Activity streams: communication as work, not for work

by Peter Kim 05 May 2011 Blog Post

One of the four fundamental keys to social business design is dynamic signal, driven by new modes of content authorship and ownership within companies.

In practice, email communication happens for work. Most office workers would gladly accept less email to deal with every day, unless they’re addicted to the dopamine rush of receiving new messages.  A shift to dynamic signal moves employee mentalities and behaviors to communicate as work instead.

Luis Suarez offers an alternative to email: activity streams. He offers five reasons why activity streams work better than email:

  1. They permeate throughout transparency and openness
  2. They help you, greatly, be done with the obsession to read AND respond to everything
  3. They facilitate serendipity and Informal Learning
  4. They help flatten organisations and traditionally hierarchical structures
  5. They inspire an open knowledge sharing culture

In a recent IBM poll, 49% of respondents stated that they post status updates on social tools for work purposes either a few times a month or never. The data show that corporate inbox codependency is alive and well. But activity streams have started to flow inside organizations and social businesses are starting to architect the aqueducts that will allow them to flow out to the organizational edge.

  • Charlie Davidson

    Peter, you allude to the benefits of activity stream flow beyond those that Luis lists. It would be great to hear more of those thoughts in the future. There are opportunities to leverage the same strategy in a broader information and KM context. For example, by injecting these streams with topically relevant information, and content from other sources originating inside or outside the organization. If this is done topically it can be tuned to the purpose of the stream and the audience. The benefits of topical streams leveraging cross-org sources are many.

    One benefit is less reliance on email for current awareness while at the same time improving the user experience and efficiency with which they can process information. Another benefit is that the streams themselves can be filtered and key topics and knowledge cross-polonated across the organization. We are about to publish a paper touching on parts of this in the context of increasing signal and decreasing noise. Here is a link

  • Dennis Callahan

    Great article. I call #3 and #5 learnstreaming – publishing your learning activities online for the benefit of you and others. Learnstreams Have 3 Major Actions