About matthewsdani

Co-Founder of LaunchPad Media, a boutique digital marketing agency that helps you recognise your value and how to authentically market online. I have a great passion and experience in the leadership and coaching domains from over a decade long relationship with the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL). I'm a Member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) NSW Leadership Team helping connect coaches and raise awareness of accreditation and credentials. My proudest achievement: being mum of two beautiful boys with a passion for sharing learning through my Mumpreneur blog at danimatthews.com Fun fact: In 2014 I completed an Ironman Triathlon. Married to super dad and talented owainmatthews.com

Data-Driven Collaboration Part 2: Recognizing Personas and Behaviors to Improve Engagement

In Part 1 of this series, “Data-Driven Collaboration Design”—a collaboration between Swoop Analytics and Carpool Agency—we demonstrated how data can be used as a diagnostic tool to inform the goals and strategies that drive your business’ internal communication and collaboration. 

In this post, we will take that thought one step further and show how, after your course is charted to improve internal communication and collaboration, your data continues to play a vital role in shaping your journey.

Monitoring More Than participation

Only in the very initial stages of the launch of a new Enterprise Social Network (ESN) or group do we pay any attention to how much activity we see. Quickly, we move to watching such metrics as average response time; breadth of participation across the organization, teams, roles, or regions; and whether conversations are crossing those boundaries. We focus on measures that show something much closer to business value and motivate organizations to strengthen communities.
For our purposes in this post, it will be useful to pivot our strategy to one that focuses on influential individuals. The community or team—whether it’s a community of practice, a community of shared interest, or a working team—isn’t a “group” or “si te,” but a collection of individuals, with all the messiness, pride, altruism, and politics implied. Data can be used to layer some purpose and direction over the messiness.

Patterns Become Personas

The Swoop Social Network Analytics dashboard uniquely provides analytics that are customized to each person who is part of an organization’s ESN. Using the principle of “when you can see how you work, you are better placed to change how you work”, the intent is for individual collaborators to receive real-time feedback on their online collaboration patterns so they can respond appropriately in real-time.
We analyzed the individual online collaboration patterns across several organizations and identified a number of distinct trends that reflect the majority of personal collaboration behaviors. With that data, we were able to identify five distinct personas: Observers, Engagers, Catalysts, Responders, and Broadcasters.

In addition to classifying patterns into personas, we developed a means of ranking the preferred personas needed to enhance an organization’s overall collaboration performance. At the top we classify the Engager as a role that can grow and sustain a community or team through their balance of posting and responding. This is closely followed by the Catalyst, who can energize a community by provoking responses and engaging with a broad network of colleagues. The Responder ensures that participants gain feedback, which is an important role in sustaining a community. The Broadcaster is mostly seen as a negative persona: They post content, but tend not to engage in the conversations that are central to productive collaboration. Finally, we have the Observer, who are sometimes also called ‘lurkers’. Observers are seen as a negative persona with respect to collaboration. While they may indeed be achieving individual learning from the contribution of others, they are not explicitly collaborating.
Using Personas to Improve Your Online Collaboration Behavior
Individuals who log in to the Swoop platform are provided with a privacy-protected personal view of their online collaboration behaviors. The user is provided with their persona classification for the selected period, together with the social network of relationships that they have formed through their interactions:

You may notice that the balance between what you receive and what you contribute is central to determining persona classification. Balanced contributions amongst collaboration partners have been shown to be a key characteristic of high performing teams, hence the placement of the ‘Engager’ as the preferred persona.

Our benchmarking of some 35 Yammer installations demonstrates that 71% of participants, on average, are Observers. Of the positive personas, the Catalyst is the most common, followed by Responders, Engagers, and Broadcasters. It’s therefore not surprising that an organization’s priority often involves converting Observers into more active participants. Enrolling Observers into more active personas is a task that falls on the more-active Engagers and Catalysts, with Responders playing a role of keeping them there.
At Carpool, during a recent engagement with a client, we encountered a senior leadership team that was comprised of Broadcasters who relied on traditional internal communications. Through our coaching—all the while showing them data on their own behavior and the engagement of their audience—they have since transformed into Catalysts.
One team, for example, had been recruiting beta testers through more traditional email broadcasts. But after just a few posts in a more interactive and visible environment, where we taught them how to invite an active conversation, they have seen not only the value of more immediate feedback, but a larger turnout for their tests. Now, it’s all we can do to provide them with all the data they’re asking for!
Identifying the Key Players for Building Increased Participation

