Twitterview. Concept vs. Content. Discuss.

Twitterview. Concept vs. Content. Discuss.

Social Media Pioneering

Image by Kamarashev

This is a little off-topic for my usual posts, but today I thought I’d try to encourage some discussion and see what results.

In my last post, I transcribed a Twitterview that Jhaymee Wilson of The Green PM initiated. The actual Twitterview can still be found at #TheGreenPM. This activity was a huge amount of fun for me. That same week I was interviewed four times: once by phone for an article for the PMI website (yet to be published), once by e-mail for a blog, and once for a podcast. But the Twitterview was so incredibly nifty!

However, the Twitterview as a vehicle seems to have sparked some controversy. Shim Marom and Brian Arbauch have posted their comments, and over at Herding Cats, Glen Alleman suggests the very notion of a Twitterview is neither serious nor adult, and implicitly, unfit for use.

Because the concept seems to be the thing under debate (and interestingly, not the actual content), I wanted to use this post as a place to collect people’s thoughts.

For reference, here are some other Twitterviews I’ve been able to find:

Questions:

    1) A Twitterview creates content. Is the resulting content meaningful? Useful? Actionable?
    2) Part of the controversy seems to stem from a parallel controversial concept, “PM2.0” (here’s an article from Gantthead on PM2.0). Is a Twitterview part of PM2.0 or is a Twitterview a separate thing? Should they be considered separately?
    3) How could you demonstrably measure success of a Twitterview?

Please feel free to speak your mind! Part of any new innovation is to collaborate and kick ideas around. Something I do feel is, social media gives a platform to do just that!

PS: I’m going to try to attract some social media authorities like Scott Stratten, Sharon Hayes, and Chris Brogan and see if we can get their opinions! No promises though, they’re very busy!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
  • readytofeedback

    Hi Geoff!

    I loved your Twittervew with Jhaymee Wilson of The Green PM. I was lucky enough to witness it live, but even to read through it after the fact was great (which I did because I missed the first bit). While I haven't read through the other references you provided, I'm thinking… why are we overthinking this?!?!? It was a conversation between two people that other people could experience and share with others… sounds wonderful to me. Bonus, we got to learn about you, your work, and the things you are passionate about.

    Radio, television, twitter, no matter what the interview format, the goal is the same. With Twitter the opportunity to share the message is exponential!

    Great stuff, Geoff! Your message and mission is empowering and I am glad that everyone is taking notice.

    Sonia

  • From Chris Brogan:

    @chrisbrogan: @PapercutPM – I didn't quite get what you were about. Do you mean, using twitter for interviews? It's pretty common.
    @chrisbrogan: @PapercutPM – it's just a different type of phone. : )

    Thanks very much Chris! 🙂

  • I think you really hit the nail on the head, Sonia. The goal is the same no matter what the vehicle. Thanks very much for that! 🙂

  • jasonmartin530

    Here is my take on Twitter as an interview application:
    I think Twitterviews are a reasonable channel for communication, but it certainly has its “goods”, “bads”, and “uglies”. I think the bulk of the goods lay in the potential to reach a large audience. As Sonia pointed out, the exponential potential of audience reach that Twitter makes possible is attractive. The “bads”, are a lack of comprehensive q&a, as a result of character limitations. I know that can be overcome, but in terms of an interview platform, it really is a bad format. And the “uglies” include a rough format that makes “reconstructing” the conversation after the fact somewhat difficult. The actual flow, obstructed by the unsightly repetition of hashtags, mentioned people, and stop/starts is frankly, ugly. It makes the reading segmented and clumsy.
    So, is Twitter a valid interview platform? Yes.
    Is Twitter the best format for conducting and disseminating interviews? No.
    Can Twitterviews provide meaningful, useful, or actionable content? Absolutely! But, so can smoke-signals.
    Is it myopic to dismiss communication based on the media channel? I think so.

    I became aware of Geoff after stumbling upon a Twitter conversation among he and a couple other people. While that particular conversation was of interest to me, I have gained much more from making connections based on a conversation in which I didn't even take part. My exposure to PM related issues has truly grown exponentially as a result. Likewise, the Twitterview itself might not manifest in immediate quantifiable value, it could be the catalyst driving value by virtue of countless tangential connections among various people. So, in spite of the shortcomings of a Twitterview, I can dig it.

