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Jive Talks

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As the community manager for our internal employee instance of Jive at Jive, I am both empowered and challenged with pushing the boundaries of how our product gets used internally. From diving deep and exploiting the dark nooks of our features to embracing a completely unintended use case of our product, we try to be a dogfooding powerhouse. But even prior to features getting rolled out, it is my charter to ensure we are prepared for the roll out and that the feature is set up for successful usage. I am eager to share my processes, ideas, learnings, tips & tricks with you.

 

What better way than to start with our News feature! This 2015 Winter Cloud release feature has made consuming and engaging with key company and leadership announcements so simply effortless for our global Jiver (Jive employee) base. Here is how we planned the News roll out.

 

1. T-20 Days to Go-Live: Identifying what "News" means to us

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The News feature fuels and amplifies the reach of the content it carries. So you really want to make sure this content feed is what employees want and need to stay aligned and do their jobs effectively. 'News' content to us is a lot of things: First and foremost, Jivers want to know what our leadership team is talking about. We want to know what is happening within our own departments and within our offices. We want to make sure that all new Jivers are properly welcomed with memes and animated gifs when they write their first week blog post. We want to keep an eye on our product roadmap. And of course, we all want to know how our customers and the world are responding to everything that we create.

 

Identifying these top level news buckets was important for me to figure out what auto-subscription streams to set up.

 

2. T-15: Setting up News Streams Auto-Subscription

Yes, auto-subscription. News lets us automatically subscribe the entire community (the entire employee-base in this case) or a subset to specific content feeds / streams. This feature has sometimes been called "auto-follow" or "subscription streams".

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These selected content streams then show up on their News page, in addition to any custom streams that the employees have configured for themselves.

Here are the steps I took to set up the auto-subscription steams:

 

T-15: Company-wide news

The first step was identifying what new streams were needed across our entire Jiver community. We narrowed it down to:

    • Leadership/executive posts
    • Product news
    • Top press releases

So I created a company-wide leadership stream that was associated to the blog spaces of every member of our executive management team. I also created a company-wide 'Products' stream that was linked to our Products space and also to the blog of our Chief Product Officer.

 

T-12: Departmental or role-based news

Next, I needed to ensure Jivers were subscribed to key information relating to their job functions and departments. I met with the department leads and enablement experts - across all different functions from corporate communications to engineering - to find out how they have been trying to reach their target audience.

 

Were they blogging in a specific space or a group?

Did they provide updates in their own personal blogs?

How were these space and blog permissions set up?

 

Each function had their own unique way of capturing and publishing important communication so it was critical for me to take an inventory.

 

T-8: Location based news

Last but not the least, we had office location specific sub-spaces that Jivers needed to be subscribed to based on their location for information around local events, holidays, facilities updates etc.

 

3. T-6: IT considerations

The departmental news and location based news obviously needs to be mapped based on the Jiver's corporate profile information. I brought in our IT team to help choose those profile fields that were automatically synched with the enterprise directory. These fields are synchronized on a daily basis, so even when a Jiver transitions to a different department or office location, their streams will be automatically updated and I won't have to lift a finger.

 

4. T-2: Managing Change

Actually, this was the day our internal instance was upgraded to our 2015 Winter cloud release. Why day T-2 then? Because we toggled-on the News feature only 2 days later. Hurray for feature toggles! That said, we did start prepping Jivers for the toggle-on day:

 

'What's Where' End User Guide

Even though Jivers are pros at using our product, I always want to be sensitive to how large new features are introduced so as to make sure that the experience changeover is as seamless as possible. I took tons of screenshots and created an End User Guide where I visually highlighted all of the upcoming changes and addressed potential questions in an FAQ section:

    • What happened to the homepage?
    • What happened to my inbox?
    • Where is 'Your View'?
    • How can I browse content and places now?
    • Can I pin Inbox or Your View as my landing page?

          and more.

 

'What am I auto-subscribed to?' list

I also put together a list of what streams one can expect to be auto-subscribed to.

 

5. T-0: News Go-Live Day!

Our product manager for the News feature, Nick Hill and his team wrote a cheery welcome blog on the morning of News go-live (i.e. feature toggled on) so that it was the first content people saw in the new News stream after logging in. Combining this blog with a system wide announcement re-mentioning the end user guide gave Jivers a well-defined, smooth experience when they logged in and noted all the changes.

 

There has been so much positive response from Jivers both on the new feature and around all the on-boarding efforts!

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Beautiful, Simple, Powerful

Our product philosophy here at Jive is that products and features should not just be functional, but also simply beautiful and deeply personal. Our newest News feature has definitely met that high standard. Within the Jive employee community, News has been nothing short of an incredible success at making us more connected, informed, and engaged. We also hope it will do the same for the millions of end users across our incredible customer network.

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This whole initiative has also been personally rewarding for me because it has opened up new avenues for me to partner more with our executive staff and department leaders. I am seeing my role being elevated to that of a strategic employee/people champion.

 

As you gear up for this beautiful change, please reach out to me with any questions. I am also eager to learn from all you community managers -  your best practices, tips & tricks, recommendations, ideas and more. Please share them via the comment section of this post or via creating your own posts/discussion threads.

