I came across Twitter 2 years ago. I really liked the tool but not for the way people currently use it–but rather for its potential.

Imagine if, instead of answering the Q: What are you doing?, you answered: What are you working on? What are you thinking about/wondering about? What challenge are you trying to solve?

I work for a consulting boutique and we tried this experiment among the consultants on our team–it was amazing! (Without using client names of course) So, I would post things like: “Working on a ‘day in the life’ profile for a pharma sales rep,” and a colleague would read it and contact me because it turns out she was doing the same thing for the same client just from a different perspective. Immediately we were able to work together and not only learn from each other but increase our speed to performance. That is just one example–there were many more.

In addition, we all felt so much more “connected” to each other through reading our updates. We felt “in the loop” so to speak. As consultants being on the road and with our clients we are somewhat disconnected from each other on a regular basis. Sometimes weeks and even months go by before we see each other. However, our Twitter updates really united us. I remember being on maternity leave, reading a tweet and calling a collegue to offer help on something she was working on that I was familiar with. It was amazing!

So I wanted to do my research along these lines but I can’t do it at my own firm for a multitude of reasons one of them being that I am personally involved. Another is that Twitter is public and not secure so you have to be REALLY careful if you use it for work. That said I encourage you to try it in your own organizations and let me know if you experience anything similar to what we did!

If you do like the experience and really want to take advantage of the benefits without the risk–then you can try Yammer! Yammer was the answer to my dreams–it already asks the question: What are you working on? And, you can use it for work because it is totally secure and not public. (I swear they aren’t paying me to advertise I just love the idea of this tool.) The potential for this tool is so amazing. I see it extending into a KM system as well–one that actually works… More on that in an upcoming post.

As for my advisor, he loved the idea but said since my degree is in cognition and intelligent technologies I have to look at this through a cognitive lens and he suggested distributed cognition so I explored that and will address what I found on that end as well in an upcoming post…