Always wanted to be a Redbooks writer?

redbooklogoAs most of you know, there haven’t been many Redbooks published for the last few years for the Collaboration software of IBM as documentation has moved more into Wiki’s. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities to be become a Redbooks author. One of them is to join a Redbooks Thought Leader Residency. Those do not produce a Redbook but aim to produce series of blogs on specific topics. Some of which will eventually be combined into an actual Redbook.

I was really excited to be on one of those residencies (the first one for ‘Social media and Social Business’) last December and have been writing for the IBM Social Business Insights blog since then. A great experience as it gives you access to information and opportunities you would otherwise not have.

So why am I writing all this? Well because there is room for more bloggers on the team and there is going to be a second residency in August! So if you feel you have something to say about ‘Social’ and aren’t afraid to voice an opinion then don’t hesitate and apply. From experience I can say it’s worth it!


Repost IBM Insights blog: Super Bowl, the power of connecting

I recently started writing for the IBM Insights blog As part of a team of Redbook Residency bloggers. The aim is to write about anything having to do with Social Business or Social Media. To keep track and a personal log of it all I will repost the blogs I write for the Insights blog on my personal blog as well.
Original publication date: February 10 2012

Food for thought… Super Bowl, the power of connecting

by Femke Goedhart, Business Consultant, Silverside
Last weekend I experienced my first ever Super Bowl. “First? Where have you been??” I hear part of the audience thinking now, but yes, my first. Because American Football really is, well…. American. And, as I am, really European….a place where American Football is, at best, a niche sport. So I had no clue about Super Bowl Sunday and everything it stands for in American culture.
That is, until Twitter
In my social network I’ve accumulated a large number of American contacts over the last few years and a part of that group are avid Giants fans. So when the Giants made the Super Bowl, my Twitter stream exploded with NFL-related content. Not afraid to get into a conversation, I mingled in and before I knew it I was being educated on the merits and fascinating aspects of the sport… eventually getting invited to a real American Super Bowl party. Not one that would require me to hop on a plane and fly over, but a virtual party, through a Google hangout (multi-person video chat) on Super Bowl Sunday watching the game together (while apart) with a bunch of other American and Australian football fans.
Of course I accepted! This was just too much of a chance to skip. Not just to watch the game (I really had no clue about it anyway) but more as a great social media experiment. Plus I’m always in for trying out something new and uncommon, and doing a virtual video Super Bowl party with people from three continents certainly qualified as such.
But I also quickly realized that I needed to at least get a basic knowledge of the game, and so I dared my Twitter friends to train me.
For the next two weeks I got relevant information and links through Skype chats, pop-quiz question tweets and even LotusLive meetings with diagrams full of arrows and marks. By game night, I was prepared to watch my first ever American Football match.
I loved it!
So what does this have to do with social business?
Well on first face, probably not a lot. But what it showed me was that by building a network and interacting with people, I was able to get information and training (in this case on American Football) in a way that made it accessible and manageable to me — personalized to my needs and geared to the info I was going to need (I surely didn’t have time to learn all NFL rules in less than a week).
And, interestingly enough, also from sources that weren’t always obvious. One of the people to get involved in contributing to my knowledge turned out to be an Australian – not the first person I would have turned to for knowledge on something so typically American! It turned learning sports rules (something I’m usually absolutely not interested in) into a great adventure.
But how would this apply to a social business environment?
Finding relevant and to-the-point information in the vast amounts of information that is offered to us today can be daunting. Lots of people nowadays struggle with information overload. And distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information can be a problem. It’s not just a question of getting information. It’s often a question of getting the right bits of information. I found the NFL rulebook on my first query, but dismissed it more or less right away because I was never going to be able to finish it, let alone understand it, in less than a week.
And that’s exactly where social business comes in, because it offers ways of connecting to people who know where to get information that can be relevant to you and that know how to prioritize the information you are after. Building networks and making connections is invaluable to tapping into that knowledge. But it also means creating a culture where not only sharing, but asking too, is stimulated.
From sharing to interacting
The mistake sometimes made is thinking of social business as a culture of sharing.
It is, without a doubt. But it’s only part of the equation. It should be just as much about a culture of feeling safe to ask for help. Sharing alone is not enough to start a real dialog. You don’t want people to just share information; you want them to interact on that information with others: with peers, but also, and maybe especially, with those who need the information to learn from. That way it gets challenged, tested for relevance and enriched. To get that interaction, however, people will need to feel comfortable asking for help and admitting they lack certain knowledge —something that isn’t natural to a lot of us, especially in highly competitive environments with strict role divisions.
But, it’s also where companies stand most to gain. Getting people to step outside their own little bubble and learning from others directly, eventually enriches all involved. It makes inventions and process improvements possible and encourages personal growth. It does, however, involve changing the culture. And that is something that won’t happen overnight…something that was clearly demonstrated when years of training, and instinct to always go for the touchdown, caused running back Ahmad Bradshaw to make the most awkward and unwanted winning touchdown ever…
So, is your company ready to change the rules of the game?
For a more detailed account of my Super Bowl initiation, go to my Virtual Super Bowl party.

Trusting the social way

In 2009 I was on a IBM Redbook team, today I am again.