 

Cheers,

Kosheno Moore

Senior Enterprise Community Manager @ Jive

There were so many excellent submissions for the 2014 Jive Awards that we wanted to shout from the rooftops, but we decided to do one better and share these customer stories in our community. The first customer we want to highlight is Pearson, who took home the 2014 Work Better Together Jive Award. What follows profiles Pearson's journey through transformation when their new CEO, John Fallon, took over the company's leadership. Shout out to Kim England and Dina Vekaria for submitting this excellent awards submission!

 

Collaborative Leadership: How the New Workstyle Is Transforming How Leaders Lead

 

The tried and true top-down leadership model seems to be evolving much like the workstyles of the average employee. No longer can executives write up an email, click send to the company, and expect change to happen. Employees want to feel engaged in company strategy. They want to have a voice and take an active part in the destiny of their company. At the same time, leaders know things move fast and staying on top of the pulse of company morale and employee productivity gets tougher. Executives are also very aware of the increased demand by employees for transparency.

 

Creating an open dialogue

What typically happens when a new CEO takes over the reins? He or she begins the process of putting his or her leadership in place and the effects slowly trickle down throughout the company. Transformation is often slow, there is little to no transparency, and new initiatives that hold promise can become muddled because not everyone understands the big picture or how they fit in.

 

When John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, was handed the baton from former CEO, Marjorie Scardino, at the end of 2012, he wanted to create a dialogue with employees to talk about how he could best lead the company into the future. He began by embracing the company’s Jive employee collaboration solution, known as Neo.

Neo 1.png

 

Fallon’s vision for Pearson included a company-wide transformation called the Global Education Strategy (GES) to strengthen the company’s position as the world's largest education company. The GES represented the most significant restructure the company had undergone in its 150-year history.

It began with a series of Neo blog posts from Fallon and other executives. From this, company leadership gathered feedback, collected bottom-up content and questions in a collaborative manner, and monitored real-time data about how their messages were being received. The GES space launched on May 23, 2013 and generated a huge amount of interest—40,000 sessions in one day—causing a load issue within the community environment.

 

Demonstrating transparent leadership

Fallon says that using the company’s employee collaboration solution was not only an efficient and effective way to communicate about the company restructuring but that it also demonstrated transparency.

“Our strategy to use Neo to communicate was to change our culture to one where our leadership is open, transparent. Our next steps are to continue working with the executives and to help the next level down take a similar approach.”

Comments from employees about this approach are overwhelmingly positive:

“I feel valued by the amount of inclusion that is taking place with the new strategies. It's important to know how we are affected in our current positions.”
“The GES space on Neo is a great way to find everything that gets lost sometimes in waves of very long emails.”
“GES space on Neo and org charts-- both helped me to see how everything is going to fit together.”


Continuing collaborative leadership

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Each member of Pearson’s executive team blogs regularly. Some even add selfies and address topics that are not always connected directly to the day-to-day job of leading the organization. They ask questions, create debate and invite opinion. Executives also want their messages to feature in the trending content around Neo. And since the introduction of Impact Metrics with the upgrade to Jive 7, they even engage in some healthy competition over who is having the biggest impact.

 

What could have been executed in a traditional top-down manner, GES turned into an opportunity for the whole company to collaborate around a major reorganization. Pearson desired to change their culture to one where their leaders are open, transparent and available and they are well on their way to making this so!


We can't wait to see how they take the next step and work with the executives on the next level down to continue this transformation. We know it will be a success and we're proud of how the Pearson team is working better together in Neo.

   

elisa.steele

Jive's Bright Future

Posted by elisa.steele Feb 10, 2015

I’m honored to address this community with my first post as Jive’s CEO! As many of you know I was a customer for many years before I even came to Jive. When I joined just over a year ago, it was because I loved the product. Now I love the company – and all of our customers – like family.

 

As CEO, I will use my passion for the company and our customers to support you and drive our business forward. Jive is an innovator in our market and we have a clear vision for how to move forward. We have the right team in place to take Jive to the next stage. And as you would all agree, we have the right products – whether for your internal collaboration or external community needs – to do just that.

 

Thank you for supporting Jive as all of you do. You continue to invigorate, challenge and inspire us every day. Our commitment to you is to continue to change the world with apps and software that help people connect, communicate and collaborate.  I’m more excited than ever about the direction we are taking Jive and I’m thrilled you are on this journey with us!

In my last post Getting started with Jive for Project Managers, I introduced using Jive as a Project Manager's utility for organizing project collateral, a place for collaborative discussions and planning, and a community for telling the story of a project as it unfolds.

 

Now we're back and getting our hands a little dirtier.  In this post, I'll discuss setting up our Project using Overview Pages and Activity Pages.

 

Overview Page

The Overview page is a Jive tool that uses objects called Widgets to present content and information.  Widgets typically contain links to content, display raw information, or are interactive with the user.  The types of Widgets to use on your Overview page will vary depending on the specific needs of the task at hand, but there are a few that I find especially useful regardless of what kind of Project I'm running.

 

Unanswered Questions

This is probably my all-time favorite Widget.  It gives me a quick snapshot of the open issues affecting my project.  Nothing is as helpful to a PM as quickly seeing the issues that are pending and being able to quickly examine and act on them.


