April 12, 2013
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…
August 29, 2012
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.
February 7, 2012
The opening keynote of this Paris event was a shared session with Rawn Shah from IBM and Yves Caseau from Bouygues Telecom titled “Understanding Social Business Excellence”. Rawn started out with an excellent presentation about the importance of harnessing the pervasive conversations emerging in companies and linking them to the business goals. It may sound very simple, and the prescribed formula was also very easy to understand and pragmatic. How you adapt it to fit your own organization and the objectives of your Line of Business is a different topic.
One thing that struck me during both presentations was that social business practitioners on one hand seem to be in a hurry to denounce Frederick Taylor’s principles of scientific management and on the other hand can’t seem to get everything measured and aligned with Lean and other somewhat traditional management processes. We also talk a lot about engagement and trust, but the minute people actually start to engage, we shift focus to monitoring what they do. I find this somewhat ironic, but I also think it goes to show that many of these principles are still in full working order when it comes to our production environments, but also that we need to revisit and revise these ideas to include the knowledge workers of the 21st century as well.
A topic that was touched upon in many talks was motivation and rewards which made gamification a ‘hot’ topic. Interestingly enough, when speakers from companies who have well established communities were on stage, rewards and motivation were not something of their concern. I’m 100% sure that it has not come over night and that while extrinsic motivation through eg. gamification may help increase adoption, it is the intrinsic motivators that make people come back and turn it into a vibrant community. I see quite a few analogies to Herzberg’s two-factor theory, but that’s a topic for another day.
Jon Mell from IBM and Jerome Colombe from Alcatel Lucent were prime examples of two companies with thriving communities. It quickly comes down to culture and management support and as Jon argued that if management sees Engagement as ‘free work’ you are not likely to succeed in creating communities. In Alcatel Lucent there is a very strong backing from the CEO which I believe is the key to their success. They have community ambassadors, but the title sounds like a voluntary/honorary title – much like the concept of the “Yammer midwife” I heard about at a recent event. Both great concepts but that degree of volunteerism is hard to achieve in many organisations.
Like many others I have been struggling with the term “Social Collaboration” (Can you collaborate without being social?), but today I heard a fresh take on this. Collaboration was a shift in technology – Social was (is) a shift in culture. Agree or disagree, I think it makes a lot of sense to look at it like that and now I am not so sure that I will continue crusading against the term social collaboration
These were my main thoughts after the first day of the #e20s, as the event is known under on Twitter. I already look forward to more interesting insights tomorrow. If you are interested in a more detailed account of the presentations, head over to Samuel Driessen’s blog where he has been live-blogging from many presentations.
October 24, 2011
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.
Up or down - What does it mean?
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…
October 4, 2011
Summer has come and gone – some argue that it was never really in Denmark – and today I was reminded of an article from N/N Group that was published in the slow summer weeks. It was about inertia in the organisation. I sat in a status meeting which inevitably moved on to discuss budgets, or maybe the lack of the same. In the midst of this, I remembered this passage:
Although big organizations get the biggest ROI from intranet improvements, they might suffer under a particular type of ambition inertia: upper management has often been in the same company for a decade or more, so they’ve never experienced how good intranets can get in other companies. This can make them reluctant to sponsor a new portal.
I both agree and disagree. True. You need input from “the outside”, but could the inertia be rooted somewhere else? Let’s look at the IT departments. IT is a cost, right? Over the last couple of years we’ve had to spend less on everything from heavy machinery to paper clips – surely we can use a little less IT while we are at it. The problem is that IT is not a commodity. You can work smarter, negotiate better contracts, etc. but in the end it’s a bit like trimming a tree. If you do it carefully it will look nicer next year, but if you cut off too many of the big branches it will take many years for it to recover, let alone look nice.
In my opinion this is what has happened in many organisations. Some of the “strategic” branches have been cut so far back that there’s hardly anything left and all there is to do is to wait for it to grow back. You may have a nice strategy for your portal, but with no ressources to back it up you are not going to get very far. Add to that the notoriously difficult task of justifying investments in knowledge sharing – You might as well get the camping gear out now since you’ll be staring at that tree for a loooooong time!
The fact that management never saw a proper intranet may have caused ambition inertia, but a very unnuanced view on IT may (inadvertently) have put IT (and the Intranet team) in a position where they are stuck with an old, decimated ‘tree’ and have no chance to create solutions that support business goals and in turn this is very likely to reflect poorly on – guess who – the IT and/or intranet team…
All there is left to do is to hope for someone to stop by with a beautiful new tree – someone who believes in change for the better.
September 14, 2011
How often haven’t you heard the expression “There’s an app for that!”. Among online pros it is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek comment, but unfortunately other are listening and it seems like they have the impression that if there’s NOT an app for that we certainly need to build one!
Look! Apps! (by Cristiano Betta)
But wait a minute – Don’t we need a proper, rock-solid business case? Nope. Not this time. Apps are great. Just great. And we’ll be first movers – that’s value enough!
Admitted. Not the usual approach, but for once someone has seen the infamous light and they believe – a rare thing these days, but also where many great things start.
In other words, and to answer my own question from the header: YES! We need the app! If everything goes as planned you will end up with a (free) test for mobile platforms for internal communication which – for the likes of me – is far from revolutionary, but is a giant leap of almost Neil Armstrong’ish proportions for others. Success is not a given, but with solid backing and strong interest you are certainly on the right track – even before you get going properly.
A few cautionary thoughts have also entered my mind: I’m not saying that we shouldn’t build apps and explore all the new exciting corners, but it is our responsibility as online pros to look beyond the novelty effect and make sure that it fits in with the rest (…dare I mention Second Life?). One day the novelty wears off and the last thing we want is to be the last ones at the party having to clean up after the others just because something was cool for 15 minutes. There’s not much fun in that!
Stay tuned for updates – the above is a summary of my own thoughts following an app-discussion and at the time of writing things are looking good