When Swoop looks at an organization overall, we will typically find that a small number of participants are responsible for the lion’s share of the connecting and networking load. In the social media world, these people are called ‘influencers’ and are typically measured by the size of the audience they can attract. In our Persona characterization, we refer to them as Catalysts. Unlike the world of consumer marketing—and this point is critical—attracting eyeballs is only part of the challenge. In the enterprise, we need people to actively collaborate and produce tangible business outcomes. This can only happen by engaging the audience in active relationship-building and cooperative work. This added dimension of relationship-building is needed to identify who the real key players are.
In our work with clients, Carpool teaches this concept by coaching influencers to focus on being “interested” in the work of others rather than on being “interesting” through the content they share, whether that’s an interesting link or pithy comment. With one client, our strategy is to take an organization’s leader, a solid Engager in the public social media space, and “transplant” him into the internal communications environment where he can not only legitimize the forum, but also model the behavior we want to see.
In the chart below, we show a typical ‘Personal Network Performance’ chart, using Enterprise Social Networking data from the most active participants in an enterprise. The two dimensions broadly capture an individual’s personal network size (number of unique connections) against the depth of relationships they have been able to form with them (number of reciprocated two-way connections). They reflect our Engager persona characteristics. Additionally, we have sized the bubbles by a diversity index assessed by their posting behavior across multiple groups.
The true ‘Key Players’ on this chart can be seen in the top right-hand corner. These individuals have not only been able to attract a large audience, but also engaged with that audience and reciprocated two-way interactions. And the greater their diversity of connections (bubble size), the more effective they are likely to be.

Data like this is useful in identifying current and potential key players and organizational leaders, and helps us shift those online collaboration personas from Catalyst to Engager and scale up as far and as broadly as they can go.

Continuous Coaching

Having data and continuous feedback on your online collaboration performance is one thing, but effectively taking this feedback and using it to build both your online and offline collaboration capability requires planning and, of course, other people to collaborate with! Carpool believes in a phased approach, where change the behavior of a local team, then like ripples in a pond, expand the movement to new ways of working through compelling storytelling, using the data that has driven previous waves of change.
To get started now, think about your own teams. Would you be prepared to have your team share their collaboration performance data and persona classifications? Are you complementing each other, or competing? If that’s a little too aggressive, why not form a “Working Out Loud” circle with some volunteers where you can collectively work on personal goals for personal collaboration capability, sharing, and critiquing one another’s networking performance data as you progress?
Think about what it takes to move from one behavior Persona to another. How would you accomplish such a transformation, personally? What about the teams you work in and with? Then come back for the next, and final, part of this co-authored series between Swoop and Carpool, where we will explain the value in gaining insights from ongoing analytics and the cycle of behavior changes, analysis, and pivoting strategies.

We’ve Disrupted the Formal Organisation: But what does it look like now?

Digital disruption, Holocracies, Wirearchies are attacking the formal hierarchy as we had come to know it. While we might accept that the formal hierarchy is becoming less reflective of how work is getting done, it still reflects how senior executives are designing for work to be done. For most organisations, senior executives still agonise over appropriate formal hierarchical structures. And the published organisational chart is usually the first port of call for those wanting to understand the inner workings of an organisation. Is it distributed or centralised?; Sales driven or product driven? Operations, Technology centric or Financial centric?

If the formal organisation chart were to truly disappear, what could we replace it with? Where would the external stakeholders go to understand how the Holocracy, Wirearchy or Networked Organisation is operating? Where are the core capabilities in such environments? What about the disconnected workgroups? 

The good news is that formal methods for mapping informal organisational structure have been around for some time. Social Network Analysis (SNA) has provided us with a means for mapping the connections between individuals based on their relationships. With the advent of informal organisational groups, be they part of an Organisational Social Networking platform like Yammer or Jive, an email group or a team site in Slack or Skype, there is a need to understand how these informally created entities are connected to each other. Without this facility it can be hard to see the ‘big picture’ of what may be really happening, leaving the organisational executive flying blind. 

One of the easiest methods for creating an organisational wide map is to use a simple ‘shared membership’ approach. Commonly called ‘affinity mapping’, it is the same technique that has been used to uncover board of director interlocks, which have provided insights into largely invisible connections between publicly listed companies. It also happens to be the way that Amazon promotes new books to you, by inferring that you have an affinity relationship with those that have read the same books. 

Here is an example map we have created using an organisation’s Yammer group membership (group names have been changed to protect privacy): 

At the start of this clip we can see that all the groups are formed into one large cluster, as invariably most groups are inter-connected to some degree with other groups. But you will see as we increase the relationship ‘strength’ filter to only include overlapping memberships of a certain size, the informal group structure starts to materialise in front of our eyes. When taken to the extreme, we are left with the two groups with the greatest level of overlap, being Enterprise Communications and Customer Delivery. The number of common members is shown next to the strength filter. As we move the strength filter back from this point we gradually see other connected groups become exposed. We see the regional stores cluster emerge, suggesting perhaps some common regional issues. We also see a number of non-work groups emerge, interestingly connected to a sponsored diversity group, with all being strongly connected to the enterprise communications hub. This is good news, as these groups are doing their job of connecting staff who would normally not be connected in other ways.  