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Recent Activity Widget

Recent Activity gives me a quick snapshot of what's been going on since I last visited my project, and I can interact with the conversations happening directly from the landing page without having to do the extra legwork of loading each of those discussions in a separate tab.


Featured Content

A must-have for any project.  Content that is 'for everybody' like project plans, issues lists, scope trackers, technical documentation, and test plans should be added to the Project's 'Featured Content' and displayed via the Featured Content Widget.

 

View Doc

This Widget is extremely flexible.  It simply displays the contents of any Jive Doc specified.  I use this mainly for key personnel rosters, but you will find many things to do with this Widget.  The important thing to remember about the View Doc Widget is: Don't over-do it.  Don't point it at a particularly hairy or complex Doc, just keep it simple.

 

Featured Places

This Widget is great for pointing users at other key Jive Places relevant to your Project.  For example, let's say that you're running a cross-functional project that is the work of 3 separate teams within your organization.  You could use this Widget to display the team Groups on the Project page, or to give your Project some external context.  You could also link to a Group that is a knowledge base containing helpful resources about the work you are doing.

 

Recent Blogs

Another one of my favorite Widgets.  This one shows me, in most-recent order, links to Blog Posts that have been published in my project.  Since I use the Project Blog to publish status reports, this implicitly becomes a 'Status Report' Widget.  Stakeholders now have one place to look for a quick, comprehensive history of the Project.

 

Categories

If I'm using categories to manage a large volume of content, then it can be helpful to display the categories I'm using so that people have a visual reference and a quick link to the categorized content.

 

Upcoming Events

For efforts organized around a tight deadline or key events, an Upcoming Events Widget can be helpful for displaying key dates in the Project.  In order for these to appear in the Widget, you must publish Events into the project.  I strongly recommend that you do not create an Event for every single meeting or activity on the project -- only do it for key dates, otherwise you will have a flood of events that could've just been sent out as calendar hits, and you dilute the significance of the really important Events.  Using Events + the Upcoming Events Widget is all about adding emphasis on very important, non-routine dates.

 

Activity Page

Activity pages are best for smaller teams, simple projects, or projects where you just want to focus on what's happening right now.  Two-thirds of the layout is focused entirely on Recent Activity and the other one-third is left to you to curate.  The advantage of using an Activity page is that you don't have to worry about curating a lot of content for presentation on the main landing page.  Keeping it simple helps you focus on the critical efforts at hand without a lot of extra setup and curation to slow things down.


Whereas the Overview Page uses Widgets to present information, the Activity Page has an similar tool called Tiles.  Tiles can contain both static and dynamic content. Developers can create custom Tiles to display content from other sites and systems.  Below are some of the Tiles that I consider key when running a Project with an Activity page.

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Upcoming Events

There are two flavors to this Tile; an automatically-populated one, and a manually-populated one.  Manual is definitely simpler because it doesn't require that you create Events in the project to display anything in the Tile, you just give the Tile textual information about events and the dates are displayed on the landing page. Automatic is useful if I have more dates to show, or if I want others to have the ability to add Events to this Tile by creating an Event in the Project.


Helpful Links

This Tile is extremely flexible.  By providing it a hyperlink, title, and a link to an image for a link icon, it displays a list of whatever links I define.  I use this Tile to provide quick links to the Project Blog and Unanswered Questions on the Content tab, or to link to external systems that play a role in my project, such as a test environment, or development tools.


Featured Content

Making an encore is the Featured Content Tile.  This Tile displays items that I add to 'Featured' posted within my Project.  I use this to provide quick links to Project Plans, tracker Docs, contracts, and other important collateral.


Key Content and Places

Key Content and Places is a Tile that can present any content or place within my current Jive instance that I specify.  If there are other Groups, Spaces, or Projects critical to my Project, I can link to them here; likewise, if there is content posted elsewhere that plays a role, I'll link to it here as well.


Featured People

Featured People is a quick, visual way to denote who the key players in my project are.  I use this Tile as my personnel roster.


Activity + Pages

For customers running on Jive Cloud, a third option exists in the group setup called 'Activity + Pages.'  A Place Page is a way for a Place owner to have a blank canvas with which to display information using Tiles instead of Widgets.  When you provision your Project, you can add up to 5 Place Pages to organize your Project collateral to your heart's content.


The advantage to this setup over Overview + Widgets is that Tile Pages are fully responsive on mobile web.  Whereas Overview pages and Widgets are incapable of being rendered at a narrow, mobile width, Tiles were designed with this in mind explicitly from the beginning.  The means that anyone, anywhere can interact with your project in a fully responsive page that retains your community's personality and branding, and the total view of your curated Project collateral is preserved.


For more information about Place Pages, checkout: Sneak Peek: Deep Dive for Place Pages (beta)


Thanks for checking out this post!  In my next post, I'll discuss managing a Jive Project once it is up and running.


Let's hear from you in the comments below

  • How do you like setting up your Project pages? 
  • What are you favorite Widgets and Tiles?
  • Do you have any Widget or Tile 'hacks' you're proud of?
  • Have you developed any custom Tiles, and how are you using them?

