Newly Corporate

Work, life and the pursuit of happiness for the young professional.

Twitter in the Office: Fast, Aware, Open Teams

twitterSo I broke down and tried it. Yes, it’s true, I twitter. For most people, that sounds like something a 12 year old girl does when a cute boy walks by but it’s really not. It basically is like an away message, it allows people who “follow” me to see what I am doing or working on at any given time. On a personal level, it’s a great tool for communicating my ideas, promoting blog posts and sharing information. Anyone who reads my twitter (or my Facebook and IM status now that they are all synced) knows that it is far from 12 year old twitterpaintedness but still, is it really viable as a business tool?I would argue that it is, for three reasons.

Status Updates

Every Monday, I start the day by putting together a status report PowerPoint of what I did the last week and what I plan to complete during the upcoming week as part of the project I am running. It’s used by management to track projects and also has areas for escalations and deadlines. It is only sent to my manager and one other person and never to the team I work with (as they aren’t interested and it clutters inboxes). What would happen if the milestones I reached were immediately convey as I completed them with a simple “tweet”:

#milestonecomplete Design Phase complete

Immediately new milestones could be set with a “#milestonestarted” tag (# denotes a tag) and all progress could be monitored by sorting on those tags. Our new product introduction cycles are constantly decreasing, becoming more integrated and agile, why should our status reporting remain an old fashioned batch process?

Team Awareness

Every day companies strive to be more integrated and more cohesive. How can we continue to to have highly networked teams that respond quickly to each other when our inboxes continue to swell with CCs and instant messages tend to flow only between two parties. Twitter is the perfect application that fits right in between those modes of communication. Team members who all use twitter (and use the status reporting method described above) would all be aware of the progress made by their coworkers.

Just as many bloggers use the tool to reach out to each other with questions like “Do you know of a PC twitter client?” and quick replies of “@bhenak TwitBox” (@ denotes a reply to someone else’s tweet), employees could converse about anything from document locations to acronyms. As a transparent team they could work quicker as a more cohesive group and less of a disjointed unit lobbing emails in CC fashion over cube walls.

Information Accessibility

So now the team is using a shared communications system residing right on their desktops, actively updating each other on their status, and querying the group in an ad hoc manner with any dilemmas. As they go through their work, twitter is building a historical archive of their interactions and answers that can be search by current or future employees thus preserving the knowledge gained that might have been lost and deleted out of someone’s “Old CCs” Outlook folder.

Bottom line: Twitter could enable teams, centralized or globally distributed, to quickly relay status, share information and build a concise, historical and reusable knowledgebase.

Update: Here is one Twitter naysayer and one other positive opinion on Twitter in the workplace.

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  1. I think you’re becoming Guy Kawasaki…

    I’m surprised to see Twitter isn’t blocked at the office. Let’s try it out.

    My Twitter: bsamic

  2. 1. Communications mechanisms like this will become increasingly important as global collaboration increases. If you are working with someone on the other side of the globe, you can’t walk over to their cube and say “what’s up” but you can easily check their twitter page.
    2. I like that twitter shifts the communication paradigm from push to pull. You hit on this when you mention the CC box problem. People are sick of being blasted with email, why not ask them to come to you instead of you pushing messages to them? This is where twitter really shines.

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