By using this simple relationship strength filter, we can start to explore the emerging structures formed from the voluntary, ‘bottom up’ actions of mainstream staff. The highly connected groups could be seen larger nodes representing the core interest/capability areas that are developing. The enterprise leaders that ‘own’ the formal organisation chart can now ask questions like ‘how well is our informal structure reinforcing our formal structures, or not?’; ‘Are there key capability areas that are not developing and may need more nurturing?’; ‘Are we encouraging a diversity of interests in our staff and if so, how are they helping to reinforce our mainstream businesses?”. 

We regularly see analytics provided for activity levels inside groups, but rarely between them. The power for the enterprise now comes from being able to overlay the formal and the informal, as the formal hierarchy starts to give way to the more adaptive and flexible informal structures, being increasingly exposed by Enterprise Social Networking platforms and the like. 

Disrupt Sydney 2016 – Not to Take Anything for Granted 

Q&A with SWOOP Co-Founder Dr Laurence Lock Lee after attending and presenting at “Disrupt Sydney” on 23 September, 2016. Disrupt Sydney is a one-day annual conference organised by the University of Sydney which aims to discuss and debate (digital) disruption.


What is digital disruption and why is it important for organisations? 

Here is the definition used by the event organisers:

“Digital disruption refers to changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and more generally our thinking” 

This event is in its 4th Edition and was big news at its initiation. In his introduction, the founder of the event Prof. Kai Reimer bemoaned the fact that the term has since been ‘hijacked’ by mainstream media, declaring just about anything as a digital disruption. But the strong attendance suggests that many of us are excited by the potential for significant change to the status quo, whatever the label.

Can you share any conference tips to leverage digital disruption?

I think the biggest tip would be “not to take anything for granted!” We had several speakers challenge the audience with findings from their own research and experiences. Statements like “Brainstorming meetings are a waste of time”, “Open offices are bad for you”, “Multi-discipline teams don’t work”, “Games make failure fun”, “It’s very difficult to live in the share economy “, “Blockchain claims are all lies”; kept us on our toes.
  

How will you implement any of the learnings at SWOOP?

I co-facilitated a workshop session on “Disrupting Traditional Business Intelligence Systems with Social Data”. My claim was that traditional data warehouse based business intelligence systems had changed little since the 1970s and were costly to build and of questionable value; and therefore ripe for disruption. My disruptive proposition was that we should move the emphasis to the execution stage, using social analytics to monitor whether insights were engaging the collaborators required to take an action. We had 4 teams work through their disruptive ideas covering the full scope of BI. Some key points that I took away were firstly that no piece of intelligence will be universally accepted by all, no matter how robust the intelligence gathering process is. The Climate Change debate was mentioned as proof of that! The second is that in order to engage disinterested stakeholders we may need to employ some gamification tactics. Both of these points reinforce the directions we are taking with SWOOP via the use of gamification to better communicate our social analytics messages.

Who was your stand out presenter and why?

Well to be fair the question should be “other than Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki ”. Of course Dr. Karl is a recognised national treasure for his abilities to communicate about science. He even did a reasonable job of trying to explain Blockchain…the biggest technological black box in history!

I liked Claire Marshall’s talk on her experiment with living in the share economy in London for a full month! She met some tremendous ‘giving’ people but found it hard to earn a living through the freelancing sites. Basically it was hard work to win and then do the work; for not much.

What was most exciting for you to hear?

Of all of Dr. Karl’s stories, the one I remember most was something about Russian submarines surfacing from under Arctic ice for 30+ years at the same time and place. They were able to support the climate change claims based on the thickness of the ice that they had to break through each year, getting less and less.

Stand out conference insight

I was excited to hear a detractor for Blockchain. As we know Blockchain is the next ‘big thing’ and there was a panel on non-financial uses of Blockchain. Dr. Karl facilitated the session and tried to simplify the concept for the audience. But in the end it sounded like you needed to be a mathematical geek to make any sense of how it could work. The detractor was an acknowledged ‘Mathematical geek’. I’m not that fond of ‘black box’ solutions as you can see.

What other question would you ask yourself?

None. You’ve done a great job!
  

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that this has been my first time at the event, and will definitely be back next year. Perhaps with a story from the joint research we are conducting with the Digital Disruption Research Group (the organisers of the event).