March 25 Event: Embracing Social Media – Why, When & How?

March 25, 2008, Woodland Hills, Maggiano’s Restaurant.
Speaker: Terry McKenzie, Senior Director of GECCO (Global Employee Communications and Communities Organization) at Sun Microsystems,Ltd.

Download the presentation materials

After a bit of networking and breakfast, Terry began to tell us the story of the transformation she’s been spearheading at Sun over the last 15 months. I know I’ll never be able to capture everything she said and all the great insights, but I’ll get down a few, and you all can add more in the comments!

At the beginning of 2007, CEO Jonathan Schwartz told Terry that while communications were interesting, communities were absolutely vital to Sun. His challenge to Employee Communications was to go out and create communities internally. Less than a year later, there has been a huge shift as a result of this work.

This has been one of the primary rockets behind their shift from a communications environment revolving around information whether in email, intranet, town halls, or podcasts (info overload was primary complaint of employees) to an environment revolving around collaborative communities – whether it be in wikis, blogs, virtual townhalls and conferences, or Facebook.

At the moment Sun has about 4,000 employee blogs (all external – http://blogs.sun.com) and 5,500 employees on Facebook. Most have begun in the last 15 months.

The culture shift which has accompanied all of this is striking. According to Terry in 205 the culture was:

  1. Kick butt and have fun
  2. “You aren’t the boss of me”
  3. We’re right – rest of the world is wrong (couldn’t take criticism)
  4. Personality cult around CEO

Now, there has been a lot of maturing:

  1. “Let’s just imagine, for one minute that the analysts are right and we do suck…”
  2. Accountability
  3. Teamwork
  4. Adult to Adult
  5. Transparency, courage, authenticity highly valued

Some of the other great thoughts from this presentation were:

1. Everything Always in Beta: experiment with what’s out there, keep what works, and discard what doesn’t.

2. Corollary: Focus on the outcomes and results your after, not the tools themselves. Tools will always be changing. It’s what they enable that needs to be the focus.

3. Sun is developing a new intranet (2010) which will be 90% customizable, 10% fixed, to enable employees to create their own work experience and optimize the information and tools that they need. Accessible by any device (PC, cellphone, pda, etc) and top levels outside the firewall.
4. It’s silly to block Facebook or other sites to stop staff from ‘wasting’ time. They do this in other ways now (personal email, phone calls, etc.) It’s a Management issue if someone is unproductive.

5. Blogs must be interesting, well-written, authentic and cannot be ghostwritten.

6. Blogs can be a great way to find out what people are thinking. They talk about it anyway around the watercooler, at lunch, with friends. Why not capture their conversations in a blog rather than try and guess what’s going on.

If you were one of the 31 people who attended, what main points did you take away? Please comment below!