Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This week in links - week 5, 2009

"Wikipedia as an inspiration for internal use of wikis" by Lars Plougmann

The proposed change to the Wikipedia moderation model is akin to allowing 'trusted' editors to continue with the ex-post moderation model while imposing stricter control for people who are not signed in or just created their account. (How, and if, Wikipedia may implement flagged revisions is still being discussed.) 

In an organisation employees are, by default, trusted. They have been approved as part of their recruitment, they are given access to buildings and logins to systems, they are trusted to do work and make decisions, handle confidential information etc. Many are trusted to advise the clients of the organisation. In light of this, the proposed changes for the Wikipedia moderation policy have no impact on the parallels we like to draw.

Comment: Wikipedia can for sure be used as an inspiration when discussing how internal corporate wikis can be used. But the problems of vandalism that Wikipedia is facing are not likely to occur in internal corporate wikis. As one of my favourite quotes about internal wikis says: "There are plenty of ways to commit career suicide; wikis are just the newest one." (from article in NYT about US State Deparments "Diplopedia"). Hence, there is no need to even think about adding a moderation model like the one Wikipedia is considering for a corporate wiki. Just forget about it. Trust your employees. 

"SharePoint governance & intranet ownership (MOSS 2007)" by Toby Ward:

Imagine a platoon without a lieutenant, your HR department with no head, or your public website without an owner. All might might survive for a few weeks, maybe a year or two, perhaps, but all would die a slow death until someone put it out of its misery.

Politics and the issues of control, ownership and standards go hand-in-hand with intranet management and perhaps these issues more than any other have driven the requirement for defining governance models. Sadly, very few organizations actually have a well-defined governance model, and many of those have spent hundreds-of-thousands to millions of dollars on their intranet – amounting to extraordinary investments left to chance and execution on a whim.

According to the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey only 47% of organizations have a defined governance model (of which 32% have 6,000 employees or more; 11% have 30,000 employees or more). Of the tools and platforms being used by survey participants, a whopping 47% are using SharePoint (MOSS 2007) in some shape or form.

Comment: Deciding not to have approval workflow in an internal information system (such as a wiki) is not the same as saying that you should not have a governance model. 

"Social Software Adoption: Why Law Firms Get It Wrong (and How to Get It Right)" by Michael Idinopulos:

Social software can deliver 3 main patterns of use and value to firms:

  • At the most abstract level, there is general legal know-how: how to be an effective lawyer, how to serve clients, etc.
  • At a mid-level of abstraction, there is practice-specific legal know-how: deal templates, legal opinions and perspectives, standard processes for due diligence, strategic perspectives on client industries and/or functional topics
  • At the most concrete level, there is client-specific collaboration: collaborating within legal teams (internally, with clients, or with co-counsel) on specific projects and deliverables.

Most law firms introduce social software beginning with general legal know-how. The first decision-makers in a firm to "get religion" on social software are usually in firm-wide knowledge roles: CKOs, directors of know-how. They pursue general legal know-how because that's their organizational jurisdiction. 

From an adoption standpoint, however, general know-how is usually a bad place to startLawyers are incredibly busy, and general know-how lies squarely above-the-flow of their daily work. Because lawyers lack incentives to contribute their knowledge to the rest of the firm, invitations to participate in social software implementations are often greeted with a polite "Thanks but no thanks." 

A more effective place to introduce social software into law firms is at the most concrete level, with client-specific collaboration.

Comment: I believe this is very true for most businesses and not only for law firms. You should start with the business use cases which are closest to the users and where you can achieve very tangible and immediate benefits. If we take the wiki example again - start implementing wikis for business use cases that are in-the-flow. Do not start with corporate wiki with general knowledge and information.

"Start networking right away" by Janus Boye:

A Harvard Business Review article by William C. Byham from the January 2009 edition strongly encourages readers to Start Networking Right Away (Even If You Hate It). To quote:

"Networking is the best way to acquire crucial information"

The article is a short worthwhile read, written mainly for networking internally in an organisation. Still, the three suggested immediate actions applies equally well to networking externally.

Here’s what Byhan suggests you do right away:

  • Figure out who should be in your network
  • Dare to introduce yourself
  • Remember that networking is not a one-way street 

Comment: It should not come as a surprise to anyone that informal networks are becoming increasingly valuable when it comes to obtaining relevant information and knowledge in order to quickly serve information needs. What is surprising is to me is that so few still seem to understand that corporate social networking solutions can be used to amplify the value we get from our informal networks.

Introducing: A new world order

9:36:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
5 593 billion yuan. 

819 billion dollars. 

More than half the GDP of Mexico. More than twice the GDP of Sweden.

