Posts Tagged ‘#ESNchat’

thankitforwardWhen my professional colleagues at The Community Roundtable started posting their “Thank It Forward” posts recently, thereby recognizing three specific people or groups that have made a difference in their lives this year, I knew I wanted to do the same. So it’s taken me a while to think through it and come up with this post. My three who have had the greatest impact on me this year are from all parts of my life, so it’s an unlikely trio, but a meaningful one to me.

The first person I want to thank for his impact on me this year is my new pastor, Mark Williams. I cannot adequately express how thrilled I am to have this man as my pastor. He is a kind, loving, gracious soul who is profoundly committed to proclaiming the Word of God and calling others to a life of faithful service to Christ. He is wise far beyond his 31 years with a wisdom that can only come from the Spirit of God within. When he preaches, you know you are hearing the truth of the gospel. He is not out to impress others or dictate to others or to draw attention to himself. He is a servant of his Lord and an incredibly gifted and faithful proclaimer of truth.

It is important to me that I deeply respect my pastor. Life has been a bit out of whack in times past when there has been some tension between a pastor and me. That’s not a good situation and not one I care to repeat. I respect the role of pastor and want the relationship to reflect that respect. Mark makes it easy for me to do that because we are united around a common purpose and cause and desire. I would be quite content to learn from this man for the rest of my days on this earth. He makes me want to be a better person in general and a better Christian in particular. I know my own relationship with Christ ought to produce those same desires and it does, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a key person in the flesh that draws you in that direction as well. I thank God for Mark Williams and look forward to his continued influence on me, our church and our community.

The second person I want to thank is my bride of 35.5 years, Linda. I don’t know anyone who works as hard as she does. While her role as kitchen hostess at church and self-employed caterer is officially part-time, she sure does seem to be going at one or the other full-time. And if she isn’t absorbed in those activities, she’s gardening or doing yard work or something else – anything but resting (which she really ought to do more of). Anyone who knows us can tell you how different we are. That has always been the case. In fact, we lost some college “friends” when we got engaged in 1978 for that very reason. They worried that we were so different that it would never work for us to be married and they simply could not and would not give their blessing to it. Well, 35.5 years later, I would beg to differ with their assessment. That doesn’t mean we always see eye-to-eye or have no issues, but we’ve learned to keep the main things the main things and not elevate minor differences to a loftier level of attention than they deserve.

I want to thank Linda for loving me all these years, for continuing to do the less-than-glamorous things that come with managing a home and family, for forgiving me when I have been self-absorbed or downright thoughtless or mean or stupid, for being an absolute rock of faithfulness and consistency for the entire time I have known her from my sophomore year of college through the present, and for being the mother of our two sons and grandmother to the newest generation of Rosses. I cannot imagine life without her, and I am thankful now and forever for her.

The third person I want to call out in my #thankitforward this year is my manager at Humana, Lewis Bertolucci. Lewis took a chance in late 2011 by adding me to his Enterprise Social Media team at work when there were not originally plans to have that team own the internal social media function I manage so much as the external, customer-focused media. Lewis is a remarkable person who knows more about the field than I ever will. He can’t possibly sleep much and still juggle all the things he has his hands in. It’s no wonder he was included in a recent list of the top 100 digital marketing experts. Don’t even think about trying to match his Klout score!

There are so many things I appreciate about Lewis as my manager. He is open and honest and I can discuss whatever I need to discuss with him. He trusts me to do my work and has no inclination to micromanage me or others. He is funny and creative and will blindside you with a funny photoshopped picture or JibJab video and seems to have funny animated GIFs ready for all occasions to throw into online discussions. He keeps his cool in the midst of what I know are very stressful, demanding days at work. He thinks of others more than he thinks of himself. He can write out the best, thoughtful, reasoned response to situations where others would be tempted to respond quickly and emotionally. He gives wise counsel that others (including me) would do well to heed. He is supportive and encouraging to his team. And as is shown by the expanded role he offered me in August this year, he is eager to see those he supervises grow into their potential, even when that means they leave the team for other roles as some did in 2013. Like my pastor mentioned above who is in his early 30s, Lewis is also wise beyond his years and has earned the deep respect I have for him as a person and as a manager. I am fortunate to have him and hope to learn from him for many years to come.