Inevitably I’m asked at a party, “so what do you do?” And my answer of “community manager” never fails to confuse people. Sometimes they respond, “you mean, you run a senior citizen community?” or “you're like a property manager or something, right?”

 

People never seem to get what I do.


Calling all unicorns

 

Part project manager, sometimes party planner, temporary hand-holder and erstwhile cheerleader, community managers have a wide mix of skills and areas of knowledge where they must have expertise. See How to write a Community Manager job description for the dizzying array of talents required. It’s nearly impossible to find this list of skills in one person, so hiring for a community can be very difficult. On top of that, experienced CMs are few and far between. I would argue that community managers are the unicorn of the 21st century. So to all of the other unicorns out there I say: "UNITE!"

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    Join me on the community management rainbow!

 

I can say without a doubt that each of us is a rarity in our own company. Very few companies have more than one or two community managers on the entire staff. There's typically no job classification for us and we are often entered as Marketing Specialists or Communications Experts or even IT Managers. But we know the truth because we live and breathe community. Call us what you will... we are COMMUNITY MANAGERS.

 

It might be slightly dramatic to say that it can be a lonely life (I do love a little drama). At the very least, we must look to each other here in the Jive Community to get our tough questions answered and celebrate our wins because there is most likely no one else at your company that knows the trials and tribulations of 'community' better than you do.

 

Celebrating you and your communities

 

In the spirit of Community Manager Appreciation Day, we are celebrating you and your communities! Adam Mertz asked you to share your communities with us and you've responded with rich examples!

 

An amazing example of community came earlier this week from DIRECTV. Their human resources organization created a video you can see here which is authentic and entertaining while perfectly illustrating the power of community.

  CORE, DIRECTVs Jive instance, brought together their community in ways never before possible!

 

Other fantastic examples of communities were submitted via screen capture.

I'll highlight a few here but won't share them all because I don't want to steal Adam's thunder when he recognizes all of you with your Starbucks rewards!

 

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   The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas | The Clive community

 

 

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   LANDesk | External Community


 

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    RingTo | RingTo support community

 

 

And thank you to everyone who submitted screen captures... we love and appreciate you all!

 

Have you hugged your community manager today?

 

At the end of the day, managing a community is an exciting yet exhausting undertaking: meeting new people, constantly putting out fires, running around from group to group, fixing problems on the fly, handing out virtual hugs when needed. Community managers are required to be everywhere at once yet are often behind the scenes moving mountains that look like molehills. I know that when I look into the tired eyes of another community manager, I just KNOW what the other person is thinking.

 

We do this because we love it.

 

So to all my brothers and sisters in community, Happy "Unicorn" Day!

    I would've bought you this fabulous greeting card for CMAD day but they were all out of stock.

You might remember Mike Muscato from JiveWorld14. He's a Sr. Developer for Knowledge Management Systems & Social Media Support at T-Mobile and had his photo featured on Vote on the best attendee photo of JiveWorld14!  Since the How I Work interviews were a little scarce on developers, I figured we'd give Mike the spotlight! There's some developer specific questions in the mix below (look for the *).

How I Work - Mike Muscato image.jpg

   Mike at his desk... where the magic happens!

 

Libby: Where do you work?

Mike Muscato:  I work for the Uncarrier, T-Mobile USA, a national provider of wireless voice, messaging, and data services and CNN’s top tech company of 2014 (US).  I live in the high-desert near Albuquerque, NM but work for our headquarters in Bellevue, WA.  We have an office in Albuquerque where I spend about 60-70% of my time, the rest of the time I work from my home in the mountains about 30 miles outside of ABQ.

 

LT: How would you describe your current job?

Mike:  By title I’m a Senior Web Developer, but in reality I’m a jack-of-all-trades of sorts.  I started working for T-Mobile when the company was still young as a first-tier customer service agent.  As I grew with the company, I got to participate in many facets of the enterprise including customer service, training, IT, business strategy, and analysis.  Our team manages our Jive communities including large customization efforts, and we also run an independent development shop where we create custom applications, APIs, and middleware to make magic happen.  Right now, in addition to all the standard project management, code geekery, and system administration, I’m working on a project to implement some more formal software development practices and standards within our team.

 

LT: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?

Mike:  I am an Energizer.  The description fits me well; when projects get tough or people get discouraged I tend to take on a project manager-like role and help break things down and establish realistic timelines to make sure the work gets done.  The statement, "You are the go-to-person for getting things  D-O-N-E,” is 100% on point!  I’m a very analytical person, and can almost always come up with solutions even when others have said it’s “impossible."

 

LT: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?

Mike:   Over and over again, I’ve used Jive as my project management headquarters!  Depending on the nature of the project, I’ll use Jive groups to brainstorm and capture requirements, publish wireframes or spec documents, gain approvals, and even map timelines and milestones.  Having all the content in one intuitive location has always been beneficial for me and my project stakeholders.

 

LT: Did your team have a chance to take the WorkType Finder quiz? Have you all talked about your results?

Mike:   We did, right before JiveWorld14.  We all agreed that the WorkTypes matched our styles closely and were similar to other “personality” type assessments such as DiSC profiles.

