After my first post about Google Wave, I asked if any other internal communicators would be interested in trying Wave to see what, if any, applications it could have in our field.
And so a couple of weeks back I was joined online by BlueBallRoom’s Jenni Wheller, and Mark Detre, who’s responsible for Google’s own internal communications across the EMEA region (good to see Google eating their own dogfood here).
The three of us began by having a simple play around with the features, adding maps and pictures to the discussion. Once we’d got the hang of it, we began to think about how we might be able to use it to improve internal communciation.
Jenni asked “‘I’m not sure what it adds to the mix – i understand that it integrates various platforms that we all use but do we like keeping them seperate? do we need them all together like this? I feel like i’m skyping!’
However, by combining the live aspect of chat with the option of playback (asynchronicity) of email, it beocmes useful for dispersed teams. In my last job, working for global charity, we had people working in pretty much every time zone. A platform that allows for people to watch the discussion before adding to it themselves, could be a real benefit to small but global organisations.
We talked about the potential for organisations to use Wave for specific communications. It would work very well for something like a live online chat with the CEO, where people could post questions in advance of the live event, and join in at the time or play back afterwards.
However, even with just three of us talking at once the conversation can be happening at several different points in the Wave, so it’s easy to miss bits of it.
Similarly, it’s quite easy to ‘zone out’ while on Wave. Tab over to an email, or answer a call, and it’s hard to remember where you left off.
Jenni, Mark and I agreed a Wave discussion, like a face-to-face meeting, would work a lot better with a chair or facilitator keeping participants on track.
You need different tools for different jobs, and this one would appear to work well for specific projects, allowing people to chat, email and share documents all in one place. Mark said:
‘The main draw for me is that it brings everything together; for example, I do most of my drafting in Google docs, and I guess there’s also an easy way to insert those; it looks like Wave is best for businesses that do most of their work online or in the cloud’.
Few organisations are yet at that stage, though; this is a little premature for the rest of us, and would almost certainly be difficult to sell to colleagues. The potential is there, but we need resources as well as attitudes to catch up.
There’s still a long way to go before social media tools become the norm in the workplace. And even when they are, our existing channels remain useful. As I spotted when I visited Google recently, even in a high-tech environment the printed poster still remains effective.
Will it change the world? No. But will it help internal communicators? Possibly. We all have to make a call on what helps our own organisations to talk, listen and collaborate, and this is certainly a useful tool to add to the mix. Nonetheless, becoming more collaborative requires cultural change.
And that means changing our behaviours, not our tools.
If you’d like to read and join in the Internal Comms Wave, drop me a line and I’ll invite you in.