Applying the Social Dimension to the Lockheed Martin Mission #e2conf

The morning started with Andrew McAfee interviewing Shawn Dahlen and Chris Keohane from Lockheed Martin about how they’ve progressed on their internal social network since we heard about it at last year’s conference.

Back in 2004, they approached the CIO to get project seed money for internal blogging, since there was a need for internal communications that wasn’t being met by company newsletters. For a few thousand dollars, they were able to set up a blogging platform that allowed internal affinity groups to communicate, then realized that they needed to lock down some of the information for security purposes and closed down some of the access, particularly to employees outside the US.

The 9/11 commission report noted that the existence silos of people and information – a “need to know” environment – was part of the problem in government and defense industries, providing Lockheed with the motivation to start opening up some of their information across the company, regardless of location. They worked closely with their internal legal department to make sure that they were

They took their SharePoint environment, which was already in use for document collaboration, and added more social networking aspects by upgrading the blog and wiki capability. This allowed them to evolve an existing, familiar platform into something more social, providing an easier migration for Lockheed’s 150,000 employees. The revolutionary part was to make these communities open to all employees by default, rather than defaulting to a closed site, and currently 65% of their thousands of communities are open.

Because they were making SharePoint do things that it didn’t naturally do, there was a lot of customization involved, but what they’ve ended up with is the ability for anyone to create a community. Apparently, HR resisted this, and lobbied for more centralized control of who could create an internal site rather than allowing self-service, but with the number of internal communities, this would have seriously crippled the spread of the tools to support collaboration within the company.

McAfee asked the question about how easily Lockheed’s aging workforce adopted these social solutions; interestingly, some of the 20-something engineers were some of the ones that had problems with the social community, since although they knew how to use the tools, they didn’t have the business experience to make the tools support the Lockheed business processes. Some of their most prolific bloggers are from the over-40’s workforce, probably because they just have more knowledge to contribute. In other words, enterprise social networking isn’t about age, it’s about appropriate tools, motivation and having something worthwhile to share. You need to have the younger and older parts of the workforce work together in order to achieve the best results.

They went through – and are still experiencing – challenges with acceptance by the executives and across the organization, and have learned that social media needs to be grounded in the challenges of your enterprise. You need to create tools that support what people need to do, not just push something in and force people to use it. The result is that they have leaders within the company who blog regularly, but more importantly, who read, comment and act on what they read in blogs: this shows that management is participating, and that they see it as a channel for

They didn’t set rules around what content should or shouldn’t be included on the sites, but it has taken on the form of what would be normal employee behavior, which is pretty much what we heard yesterday from IBM, Deloitte and EMC. They provided two examples of “misuse” that were removed from the sites: one where someone was talking about their new car, and the other where someone was complaining about the employee review process using questionable tone and/or language.

There’s a breakout session this afternoon with the two Lockheed guys, going into more detail about their social networking platform and its adoption.

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