 

LT: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld this year?

Mike:  The developer’s keynote was the best for me, it seems like every year’s keynote has one or two little things that turn out to be profound ah-ha moments.  The Git presentation along with some of the other developer sessions really reinforced the desire and need for me and my team to clean up our web development processes.

 

LT: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?

Mike:  We have several Jive communities that we use for pretty much the full spectrum of functions.  We have an internal community primarily used as a knowledge base and discussion forum for our customer service teams, but business groups also use the internal community for collaboration, projects, and other ad-hoc communication needs.  We also have a customer facing support community (support.t-mobile.com) where customers can find information and documentation, or have peer-to-peer discussions.  In addition to these two communities, we also have several other read-only communities that support our sales, retail, and partner brands (e.g. support.gosmartmobile.com).  Whether we’re using Jive as full blown collaborative communication platforms, or as read-only knowledge bases, we’ve always found tons of value in Jive’s ability to customize, tweak, and hack them to fit our mold.  I like Jive because it doesn’t make me rage within 10 seconds like some other systems I use.

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   Welcome to T-Mobile Support, one of the sites Mike mentions above.

 

LT: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?

Mike:  I’m an iHole, through and through.  I use a Mac Book Pro with an external monitor, and with the new features in OSX Yosemite my iPad Air 2 and iPhone have become third and fourth monitors in a way.  I also have a PC that I typically use via remote desktop, but only for legacy company tools that require IE, or for testing IE compatibility of my code.

 

LT: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?

Mike:  Which one?  Hahah!  For an all-around, do anything anywhere, rock solid dependable device I’ll have to say my iPhone 6.  Once upon a time, I was a total Android geek – custom ROMs, hackery, etc…  But the stability of the iPhone and its integration ability with the mac won me over.  It may not do everything that 'those other phones' do; but what it does, it does really REALLY well.  I think consistency is the key here.

 

LT: What’s your favorite programming language?*

Mike:  That’s a hard one to answer.  I have to give credit to good ole’ BASIC on the Commodore-64; without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  In the early 2K years, I was hardcore with ASP/VBscript and it’s still probably my most fluent language.  Hopping forward to the modern languages, I’m partial to C-based languages, though, as they all follow similar conventions.  For customizing Jive, Javascript/jQuery rocks!  JS has become such a powerful language in the last few years, and now with JSON APIs, we can do almost anything with the right client/server relationship.  For the server side stuff, I’m loving PHP right now because it handles things like JSON so cleanly and you don’t have to think hard about the syntax when switching between JS and PHP.

 

LT: Do you have a favorite editing tool?*

Mike:  Komodo Edit.  It handles syntax highlighting and predictive text pretty well, and I like the easily customizable color themes.

 

LT: Who’s your developer hero?*

Mike:  A good old friend of mine from high school and college, Jared.  When I was struggling in my C++ class, he took the time to break down the more complicated topics into layman’s terms for me, and even gave me code samples that I was able to adapt to finish my projects successfully.

 

LT: Pick one word that best describes how you work.

Mike:  “Details"

 

LT: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Mike:  Coffee, that’s a tool, right? It seems to ‘light up’ the parts of my brain that solve puzzles.  After that, a good SQL database manager; without it we couldn’t make the custom magic happen.  Lastly, Photoshop for everything from mockups, to custom artwork, to t-shirt designs.

 

LT: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?

Mike:  My rock climbing cams.  Small machines that keep me safe hundreds (or thousands) of feet off the deck.

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  Developing a community can feel like climbing a mountain with your bare hands. Except the real thing is clearly much more dangerous!

 

LT: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?

Mike:  For a long time, it was good old paper and pencil – I used a personal adaptation of the Franklin-Covey method to track notes and deliverables.  This year, though, I’ve been experimenting with Apple’s Reminders app.  Having all my to-do lists and their respective notes synced and available on all my devices has proven to be really handy.

 

LT: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?

Mike:  I spend about 60-70% of my time in the office where I have a large cubicle against a wall of windows (see the picture at the top of the interview), the walls of my desk are decorated with photos of family, drawings from my son, awards and recognition, and nostalgia from the ‘old days’ of cellular phones.  I’m a wee bit cluttered, but overall my desk top is in good order, with a stack of graph paper always at hand for any sketching needs.  At home, I have a dedicated room that my wife and I use for our office.  She works from home full time, so I guess you can say I have a great view any time I’m working from home. When I get tired of looking at her, though, here’s the view from our office window…Yes, it snows in New Mexico!

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   Nice view, right?!

 

LT: What do you listen to while you work?

Mike:  I’m not much of a music-while-working person.  I’m a bit ADD’ish so music tends to derail my thoughts.  I actually appreciate silence quite a bit and will sometimes put in my headphones just to use as ear plugs to block out the droning chatter of the call center reps.  When I do listen to music, though, I like something fast and energetic – heavy metal and hip-hop are my go-to genres, but I like and can appreciate almost any kind of well composed tunes.

 

LT: What's your best time-saving trick?

Mike:  This one’s a bit of a paradox…but I really like to comment the heck out of my code.  Even though it takes longer initially, when I have to go back months or years later to maintain something it saves me tons of time from having to reverse engineer what I had written previously.  “Future proofing!"

