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Principal of Chess Media Group, a social business consultancy. Jacob works with mid and enterprise organizations on developing customer and employee engagement strategies. He is also the co-author of Twittfaced, a social media 101 book for business. Jacob authors a Social CRM and Enterprise 2.0 blog.

2 responses to “Looking Stupid and Other Risks of Emergent Collaboration”

  1. john trenouth

    I’ve been a UX designer for about 15 years, and making your users feel or look stupid can be one of the most painful and costly mistakes any PM/Developer/Designer can make.

    The instant your app makes a user feel stupid they shut down. Minor usability problems become show stoppers. Users begin to reject your product and start complaining publicly. But they don’t complaining about what made them feel stupid to begin with. Rather they complain about problems that often don’t exist. This false negative feedback then makes its way back to development who then tries to solve these non-existant problems and ignore the real ones because there just isn’t enough time to address everything.

    Painful. Very painful.

    Users of course will b reluctant to tell you straight out that something makes them feel stupid. So forget focus groups. There are no metrics. Just be empathetic.

  2. EphraimJF

    Thanks for pointing out this very real risk that employees face on social intranets.

    At the Social Intranet Summit in Vancouver last year ( I coined the term “intellectual nudist” (

    This is what a social intranet and other online collaboration tools force us to be. Collaborating on a wiki-type document means our unfinished thoughts are visible, our work is accessible while in process. Anyone can see our comments.

    For people not comfortable exposing themselves in these ways, social intranets are daunting. In companies that don’t foster high amounts of trust, the organizational culture can really prohibit the type of sharing and open discussion that leads to real value.

    You’ve highlighted an important point here – thanks very much!