That is how much the stimulus package for the US economy is expected to cost. That is also the sum that Obama and the US government is going to ask to borrow from China. 

China has huge foreign-exchange reserves amounting to 2 000 billion dollars. But China has also problems of its own. I addition, the US will also have to stand in line together with a lot of other countries which also need to borrow money from China. 

So how much is China willing to lend to other countries? Are they willing to lend the US almost half of all their savings? And if so, under what conditions? Bear in mind that People's Republic of China is a socialist republic ruled by the Communist Party of China under a single-party system. They might have (and probably have) a hidden agenda.

Obamas plan B - if China for some reason decides not to lend US all the money US needs for the stimulus package - will likely be to ask Federal Reserve to start printing new dollar bills (This is of course a figure of speech, since increasing the supply of money in an economy can nowadays be done electronically).

The point here is that even if the stimulus package will stop the US economy from collapsing, and thereby also prevent the world economy from hitting rock bottom, this crisis marks the end of the existing world order and the start of a new.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Google announces offline (desktop) version of Gmail

5:01:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Google is conquering the desktop, hitting it from the web. Here are the latest news from the Official Google Enterprise blog:
With each passing day, the moments when I'm disconnected from the Internet become fewer and fewer. For me, one of the last meaningful barriers began to fall with American Airlines' announcement last year that they would be offering in-flight wi-fi service. Though wi-fi is being offered by more airlines, there are still plenty of flight routes where Internet isn't an option, at least for now. And this poses a problem for those of us who get a lot of our work done online.

So what can you do the next time you're bracing yourself for that long flight? Well, we've been cooking up a feature in Gmail Labs, our testing ground for Gmail features, that should help: offline Gmail. If you enable offline access, Gmail will load in your browser even when you don't have an Internet connection. You can read messages, star, label and archive them, compose new mail and more. Messages ready to be sent will wait in your Outbox until you're online again.
It should be there to activate in GMail labs, although I did not find it (I use the English version so I should have access to all features when they are launched). I suppose it takes some time to deploy. 

The Battle of the Encyclopedias

2:39:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

We live in historic times; Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia are heading straight into a potentially spectacular battle. They are now both changing their routes, heading for a collision course as they both obviously aim to become THE encyclopedia in the world - meaning the most comprehensive, accurate and readily available encyclopedia for anyone everywhere anytime. 

In short, Britannica is slightly opening up to the world to be able to compete with Wikipedia on breadth instead of accuracy alone, and Wikipedia is taking measures to repair some of its flaws so that it can compete with Britannica on accuracy: 

"Britannica Takes Aim at Wikipedia" by Mathew Ingram at Internet Evolution:

After years of more or less ignoring its open-source competitor, the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) will soon be taking a page from Wikipedia's playbook and allowing members of the public to contribute to articles and other content at Britannica.com.  

"Wikipedia May Restrict Public’s Ability to Change Entries" by Noam Cohen:

Stung by criticism after vandals changed Wikipedia entries to erroneously report that Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd had died, Wikipedia appears ready to introduce a system that prevents new and anonymous users from instantly publishing changes to the online encyclopedia.

The new system, called Flagged Revisions, would mark a significant change in the anything-goes, anyone-can-edit-at-any-time ethos of Wikipedia, which in eight years of existence has become one of the top 10 sites on the Web and the de facto information source for the Internet-using public.

 The idea in a nutshell is that only registered, reliable users would have the right to have their material immediately appear to the general public visiting Wikipedia. Other contributors would be able to edit articles, but their changes will be held back until one of these reliable users has signed off, or “flagged” the revisions. (Registered, reliable users would see the latest edit to an article, whether flagged or not.)

So how will this battle end?  

First of all, I do not believe that the new restrictions imposed to the Wikipedia editing process will hurt Wikipedia. In fact, I think it is the other way around. Those who are serious contributors to Wikipedia (pro-ams, as Chris Andersson calls them) will have no problem identifying themselves and seeing their contributions being approved by before the they are published.

The “Flagged Revisions” system will inevitably slow down the speed of making changes to Wikipedia. Some contributors will probably also choose not to contribute anymore. But as the accuracy increases it will be worth it for the majority of the users as well as for the majority of the contributors. As any attempts of vandalism can be more easily stopped, it is likely to assume that changes will need to be done less often. Making changes frequently is not necessarily a good thing. What will continue to be important for Wikipedia’s continued success is that anyone (who is willing to identify himself) can easily contribute with their knowledge to Wikipedia - and get credit. If that can be done while minimizing the risk that some anonymous user destroy their contributions, I think most of the contributors are willing accept that. But the decrease in speed brings opportunity for competitors such as Britannica to catch up with Wikipedia.