 

LT: How do you balance work and life?

Mike:  Life and family comes first, period!  My wife, son, and I all have a bunch of extra-curricular activities so I have to put “hard stops” on my work days.  I like to live in the moment and I work in order to have amazing adventures in life – I don’t live-to-work.  T-Mobile has a good culture of work/life balance and respects the boundaries we establish.  Most of the time, the work isn’t *that* critical.

 

LT: What's your sleep routine like?

Mike:  Not the best.  I get up around 5 am to get ready for work and get my son ready for school.  After work, we usually have some sort of athletic thing or school projects to work on, then dinner, etc… and by the time I’m winding down for the night, it’s 11 pm or later.  Weekends are no exception, but substitute climbing, hiking, or other outdoor things for “work."  Six hours or less of sleep is typical, 7 days a week.

 

LT: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Mike:  I like to call myself a closet introvert.  At work I’ve trained myself to do what needs to be done and with all the connections I’ve made over the years my work life is really just a huge extension of my introvert ‘bubble.’  I would guess that most of my coworkers would not immediately judge me to be an introvert.  On the other hand, put me in a social situation with strangers and I shut right down, becoming the ‘quiet observer.’

 

LT: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?

Mike:  “Live in the NOW!”  My dad always taught me that what’s happening right now is what’s most important.  Try not to dwell on the past, as those are just memories and there’s nothing we can do to change them.  Don’t stress about the future, because you can only plan so much before it becomes anxiety.

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   Here's a picture of Mike living-in-the-now with his family. Looks like an adventure!


My great thanks to Mike for coming up with such great answers to these questions. I hope you enjoyed the interview!

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I just finished Clive Thompson’s Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better and really enjoyed it. So much of what we read about technology these days is doom and gloom that I wanted to spend time on something a little more positive. And turns out, there’s much to be positive about.

 

There are many stand-out moments in the book. One is the exploration of ambient awareness — how social media often makes our in-person connections stronger because we know so much about each other’s minutia that we can skip the small talk and jump straight to the important stuff when we see each other.

 

But the part I want to elaborate on a little bit here is what historical events tell us about the important criteria to meet for collective thinking to be successful. I think it's pretty relevant to what we do here at Jive. Clive points out four important aspects of successful online collaboration:

 

  1. Collective thinking requires a focused problem to solve. One disastrous story Clive tells is when the LA Times create a wiki page on the Iraq War and encouraged people to edit it. No focused outcome = a rapid decline into the bottom half of the internet. But give people a common problem to solve — like “Which tent hospitals in Cairo need help, and what do they need?”, and people start to shine together.
  2. Collective problem solving requires a mix of contributors. Specifically, it needs to have really big central contributors, and then a lot of people making small contributions to push the solution forward. As Clive puts it, “these hard-core and lightweight contributors form a symbiotic whole,” coming up with the best solution in the fastest possible way.
  3. Collective thinking requires a culture of “good faith collaboration”. Contributors need to struggle constantly to remain polite to each other. And it is a struggle, but a necessary one. As Anil Dash once said, if your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault.
  4. To be really smart an online group can’t have too much contact with each other. This sounds counterintuitive, but the evidence supporting the point is pretty overwhelming. Clive goes over a few examples that shows that “traditional brainstorming simply doesn’t work as well as thinking alone, then pooling results.” This also explains why Design Studio is such an effective way to solve design problems. So one of the secrets of online collaboration is that it “inherently fits the model of people working together intimately but remotely,” as Clive puts it.

 

I think it would be great for us to think through these principles as we design our collaboration environments, and as we teach people how to use them. What have you seen works or doesn't work in your collaborative communities?

Why use Jive for project management?

Jive combines web-based documentation accessible from anywhere with powerful collaborative discussions. It provides a fantastic search tool that makes finding content and conversations incredibly simple.  User profiles contain rich information about skills, experiences, and involvement.  All of these powerful tools make Jive a project manager's best friend.  Your team can create, share, collaborate, and take action on the project in a single, unified project hub.Blog Pic 1.png

 

At my last company, project collateral was posted in network folders, SharePoint sites, bounced back and forth in OneNote, or kept on people's hard drives, and things we're emailed so wildly and blindly that you never really knew how current or accurate any of your documentation was.

 

On Jive, there is no question about what is the true version because there is only one place to look for the source of truth, and you can easily lookup the version history for any document.  Being able to keep all project collateral in a single place where it can quickly and easily be created, modified and referenced, is a huge advantage.  Having all of your project discussions and collateral open and accessible to the team, e-mail lists and 'reply alls' vanish because your team is connected to what's important.

 

Jive content is lightweight, easy to author and modify with advanced styling as needed, and is easier to digest than 8.5" x 11" formatted Word documents or verbose e-mail 'reply-all' threads.  The content itself becomes collaborative, with the power to comment, reply, like, and mark with a structured outcome, and share.  With the introduction of Responsive Mobile Web in the Jive Fall 2014 Cloud Release, the same rich documentation and discussion content you view on desktop can be seen on our most personal computers: our smartphones.