I love it. This is such a great opportunity to learn, to meet, to share and to get a glimpse into how other people topple topics like Social, Collaboration and connecting at the business level.

I’ve come a long way over the last few years. Back then I arrived in Cambridge, MA for a three week Residency not knowing anything about the people I was about to experience a very intensive three weeks with. Being hesitant and even feeling a bit awkward. Apart from their names I didn’t have a clue who they were and what they did. Getting to know them took several days.

This time things are different, totally different.

Right from the moment I got my acceptance letter I started connecting. Googling the names in the mail, finding, following and interacting with them on Twitter, trying to get an idea who they were from their Social profiles and reading up on blogs and published materials. Now not all of them had an online (public) presence but in general you can find a lot. And so it was that when I flew out to Raleigh, NC on Saturday I’d already arranged to meet up for dinner that night through twitter and spent the rest of the weekend exploring Raleigh together.

No, not people I had previously met but people I only knew from twitter and who’s only connection with me was that we were all going to be on the same Residency. By using social tools to connect we got a head start in talking about the things we were going to talk about in the Residency, getting an idea of each persons specialties, interests and areas of expertise and doing exactly what we where there for: Share & learn.
So when I tweeted about being in the ITSO Redbook facility with the Social Business Social Media team today and got this tweet reply:

@FemkeGoedhart LOL why does the “social team” need to get together in person…or even use email for that matter? #justteasing

I couldn’t help but reflect on that. Because although I really love and ‘live‘ the Social ideal, I also believe that it is NOT a replacement for face-to-face meetings in doing business. It’s not there to take over or replace. Its simply a strategy to build stronger ties, be it active (by engaging with people) or inactive (by sharing so people can find you and learn about you). But more importantly it is about building trust. If you would have said three years ago that I would fly half across the world, arrive, meet up with this person I’d never seen or talked too before and had only exchanged about four 140 character messages with and go out for dinner 3 minutes later…..I think I would have declared you crazy.

Social has come a long way in making this possible and we’re only at the beginning. It is about being out there and being true to yourself and your environment. It’s about accountability that fosters trust and its about enjoying that human need for connection.

So call me an idealist but in a world torn apart by wars and mistrust  the ‘Social’ revolution clearly proofs that that fundamental need for a human connection is as strong as ever. Especially in Business.

IBM Social Business social media residency

You know that Redbook Residency I wrote about a couple of weeks ago…..?

Well I got accepted! So for the next three weeks I will be in frantic mode to get everything arranged, book flights, reschedule appointments, rearrange work and concentrate on Social Business. Fantastically exciting times! Will of course keep everyone posted about it through this blog, Facebook & Twitter.

But in the mean time don’t hesitate to point me to relevant topics and information to take along for this residency. It’s called the IBM Social Business social media residencyso what better way to start than to involve my Social network!

IBM redbook site

Redbook recidency

In 2009 I had the honor of being chosen to be a part of the last formal Redbook by the Lotus brand. It was the “Self Assessment and Strategy Guide for Migrating from Domino Document Manager” Redbook. A Redbook that tried to help customers on DomDoc make their choise as to how to migrate of that platform as it was being discontinued.

I’d always hoped to be a part of a Redbook team but never really thought I made a chance and when the number of Redbooks being publiced for Lotus products diminished so was my hope of ever being part of one…
So that Friday morning in 2009 when my boss sent out a message asking if there was anyone interested in doing a Redbook I lept at the opportunity. I never even hesitated and just replied immediately. This was my chance, and I had to take it! Two weeks later after a couple of hectic weeks arranging things, I boarded a plane for a 3 week residency in Cambridge, MA.

It was everything I hoped for. The discussions we had as a team and with product specialists, developers and Brand managers of IBM. The opportunities we got, to see new developments, test them and write on them and the feeling of being able to create something that would help thousands of people do their migration… It was better then I had hoped for.
But it was hard work too! The 3 week residency itself was only the beginning. After that a 6 month period of writing, revising, rewriting and discussing (skype) started. All of which happened mostly at night or in weekends as my daily job didn’t stop either.Part of my task was to write a chapter on the comparison between Quickr and DomDoc and a chapter that outlined a step-by-step actual migration using a migration tool. I think I did at least 50 test migrations for that one alone. There were times that I got really fed up by it all.

So when the postman finally came to deliver that hard copy of the Redbook with my name on it. I was sad and happy at the same time. It had been hard work but it was so rewarding. Most importantly it showed me that I had something to offer. Be it small, I could actually help other people. For someone who used to be very shy and insecure that was a real eye opener.Since then I’ve become more outward going, wrote blogs and articles, spoke at conferences, became very active on Social Media and connected more to other people in the professional community.

No wonder that when I saw this on facebook last night….

….I couldn’t help but jump for it again. It might not be a Redbook in the way I did it before, it does incorporate everything I love and do so I would be crazy not to! At the same time I’m aware that this Residency is going to be really popular and that my chances of being picked are slim at best.
But if there’s anything I learned from my Redbook experience it is that you have to grab any chance you get! Besides, even if I don’t get picked I still got the thrill of reliving the great times I had again.

So if you are considering nominating yourself but not yet sure?… I can say only one thing: Go for it, take that chance! This could change your life. It did for me!