So what is the the risk - or chance depending on how you wish to see it - of Britannica catching up with Wikipedia? I believe it is minimal. Britannica has a great distance to travel if they aim to catch up with Wikipedia on breadth. Wikipedia can afford to slow down a little to repair any flaws in its construction before it continues its journey at a steady but somewhat slower pace.

Britannicas sudden change of strategy to allow pro-ams they have neglected for years to contribute to their respected encyclopedia is courageous. Still, it is inevitable if they are to be able to compete with Wikipedia on more than accuracy. But the key question is if the pro-ams will be willing to contribute to Britannica? Will Britannica be able to convince them that they honestly want and appreciate their contributions? I think it is likely that the folks at Britannica have a huge barrier of distrust in-between them and the pro-ams that they first need to break down, brick by brick, to make the pro-ams contribute also to the new and slightly more open Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The ultimate idea-sharing system

8:57:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
I came across a post on the ThoughFarmer blog where Chris McGrath shares Bob Buckmans, chairman of Buckman Laboratories, seven ideas for "the ultimate idea-sharing system" (from the book "If Only We Knew What We Know"): 
  1. One transfer step in the transmission of ideas between individuals, to avoid distortion.
  2. All employees have access
  3. All employees can contribute content
  4. Available anywhere, 24/7
  5. Search function that indexes every word
  6. Users contribute in their native language. Translation provided where appropriate.
  7. Content updates automatically
Now just add some spices such as ease of use, visibility of people and their contributions, support for free-form and rich conversations and content, hyperlinking, presence information, social networking, social filters, tagging and folksonomies, ratings and reviews, feeds and subscriptions...

It is worthnoty that the seven ideas above were written in the 80s, before the web existed. 

The basic requirements on information technology solutions to get ideas and knowledge flowing are not new. What is new is that we now have a platform where all these requirements can be fairly easy implemented (the web) and that we are beginning to understand what spices to add to an IT solution to make people adopt and use it. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Three good presentations on Enterprise 2.0

6:25:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Here are three good starting points if you want to know the current state and future of Enterprise 2.0 and the social web in general.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Washington Post about Google's problems with Feedburner

3:33:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 2 comments
Why did I complain about the huge drop in subscribes in the Feedburner stats? Today I have no statistics at all...is Feedburner dead now after having slowly faded away for some while?

The Washington Post has an article by Michael Arrington from TechCrunch.com who reports about Techcrunch.com having the same kind of problems as I and lots (most?) of other Feedburner:
Complaints about Feedburner, a service that helps websites manage their RSS feeds, have been around as long as the company itself. But you'd think that when Google spent $100 million to buy the company, they'd get it together.

But things haven't gotten better. Instead, the service is becoming unreliable. Feedburner problems plague website owners far more than they should. And while Google is notoriously slow in absorbing its acquisitions, it's far past time for them to get their act together and turn Feedburner into a grown up service.

Feedburner also has a known issues page that shows what's currently wrong with the service. It's clear from that page that the team is having a lot of problems just keeping the lights on. The fact that this most recent issue, broken stats, isn't reported there yet even though its days old is another red flag.

If Google wants to continue to manage our feeds, we need assurances from them that they want our business. Right now, I don't believe they do. The people working on Feedburner clearly care about the product and their customers, but they either don't have enough people or enough resources to take care of business.
The thing is that I - and probably many Feedburner users with me - also use several other services from Google. My rapidly decreasing trust in Feedburner also hurts my trust in other Google services. Will Gmail be the next service to fall apart? Or Blogger? I guess it is time to make a backup of this blog.

This week in links - week 4, 2009

10:50:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
The way people think about work has remained fairly static for most of the 20th century and into the next.  Sociologists say that the concept of work/life balance comes from a world where separation was necessary; work was a dull, necessary evil to support goals that society established for a "normal lifestyle. Today's workers want to merge their passions and profession.  We should choose where we work with an "opt-in" mentality and opt-out just as easily.  Isn't that what at-will employment means?  But what company is ready to foster this type of open culture?
Staff levels must go down....could decimate an already-pressed IT staff, unless measures are taken to automate and virtualize more functions.

Telecommuting must increase. It's time to end IT's resistance to remote staffing. The benefits and savings that telecommuting brings to companies are becoming too compelling to dismiss.

Mobile communications must improve...With telecommuting on the rise, maintaining effective and secure mobile links will be an important element of streamlining IT.

Data management and storage must take center stage....save expenses in a number of ways, including on data center energy costs. 

Service use must become more strategic...cloud computing has become a solid alternative for many applications that formerly required costly in-house hosting. 