 

With all of these factors in play, Jive doesn't just connect people to content from anywhere; it connects them to each other.  The alignment and clarity teams get by using Jive enables them to work better together.

 

Setting up your project

Checkout this description of Jive Projects from Jive Places Overview:

Projects can have unique page layouts just as Groups and Spaces can, but the similarities stop there. Projects are required to be nested within a Space or a Group, cannot have unique permissions associated with them, and have no management console. They inherit all permissions and visibility from whatever Space or Group they are attached to. These are best used for short, time-based projects, or helping increase focus of certain discussions; e.g. Marketing Ops has a specific Campaign with multiple types of documents and discussions and calendars. This allows a neater level of drill-down than keeping content and discussions at the space level.

Where should I create my project?

The simplest thing to do is to create a Jive Group as the parent Place for your Project.  The Group should have a descriptive name that clearly identifies what the Project(s) within that Group are all about.  The Group has it's own landing page and content separate from the content that will live in the child Project.  I typically layout these Groups as a simple landing page for the various Projects that fall into that program, and I encourage people not to post Project-related content in the parent Group.  The parent Group could serve an over-arching purpose, such as the master container for an entire program of projects, or for a particular team that work together executing projects; It's up to you to determine an information hierarchy that makes the most sense.  Just remember that your project doesn't have it's owner permissions -- it inherits the permissioning of the parent Place.

 

The more accessible a Project is, the easier it is for me to solicit help cross-functionally, as well as keep my colleagues informed about the day-to-day happenings of the project and share the deliverables and lessons learned with others.  That's why I generally advise to start with an open project, on only make the Project private or secret when it's necessary to do so.

 

If you're using a Space as the parent container for your Project, choose one that is accessible to all of the users that will need access to the project discussions and content (you may need to work with your Community Manager to determine where the best place to put your Project will be if you are in need of tight, system admin-controlled permissioning).  If the Space you're using has already been provisioned and the layouts for that Space are already serving another specific purpose, consult with your Community Manager or the owner of that Space to determine how best your project could be displayed on that Space landing page.

 

Activity vs. Overview page

Beginning with the advent of Purposeful Places, Jive offers Place owners the choice of using lighter-weight Activity-driven landing pages for their Place pages, or using more elaborate widgetized Overview pages.

 

Two factors weigh in on whether I use and Activity page or an Overview page: 1) Team size, and 2) Content complexity.

 

I prefer to err on the side of Activity pages, since they're lighter and available on Responsive Mobile Web, and I only use an Overview page when I know that my project needs a more curated presentation.  If I'm working with a team of a dozen or less, and I only need to provide some links to a few important docs, events, featured content, or trackers, then I use and Activity page.  If I'm working with a larger team, or if I need to present lots of information on the landing page, Overview is more suited to the task.

 

Content Types

Along with permissions, Projects also inherit the content types that are configured on the parent Place.  Determining what kind of content types to have available in your Project is all about deciding what 'Work am I going to do within Jive?'  Here's how I use the following content types within my projects:

 

Documents

Jive Docs are the repositories for some of my most important project collateral.  These could be anything you would use a Doc for, from meeting notes to configuration guides or technical walkthroughs to project charters or resource trackers and everything else in between.  They're collaborative, meaning by default anybody within the Project can author and update Docs, comment on Docs, and take Action or apply Structured Outcomes to Docs.

 

Discussions

Discussions become the replacement for e-mail lists in team communication.  They're used to discuss open issues, provide updates to the team, and solicit help from others.

 

By marking a Discussion as a Question, then the conversation transforms and it's purpose becomes finding a resolution.  People who participate in the discussion can indicate when other people's replies are helpful towards achieving and answer, and once that answer has been posted to the discussion, either the Project owner or the person who started the discussion can mark their answer as Correct.  Once marked, the Correct Answer is displayed immediately following the original Question.  This means that somebody else navigating to this thread to learn about the issue doesn't have to dig through a miles-long reply-all jumble of e-mail land alphabet soup to try to piece together the context of what happened and what the answer is-- They can just look at the answer, right there in front of them.

 

Blogs

Whether or not your Project has a Blog depends on two things: 1) Are Blogs enabled on the parent Place, and 2) Are Blogs enabled in the Project settings?  Once both of those are true, you get a Blog container that displays all of your Project Blog posts at company.community.com/myprojecturl/blog.

 

I use Blog posts for regular status reports.  Why use a Blog Post for a status report?  Couldn't I just use a Doc?  Well, yes, I could.  But there is something much more organic about a 'Blog.'  Docs store information, but Blogs tell stories.  While a status report requires important information be passed along to the customer, it's also a chance to remind everybody that there are human beings on the other end of the phone, telling the story of their work.

 

There are functional advantages to using a Blog, too.  In Jive, it's possible to follow just a Place's Blog without following the entire Place.  This is extremely useful for stakeholders and executives who want to receive regular updates about projects, but don't necessarily need updates on every piece of project collateral.  They can follow just the status report Blog in order to focus only on what matters to them: the story of the project unfolding.

