Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This week in links - week 37, 2009

3M, the Post-it company, is a shining example that when organizational systems and culture needed to encourage and support collaboration are created, greatness happens. This article in Business Week highlights some of 3M's projects which could not have succeeded if employees were not encouraged and expected to collaborate with teams.

Here's what businesses can learn from 3M's approach to collaboration as detailed by Business Week:
  • Support networks. Build social networks to help employees that have problems find those who can provide a solution to it.
  • Build collaboration into your employee evaluation system. Be able to reward employees not only for developing and processing an innovative idea or technology but for spreading it as well.
  • Encourage curiosity. Allow employees some time to spend on personal projects. It will give them ample time to develop new ideas outside of their work focus.
  • Create innovation funds. Create an alternative source in which employees can go to for funding of innovation projects.
  • Don't underestimate the value of physical proximity. Make it easier for employees in different departments to visit each other. If this means having a free shuttle service then so be it.
"How Web 2.0 usage is changing over time" by Andy Miller, McKinsey & Company:
Across all categories, the use of Web 2.0 technologies by employees for internal purposes has increased from 53% in 2007 to 65% of respondents in 2009. The largest components of growth have come from using Web 2.0 to develop new products / services internally, to manage internal knowledge and to reinforce the company culture via tools such as internal social networking applications. The companies who have embedded these tools in their day-to-day activities and processes have seen the largest impact by improving communication across silos to reduce duplicate work and leverage experts in other areas.

The momentum we see in the growth of Web 2.0 technologies implies we will see higher penetration in 2010 for using these technologies for employees to collaborate and to facilitate interactions with customers. To drive increased usage for managing interactions with suppliers and partners, companies will need to find ways use these technologies to augment the formal relationships between business entities and not substitute formal interactions with more ad hoc ones. Nonetheless, it is clear that expertise in the use of Web 2.0 technologies is becoming a required skill for all enterprises.
"Re-designing Your Business Culture" by David Armano, Dachis Group:
Right now the industry is focused on technology, which is understandable since advances in it have enabled us to do so much more with less. However, I wanted to focus this short post around a subset of people. It's a thing commonly referred to as "corporate culture".

I'm not interested in debating the validity or not of the term, but it's a fact that every organization has an ecosystem and within the ecosystem, especially on the internal side, people act and behave a certain way within a pre-defined hierarchy. To underscore the "culture" issue, here are a few phrases I hear from the people who work in the trenches of very large organizations as it relates to social initiatives:

"We implemented sharing platform X for employees, but the results are not what we expected"

"We tried social media but we're just not ready to engage customers"

"Our legal department shut that down before we could try it"

Now assuming that the tech products worked and that the organization had some form of process in place, these are by and large people/culture issues at the core. The fact is that you can bring in the best of technologies or have the best of intentions for opening up your organization, but if at the core the organization isn't calibrated for it, efforts cannot scale or potentially be ineffective.

Many organizations work in industries which simply can't support some of the things we hear thrown about in the social media space. However, all organizations will have to deal with these changes in some way that will better position them for the future. One of the biggest opportunities right now is tapping areas in your internal ecosystem which can benefit your organization. But buying the best tool out there will never change the hearts and minds of people who have been trained to hoard what they know (and rewarded for it) vs. sharing openly. In a newly emerging network economy a cultural shift will be required for best results.
"New! Internet Stats all in one place" Dom Elliott, Google Barometer:
Did you know 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute? That 84% of the UK population owns a mobile phone? Or that on average 30% of our leisure time is now spent online?* We always hear interesting stats on the Internet marketplace and we thought it would be great to share these in one easily accessible location so we've just launched an Internet Stats microsite. This site aims to provide searchable and browsable stats on the Internet and the advertising industry from reputable and carefully selected sources.

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