IT must go green...There are so many ways to save money on energy that there's no excuse not to investigate the opportunities more closely...You might even save enough to keep someone's job.

IT must cultivate new Web-based approaches...as lines of business adopt social networking for marketing, IT must be flexible and open-minded enough to go with the flow
Some companies are cutting their IT budgets in response to the recession, while others are focusing on smart spending to be ready for the recovery.

Think small, quick, and impactful. That's the current mind-set of CIOs when it comes to IT spending and project planning amid the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Even as the focus shifts to IT strategies for quick ROI, companies can't chuck their long-term plans.

The pressure is on IT to help companies cut costs, even more than it is to slash IT's own spending
Finally, a quote by Reid Hastie, Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, that I came across at the Signal vs. Noise blog by 37 Signals:
"It is certain that every organization has too many meetings, and far too many poorly designed ones. The main reason we don’t make meetings more productive is that we don’t value our time properly. The people who call meetings and those who attend them are not thinking about time as their most valuable resource."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cutting costs by improving internal collaboration

As I have previously announced, Henrik and I are developing a seminar called "Enterprise 2.0 - for easier collaboration and knowledge exchange" on a theme that we call "Maximizing the value of information in tough times" (the seminar will be in Swedish, but the presentation in English). The seminar will focus on how to cut back on costs by improving information management and collaboration with the use of social software and other Web 2.0 principles and technologies. Here are some recent writings that sort of sets the tone for this seminar:

Gartner’s Mark McDonald said in a recent interview that the coming year will be a rocky one for CIOs, with a lot of pressure to demonstrate that technology projects are delivering lots and lots of ROI.  If ROI is non-existent or too low, the technology is out — along with the CIO that approved it.

However, Web 2.0 technologies and methlodologies will remain above this carnage — because they often cost little to implement, and because they foster new means of collaboration at a time when it’s greatly needed.

The collaboration made possible through Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 tools and techniques may help keep companies growing through a soft economy.

Here are some excepts directly from the article with the interview:
“Investments in BI and CRM and ERP were viewed as investments, and fairly significant capital expenditures. Companies are doing web 2.0 things almost as a straight operating expense.

That's true, he added, whether companies apply Web 2.0 tools internally to foster collaboration, or externally to attract new customers and retain existing ones. McDonald advised against favoring one approach over the other. The deteriorating economy does not mean that any aspect of social computing, which Gartner cited as a top emerging trend in 2008, should be placed on the back burner
With the coming of the credit crunch and the global recession, hype won't pay the bills. That's why the next wave of Web 2.0 will be using collaboration to help businesses do more with less.

During good times, businesses are willing to gamble on stories and buzzwords, but during bad times, the focus returns solidly to cutting costs. That's what collaboration can do.

Gil Yehuda of Forrester Research writes, "In the current economic climate, Forrester believes collaboration tools can save enterprises operation costs by getting people and processes together quickly and efficiently."

Early adopters of collaboration tools are already seeing significant savings. Deloitte Digital, for example, was able to reduce by 90 percent the time required to edit new business plans by switching from the traditional method of e-mailing Microsoft Word documents as file attachments to collaborating within a wiki environment. And the benefits included improved results as well, according to Peter Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital: "We spent more time developing and thinking about the plan, rather than running around like headless chickens dealing with the last-minute mayhem of Word documents with track changes everywhere. The wiki made it really easy. And because it was easy, we were more able to involve people.
In essence, it is time now to grab the low-hanging fruit that exists in most organization. Since the required investments in technology are fairly low, more effort can be put on what is most important - changing people's attitudes and improving ways of working. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Huge drop in Feedburner subscriber stats - and no explanation from Google

1:11:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 3 comments
Three days ago, the number of subscribers in the Feedburner stats dropped with around 50%. This kind of sudden drop in the stats has happened before, but this is the third day with 50% less subscribers.  

I am not really worried, the stats will probably recover soon. Or maybe not. But why no information from Google? Why doesn't Google have a Feedburner blog or some other kind of communication channel for spreading news and supporting conversations about Feedburner, such as reporting issues?

Here are some voices about the drop in Feedburner subscriber stats from around the blogosphere. Some are trying to explain the drop with that idle e-mail subscribers are removed, but this is not likely to account for the drop in my stats as I just recently activated the feature to subscribe to e-mail.

What is currently happening with Feedburner stats? Is Google somehow updating the service, because in the last few days I have seen a huge drop in Google Feedfetch numbers within Feedburner. I thought I would also spend sometime trolling around the web to see if other sites have been affected by this situation and what I have noticed is that all sites have been affected by this. I was hoping Feedburner might be able to let us know if they are updating this system and why there are such drastic changes.