So there you have the three people from different areas of my life who I am most thankful for in 2014.

I won’t end this post, though, without also recognizing the one professional organization that has also been very significant for me this year as well – The Community Roundtable. I have enjoyed being a member of this organization of online community professionals for several years, but this year the connection stepped up a notch when they graciously agreed to take over the reins of the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat which I started in 2013. They are doing a great job with the chat and will continue to innovate and do things with it that I as an individual could never do. I am deeply appreciative of their willingness to do this. I know the work involved in making it successful and worthwhile week after week. It is no small task. Thank you, Hillary Boucher, Rachel Happe, Shannon Abram, Jim Storer and all the wonderful people at TheCR! You do amazing work that is very much appreciated by many.

What about you? For whom would you #thankitforward for their impact on you in 2014?

Time to Take #ESNchat to the Next Level!

Posted: September 24, 2014 in #ESNchat
Tags: ,

ESNchat-smallI’m very pleased to announce that as of Thursday, October 2, 2014 the good people at The Community Roundtable will take over ownership of my weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat. Some of the great benefits to the #ESNchat community will include the ability for @TheCR to have multiple people involved with leadership of the chat, more extensive promotional efforts behind it than I personally have been able to provide, expertise from years of research and organizing conversations between community practitioners, and a much broader network of practitioners and enthusiasts than I bring to the table, while still maintaining the ESN vendor-neutral position that has been so important to the success of #ESNchat. We got a taste last week in my absence of how well TheCR’s Hillary Boucher can host a chat, so we will all benefit from more of Hillary’s leadership along with others from TheCR.

This has been a great journey for me that began in the summer of 2013 when I started searching for a free online gathering place for Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) practitioners, vendors and enthusiasts. While there were some closed communities provided for those who use specific vendors, I wanted more than that in order to help nudge the industry forward. There needed to be a place where anyone using any platform could meet with others and discuss specific ESN topics of interest, learning from each other and building up a repository of content that could help many others along the way. Therefore, #ESNchat was born September 12, 2013.

Since its inception we’ve had about 230 wonderful people take part in the chats, currently averaging about 30-40 participants per week sharing hundreds of tweets each chat. Each week sees us adding a few new people. Some participants on the other side of the globe even ended up spawning a new chat of their own at a time more convenient to them. I’ve met an incredible network of people from whom I have learned much and will continue to learn from in the years ahead.

But I’m just one person who has been doing this in his free time outside of work and all my other volunteer activities. It may not seem like much of a time commitment to host a one-hour chat weekly, but there is a lot more that goes into it than meets the eye with planning topics, securing featured guests, archiving chats, sending reminders out about coming chats and posted archives, other ongoing promotional efforts, plus the other residual impact of requests for interviews, consulting, speaking engagements, etc. – all of which I love, of course, but which tends to cut into time which should usually be devoted to other things. I never got around, for example, to working with chat participants to co-author an ESN Handbook we discussed earlier in the year due to sheer limitation of time for more #ESNchat work than I was already doing.

Additionally, my role at work has recently expanded to not just be the community manager for our ESN, but to lead a small team of community managers who also have responsibility for our external social media, plus I’m now working with internal lines of business to consult with them as they stand up external online communities for their focused audiences. My work focus, therefore, is shifting more to community management for internal and external communities as well as launching new external-facing communities while still continuing to manage our ESN. As such, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for me to devote so many hours per week purely to leading #ESNchat when ESNs are no longer my sole focus at work.

Since TheCR will be able to share the load of all that needs to be done among multiple people, I feel better about their ownership of it going forward. That’s why I approached them with the idea last month. I’ve been a member of TheCR for years and am continually impressed with the quality of their people and all they do. While they, of course, have paid membership (which I recommend) for those who want those benefits, #ESNchat participation will remain freely available to all as any Twitter chat should be.

