Who has time for Enterprise Social?

People say to me: How do you find time for yet another source of information? Keeping up with the enterprise social stream (in my case, Yammer) on top of email and Lync messages, not to mention personal social media just seems like too much. It’s like drinking from the fire-hose non-stop.

Whenever I hear this, I give out the following bit of advice. When I first joined twitter five or six years ago I had this incredible compulsion to ‘keep-up’ with the stream. At first, that wasn’t too hard. I was only following a few dozen people and, if I was away from my computer for a couple of hours, I could easily scroll back up and catch up with what I’d missed.

As I started to follow more and more people I found I couldn’t keep up anymore. So, I made a list called ‘hotlist’ that had all the people who I really cared to follow on it. I now was back to a manageable stream of information. Well, not exactly manageable. I was still obsessing about scrolling back all the time to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. At one point, it was affecting my work, with me prioritizing catching up over everything else.

I then had an epiphany. The stream is exactly that, a stream of information. You don’t drink all the water from the stream, you dip into it from time to time when you have a moment or need some water.

Once I made that realization my life got a lot better. I pictured the twitter stream flowing past whether I was looking at it or not. When I was ready, I would dip into the stream, get as much as I needed and then move on. I was still getting great content, and I made ever smarter use of lists that would let me get the type of information I felt I needed at that point in time.

I have applied that same approach to my enterprise social stream. My email is still a fire hose where I have to look at everything – however briefly – that comes my way. But my Yammer stream is one that I dip into when I can, knowing that if there is something truly urgent, someone will tag me (generating an email) or inform me through another path. You may ask: Aren’t you afraid of missing something important? Yes, maybe a little bit. But I have a limited capacity as a human being and time does not expand. I have to come to terms with the fact that I can’t keep on top of EVERYthing.

If you are feeling the pressure of information overload, start thinking of your social media streams as if they were streams of water. Dip in when you can and don’t worry about the rest which flows past when you’re not there.

About Ruven Gotz

Ruven Gotz is a Director with Avanade, Microsoft’s Global Partner. As a Microsoft SharePoint MVP with over 20 years of IT industry experience, Ruven has spent the past nine years delivering award-winning SharePoint solutions for a wide range of clients. Working as a Business Analyst and Information Architect, Ruven is able to apply his eclectic education and varied experience in Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, Software Development and Training to get to the heart of complex problems. Ruven is a great communicator who is able to discuss technology concepts in language that is relevant to his audience, whether they are from IT or business. He has become a leader in the use of visual tools to help his clients and team members achieve shared understanding of problems and goals and shared commitment towards implementing a successful solution. Ruven recently authored “Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture” (Apress) Ruven lives in Toronto, Canada. On Tuesday nights in the summer, you’ll find him racing his 24’ sailboat ‘In the Groove’ (NOTE: Ideas and opinions on this blog are my own: I am not representing my employer.)
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