So went over to couple of blogs and found out the same issue.. maybe feedburner should look into this sooner.This isn’t the first time we are facing such a issue.. 
Feedburner seems to be underreporting subscriber numbers today, despite Tuesdays figures usually being the highest.

Blogstorm has lost a couple of hundred but John Chow looks to be down 4,000.

Anybody else seeing this
Thanks for blogging about this! Yes, mine are down by about 150 today from yesterday…
An update… today the count is back up 150+. Did you see the same bounce back Patrick and Matthew?

Apparently…there was a glitch at Feedblitz (email RSS system). My big 1000 leap was nothing but fairy dust. Back down to a lowly 3138 subscribers today
No sooner had I spoken than FB is reporting another outlandish figure. Today I have 5852 subscribers to Sciencebase.com, pretty soon the blogosphere is going to lose faith in FB altogether (whether that’s Feedblitz alone, or Feedburner being dragged down with it)

A new golden age for the IT industry is coming up

12:51:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg 2 comments
There is much doom and gloom about the economy just about everywhere you turn today. I am sure it will continue for a couple of years and that we will see new waves in the financial crisis that will seriously disturb and hurt the world economy. 

But as always, there will be - and already is possible to see some - light at the end of the tunnel. We know that every downturn will be followed by an upturn, that there is an end of every tunnel. The question is just how long the tunnel is and whichindustries and companies will be able to see the light, and which won't.

The IT industry will for sure see the light. The IT industry will even see it before most other industries are still in the dark, trying to get out of the tunnel. Why is that so? 

I am not just saying that because I am an IT professional myself. 

One quite obvious reason is that IT is business critical in a way it was not even just ten years ago, and that IT is a key means to cut costs and improve sales. A lot of the IT investments that have already been planned will need to be carried out. Still, some IT investments will be put on hold or dropped completely. Some companies will have to cut back on a lot of IT investments because they otherwise would bleed to death (companies that will probably die anyway).

However, I believe that the IT industry will not just come out of this recession less damaged than other industries - I believe it will enter a golden age in the near future. The main reason is that the root causes behind the financial crisis will need to be fixed. As soon as the root causes have been identified and analyzed, new rules and regulations that state how business need to operate and manage their business will need to designed. Then these will need to be implemented - worldwide. All businesses operating in the global market will be forced to comply with these rules and regulations.

This means that there will be A LOT of change in IT systems - especially regarding how transactions are initiated, carried out and followed up upon. Companies and other organizations cannot choose whether or not they should change their policies, processes and IT systems - they will be forced to do so by the lawmakers (our governments). If they do not comply, they will be put out of business or face serious fees. The area of compliance might even give raise to an industry of its own. 

Today we do not know what to comply to, and how the operations and management of a company will need to be changed. We just know that change will come. Inevitably. What companies can and should do is to prepare themselves for change. One part in this is increasing the agility of their organization, processes and IT systems. Another part is to prepare people for change. And those who can afford should do their best to keep, develop and recruit people skilled in management and IT for the times ahead when they will need them dearly.

At the same time, an even tougher competition about markets will force companies to invest serious amounts in order to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, penetrate new markets, and invent new products and services at an increasingly rapid speed and quality. The companies that are best at this and are well prepared for change will be first to see the light in the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We need you to lead us

9:19:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , 2 comments
The world needs more leaders. Not managers, but leaders. There is a scarcity of leaders. Still, today it is possible for anyone to become a leader and create his or her own tribe.

So, what does it take to be a successful leader in this rapidly changing world, in a world where most people - especially management - is doing their best to maintain status quo? (just take a look at the car manufacturing industry)

Well, it takes a heretic. A person with enough faith and belief to overcome the fear of breaking old rules and inspiring people with new ideas. A person who dares to embrace change and does not say "not yet" as an excuse for not doing it right away.

This is in essence what Seth Godin’s book "Tribes - We need you to lead us" is about. It is an inspiring read with lots of insights and inspiring stories. 

If you haven't read the book, spend three minutes to read the following excerpts from Seth’s book:

Managing is about manipulating resources to get a known job done. Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.

Management often works to maintain the status quo, to deliver average products to average people. In a stable environment, this is exactly the right strategy. Build reliability and predictability, cut costs, and make a profit.

Organizations that destroy the status quo wins. Individuals who push their organizations, who inspire other individuals to change the rules, thrive. Again, we are back to leadership, which can come from anyone, anywhere in the organization.

Look around. You'll se that the marketplace (every marketplace) rewards innovation: things that are fresh, stylish, remarkable, and new.

What I'm saying is that one person can invent a pricing model that turns an industry upside down.

Organizations are more important than ever. It's the factories we don't need. Factories are easy to outsource. Factories can slow you down. The organizations of the future are filled with smart, fast, flexible people on a mission. The thing is, that requires leadership.

