A while back we were approached by the Danish tech site/newspaper "Computerworld" who would like to know a little more about our Yammer journey. Although Yammer plays an important role we were much more interested in talking about the bigger picture and how we are trying to change the culture in Grundfos through the Global Working Culture initiative. The result was a great article which was published yesterday and I think that it provides some good insights on what we have learned so far.
I’ve just been thrown into a project around change management for a global IT transformation project where we are changing from IBM and Lotus Notes to Microsoft and Outlook (plus a huge pile of other stuff – let’s leave it at that…) certainand a very interesting task. I could be whining about that it’s too late in the process and that too many things have been put in motion but a) whining gets you nowhere and b) the fact that communication and change management has been put on the radar is something I see as a very positive thing.
Looking through the material that has been prepared already I must admit I became quite confused. Initially I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was. The material and plans were very professional and the content was also quite good. What about the target groups for the communication? A quick count of the identified stakeholder groups in the plans and the excellent and detailed stakeholder analysis revealed that we were looking at 30+ different stakeholder groups. Oh dear…!
I started wondering how this extreme complexity had entered the equation. Some big chunks such as “end users” and “global IT” made good sense, however, I started to notice that some groups had only a few individuals in them and that they were labeled by department names and names of committees – even names on individuals. AHA! Card sorting time! After 30 minutes of simple card sorting with the 30+ groups I got that number down to 14 – the joy of simplification!
In a perfectly flat and socially connected utopian world you would not have this problem. You’d simply communicate 100% transparent in a Yammer group or something equivalent but since we are not quite there yet in our company we will still have to work in a more traditional way. As I see it, the main challenge here is to pull people’s head out of the organizational chart. I hope that we will dare to look at the organizational chart in a different way and instead of seeing a hierarchy of responsibilities, command and control we see groups of people with different needs.
The open and transparent organization is coming – but only if we manage to see the people and the needs within rather than seeing chains of command, functional departments, and committees with dubious mandates and strange names…
About 6 months ago I wrote the article below but didn’t publish it at that time. I remember that I thought it was too off topic and that I was ranting a little to much…. Today I read an interesting discussion on the collaboration between IT and Comms on the G+ Intranet and Digital Workplace forum and remembered this one and now is the time.
I’m still making gross generalisations in the post but since I am one of the people who have crossed the chasm from business to IT, I also feel that it is worth sharing these observations which are rooted in my own experience as seen from both sides of the divide and I feel quite confident that this will not be my last post around this topic
Some months ago I was attending an internal course in IT Service Management. I can honestly say that I didn’t find it particularly interesting. Half way through day two and in the middle of a very exciting *ahem* presentation of the process for implementing changes I started to think about how the entire system was designed to limit human interaction! Everything was neatly divided into boxes and workflows made sure that everything was moved along to the next step as soon as you had made your contribution. Very smooth.
Elaborate standards are put in place to ensure this: Standardised solutions, a predictable future, smooth transitions and continuity. Why do we then still talk about the chasm between IT and Line of Business. The processes are very linear and leave little room for learning in the process and it’s when that happens that things start to go pear shaped. The system and workflows grind to a halt and all of a sudden you NEED human interaction to get things moving – the very thing that the processes and systems have eliminated.
I am aware that the above is a rather crude generalization, but I’m taking it a step further by stating two hypotheses:
1) IT put their trust in having proper systems and procedures.
2) ‘The business’ put their trust in having proper colleagues.
In IT it’s about ensuring business continuity and that’s about rigid systems and procedures – people are by no means robots but they are there to make sure things are running as smoothly as possible so that technology helps rather than obstructs work. In the business it’s about profit, business development, and innovation – things that require research and often a lot of trial and error. Certainly not something that fits nicely within rigid systems but some times a rigid system can also help you be more efficient. The challenge is that it is not nearly as interesting to fill out an online form than it is to walk over and have a chat with the cute receptionist.
No wonder that we all too often find ourselves caught up in the ‘them and us’ discussion. As long as you have these two organizational silos we will not get rid of this. The radical solution is to get rid of the IT department and integrate the people in the organisation. You may argue that this will require more coordination but I’m not so sure about that. It will be a different kind of coordination and that is of course a daunting obstacle. Either way, you certainly need to cultivate the competence of mutual understanding or – at the very least – find someone who can translate and challenge. I’ll end this post with a few well-meant words of advice to both sides of the divide:
Hey ‘IT guys’…
1) If you insist on referring to your business counterparts as “Customers” – treat them as such or the WILL take their business elsewhere. A place to start: Ask if you would do business with yourself if you received the same treatment.