Here’s what to expect over the next couple of weeks:

  • I’ll still host the chat on September 25 as I usually do. The topic will be Favorite ESN Resources.
  • Hillary Boucher and others from TheCR will co-host with me the chat on October 2 as we take a look back at what has transpired in #ESNchat to date and consider where we all want it to go in the future.
  • My final role as host will be at the end of the October 2 chat, after which TheCR will immediately assume ownership.
  • We will communicate with participants as soon as we can about the location of resources like chat archives and any website information about the chat. Related to that, I’ll be transferring ownership of the domain for them to use as they see fit. It currently points to a section of my blog, but that will change soon.
  • I have no plans to remove the existing chat archive links from my blog or to change the availability of the Storify archives from my account there, although I will not continue to personally archive future chats after the handoff to TheCR. They will assume that task as they see fit.
  • I want to create an ebook PDF compilation of all the chat archives from September 12, 2013 through October 2, 2014 that I will make freely available to all once it is complete. That will be a nice way to package up and give away my gift of a year’s ESN content to this wonderful community.

I cannot thank enough those of you who have come into my life over the past year as a result of #ESNchat. I started the chat solely to try to nudge the industry forward and I think in a small way we’re doing exactly that. I’m grateful for the speaking and other opportunities my role in the endeavor has provided, but those, too, take time that I ought to be devoting elsewhere. The journey has been amazing.

I’m not going away, though! I’ll still be a regular participant as a practitioner and… well… a proud papa can’t just walk away from his baby! So thank you to my faithful #ESNchat friends for making every Thursday from 2-3pm EDT one of my favorite hours of each and every week. Continue with me as active participants in what I know will be a great second year for #ESNchat under new leadership. Let’s all do what we can to keep moving the needle in the right direction so that enterprise social networking grows and makes the significant business impact for our companies and organizations that we all know is possible with this great form of communication.

You can read TheCR’s post about this development here. Onward and upward!

keep-calm-and-finish-strongI’ve been very goal oriented the past two years in publishing on this blog very specific goals in the categories of body, mind and spirit. The goals for 2013 were many and I was glad to accomplish nearly all of them. I started down a similar path at the beginning of 2014, but soon felt burdened by so many time-consuming goals outside of work and volunteer endeavors. By my March update I had reduced the goals a little bit, and by May I had decided to take a few months off from a couple of them entirely. My brain and my spirit needed a rest from the physical activity goals more than my body did. I still continued work on most of the goals, but filed a couple under “not gonna happen” and went on with life.

Now that we’re in the final third of the year and the end is in sight, I’m back in gear and ready to finish out the year completing those goals that are most important and putting aside officially those that aren’t. I’m already looking forward to a very different approach in 2015 which will not  have me listing all kinds of goals for body, mind and spirit. I’ll talk more about what it will include when the time comes.

With that background, here is where I stand with the original goals for 2014 and what my plan is to close out the year with each:


  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. After taking the second quarter off from this, I’m back on track. My company has a 100 Day Dash going on right now until late November where we’re on teams recording and tracking steps daily. My goal for these 100 days is to never get less than 11,000 steps per day and so far I’ve done that. I’ll end the year strong and will keep at this pace until I reach our company’s top rewards program level which should happen around the end of the year.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I started the year doing this faithfully but took a break after hurting my back. I never got back into the routine and don’t intend to for now. I’ll stretch before and after running, but not otherwise.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run 10 miles this year. I walk 5-6 miles a day between work and walking the dog, but I just haven’t gotten back into running. This goal will not be met. Walking will have to be good enough.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My average is more like 6.5 hours per night year to date. That isn’t enough. My body is calling for more and I have to find a way to make it happen. Of course, the 6.5 is more than years past, but I need more than years past.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. For the first year in the 11+ I’ve had with my company where I’ve tracked hours, I’m actually staying within the 45 per week limit. I’ve learned to adjust some things and manage my days differently to get to this point.


