Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The digital workplace strategy and design methodology poster

6:22:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Almost 6 months ago me and my co-author Henrik Gustafsson published the Swedish version of our book about digital workplaces, called "Den digitala arbetsplatsen" ("The digital workplace").

When we started writing the book, our ambition was to provide a comprehensive yet straightforward and pragmatic methodology, from strategy to design, that organizations can use to create digital workplaces that truly empower coworkers. It is based on the tools and practices we have work with during a number of years.

Our plan was to write the book in our native language (Swedish) and publish the book on the Swedish market, as a kind of pilot test to see how the book and the methodology would be received. It successful, the next step would be to translate it to English and make it available beyond the Swedish and Nordic markets.

Well, the pilot turned out to be quite successful - to say the least. :-) We have received a lot of praise for the book, and we have spoken to and worked with many organizations that are now practicing the methodology. As a matter of fact, the methodology has proven to be applicable not just for digital workplaces, but for also digital transformation in a broader sense.

So, now we are getting started with the translation process. We will also take the chance to make some improvements of the book based on the feedback we have received. Our plan is to publish it in early September this year (2017), making it available for purchase via all Amazon.com sales channels worldwide.

Until then, we’d like to share a visual overview of the artifacts that we use in our methodology. It’s designed as a poster, hence the details are very hard to see unless you print it in poster size or view it on a really big screen. Even if you don’t, you will get a picture of the type of artifacts. In the centre, there’s a digital workplace canvas (inspired by Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas) that helps organizations get an overview of their digital work environments and how to match demand with supply.

You can download the poster in PDF-format or download the high-resolution PNG image above. It’s published under a BY-NC-ND 3.0 Unported Creative Commons licence, which means you are free to share it as you like (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format).

We are creating a similar poster that provides an overview of the process of developing a digital workplace, from strategy to design, that we hope to share with you soon.



Thursday, March 3, 2016

Is working out loud and sharing really collaboration?

9:10:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Following the presentations at the IntraTeam Event 2016 yesterday, Wedge Black sparked a discussion on Twitter whether or not working out loud and sharing is really about collaboration:

It's a very interesting and relevant question that deserves to be answered.

To share my point of view of this, I need more than a few tweets. I need to get back to my view of collaboration.

I have said it and written it many times before, but it needs to be repeated: Collaboration is the very reason the organization you work for exists. It brings people together to collaborate on a shared goal or purpose. The better you collaborate as an organization, the greater the chances your organization will survive and thrive.

In a small company or startup, all this is obvious. But when an organization grows, the organization and the work it does is divided up into groups and teams. We sometimes seem to forget that this is only a way to organize the work. The organization's shared purpose or goal should still be what everybody puts first, even if they have their own (sub)goals as groups or teams. If they don't, things will go really wrong. It is my analysis that this is what happened to Nokia, which I have written about in a previous post ("Did Nokia fall victim to silo mentality?").

The 20th century was the era of the industrial corporation and mass production. Cost-effectiveness, time to market and economies of scale dominated the agenda of most corporations. In the name of efficiency, collaboration got encoded, automated and orchestrated in processes and systems. Soon collaboration was running in autopilot mode.

Today organizations operate in increasingly dynamic, competitive and unpredictable business environments. They need to be prepared for change and quickly adapt to changes in their environment. This means they cannot rely on the autopilot for collaboration any more. They need the spontaneity, flexibility and creativity that often characterizes collaboration in a small company or startup, but it must happen at a much greater scale and across geographical and organizational barriers.

Therefore, we need a new and fresh way to look at collaboration.

We shouldn’t limit ourselves to thinking of collaboration as a team working closely together to achieve a shared goal. We should think broader. Bigger.

Collaboration is often defined as two or more people working together to purpose a shared goal or purpose. The key parts of this definition are "working together" and "shared goal or purpose". It (just as most definitions of collaboration that I have encountered) does not set a limit to how many people are involved. What it says is that there must be at least two people involved. And the definition doesn’t say how interdependent their work is and how tightly - or loosely - they need to collaborate. In other words, the work can be very loosely coupled. But it cannot be entirely independent. Because there must be a shared purpose or goal that ties it together.

The term cooperation is often used interchangeably with collaboration. But there is a subtle yet important difference. Cooperation is when people work together on the same thing but who might be pursuing different goals, or pursuing the same goal but with different motivations.

My point of view is that, within an organization, people should be pursuing the same overall goals and share the same motivations, regardless of what kind of tasks they are performing or what subordinate goals they might be pursuing.

So what does this mean for working out loud and sharing?

When you are working out loud, you are helping your colleagues - not only those in your team or group but those who work in other teams or groups - build workplace awareness so that you can collaborate better - as an organization. You can identify interdependencies and align and coordinate your work to avoid sub-optimization.

When you share your knowledge, information and ideas openly with other colleagues, it will become available to anyone who needs it in their work when pursuing your shared purpose as members of the same organization.

