How does Microblogging affect Project Communication?Dirk Röhrborn
Microblogging is a rather new and unique form of communication. There are a number of discussions on the effects of this technique. Justin Franks refers to Harvard professor Hansen and argues that the „search barrier“ in organisations is pulled down, while Stefan Hauptmann explains the phenomenon with the sociological concept of „unlikely communication“.
In this article we are going to enrich this discussion in sharing our experiences with changes in project communication due to microblogging usage.
Digitalisation of Micro Information
The biggest part of every-day workspace communication are small pieces of micro information like questions, answers, ideas, problems, status reports or short documentations of decisions. Still it is common practise to write such information on post-it notes, use emails with a wide range of addressees or share it via instant messaging. This means that such information is virtually lost for further usage. Communote fits the demands of micro information much better. It makes it very easy to publish short information nuggets. In Communote, these pieces of information are available to everybody who could need them immediately. This keeps your colleagues up-to-date and enables future use of your valuable micro information.
In using microblogging you change the usage of existing communication channels like email, blogs and wikis. We see a more focused use of email. It is used more in the original sense as electronic version of letters for direct and personal one-to-one communication. This significantly leads to a reduction of email overload. The same focus on original strengths of the medium can be seen in usage of wikis and blogs. Wikis are perfect for shared creation of well-structured documents like concepts and documentations and are used for this purpose in microblogging-enabled projects, too. Further, classic blogs are still in use for personal thoughts, argumentations and reports with a more formal character and longer as well as more thoughtful contents.
We hear from our customers that the massively increased information awareness is one of the biggest advantages of Communote. Team members are significantly better informed about the current work status of others, especially about other sub-projects or work packages. This effect can be achieved when every team member gives short status updates on his/her work status, problems, issues, ideas and feelings.
Efficient Meetings and Fast Reactions
If you use Communote the time you spend in meetings will dramatically decrease. Further, not only the duration of meetings will shrink but you will have to schedule fewer meetings. The original purpose of team meetings is the joint discussion of important issues and decision making. However, much too often most meetings consist of status reports to get everybody up-to-date. As you have Communote for the status updates your meetings will be much more efficient. The high information awareness leads to another effect: your team members are able to react much faster on current developments and not only after they heard them in a team meeting.
Support for Project Managers
When using Communote, project managers do not have to spend much of their time in being the information broker for their teams. Team members are aware about their colleague’s actions and can communicate directly with them while this communication still stays under control of the team leader. Communote gives an overview on the current project situation immediately.
If you open your project microblogging for others in your company you can benefit from their knowledge. We see it often that people give answers to problems which occurred in other projects. In many cases these very valuable hints come from people who would not be asked for help as nobody knows that they would know it. The whole organisational communication becomes much more flexible. A kind of ‘network communication’ replaces the typical ‘top-down communication’.
This series of enterprise usecases of Communote micrblogs will be continued shortly. We are looking forward to your feedback.