This year, facebook reports membership at more than 500 million active users with over 50% active each day and more than 30 billion pieces of contact shared each month. This would make facebook the 3rd largest nation in the world behind China and India, easily exceeding the US population.
Twitter seems to be the dominate microbloging player with 75 million estimated users although the numbers are not confirmed. We have LinkedIn, Blogs, YouTube, iPhone Apps just to mention other popular communication tools.
With the growing popularity with these forms of social media and the vast number of communication offerings, can they be used to improve how we conduct business or more specifically, can they be used in a lean transformation?
This is just one of the experiments that Xerox is trying in their Lean Six Sigma initiative according to Aqua Porter, VP corporate Lean Six Sigma Operations in her presentation today in the Lean Manufacturing Track at Noria’s Reliable Plant Conference 2010.
This is not the case of a hammer looking for a nail. No, it is simply a method to bridge poor communication. This includes slow communication, lack of sharing best practices, lack of interactive communication, etc. It is viewed as the way to improve customer dialogue as well as internal communication, both vertically and horizontally within the company.
One application in particular under test at Xerox is the use internal microbloging tool Yammer. Yammer describes their platform as "a tool for allowing companies and organizations to become more productive through the exchange of short frequent messages. The standard Twitter question is "What are you doing?", whereas with Yammer you answer the question "What are you working on?'".
Since this is still a new tool to their Lean Six Sigma approach, the results are still pending. I applaud Xerox for their boldness and open-mindedness to experiment with social media.
Despite the overall popularity of social media and unlike Xerox, the typical corporate viewpoint on social media is not one I would consider “embracing with open arms”. In my experience, the typical corporate viewpoint on social media is based on fear, control and legal protection. It is not viewed as a positive tool and certainly not something to be done “while on the clock”. Does this closed-minded view limit us in tapping into the power of social media might offer?
What do you think? Is your company embracing social media? Does social media mix with the lean journey?