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Lessons Learned from NASA’s Spacebook Project

I really enjoyed the presentation Emma Atunes from NASA did on their social networking project, Spacebook, last week. I’ve capture my takeaways from her presentation on implementing an internal social network and posted them here.

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Karen Hobert

Thanks for sharing your detailed notes! It’s a great list for success.

My only caveat on bullet #2, “Focus on solving a business problem,” is not to become overly focused on a specific business process and try to form fit your social software design to it. The key, as you point out is to design yourbook to solve the social needs of your organization and then choose the technologies that support those social behaviors. If you make yourbook too specific to a single business process you lose the benefits of users building their own communities and developing unique working patterns of the group.

For example, I like to think of Facebook as my network for communicating, interacting, and keeping in touch with others. I interact with different people in different ways depending on my unique connection to them. For example, some people I simply follow their status, some people I chat with, some I send messages and files to, and others I interact with based on a shared (group) interest. If Facebook only provided tools for posting status and replying it would fall short of it’s value to me and I’d probably just use Twitter.

My point is that when designing social platforms like a Facebook, Spacebook, or youbook, make sure that it solves the business case of helping people to connect, share and find information, and interact in meaningful ways. I think that’s your point.

Emma Antunes

Focusing on solving a business problem is not so much about fixating on problems, but looking at solutions to common things we wrestle with. That addresses the “what’s in it for me” element that gets people to take the time to work with a new tool. It also puts a perspective on why we’re doing this. It’s not to have a cool tool to play with, but to have something that helps us do our job better. It’s still about the work.

I wanted to focus on the challenges facing our center. Like, how do we get more flight projects at Goddard? We win more proposals. How do we win more proposals? We hear about proposal opportunities, see examples of winning proposals, etc. IIt leads to the “aha” of “Oh, it’s a communications thing!” So, getting people to talk to each other and share information ties back into bringing more business to the center.

Another thing that I found was doing outreach with stakeholders and showing them what I was working on not only gave me good feedback about what worked and what didn’t, it offered solutions to problems people didn’t know they had. People got excited to see that there were capabilities that would help them.