Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This week in links - week 39, 2009

8:00:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
Here is this week's set of links with some comments of mine.

"Social Business" by Euan Semple:
...I believe there is a fundamental change in how we do business heading our way. Driven by the networked communication tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, not only how we communicate with those who benefit from our services but also how we organise ourselves to produce them will be changed forever.

Social tools like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Wikis and Blogging are placing in the hands of everyone communication tools that give them access to global audiences within seconds with virtually no cost and no gatekeepers. This has never been possible on this scale before and no one really knows what the impact will be.

What I believe is happening, as more of our society becomes more connected and computing power and bandwidth become pervasive, is the equivalent of the advent of the printing press.

Being aware of these technologies is a very different thing from understanding them, actually using them, and knowing how to get the best out of them. This is before we even begin to touch on the subject of how to use them in a business context and how to “manage them”. The biggest change in communications, and possibly the most challenging for those called communications professionals, is a change in tone.

There are those who would claim that the views expressed here are just another re-hashing of cyber-utopianism that has been around since the start of the net...But I would argue that what we are seeing is a much more gradual, long lasting and profound change in the way we see ourselves and each other driven by the proliferation of networked communication described above. There is a genie that has been let out of the bottle and while we may not see the full effects of its actions in our lifetime there is little doubt that things won’t ever be the same again.
Comment: Hear, hear!

"Defining KM" by David Snowden:
Given the overall levels of cyncism about knowledge management, together with issues of initiative fatigue and excessive communication, it is proposed that a simpler and more common place definition be adopted together with some clearly business orientated guiding principles. A first draft is set out below:

The purpose of knowledge management is to provide support for improved decision making and innovation throughout the organization. This is achieved through the effective management of human intuition and experience augmented by the provision of information, processes and technology together with training and mentoring programmes.

The following guiding principles will be applied:
  • All projects will be clearly linked to operational and strategic goals
  • As far as possible the approach adopted will be to stimulate local activity rather than impose central solutions
  • Co-ordination and distribution of learning will focus on allowing adaptation of good practice to the local context
  • Management of the KM function will be based on a small centralized core, with a wider distributed network
Comment: A new definition is very needed and this is a great start.

...the main objective, let’s be honnest, is to make people give their best, to be sure that no talent or expertise is left unemployed. That’s the macro level.

At the micro level, it’s considering people as the engines of the organization. And their knowledge and social capital as the fuel. A new kind a fuel that can’t be stocked, replaced or substitutable and which combustion is uncertain.
Comment: Great points, agree 100%. I also agree that we must explain what we mean when saying that we should put "people in the centre". For me, it means that we need to focus more on how employees can become more productive, efficient and innovative (once called "white collar productivity"). Until now we have mainly focused on processes, non-human resources and technology. These is so much potential in people yet to be released!

Build strong relations with your colleagues and you will be successful. This has been a common mantra for many years. However, when faced with new challenges, many employees have found to their surprise that their internal network and relations fail to provide them with sufficient answers and inspiration.

My advice earlier this year was to start networking right away, but a recent conversation with Christian Waldstrøm, Associate Professor at Aarhus School of Business, brought to my attention that the value of internal networks may in fact be overrated. Waldstrøm has found that internal networks tend to lock stakeholders into unfortunate inter-relations while fostering habitual thinking and stereotyping patterns.

A strong internal network of relations can certainly be valuable, but external relations may be more valuable and helpful in times of change. If you know somebody who has solved a similar problem, you can always contact him/her irrespective of organisational changes. In addition to ideas and potential solutions, you also get a fresh outside perspective and the opportunity to meet peers who share your challenges. If you are able to connect with somebody who has solved some of the issues you are facing, the solution might need to be adapted to your organisation, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel entirely.
Comment: Strong points. A company is often a very competitive environment and people tend to build alliances that help them to a better position, not real relations based on trust. It is your external network that might help you get a new job if you need one.

"12 Theses on Collaboration" by Dr. Kjetil Kristensen:
Any initiative aimed at improving collaboration internally and / or with external partners is a complex undertaking. These theses on collaboration has been developed to create some structure in the apparent chaos.
  1. Collaboration is an essential part of knowledge work.
  2. The majority of work is collaborative.
  3. Think, then act.
  4. Collaboration requires disciplined management and leadership to succeed.
  5. While important, technology is not enough.
  6. Work practices should be systematically developed and reviewed.
  7. Usability is too important to be left to the technology people alone.
  8. The importance of awareness and training cannot be overstated.
  9. Collaboration is inherently dynamic and should be treated accordingly.
  10. Get your priorities right.
  11. Find the sweet spots rather than using a forced approach.
  12. Never forget that collaboration is about creating value.
Comment: Great guidelines for collaboration.

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