Boring ideas don't spread. Boring organization don't grow.

A tribe that communicates more quickly, with alacrity and emotion, is a tribe that thrives.

Nothing online is even close to substitute for the hard work and generosity that comes from leadership. But these tools make leadership more powerful and productive, regardless of who's in your tribe.

Our culture works hard to prevent change. We have long had systems and organizations and standards designed to dissuade people from challenging the status quo. We enforce our systems and call whoever is crazy enough to challenge them a heretic. And society enforces the standards by burning its heretics at the stake, either literally or figuratively.

Odds are that growth and success are now inextricably linked to breaking the old rules and setting your organization's new rules loose in an industry too afraid to change.

When you fall in love with the system, you lose the ability to grow.

Leadership almost always involves thinking and acting like the underdog. That's because leaders work to change things, and the people who are winning rarely do.

And many organizations go out of their way to hire people who color inside the lines, who demonstrate consistency and compliance. And then these organizations give these people jobs where they are managed via fear.

The Web connects people. That's what it does. And movements take connected people and make change.  

The organizations that need innovation the most are the ones that do the most to stop it from happening. It's a bit of a paradox, but once you see it, it's a tremendous opportunity.

The largest enemy of change and leadership isn't a "no". It's a "not yet". "Not yet" is the safest, easiest way to forestall change. "Not yet" gives the status quo a chance to regroup and put off the inevitable for just a little while linger. Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This week in links - week 3, 2009

3:08:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents.

"The rebooting of our democracy has begun," said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and the techPresident blog. "[Obama] has the potential to transform the relationship between the American public and their democracy."

During the presidential race, Obama's campaign won praise for its innovative use of social-networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace and MyBarackObama.com, to announce events, rally volunteers and raise money

Obama has more than 1 million MySpace "friends" and more than 3.7 million "supporters" on his official Facebook page -- some 700,000 more than when he was elected in November. His campaign also has a database of almost 13 million supporters and their e-mail addresses.

Obama has invented an alternative media model," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. "In the old model, the president talks to the people on television [and] the people talk back in polls. In the new model, communication is online, and two-way."
ZDNet is reporting that Gartner's chiming in on some CIO recommendations for their 2009 New Year's resolutions. Excerpts include:

3. Start scouting for key talent.

5. Start using social systems yourself, visibly.

6. Start taking cloud seriously.

...and my favorite:

10. Discover newer technologies to get experience of in 2009.

Uh, like social software, right? See number 5.
One of the themes I was following in the academic literature is to whether compliance and trustful relationships are indeed substitutes or complementary governance mechanisms. The conventional wisdom had been that they are substitutes. That is, if one decides to govern by comprehensive legal contracts then in effect the aim is to leave no room for opportunitistic behaviour. In fact it is suggested that organisations that rely totally on contracts drive out the possibility of building trust. On the other hand we have the "handshake" agreement, no legals, just trust and honour. Of course there is always middle ground where one can choose the point in the continuum between contracts and trust relationships as appropriate, but they are still  substitutes.

Now the above had always sounded plausible to me but I came across a theme of argument which suggests that they could be complementary i.e. dense contracts and high trust could co-exist and in fact reinforce each other. Several of the arguments related to the build up of trust as one co-operated in formulating a detailed contract. This may also be plausible but I guess the test is how and if the resulting contract is enforced. The other end of the argument is probably the most plausible though. If you have no contracts and no trust then they will definitely complement each other in providing a poor result!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

XX is dead, long live XX

12:44:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , 4 comments
When statements such as "SOA is dead" or "Web 2.0 is dead" are expressed by individuals who are seen as authorities on these subjects - like Anne Thomas Manes at Burton Group on SOA and Richard MacManus at the ReadWriteWeb on Web 2.0 - it is a sign that they have gotten bored talking and writing about the technology or concept in question. As they are clearly some sort of early adopters, this is likely to happen some time before the technology or concept becomes adopted by the masses. 

Somewhere in this book Clay says that the transformative potential of a technology on society is realized when that technology becomes boring. Old enough people remember the days when office workers watched fascinated how the first faxes where being transmitted, and later on when the first emails where actually being used in the office, or the first time access was granted to the World Wide Web in the office.
To me, this is when technologies and concepts such as SOA and Web 2.0 become really interesting. We can all start seing how they affect society, business and individuals. I think this is where the discussion should continue. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

This week in links - week 2, 2009

Think for a minute about how you used to book your holidays, buy your music, find an address or select insurance - 10 or even 5 years ago?  Do you even bother to search for things these days or do you just rely on the recommendations from your network via Facebook, Twitter, Zemanta or even Amazon?