  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. Now that we just completed the first year of the weekly Twitter chat I lead on enterprise social networks – #ESNchat – I’m planning on putting together a free e-book PDF that contains the first year’s chat archives plus a little background info on the experience. It’s the one and only book I’ll be responsible for this year, but I’m pretty proud of what it should be.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Earlier in the year I changed this goal to average one post per week instead of 100 for the year. Making that goal should not be a problem.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. In the interest of time, I abandoned this goal earlier in the year.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I don’t track this and I know I don’t always accomplish it either, but I’m certain I’ve been better about allowing myself guilt-free free time this year. There is still room for improvement here, though.


  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I should be able to do this just fine. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve read Genesis – Isaiah so far, taking this one in order cover to cover.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. To date I’ve completed the third book and am about 2/3 through the first one. I should be able to complete this goal as planned. I have to say that Grudem’s book is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I’ve love to take part in or lead a one-year study of the contents of this book with a group of people.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve missed days from time to time which is disappointing. Nothing should crowd this from my schedule. There is really no excuse for that. I must do better.

So there you have my goal update for mid-September 2014 – on track with some things, abandoned a few and modified others. At least I’m in that mode now of seeing the finish line for the year ahead of me and I’m working hard at a number of the goals to finish strong those that are most important.

What about you? How are you coming on what you set out to accomplish this year?


BlankBookOn February 13 I hosted a Twitter chat on the subject of imagining your ideal Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) Handbook. This was an effort to start the discussion among several ESN professionals about what the ultimate handbook for our profession might include, and then to proceed to creating just such a handbook. We had a lot of participation and shared ideas which have been captured in the archive of the chat. Just prior to the chat, I explained my thoughts in this blog post regarding the need.

It took me longer than I hoped to gather the thoughts shared by everyone into some coherent format, but I want to present here the collective thoughts of those who took part in the February 13 chat along with an overall structure for the handbook that makes sense to me. The next step is for those interested to look over this info and fill in gaps with additional topics to cover, perhaps suggest consolidation of a few subjects, and begin to fine tune the structure and contents of each section of the book, including specific chapter/article titles and potential authors.

What follows, therefore, isn’t nearly complete by any means. It’s merely the organization of the earlier thoughts into some order, acknowledging that there is a lot of cleanup and gap filling to do before we have a worthy final outline to build on. But we have to start somewhere, and this is a good start, I believe.

Given the breadth of possible contents for this book, I like the idea of organizing it into sections that address the what, why, where, who, when and how and enterprise social networking. Those questions are intentionally arranged in that order to explain first what enterprise social networking is, why it’s important, where it can be useful, who must be involved to make it work, advice regarding possible timelines or phases of implementation, and a host of how-to subjects that provide meat for the reader and practitioner.

The working title is ESN Handbook: The What, Why, Where, Who, When and How of Enterprise Social Networking

What follows next are the 6 major sections with possible topics (so far) for each section.


  • This is NOT Facebook for the Enterprise (Naomi Moneypenny’s article)
  • A top-down and bottom-up approach to getting your answers/info to do your job better/quicker
  • A different way to communicate – networked/pull vs. controlled/push communications
  • A globally connected workforce
  • ESN’s place in the communication toolbox (with email, IM, etc.)


