Friday, June 12, 2009

New Media

I recently attended a gathering of Enterprise Architects from several different Federal agencies and commercial vendors. The discussion was pretty typical in my judgment: punctuated with praise for Architecture models and methodology and frustrations about why few people are using them. One thing in particular stood out, however: a discussion about new media.

By new media, I mean Web 2.0 technologies like Blogs, internal collaboration forums, twitter, etc. What stood out for me was the general perspective that people in that room (mostly between 40 and 60 and Architects by profession) seemed to have about the value of new media. I was surprised to find that "architecture types" in the room didn't seem to value it as much as I would have thought.

My boss, who was one of the primary speakers in this forum, introduced the concept and people in the room started discussing. When the comments really started flying, he opened an opportunity for me to jump in with "One of the reasons we hired..." comment an a nod in my direction, but the tempo of the discussion, the hour on the clock, and the questions being asked gave me pause as I formulated my thoughts on the subject.

One woman, whom I recognize to be articulate, intelligent and thoughtful, said "I don't have time to blog. If the people I want to reach are in email, then that's where I'll be."

My immediate thoughts were 180 degrees out. I don't have time NOT to blog. It's to this point, I'd like to offer a perspective.

When I was given the job of standing up the Defense Business Transformation program for the Military Health System, it came with a relatively small budget. There are 365,000 people internal to the Military Health System who are delivering care to 9.2 million patients through a global health care delivery system consisting of 70 major hospitals, 411 medical clinics, 413 dental clinics and 190,000 networked (non-military) providers.

Anti-deficiency Act violations I supposed, based on my experience as a medical CIO in the medical logistics domain, could be anywhere in this system. I had to find a way to reach across the globe, across all time zones, and under a variety of network availability conditions to reach my target audience. I had to do it fast, and the message I needed to deliver had to be consistent.

When I physically flew to new areas and gave speeches about Business Transformation, I often spoke to mixed crowds. Some people in the crowd were affected more directly by Transformation than others. I knew these people needed more information than I could deliver in an hour from behind a microphone.

Some people needed to get someone else in their chain of command or in their work spaces fired up. Some people needed to clarify definitions. Some people needed a step-by-step guide for navigating the due diligence process we established. Some of those people couldn't have cared less about Transformation in the Department, and others were just "groupies" with an interest in keeping up with what's going on in the Department.

There is also a special group of people that I wanted to reach that were often not in the rooms that I spoke in. These are future Transformation Agents who I figure are probably in the E3-E6 and O3-O5 ranks. These people are solid enough in their understanding of the military to be heads up and looking around. They are not so enmeshed in the status-quo system as to be bound to the old way of doing business. They are probably taking classes, asking questions, wondering "how is the other services doing" this or that, etc.

This special new crop of Transformation Agents are comfortable with new media. They hang out in Facebook, and Twitter, LinkedIn and others. They text one another all the time, use acronyms that most older people can hardly decipher, and get their news from blogs more than they do from traditional news outlets like print newspapers. These people elected Barak Obama - largely due to his effective use of new media to reach people.

I saw New Media as a force multiplier. I saw it as an tool to extend reach and reduce workload. I saw it as a way to be more consistent with what I thought people needed to hear.

I can't over-emphasize how much mileage I've gotten out of 60 minute studio sessions with a microphone. I point people to my podcasts all the time. They appreciate the greater depth of message, and I appreciate being able to work on other things.

Investors understand the value of creating assets that work for you while you sleep. New media provides a low cost, easily accessible tool for creating assets that do just that.

Check out the free audio program below regarding New Media from Struggling Entrepreneur.

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