These prolific and radical changes are not limited to social and consumer interactions on the internet.  They also impact the nature, shape and conduct of business both internally and externally.

Companies are increasingly working in networks, whether they be loosely coupled or tightly integrated, because of technology and the globalisation that technology has brought with it.  Those networks are essentially virtual entities, and this trend will accelerate over the coming years.  To be in or join a network, people need insight and connections, as well as appropriate processes capable of supporting various business needs across the virtual entity.  That signals fundamental shifts in the way people do business and the underlying business models.

A new Forrester report reveals how much cheaper Web-based e-mail such as Google's Gmail is in comparison to traditional e-mail installed on-premise for businesses with up to 15,000 users. But analysts warn that most enterprises won't be making a wholesale switch to Web-based messaging for years to come. Instead, they might pursue a hybrid model where they move some e-mail services to the cloud and keep some on-premise.

For typical information workers, Forrester estimates that it costs a company $25.18 per user per month for an on-premise e-mail system, including the hardware, labor and other costs associated with managing e-mail in-house. Alternatively, for companies using Google's fully Web-based Gmail, it costs a mere $8.47. Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft's version of a fully cloud-based e-mail, isn't quite as cheap as Gmail but rings in at $20.32 per user per month.

"Circling Around To KM" by Mike Gotta:
Technology is the tail wagging the dog when it comes to knowledge management - it always has been. Many of the failures of the KM hype of the nineties were a result of the exuberant belief that KM was a tooling problem.  Clearly technology has a role - a vital role in many situations. I am not anti-technology when it comes to KM - it's just that almost all my conversations with clients over the years have been anchored to a tooling discussion.

Technology helps people discover, filter, aggregate, connect and so on. Arraying technology in a poor fashion can undermine KM efforts. If arrayed effectively, technology can have a tremendous positive influence on KM efforts. But even if you execute well on the technology side of the equation, tools are still only enablers to help people and organizations attain the goals of KM that they have defined for themselves (e.g., at a personal, group or enterprise level).

Turn it off!

12:47:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
Household appliances with a standby mode consume a lot of energy which leads to totally unneccessary emissions of carbon dioxide. So please - TURN IT OFF!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Upcoming seminar: Maximizing the value of information in tough times

I am arranging the Acando seminar "Maximizing the value of information in tough times" (Swedish: "Maximera värdet av information i tuffa tider") that will take place in Gothenborg April 16 and Stockholm April 21 2009.

The seminar consists of three tracks, all of which will be held in Swedish:
  • Enterprise 2.0 - for easier collaboration and knowledge exchange (Enterprise 2.0 – för enklare samarbete och kunskapsutbyte) 
  • Information Governance - a precondition for delivering the right information to the right person (Informationsstyrning – en förutsättning för rätt information till rätt person)
  • Information as a Service - the key to making fast and correct decisions (Information as a Service – nyckeln till rätt beslut snabbt)
It is now possible to register for the seminars on Acando's web site. You register for a specific track. There will be an introduction session common for all tracks where we will introduce you toInformation Management by Acando.

The track "Enterprise 2.0 - easier collaboration and knowledge exchange" will be held by me and Henrik Gustafsson and it will specifically address how new web technologies and new ways of thinking and working can be used to improve communication and collaboration and how that can help you to make projects and teams more efficient, build collective intelligence and reduce you environmental footprint.

Please note that the seminar is intended for customers, not competitors ;-) 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Maximize the value of your content by blogging

1:04:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , , No comments

This is from my post “Information Management Principle #2 – Information is a means to an end”:  

There is no value in information which is not – sooner or later – being used. Information that might be of use sooner or later holds a potential value, but that value is not realized until it is actually used for something. Simply put, information is just a means to an end.

And this is from the post "Information Management Principle #3: Information needs to flow

To realize this value potential, the information needs to flow. It needs to flow to the people who needs it to achieve their goals. It needs to flow to them whenever they need it and wherever they are.

If you have some content (which you have encoded information and/or experiences into) that you think might be valuable for others to consume, then at least the following five basic conditions need to make it flow smoothly to those who might want or need it: 

  • It shall be easy to capture and create
  • It shall be easy to share
  • It shall be easy to find
  • It shall be easy to access
  • It shall be easy to consume

Blogs fulfill all of these conditions:

  • You can capture or create whatever you would like to share using text, images, sound, video or whatever. If you have Internet access and a web browser, you can insert it into a blog post with just a few clicks. If you do not already have a blog, you can create one for free blog within seconds and without any technical skills.
  • When you press the publish button, you share your content with everybody on the Internet.
  • Search engines and other bloggers make content that people find valuable easy to find, but you might have to work on it for a while to make it cut through the noise and hit the surface. But anyone can be given a direct link to your blog or the RSS feed.
  • Since most blogs are public and the content is rendered with HTML, the content can be accessed by anyone with Internet access and a web browser.
  • The content can be consumed directly on the blog, via the RSS feed (in a consistent format) that can be consumed in a reader or homepage, or even via e-mail.