  • Answering the “What’s in it for me?” question for users
  • Why you should care about enterprise social
  • Business cases for different job functions, e.g. project managers, sales, R&D
  • Use cases on getting work done efficiently in business language and context
  • Supporting business objectives through clear goals and strategy
  • The value of networks inside and outside the org structure
  • Being a Responsive Organization
  • Improving work processes


  • Each org is unique
  • Applicable for any size business
  • Not just for IT (or HR or…)


  • Stakeholder Identification and working with all departments involved
  • Defining Roles
  • Getting executive buy-in and participation
  • The psychology and sociology of communities
  • Working with and addressing concerns of legal, risk, and security teams
  • For all generations – not just millennials
  • Your extended enterprise: customers/suppliers/partners
  • Community managers


  • ESN timeline: planning, evaluating platforms, getting buy-in, launching, managing, maturing
  • Don’t wait for everyone to get on board
  • Start quickly


  • How to Get Started
  • Start small
  • Don’t call it a “pilot”; plan for “phases”
  • The feedback loop between corporate culture and the ESN
  • The importance of participating freely and frequently
  • Leveraging small successes to create bigger ones
  • Treating everyone as adults
  • Creating governance policy
  • Lessons learned the hard way – what not to do and why
  • Focus on best principles rather than best practices
  • Be agile, always probing, never married to inflexible time or approach
  • Promoting experimentation to discover new uses
  • Troubleshooting common business (impact on productivity) and user (firehose of info) concerns
  • Reporting; Ways of measuring success
  • Expect the platform to change
  • Corporate culture and trust
  • Content moderation
  • Growing adoption
  • Change management



  • Don’t be overly negative, focusing on “don’ts”
  • Don’t focus too much on tools subject to change
  • Avoid legalese
  • Don’t focus on future possibilities; focus on current realities
  • Keep it simple
  • Don’t promise this will reduce email; overall messages might increase
  • Don’t focus only on technology; Launching/adopting an #ESN is about change management, legal, HR, human behavior, communications; approach must be holistic
  • Be vendor neutral
  • Keep chapters short


  • @russn, @CarrieYoung, @GuyKawasaki, @Nmoneypenny, @oscarberg a Digital Strategist & Business Analyst-Enterprise Collaboration from @avegagroup;
  • about Responsive Organization: @yammeradam or @matthewpartovi
  • @espnguyen – @sdeanswann, @mattpartovi, @alanlepo, @yammeradam, @stevehopkins  @rickardhansson CEO @incetivecorp How to get started, get to phase on
  • @carrieyoung – If a play book is written, I’m in! My chapter: the dirty little secrets that will make your ESN successful
  • @joeloleson – Love to write, but yes @nmoneypenny is over the top great ESN writer
  • @adamjsr – I’d like to see a chapter from my former colleague Luis Suarez @elsua, well-known for shunning email years ago
  • Would be interested in engaging @hjarche on the subject of personal knowledge management, learning in social networks
  • @StanGarfield on knowledge management
  • @akberry, @ullabres, @kzrtech, @hohertz3, @ashleygross, @chriscatania, @curtisaconley
  • Another great mind is @alexkass on social collaboration (background in human-computer interaction).
  • Guy Alvarez – @guylaw1313
  • Chris Slemp – @cslemp, toolbox discussion, scenarios, what not to do
  • Eric Herberholz – @erich13
  • Jennifer Honig – @jhonig1
  • Nick Inglis – @nickinglis
  • Trey Mayer – @TreyPoint: use cases & integrating into LOB systems
  • Vanessa DiMauro – @vdimauro
  • Jeff Willinger – @jwillie

So where do we go from here? I need all interested parties to really consider all of the above and make suggestions for improvement in the outline before any writing begins. What additional topics should be covered? Who are some additional professionals in the field who may be able and willing to make a writing contribution to the project? What additional resources should be referenced? Are there additional sections needed beyond the basic structure of what, why, where, who, when and how?

Either add your comments here, email me at, or tweet me @JeffKRoss. Thanks in advance for your thoughts as we advance this collaborative writing project for the advancement of enterprise social networking.

BlankBookMost of the attention from businesses regarding social media is directed toward external social media efforts – ways of connecting with current and potential customers and clients. That’s understandable. Likewise, most of the resources available for online community managers are also aimed at those responsible for external communities. That, too, is understandable.