If you put the purpose and goals of the organization you work for, you should work out loud. You should share anything that might be valuable to your colleagues. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

27 Facts and 11 Conclusions About Collaboration

12:39:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
I have read a few reports and articles presenting findings from recent research on collaboration and picked up a number of facts about collaboration that I find interesting or useful. I hope you think so too.

  1. Compared to two decades ago, the time managers and employees spend on collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more. (1)
  2. 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations typically come from only 3% to 5% of employees.(1)
  3. 20% of organizational “stars” don’t contribute to the success of their colleagues after they have hit their own numbers and earned kudos for it. (1)
  4. Men are 36% more likely to share knowledge and expertise than women. (1)
  5. Women are 66% more likely than men to help others in need  - an action that typically costs more time and energy than sharing knowledge and expertise. (1)
  6. 73% believe their organization would be more successful if employees were able to work in more flexible and collaborative ways. (2)
  7. 56% pointed out collaboration-related measure as the factor that will have the greatest impact on their organization’s overall profitability. (2)
  8. 88% agree that a culture of knowledge-sharing
 and collaboration correlates to high employee morale and job satisfaction. (2)
  9. 53% are confident that collaboration is having a positive and tangible impact on their organization.
  10. 20%, a significant minority, still aren’t convinced collaboration has a positive and tangible impact on their organization. (2)
  11. People tend to lie more when collaborating on a joint effort when they believe it will result in a better outcome for both, if they engage in collusion. (3)
  12. People primed to think of themselves in an organizational context (e.g., co-worker) felt less motivated to reciprocate and did reciprocate less than those in an otherwise parallel personal (e.g., friend or acquaintance) situation. Organizational contexts reduce people’s obligation to follow the moral imperative of the norm of reciprocity. (4)
  13. Matrixed organizations perform better at collaboration than less matrixed. (5)
  14. Supermatrixed employees were generally about twice as likely as slightly matrixed ones to say that their organizations not only helped them collaborate more effectively with coworkers, do their best work, and serve customers well but also stimulated bottom-up innovation (5)
  15. Supermatrixed employees were also somewhat more likely than those in the other categories to say they had received recognition or praise during the past seven days. (5)
  16. Two in three consumer product professionals rank collaboration among the top three most critical factors for innovation success, outpacing strong leadership and access to financial resources. Even so, 74% of CPG (Consumer Packed Goods) professionals believe their company is not collaborating effectively at all. (6)
  17. 46% of a typical work day is spent interacting with others (compared to 39% doing individual work). (6)
  18. 30% of participants want to collaborate more
, with women slightly more collaborative than men. (7)
  19. 30% feel their organization has become more collaborative in the last 3 years. (7)
  20. 6% felt their organizations had become less collaborative in the last 3 years. (7)
  21. 30% said that they would like more collaboration in their organization.
  22. Over half of employees and managers identified time saved completing tasks as a benefit of collaboration. (7)
  23. 60% of respondents have experienced change in their way of thinking due to collaboration.
  24. Satisfied employees collaborated 28% of the working week. (7)
  25. Dissatisfied employees collaborated 12% of the working week. (7)
  26. 56% of respondents said that they were happier when they collaborated. (7)
  27. 51% of respondents said that either their organization had no collaboration strategy, or that they were unsure if their organization did. (7)

Here are some of the conclusions that could be drawn from the research:

  • Work is becoming more and more collaborative
  • Collaboration is the most important factor for profitability
  • Collaboration is a critical for factor for successful innovation
  • Organizations designed for collaboration lead to more collaboration and better performance
  • We are less willing to collaborate in organizational context than in personal situations
  • Traditional high performers are not good collaborators
  • Women are more likely to collaborate than men, and want to collaborate more than men
  • People who feel satisfied at work collaborate more
  • Collaboration has a positive impact on employee engagement
  • Employees want to collaborate more than they do 
  • Many organizations still lack a strategy for collaboration

Perhaps it’s time to craft a strategy for collaboration - and execute?


1) “Collaborative Overload”, Rob Cross, Reb Rebele & Adam Grant, Harvard Business Review, January 2016

2) “Working better together - A study of collaboration and innovation in the workplace”,  Google & Raconteur, June 2015

3) "Collaboration study shows people lie more when colluding", Bob Yirka, August 2015 

4) “How ‘Organizations’ Can Weaken The Norm of Reciprocity: The Effects of Attributions For Favors And A Calculative Mindset”, Peter Belmi & Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University,  Academy of Management Discoveries, 2015, Vol. 1, No. 1, 93–113

5) “Revisiting the matrix organization”, Michael Bazigos and Jim Harter, McKinsey Quarterly, January 2016  

6) “How Collaboration Drives Innovation Success”, Nielsen, March 2015, 

7) "The Collaborative Economy", Deloitte Access Economics, 2014

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Envisioning the workplace of the future

3:21:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
How will the workplace of the future look like, let’s say in 10-15 years from now? 

Here’s my 2 cents worth.

Flexible and mobile 

More and more of the work people do is no longer tied to a place. This is why we should rather think and talk about a work environment than a workplace (sorry for the somewhat misleading title). 

