Sometimes I love the things that my Google Reader shares with me from down the hall … this afternoon I jumped into my feeds for the first time since very early this morning. One of my favorite things to see is the little new article indicator next to my ETS folder. I love to see fresh content from those in my own team … just warms the heart. There were a couple new ones today, but the one that caught my attention was from my colleague, Elizabeth Pyatt. Elizabeth is an Instructional Designer in our group who brings great insights into literally everything we do. Elizabeth was instrumental in starting and executing our blogging community hub so she gets the community thing in a big way. Her post today really made me step back and think.
What is funny about it is that her post is about a whiteboard. You see, about a month and a half ago the whiteboard we ordered for the Cafe ETS space showed up and it was way too big. Instead of sending it back I asked that it be installed in our hallway so it could be used for ad hoc conversations, announcements, or really anything else people wanted to use it for — within reason I suppose … my general rule for anything around the office is to not spew hate (a good rule to live by). I’ve watched the whiteboard since it went up and it has been used for all sorts of things — pictures of me, polls, announcements, and more. I’ve liked it all and haven’t given it too much thought. I did notice when we first had it installed that someone asked (via the whiteboard) what the policies governing it are. I didn’t respond, but did put a fictitious item on our all staff meeting agenda to address that. We didn’t.
Elizabeth notes some things that only now am I growing aware of — people want to know what it is there for. The funny thing is that I really don’t have a concrete answer. It is there to be there … if that is too abstract then so be it. Chalk it up as another grand experiment.
The other thing she notes is the Twitter stream running on a display in the same hallway. We all tweet with our personal accounts and they end up showing up in our hallway. I usually always enjoy reading them when I get off the elevator and I do feel like it provides an interesting insight into our organizational DNA. But as Elizabeth points out, some of the tweets are probably not aligned with our organizational perspective (maybe … not sure about that). Again, it is an interesting look at social interaction … another grand experiment. I am honestly intrigued by the way we are all navigating both online and physical social platforms — and yes, I just called the whiteboard a social platform.
So what the hell is this post about? Well it has a little to do with who we are as a group and the kinds of things we are all thinking about individually — and really how they add up to form an organizational identity. It is also about how we are walking in the open without the old rules — whatever they were. The new school technology of Twitter has brought a strange view into the collective (even if not everyone contributes to it), while the whiteboard seems to have caused more questions. I’m not sure if we are more forgiving with our use of the new school stuff or not. I do know one thing I can answer with certainty for those who are wondering — I am not the one erasing stuff. I am leaving that to the community to deal with … if I erased I would violating one of the things I believe in — communities self correct. Even on whiteboards.