So we split the group in two and off we went! With the workshop I hoped we could abstract from daily secretary work and look at their information and communication processes. Secondly we would relate that to their current toolset and see if new collaboration and social media tooling could improve the way they communicate and handle information.
Boy, did these ladies catch on! First, I was really curious if we they would want to and be able to abstract from their work processes. Well, they did. They handles loads of different types of information. And mostly the tool they use to manage this information is... email. It wasn't hard for them to come of with the pro's and con's of this combination either. Secretaries don't work for themselves, they work for a manager and one or more departments. However, secretaries also work closely together as well. The subset of secretaries they interact with directly is small (max. 10). On the other hand relevant information isn't easily spread over the whole group. We found they hardly ever have the same information at the same time about new procedures, decisions or tools.
Then we went through the new tools one-by-one. Tools like Sharepoint, Wiki's and Blogs. I loved the way my slides were picked up by them. They started explaining how they worked, if they knew them. They related to the kids they have, who are already using them for personal reasons. And - and I liked this most - they directly started to translate the new stuff to their work. 'Hey, we could use this for ...'. And we didn't even get to that slide yet.
But in the end we did and I challenged them to change the way they communicate and handle information based on the new ways of looking at communication and information, and the new tools I showed them. They decided to set up a blog as a central platform to connect secretaries to each other, make sure all secretaries have the same info and the same time, and share experiences. Not all but many also decided to use our microblogging platform as a easy way to share daily experiences and point to relevant information.
The blog has been set up, the first posts have been written and we'll evaluate the success of this initiative in 6 months.
Secretaries are the communication and information hubs of organizations. I hope this step made them even more important and effective.