    Good Stuff, Geoff. Keep it up!

  • OK, not sure where to begin. In my response to the original post I've said the following:
    “Sorry guys, I can see the novelty but can't quite see the point of using a tool that is obviously not cut to support long textual discussions. Why limit yourself to a 140 characters discussion when you can easily use other more relevant tools?”

    Having read through all the comments so far I am still unsure as to why this is not more than a novelty. I am not particularly concerned about the use of this tool or another, especially when this is done for fun and experimentation. I am more concerned about the greater implications that I can see coming from left field, where this type of communication will be promoted as the next Project Management communication tool. PM 2.0 will use this episode in their next presentation to demonstrate how productive and useful this tool is for promoting collaboration and solving project management issues. It is enough to read the rhetorical question at the end of this post, weather or not Twitterview is part of PM 2.0 or is it a separate thing. The whole notion that a collaboration tool can be part of a Project Management paradigm is ludicrous in exactly the same way that when discussing the creation of a WBS the PMBOK does not relate in any shape or form to any particular technology with which this WBS will be created and maintained. As far at the PMBOK is concerned you could create and maintain your WBS on post-notes. Similarly, project management, as a discipline, requires the project manager and the project team to communicate and collaborate. Whether or not they use Twitter or IM or Skype or the Whiteboard, or any other tool to that matter is entirely irrelevant, at least not from a project management perspective. I can understand and agree with the classification of this sort of tools as Web 2.0 tools, I can't accept the association attempted to be made between these technologies and the Project Management discipline as they have got nothing to do with each other.

    The research suggests (and I've quoted it extensively in my blog) that the young generation (and I'm now referring to those who are now in their early to late 20's) is hooked on these technologies to the point that they see having access to social media tools almost a mandatory entry point to their work environment. This has far reaching implications on a number of fronts, but in the context of this discussion the obvious implication is that this generation will attempt to drive the tools (i.e. bring in the solutions) without clearly understanding the problem domain into which they are being introduced. So, in summary, I love these tools like anyone else, I use them, and I enjoy promoting them. But as I use these tools the question that sits in the front of my mind is always, what is the correct tool with which I would be best solve a particular problem domain. Needs and objectives first, tools last.

  • Hiya Shim thanks for the great explanation! 🙂

    My question at the end of the post wasn't actually rhetorical. I think it was Glen over at Herding Cats who first connected our Twitterview to PM2.0, and since then that connection seems to remain.

    I personally don't see any connection between the notion of a Twitterview and PM2.0. As far as your comment is concerned, I think you're absolutely right…a PM can choose whatever tool he likes to manage his project, but all tools are ultimately disposable. I mentioned over at Ask About Projects that if he or she has someone prepared to print off all your documents and take dictation, theoretically, a project manager doesn't even need knowledge of Microsoft Office to manage his project.

    The objective of a Twitterview as far as I see it, is to conduct an interview on Twitter. There are side benefits such as increasing traffic, etc., but I don't see the relationship between an interview and project management. If the concept is to come under debate, should we not be working within the same context? i.e., “Is a Twitterview an appropriate vehicle for an interview” vs. “is a Twitterview an appropriate vehicle for project management”. That Jhaymee and I are both project managers is beside the point. We could have been doctors or lawyers or construction workers. As Chris Brogan pointed out, the Twitterview is just another kind of phone call.

    Are people drawing the connection between the Twitterview and PM2.0 because PM2.0 is more of a nebulous paradigm struggling to find its feet?

    As for PM2.0 as a concept, it does intrigue me that 20-somethings are seeing social media tools as essential tools for projects without giving thought to how appropriate they are. As project managers, we have all seen people attempt to jam a square peg into a round hole and we know it doesn't work. I would encourage readers to visit Shim's blog to read his thoughts on that matter.

    PS: This was exactly the kind of conversation I was hoping to encourage! 🙂 So thank you!

  • HAHA a fabulous review, Jason, thanks so much! 🙂

    You have some great insights here, particularly insofar as the legibility of the Twitterview is concerned. Re-transcribing for legibility was some effort (not much, but some), so the direct value seems to be in that the Twitterview is conducted live.