 

Events

Lots of teams use personal calendars for finding the time to collaborate.  Adding Events in Jive shouldn't be thought of as a replacement for personal calendars, but a way to augment the personal calendar with key events that take on a visible identity within the context of a project.  For example, when running software projects, I don't create an Event for every single meeting the team has, but I do create Events for key activities like a major due date or a production deployment.  Creating the Event in Jive allows people to add it to their personal calendars, as well as participate in the collaborative discussion within the Project, where it is visible to everybody and on the forefront of everybody's minds, which can maintain alignment amongst team members.

 

Categories

Categories are useful in projects that may contain a lot of content.  If you have discussions, open issues, technical documentation, meeting notes, slide decks, contracts, and many other sorts of content in the same Project, then it can be especially helpful for those trying to look up that content later to have an extra tool to look for that content.  Categories, however, require a great deal of discipline.  You cannot just create categories willy-nilly and expect everybody to always use them, or always categorize things correctly.  Categories require ongoing curation by the Project Manager to ensure all of the content in a Project is organized properly.

 

Thanks for checking out this post!  I'll be following up with a post that dives into using Activity and Overview pages to lay out your project.

What is the Snuggle Express?

The Oregon Humane Society has a creative fundraising effort where groups that raise $1000 get an hour of puppies and kittens delivered to their locations for supervised cuddling! What's not to love about that idea?

 

A group of Jivers heard about this effort and got together to bring the Snuggle Express to Jive. We raised over $1000 for the Oregon Humane Society in a matter of hours. Seeing how quickly we were able to raise this amount of money, we felt that we should try and do the same thing one more time.  This time however, the Snuggle Express would make its way to an under represented school in Portland. And did Jivers ever deliver. Special shout out goes to Jiver Josh Leckbee for contributing a significant dollar amount to make this happen. 

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Well done, Josh, well done.

 

The school that was chosen to receive the Snuggle Express was a SUN Community School | Multnomah County  in outer SE Portland called Cherry Park. Never one to turn down a snuggle, Liz Savage went there on Jive's behalf to hang out and see the lucky kids interacting with the same insanely cute kittens and puppies we had here at our Jive office. Judging by the smiles on their faces and the gleams in their eyes - they really appreciated it too.


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In case these pictures aren't enough, here's one more shot to bring the holiday puppy spirit to your souls.

 

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Feels good doesn't it?

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

As we enter the holiday season, my thoughts are focused on spending time with my family. I look forward to watching holiday movies like ELF (you're going to need to watch this clip because it will make you happy). ELF is one of my favorites because of Will Farrell's infectious childlike joy...

Then there's the Holiday Inn where my kids and I enjoy the song-and-dance while seriously discussing the nuances of historical context in some of the questionable scenes. Before we watch White Christmas, we enjoy preparing a sandwich to put on the mantle. What, you don't do this? Those actors look hungry, for reals. And don't even get me started on the Harry Potter marathons. I. Am. So. Excited.


I also have a tradition of baking with my daughter and nieces and letting flour coat the kitchen like a dusting of snow on the mountains. It's a beautiful sight and likely the only snow we'll get in our part of California!

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   The baking babies in action: my nieces Hannah and Nina and my daughter Lucy.

 

At the end of the day, we light a fire, collect candles on the table and shine the light of the holiday spirit on everyone we see and everything we do. <sniff>

 

Community is the ultimate family


For many of us, our family extends far beyond the people to which we are actually related. We have aunties that are not really aunts, sisters that are best friends and neighbors that we've adopted. Some of us have coworkers that are closer to us that some of our own family members.


It's in that sense of family that community takes its shape. People are bound together by common values, goals and tasks whether it's a family, a church, a tribe or even an online community. (See what I did right there? Yeah, that happened.) That's where you all come in!


I might be going out on a limb (or maybe I drank a little too much of the holiday spirit) but I think that the Jive community is a family. I've never before met an unrelated group of people so bound together by passion for a topic or quest for community goals. I mean, JiveWorld is PROOF.

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   Look at this tribe of Jive Community members at JiveWorld14! Holla in the comments if you see yourself here.

 

I believe that in the heart of each community manager is this burning drive to bring people together -- to make an even bigger and better virtual group hug. It's what makes us special.


Warm feelings for my Jive Community family


I want each and every one of you reading this to know how much I appreciate you being here. I appreciate you writing your posts and commenting on other's posts. I appreciate each question that you answer and every piece of spam that you flag for moderation. I am extremely grateful every time you volunteer to run a group or host a discussion. For being involved and present, you have my unending thanks.


This virtual place that we call the Jive Community is REAL. It is real because behind every avatar there is a person. YOU. You might be sitting at a desk, on a sofa or even at a dining room table. You might be located in Los Angeles, London or maybe even Lisbon. You could be working from a coffee shop, hanging out in the home office or posting from a train travelling 70 miles an hour down the tracks. Regardless of where you are, you are also HERE and we are working better together because of it.


Each and every one of us plays a critical role in this family and I rely on you to make this place alive: to light the fires, to help me bake the cookies, to bring presents for the orphans and to laugh at all the "really funny parts" with me.


I might be getting a little emotional, I've already been accused of it today, and the sappy holiday music I have piped into my headphones isn't making me less sappy.


It's like this at my desk...