"Help me help you." If you saw the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, you remember the scene where Tom Cruise's sports agent delivers that line, repeatedly and as forcefully as he can, to one of the star athletes he represents.
The jock, Cuba Gooding Jr., just laughs: "You ... are hanging on by a very thin thread and ..." (smacking his fist into his hand) "... I dig that about you!" He knows -- or thinks he knows -- that Jerry needs him more than he needs Jerry.
With the E2 Conference coming up next week, my plea to social collaboration initiatives is also: "Help me, help you." I'm looking for your insight and expertise, not only to improve the reporting on this site but for my Social Collaboration For Dummies book project.
We are also looking to add more "thought leader" contributors to this section: Social business practitioners who are not necessarily professional writers but can speak from experience and have strong opinions to express.
Now, I know that longtime E2 attendees (the ones who remember when it was called the "Enterprise 2.0" conference) probably consider themselves beyond the "dummies" phase, but that's all the more reason for you to pre-order a few hundred copies of Social Collaboration For Dummies to give out to all your colleagues who don't quite get the concept of social collaboration as a business tool.
Here's the beauty part: because the book is not finished yet, there is still an opportunity for you to explain to me all those things that people seem to have a hard time understanding about how to use social effectively. I can then put those tips in the book. Then, when you hand it to people, you can say, "Look at this chapter on 'Succeeding With Social Collaboration' -- isn't that just what I keep telling you? That's the right way to go; it says so right in the book."
Corner me in the hallway at E2, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, ping me at @davidfcarr, send carrier pigeons if that's easier, but help me help you. I'm currently looking for help with chapters on social collaboration strategies for sales leaders and for human resources, training and organizational development.
The social business leaders we will be honoring at E2 have already been a great help, as have many others I've spoken with for stories and columns on social technologies over the past couple of years. I'm delighted to be chairing the social and collaboration track at E2 and moderating a keynote panel featuring Matt Tucker of Jive Software, Sameer Patel of SAP, and Alistair Rennie of IBM.
I'm counting on Patel to challenge some of our assumptions about the wonders of Enterprise 2.0 technologies, which we've been hearing about since Andrew McAfee coined the term in 2006. Patel argues that, if we're honest with ourselves, Enterprise 2.0 really hasn't been working. He cites studies saying that 77% of employees never log onto their enterprise social network and only 3% use it once a day. I'm pulling that from his presentation at CeBiT 2013 earlier this year (see video).
Patel doesn't deny that there are some remarkable success stories, but given that they seem to be the exception to the rule, he says we need to rethink our approach. (And yes, of course, he thinks SAP has some of the answers with the SAP JAM product derived from its acquisition of SuccessFactors.)
Matt Tucker co-founded Jive back when it was a little company in Portland, Ore., that made discussion board software. In a rehearsal call, he said the success stories of large organizations using social collaboration internally and externally are accumulating to the point where the momentum is palpable. The existence of some flops only underlines the importance of treating social business as worthy of a serious, strategic approach, rather than just installing software or signing up for a cloud service and hoping for the best.
His argument that the time has come to achieve breakout success reminded me of what science fiction writers call steam engine time, a reference to that period in the history of engineering when many inventors around the world were tinkering with ideas related to steam power. In other words, even though James Watt got the patent and most of the credit, it was really just an idea whose time had come. When it's steam engine time for interplanetary travel and all the prerequisites are in place, you won't be able to stop it from happening. Try to make it happen too soon, and you'll probably fail.
Is it steam engine time for social collaboration? Think you have the answers? Help me help you.