You will no longer think of your workplace as a destination, but rather as something that is omnipresent, available to you whenever and wherever you need to get your work done. 

You will have access to the digital services that you need to get your work done, using the device that bets fits the task and situation at hand. 

You will also automatically be connected with the people and information that you might need to get your work done, and you will never feel alone because you are part of a digital social context. Virtual proximity will make it as easy to reach out to a colleague across the globe to have a spontaneous and informal chat as it is with the person sitting next to you.

ONE work environment

The physical and digital work environment will be designed to fit seamlessly together and leverage each other. Today they are often not integrated at all.

So how will this integration look like? 

Let’s say that you will participate in an online brainstorming session with colleagues from all across the globe.

When you enter the room from which you will participate in the meeting, the room will know that you will have an online meeting in a few minutes. It will connect and communicate with the devices you bring into the room to get everything ready for the meeting. 

When say that you're ready to join the meeting, your devices and the room will activate the services you will need to use, such as voice, video and virtual whiteboard. They will connect you to the other people who will participate in the same meeting. 

The lighting in the room will be automatically adjusted as one or several projections in the room are turned on. These will allow you to see the other participants, as well as see and interact with whatever digital materials you will be sharing or working on. It will not require any fancy or expensive equipment. Most of what you need you carry on you, on your wrist and in your pocket.

Engaging and empowering 

Last but not least, the work environment will be designed in a way that it leverages human needs and behaviors and empowers us to reach our full potential, both as individuals and as a collective. 

This humanization of the work environment obviously applies to both the physical and the digital environment, since these are designed to fit together perfectly. 

Your work environment will make you feel engaged in what you do. It will allow snd encourage other people to recognize your contributions. 

Instead of feeling like a cog in a machine, where you need to adapt to the technology, it will feel like you have been equipped with digital super powers that extend your cognitive, physical and social abilities. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

58 graphics from my book - free to download and use

7:20:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
My book "Collaborating in a Social Era" contains over 70 graphics - illustrations, diagrams and models. The majority (58) of these are now free to download and use under a CC International 4.0 Attribution license (attribute to Oscar Berg oscarberg.net).

Among these graphics you will find models such as:
  • The Knowledge Worker Productivity Venn
  • The Collaboration Pyramid
  • The Five Principles of Collaborative Communication
  • The Knowledge Work Capability Framework
  • The Long Tail of Information Needs
The above models are of course thoroughly explained in my book which you can buy here (as ebook or print).

I hope you will find the graphics useful. Please share as you see fit! Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My book Collaborating in a Social Era is out!

7:28:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
For me, who have worked with this project for two years now, this is a big day: my book “Collaborating in a Social Era” is finally released. :-)

To start with, the book is available to purchase as ebook (PDF and ePub). The printed version will be released a couple of weeks from now, but you can preorder it now.

Please note that you can pre-order the printed version at a discounted price during a limited period of time. Although you will have to wait a couple of weeks to receive the printed version, you will get the ebook immediately as it is included in the price.

To get a taste of the book, you can download the first chapter of the book for free.

The presentation below will give you an idea what the book is about.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book review: Digital Success or Digital Disaster

12:37:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Governance. It is a word that commands respect. Perhaps this is why so many in the world of corporate communication shy away from it. I have none other explanation for the sorry state of most intranets I have seen. By doing so, they fail to realize that it's important to have a good governance framework in place to get adoption and ROI from a digital solution such as an intranet. Many intranet owners still to put their bets on the technology itself, hoping it will 'automagically' be adopted by the intended users and then be used by everyone in structured and organized ways. We all know it doesn't work that way. People don't work that way.

If you want to succeed with your intranet, or any digital solution, you will need to put an effective governance in place. An effective governance does essentially one thing: it helps people who develop or use the intranet make the right decisions, aligning with the strategy behind the intranet. As intranet pioneer Mark Morrell expresses it:
"One vital factor applies to all great intranets. It is having a strong governance framework that supports an intranet strategy, aligned with the organisation’s strategy."
This may sound like common sense, but a quote from the book "The Knowing-Doing Gap" (well worth a read) is relevant in this context:
"It is interesting how uncommon common sense is in its implementation" 
In his book "Digital Success or Digital Disaster", Mark Morrell shares a lot of insights and practical tips on intranet governance derived from his long experience from managing a large intranet at BT, and from advising other organizations on intranet governance. As the title suggests, he shares lessons learned which can help you avoid digital disaster and take the road to digital success instead.

If you are working with intranets, maybe as intranet product owner or intranet manager, I am you will find Mark's book useful. If you are new to intranet governance, you will probably appreciate the introduction Mark gives to intranet governance, covering important aspects such as what it is and why it is needed, what components an intranet governance framework must include, and what you should consider when creating one that fits your organization. If you already have a working intranet governance in place why not make a sanity check using Mark's 7 principles for creating a good governance framework? I am sure you will spot improvement opportunities that can make your intranet even more successful.

You can read more about the book and find out where to buy it on Mark's web site.