2) There is ALWAYS a business reason! It may not be evident and it may not be good, but it is not something you can determine on your own. You need to explore it together.
Hey ‘Business guys’…
1) You are very vocal about don’t understanding any “computer stuff” but have no problem telling when something is too expensive, complicated, etc. – and then you go off and buy a system or tool that you heard about at a random conference. Where’s the credibility in that? Why would I, as the IT guy, take you seriously?
2) You have many great ideas that “just” or “simply” need to be made. There’s no such thing as “just simply”. I usually say “just” takes 4 hours and “simply” takes 8. Do the math.
…and Hey! Both of you!
Pick up the phone. Grab a cup of coffee. Open up. Ask questions. Try to understand. Ask more questions. Yes! It takes time and effort and you may even find it frustrating but in the end you will find that it has been worthwhile building the bridge and there is no question that your colleagues will benefit from much better solutions than they have been used to.
Spurred on by an article about devices as Corporately Owned Personally Enabled – or COPE for short – as an alternative to Bring Your Own Device, I had a – by Twitter standards – lengthy dialogue with Chris Tubb about the motivators for BYOD. This post is a follow-up to one of my recent posts and also a summary of my own thoughts during my dialogue with Chris.
The basic idea of COPE is that the company that has provided you with a device (e.g. a laptop) to get your work done. Instead of enforcing harsh restrictions on what you can install and what you can use the device for, you are allowed to install software and use it for the purposes that you deem fit – within reason. The big question is whether this is a real alternative to a potentially very costly BYOD strategy.
In my experience people’s needs for using their own devices for work purposes comes in three different disguises. All three are valid motivators but what I find interesting is the underlying reasons and with the idea of COPE, you also have an alternative.
1) Power and Capability
Your work device is less capable when it comes to speed and availability of software than what you are used to at home. This means that you feel less productive at work which increases your frustration. A personally enabled (COPE) device is not likely to solve this as it will STILL be the corporately sanctioned equipment.
Bringing your own device will help as this is the root cause of your frustration – you just know that you can do better. If I were to play devil’s advocate here, I would say that it is your employer’s responsibility to make sure that it is not technology that makes you less productive and if they provide inferior equipment, they must also accept inferior productivity.
2) Mobility and The Digital Workplace
Your job allows you to work from anywhere at any time. The problem is that you find the corporate devices limiting as they don’t fully support this and you will have to bring more than one device in order to take care of your personal stuff. In other words, if you are working with the digital workplace and aim to create a more coherent solution for your company, this ought to be interesting for you.
COPE fits perfectly in this scenario. I have a corporate device – I have access to tech support when I need it AND I can even use the device for what I need when I need it. Bring my own device? Why should I…?
3) Vanity and Status
Hardly a primary motivator for bringing own devices, but some undoubtedly find it very motivating to be able to flash the latest Android phone or the new iPad. COPE will not solve this as companies (almost) never will be able to provide the cutting edge stuff. BYOD is a potential solution, but also potentially VERY expensive for companies.
Either way, I see these motivators as largely extrinsic – comparable to a pay raise. It will provide a short term motivation boost but the most important long term aspect will be the intrinsic motivators i.e. your job. No amount of gadgets can make up for poor job design.
So both BYOD and COPE may work? Yes, but is this the real issue? In my job I work with creating a digital workplace that is available when and where you need it. I can’t help but think that in 10 years’ time when most things have moved to the cloud, we will look back at the BYOD discussion and wonder what the fuss was all about. Moving to the cloud simply took care of all these things by making everything accessible through a browser. Dare I mention that this has been possible for years by using a Citrix solution?
In the end this has nothing to do with devices it is all about creating a consistent and SECURE access to company assets that will allow you to use them from anywhere and from any device which makes it very important that companies carefully evaluate the motivators for BYOD/COPE in the organization and decide on a (potentially costly) path forward. Right now we are just in a situation where the road ahead is not obvious but waiting at the intersection for the light to change is just not an option.
Lots of people – also internally in my organization – talk about bringing own devices to work (BYOD). On one side in some ways it is easier for companies – and me – to let me to bring my own cool gizmos that I know inside out instead of having to stay on the cutting edge. On the other side companies ought to provide the tools that enable you to get your work done and it must work sufficiently fast, reliable, and most important sufficiently supported. This will not be the latest candy-themed Android OS or the newest iPhone, but it still gets the job done.