    Reuters has (or had–I assume the platforms have changed since I used to manage them) Dealing terminals by which traders can transact with one another. If two counterparties at different banks were trading currencies, they could have text conversations within a small window surrounded by real time price fluctuations. The text conversations were generally limited to the terms of their deals they were making, or, sometimes when things were quiet, filthy jokes.

    The benefits of the technology were, you could do deals immediately upon seeing a price change in your favour without having to hope your counterparty's line wouldn't be busy. The platform also recorded the transaction so in the event of a dispute, you could review the conversation. The problem was, reconstructing those conversations and making sense of them after the fact was time consuming because you had to match up all the different pieces and put them in order. Doing that reconstruction was a fairly common exercise because with the volume of trades a bank does, disputes happen reasonably often.

    Reconstructing the Twitterview was much easier than that, but the platform doesn't lend itself to legibility after the fact. However, like the Dealing terminals, it had its purpose. What I really liked was how Jhaymee infused the Twitterview with quotes, to inform people just tuning in with what was happening.

    As a public, real-time communications vehicle, I thought the Twitterview had a lot of merit!

  • My full comments are here: http://bit.ly/929IAB;

    My conclusion is that twitter is just a tool and like most tools it works best when used for the job it was intended for by its designer, in skilled hands it can be effectively and creatively used to do truly amazing things, and in a pinch it can be pressed into service by the unskilled to do things it was never intended for… it just won’t give the best results.

    While Web 2.0 tools can play a part in “social project management” they won’t likely be a driving force in the leap from a traditional (PM1.0) environment to a PM2.0 methodology. Although there is some overlap between Web 2.0 (collaborative) tools such as twitter and PM2.0 practices these 2 things should not be confused. The driving force in changing project management will be the success of PM2.0 projects, which will only occur if project teams can adapt a changing management style, not the tools the project managers use.

  • Wow, Steve, that was one awesome reply! AND a blog post! Thank you so very much for all that–it must have taken ages to write!

    I agree with you that Twitter is just a tool, which like any other requires adept hands to wield. I also agree that PM2.0 practices may or may not include Twitter; the apparent drive to jam social media tools into project management seems like a fad to me. There's this odd sense of urgency around PM2.0 that makes me think of lemmings.

    What I do think will happen, is that the current social media tools we have today will evolve into something a little bit more useful, user friendly and mature, and natural applications will stem from them organically. Those applications will find homes in the realm of project management eventually, but not as tools desperately adopted out of a sense of caffeinated urgency. They'll find their homes within the PM realm because it's where they rightfully belong.

    Thanks again so much for all you've had to say! 🙂 (And for all your support too…don't think I don't know hehe)

  • Regardless of what you use the tools for, Web 2.0 in the work environment are in high demand. For reasons of preventing “data leakage” we block the use of almost all Web 2.0 tools in our work environment. I am regularly told by the folks in HR and marketing that we have job candidates who will turn down a job for no other reason than they cannot access their social networking tool of choice from our corporate network. And this isn't limited to “20 somethings”.

  • Now that is a very interesting point. That says to me it's not just about whether or not Web 2.0 is appropriate but that some candidates view them as an office essential, like a stapler or paper clips. Much like e-mail became “expected” somewhere in the 90s.

    I feel very strongly about proper use of e-mail (see comments on Mark Phillips' blog: http://bit.ly/95U4Ye). It can be used well, or it can be used poorly. But there's no question that it has its place in a business context. Perhaps you are seeing the beginning signs of similar expectations. If that's the case, and people are becoming Web 2.0-savvy enough to expect it in the workplace, perhaps this whole discussion about using Web 2.0 tools on projects is moot. Perhaps they will be used for project communications whether the project manager likes it or not. If that's the case, then the PM has to be very clear about how, when and why Web 2.0 tools should be used during the project (i.e., include them in their communications plan), or face increased risk to communications inefficiencies.

    Another interesting point in your comment (and really another argument), is the desire by companies to control and “possess” communications. If the demand for Web 2.0 tools tips to the point where you have to provide access or face losing talent, what happens to an organization's claim to workplace data?