avoid all of the hassle and share the content right across in a blog, or a wiki. Or whatever social software tool of your choice. I bet it wasn’t even difficult to make that transition … And yet the advantages are so many it’d be difficult to count them all!

From Email Culture To Stream Culture: Out Of The Inbox

Another superb blog post from my good friend Stowe Boyd, who, once again, nails it. In that enlightening article he gets to detail how we are moving away, gradually, but steadily, from an email driven corporate environment to one where (live) stream rules, and with chat sitting in between; or, at least, it is starting to change the conversations into the right path towards open (Again!) and trustworthy knowledge / information sharing, as well as open collaboration.

His quote from Gabriel García Márquez on "Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life and a secret life" is just a brilliant segway to introduce how email, chat and microblogging come to represent each and everyone of those "lives" for each and everyone of us. Here is one of the three graphics he shared on this very same topic:

Like I said, this is one of those blog posts that I will be remembering and quoting all over the place, because it describes pretty much how we are continuing to transition from that closed-ness that email currently offers towards much more open models of engagement, like microblogging / microsharing, amongst several other 2.0 components. A must read, for sure!

And, finally, after such a rather long blog post I thought I would finish up with some fun stuff. Actually with something I have found hilariously amusing all along since I first bumped into it a few days back! I found it through the always insightful Carl Tyler’s Blog and it is another funny video from Current where you get to experience over the course of a bit over three minutes, some of what we saw in the above mentioned blog post from Oscar. But better!

I bet that plenty of us have been exposed to similar situations where we all knew from the very beginning how to tackle them much more effectively in the first place, like what happens in the last few seconds of the video itself … Brillaint!

And what a great way to finish off another round of weekly progress reports on living "A World Without Email". Till next time …

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Seth Godin on the Tribes We Lead

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesToday was my first time back into Twitville after nearly a two week break while I was re-thinking how I wanted to re-purpose my usage of microsharing, in this case, with Twitter, outside the firewall. And right away I got clear reminders as to why I will stick around making use of it as time goes by. Fourteen days ago I wasn’t really sure of it anymore. But then again, a few minutes back into it earlier on showed me that I am not ready just yet to give up on it altogether.

Main reason being? Well, mainly because of the inspiring and insightful community of folks I hang out with and also because of those wonderful serendipitous knowledge discoveries you get exposed to on a rather regular basis. Take the example of this blog post I am putting together right now, inspired by an earlier tweet from Ana Neves, who retweeted a link to one of those TED Talks that will surely change the way we view things not only at work, but also in our own personal lives… Yes, *that* kind of impact!

This is that kind of talk that everyone, whether you have got the time or not, that’s no longer an excuse, should watch! A must watch! A bit over 17 minutes of pure gold from the one and only: Seth Godin, who clearly ventures into sharing with us how we are not only witnessing but also living through some really important and crucial changes that will affect us all as much as our own society, regardless wherever you may come from, in whichever part of the world. And dealing with something that we already knew about around 50.000 years ago!

Yes, indeed, in "Seth Godin: Why tribes, not money or factories, will change the world" you will be able to watch Seth talking about the changes we are all experiencing not only within the corporate world, but also within ourselves as human beings explaining the concept of tribes and why they are going to rule the world as we know it from here onwards. He explains beautifully how we are experiencing a time of changes, changes where we challenge the status quo of things to turn them inside out for our benefit, i.e. the benefit of the tribe itself, resulting in helping us become better at what we do, whatever that may well be.

This is one of those incredible TED Talks you just can’t miss out. Not sure how you will do it, or what excuse you will need to come up with, but if you sense we are going through some changing times, for the better, this is one of those talks you will need to watch. I can tell you, it would inspire you tremendously; to the point where, if it doesn’t, I can assure you right here, right now, nothing else will. That’s how sure I am of the impact of Seth’s words in such session. Get ready, because here it comes:

There isn’t probably a much better way of getting started with your week at work than being inspired, don’t you think? So, are you ready to challenge the status quo? Are you ready to provoke a movement?

Let’s do it!

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