Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This week in links - week 7, 2009

Here is a great set of links. Really worth reading.

Laurie Buczek provides a VERY good value proposition for Enterprise 2.0 in the post"Why Intel is investing in Social Computing":
  • Employees Want to Put a Face to a Name: We are a large (~85k employee) globally dispersed workforce.  Global teams of people work together, but in many cases wouldn't recognize a team member if they passed them on the street.
  • Too much time is lost to find people & information to do your job:  The average Intel employee dumps one day a week trying to find people with the experience & expertise plus the relevant information to do their job. We have calculated some of the $$ impact due to lost productivity & opportunity.  Let me just say that it is motivating us to take action.
  • Getting work done effectively in globally dispersed teams is challenging: There is usually a window of 2 hours a day that team members can communicate real-time with each other.  Work in progress collaboration is often done in email, passing back and forth edited presentation decks and crossing discussion wires. Task hand-offs from one team leaving work and another entering are very rough.
  • New hires want to have a way to integrate into Intel faster: This isn't a generational thing.  Think back to your first day at your company.  How did you learn about the company?  How did you put a name to a face or discover who you needed to connect with?  Did you feel isolated and lost?  I bet you answered yes to most or all.  It's a fact that if you can improve the integration experience you will get faster engagement, happier workers and quicker delivery of solid results.
  • Restructuring and employee redeployment impacts Organizational Health: The last two years Intel has spent restructuring and reducing our workforce. With the current economic conditions, now all companies are faced with and embarking upon the same venture.  This leaves employees feeling disconnected, isolated and disengaged.  We are finding value in providing opportunities for Intel to feel small, give employees a voice and build a sense of community.
  • We reinvent the wheel over and over again: Need I say more?  Stovepipes and silos breed redundancy.
  • We learn more via on the job training, then we do in a classroom:  Providing employees opportunities to share their knowledge and their expertise allows other employees to organically discover information to help them do their jobs.  Your organization becomes a learning organization with "wisdom of crowds" at its core.
  • We need to deliver radical innovation in a mature company:  It is challenging for mature companies, like Intel, to find a parallel innovation vein to the current incremental innovation. However, it is essential in order to power future growth.  In Judy Estrin's book "Closing the Innovation Gap:  Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy", she states the five core values of innovation are questioning, risk taking, openness, patience and trust. Intel has these values at our core but organizational stovepipes get in the way of ideas.  Social tools can unleash those ideas.
  • When the mature workforce starts to retire, they carry knowledge out the door:  Have you thought about the bottom line impact that the large amount of retiring baby boomers will have on your company? Or better yet, our economic future?  Tacit knowledge is imperative to transfer knowledge.  To date, there aren't any solid tools to effectively extract the tacit knowledge.  Social tools show real promise. See These Knowledge Boots are Made for Walking.
Mary Jander at Internet Evolution tells the tale about General Electrics social networking journey that stated already in 1999 in the post "Social Networking: GE's Enterprise Tale":
Over the past eight years, General Electric Co. has built a series of social networks so advanced that they've been credited with remaking the company's business.

Since 1999, GE has built up an internal network called SupportCentral, which hosts roughly 100,000 wikis, 30 million documents, and an estimated 40,000 blogs. GE's 400,000-odd employees generate about 25 million Web hits per day on the network -- about 5 million pageviews. They download over 500,000 documents every day.

GE's venture into social networking was streamlined from the outset by a clear sense of direction, management sponsorship from CIO Gary Reiner, and close attention to how the approach could serve GE's business.

"We focused on community needs to deliver a process," says Grewal. "It was a far cry from a portal... We were about real people, not grandiose visions."
So how would one measure the value of collaboration? In one sense it is “invaluable” because it connects you with someone critical to your business (be it executive or customer). It is not easy to balance the cost of the collaboration technologies against this one conversation or relationship, yet intuitively you know this is the case, and now that you have it you can’t live without the collaboration tool.

Value is a subjective term, but one way to look at value is benefit over price. In other words if a tool gives you more benefits (notice I did not say features) at less cost, it has more value. There are 4 major benefits that collaboration offers:

1. Saving time or money (tangible)
2. Increasing quality (tangible…but less so)
3. Innovating and/or providing decision support (tangible but less than quality)
4. Easing access to and interactions with subject-matter experts (intangible)

Since black holes absorb light, the only way you can detect one is the effect it has on objects around (near) it. Collaboration is much the same, you have to measure things affected by collaboration like: employee turnover rate, morale, cycle time to complete a task or process. These more objective measures then have to be linked to collaboration in some way and given a value for how much they contributed to a positive outcome (which is very subjective).

I am currently looking at other ways to value collaboration by looking at how it affects other behaviors. How well it supports the interactions with others, does it support accountability, does it help complete projects, etc. Whatever way you choose to value collaboration, it is no easy task.
So it seems it is broadly true, young people really are more open and older ones more set in their ways, according to a fascinating article in the Scientific American.

Openness typically increases during a person’s 20s and goes into a gradual decline after that.

This pattern of personality development seems to hold true across cultures. 

Personality can continue to change somewhat in middle and old age, but openness to new experiences tends to decline gradually until about age 60. After that, some people become more open again, perhaps because their responsibilities for raising a family and earning a living have been lifted.

The best case scenario to successfully roll out a collaboration initiative is with top down direction combined with grass roots adoption...//...inclusiveness is a key to successful culture change. The challenge is to motivate people and get them engaged by helping them to participate, and some sizzle to sell the steak often really helps.

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