Personally I’m not quite sure where I stand on the topic but three BYOD themed articles/blogsposts have caught my attention today – each offering a different view on the BYOD debate. I will share them here along with a few of my thoughts.
The user perspective
“What’s my motivation? A mental model for BYOD” is a great post about how people have different motivations for wanting to bring their own devices to work. A very good starting point for a discussion as I have experienced that the BYOD talks quickly evolves into an arms race about features and specs – not about the underlying problem itself and this is in my opinion where you need to start.
The management perspective
The header “When BYOD Is a Productivity Killer” almost says it all and it did make me a little apprehensive. It turned out to be about how using your own device will make work seem more pervasive thus making it easier to switch off. The concluding sentence “Essentially, BYOD eliminates the free work that employees with corporate phones were doing.” makes me question if the author has understood the basic BYOD concept at all.
The bigger perspectives
Gartner offers a bigger picture and I have to say that I agree completely with their statement that “BYOD is not for every company, or every employee…..For the vast majority of companies it is not possible to force all users into a bring your own (BYO) program without substantial financial investments — and considerable support from senior management. It’s hardly revolutionary but there are some valid points and I believe that this is how we will see this trend play out.
Where does that leave me? Have I gotten any closer to form an opinion on BYOD? I’m not sure that this is about devices at all. It’s more about how work becomes more independent of time and place. Productivity and purpose will determine how and if BYOD will apply to your situation. One thing that’s 100% safe to say is that if BYOD is about “free work” – heck, if your company is even considering such a thing as “Free work”, no amount of gadgets will solve that. It’s about trust and respect and this truly IS the most important foundation stone of any BYOD initiative.
Last week I shared some figures on the newly introduced interactive features on our intranet. Along the way I have received much feedback and many questions. The most interesting/baffling question I have encountered is ”What does a thumb mean?”.
Good one. Do you like/dislike the article? Do you agree/disagree with the message? Do you think it’s too long/short? Do you rate the author? …and not to mention ”What are you going to use it for?” All very good questions.
Honestly, I did not have a good answer, but I would think that people would like/dislike the message in the article. I also had a suspicion that these questions would answer themselves. This proved correct, and I have also been proven right. People base the direction of their thumb on the content. If the story is about something which is positive for the company – Thumbs up – if it affects the company in a negative way – Thumbs down. It’s as simple as that.
What ARE we using the thumbs for then? So far we have used them as a sentiment to how engaging a news story is. Since they are anonymous, it is hard to base any specific actions on these – that would have to be the comments. All in all, I believe that we will not be able to extract many insights from the thumbs in general, but they have another role which and that is to drive traffic. Humans are born curious and I’m sure that a number will click to see what others think. They may not like/dislike or comment, but they may very well read the story – the good ol’ 90:9:1 rule – and right now I am reminded of the slogan from UK retailer Tesco: ”Every little helps”
Questions are good. I encourage questions, but sometimes things are just there because they make sense. No ROI or business value. But then again, If thumbs drive some traffic – isn’t that a good enough reason? I have certainly seen more lame metrics in my career…
Monday last week we launched a new and improved way of publishing news on our intranet – possibly the biggest change in our intranet communication in 5 years. Along with this we introduced interactive features in the shape of comments and just as important – thumbs. Both up and down.
Interactive features in the broad perspective this is not new, but among my colleagues words like ”revolution” and ”innovative” have been uttered, which tells me that we are lagging behind, but also that ’we’ know it, and more importantly we are ready to embrace the change and see the perspectives.
In the process I did experience some concerns whether people would interact with the news through our new features. I kept assuring people that they would and now the verdict is in:
So far – after 1 week – we have had:
- More than 400 ”thumbs”
- Over 30 comments
- Several reactions via email (mostly good)
This is excellent – especially when we take into consideration that we have done virtually no marketing other than a banner and a news story. In my opinion the result so far shows that although we had a suspicion that people did not talk much about the news we publish, they would willingly discus and rate – engage if you like. This was based on the amount of feedback gathered in surveys, and this proves to be correct.
Next challenge is to get even more comments. My colleagues and I are asking for feedback whereever we can, so this one is for you – dear reader – Do you have any experience on how to generate feedback for news? All suggestions are welcome…