In all the attention given to external social, however, it is too often the case that a potentially transforming use of internal social media for companies gets neglected. What about the employees who do the day-to-day work in service of those customers? What about those who work to improve products, services and processes for the good of the customer and ultimately the business? Why is there too often a lack of attention on the very same form of communication – social media – for and among employees who have the same needs as external stakeholders for quick, effective, modern communication and collaboration?

Granted, many companies have successfully implemented enterprise social networks (ESN) for their employees and many more are jumping on board the ESN train regularly. But there are still far too many skeptics, and even for those who understand the potential and devote themselves to their internal collaboration platforms, finding adequate, thorough, well-written, up-to-date, helpful ESN resources is at best a challenge.

That’s why last summer I started researching the possibility of starting a weekly Twitter chat for those interested in enterprise social networking, launching #ESNchat in September 2013. It has grown into a steady, reliable source of weekly exchanges between talented, experienced, knowledgeable people who eagerly share their insights each Thursday for an hour at 2:00 pm EST. It is a joy and privilege for me to host that hour weekly. Through it I have become acquainted with kindred spirits around the globe who share my passion for enterprise social networking – both from the vendor and the business user perspective.

Now it’s time to take the next step.

It’s time the ESN community had a thorough, helpful, regularly updated and freely available handbook to help shape the future of enterprise social networks. It’s time we gathered in one spot the best advice, the best stories, the most insightful guidance, even the what-not-to-do’s so that there can be a solid step forward in the maturity and practice of ESNs worldwide.

While there may be a number of individuals qualified to author such a handbook by themselves, it seems to me that in the spirit of social collaboration, the best final product possible would be one that results from a number of enthusiastic, experienced devotees working together to produce a handbook that benefits from the combined wisdom and experience of many contributors.

To that end, I’m calling on my new-found friends and colleagues connected with #ESNchat and others who may be interested to work with me on writing and publishing what we believe to be the best handbook possible for those involved with enterprise social networks. Our first step in gathering thoughts about doing so will be the focus of the weekly #ESNchat on Thursday, Feb. 13 from 2:00-3:00 pm EST on Twitter.

Here are some of my thoughts on what might be involved with this journey:

  • We need to collectively determine which subjects are to be covered in the first edition of such a handbook.
  • We should match each of those subjects with one or more individuals to be the primary authors for those chapters.
  • Time should be given to allow advance previews and suggestions for improvement by a number of interested parties – not just the primary authors of each chapter.
  • We should consider adding sections throughout or at the end of each chapter for brief comments and insights from others in addition to the chapter’s main authors.
  • We can make use of the #ESNchat archives to sprinkle tidbits of wisdom throughout the book on a host of subjects, embedding relevant tweets.
  • Research will have to be done on the best tools to use in the collaborative writing process and publishing of the handbook.
  • The final product should be available at least as a free PDF download, and potentially in additional formats as well. I am not pursuing this to earn a penny; I am pursuing this to advance the field.
  • The handbook should be a living document with updates no less than annually and likely more often as needed for individual chapters to stay current.
  • It should not be owned or copyrighted by any ESN vendor, remaining vendor-neutral just as is #ESNchat, although experts employed by ESN vendors should be allowed to contribute as long as they do more than merely promote their product.

I’ve never written a book before (although there is the equivalent of about 3-4 average-size books among the nearly 600 posts on this blog). There is much about the process I have to learn. However, I think the time is right to collaborate with my ESN friends and colleagues and produce a regularly updated handbook that can become the primary resource those involved with enterprise social networks turn to for information on how to start, grow and manage successful ESNs in any size or type of organization.

So who is with me? If the idea sparks your interest and you think you may want to be a part of this effort during 2014, then join me for #ESNchat on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 2:00 pm EST on Twitter. If you can’t join (or missed) that hour, get in touch with me and tell me which aspects of an effort like this mesh well with your knowledge, skills and experience.

Even though the field of enterprise social networking has been around for several years, there is much room for growth. I believe having a superb, regularly updated handbook on the subject can be a significant influence in where the field goes in the years ahead.

I look forward to the challenge and the journey with those who choose to join me in the effort.