A blog can be used for many different purposes. Blogs can be classified in many different ways (dimensions) depending on perspective and it is often hard to categorize a blog as either ‘this’ or ‘that’ since they are often used for multiple purposes. When looking at how blogs can be used for business purposes, it can be valuable to classify blogs using the following categorization:

  • Blogs as journals – blogs used for recording (usually personal) experiences, observations and events
  • Blogs as notebooks – blogs used for collecting and sharing thoughts, reflections, ideas or things heard, seen or read at the spur of moment
  • Blogs as news sites – blogs used for producing or aggregating and sharing information about recent and upcoming events
  • Blogs as scrapbooks – preserving personal and family history in the form of photographs, printed media, and memorabilia
  • Blogs as guides – directing users to other destinations (linking)
These types of blogs can be used for personal or commercial use by an individual or group of individuals to communicate anything about any subject to any audience for any purpose. For this communication, virtually any type of content (text, photos, video, graphics, sound, music) can be used. 

In a business context, a blog can be used by a product owner in a business to communicate news about R&D, marketing and sales of a product to colleagues (news site). A project manager might set up a blog to communicate current status, risks and meeting notes to project stakeholders (journal / news). Members of a business team might use a blog for communicating their thoughts, ideas, reflections and observations on how the work they do can be improved.

If I look at this blog, The Content Economy, it is used by me and Henrik Gustafsson for communicating our personal ideas, observations and reflections about subjects such as Information Management, ECM and Enterprise 2.0 to anyone who shares our interest. We use primarily text and sometimes graphics to do so.

Using the classification above, I would classify the blog as an online notebook. In a way, I personally use the blog as a complement and extension of my analog notebooks. But it is also somewhat of a guide as some posts have the purpose of directing you to other destinations on the web (like the weekly post that I cal “This week in links”). I sometimes write about recent and upcoming events, but I have no ambition to be first with news and basically only post about news if I have something to add such as a reflection or observation. The blog is not much of a journal and definitely not a scrapbook. So – although it varies over time - it is 80% notebook and 20% something else. Here is some of the value I get from using the blog as a notebook:

  • By making my ideas accessible to others to read, comment, link to and forward to others, I am forced to think a little more about them than if I would only write them down in an analog notebook.
  • I might get valuable feedback from readers who comment blog posts, from other bloggers that link to and comment on my posts, and from analyzing statistics about the blog and feed.
  • I can keep track of interesting content from other sources without having to print it, download and store it on my desktop, or create links that I have to maintain as favorites in the web browser – I simply take small snapshots of them and post these on the blog with a link to each source.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This week in links - week 1, 2009

Time now for the first set of links in 2009 - some really good ones too. I hope you find satisfaction in reading them.

"Deconstructing the Paradoxes of Virtual Team Leadership" by Betsy Carroll
Dube and Robey found, through extensive interviews with virtual team leaders and members, that there are 5 pervasive paradoxes of virtual teamwork. They also crafted solutions to help team leaders deal with these paradoxes. Here is a list.

"Six Myths of Networks" by Patti Anklam:
Rob Cross, before the social network frenzy, identified six myths of informal networks. Coauthors Nitin Nohria and Andrew Parker worked with Rob to refine our understanding of how to counteract these myths in a Sloan Management Review article in 2002.

Myths and counter-arguments:

To build better networks, we have to communicate more. Actually, what we need is a lower quantity of information, and more targeted, filtered information to the people who need it.

Everyone should be connected to everyone else. What a jumble the world would be if we tried to be connected with everyone. Consider how much difficulty we have now trying to keep up with our extending networks in FB, Twitter, and so on.

We can’t do much to aid informal networks. I wrote an entire book on ways that networks can be supported and sustained. Informal networks need management to give them an environment in which connection and collaboration are fluid, valued, enabled with appropriate tools.

How people fit in to networks is all a matter of personality (which can’t be changed). When we talk about successful personal networks, we are not talking about extroverts who excel at “networking events,” but serious professionals who deliberate and carefully create and manage relationships

Central people who have become bottlenecks should make themselves more accessible. Accessible to more people? How does that remove a bottleneck? How about a central person works at brokering introductions to move knowledge around the network and shifts responsibilities by delegating certain knowledge areas to others?

I already know what is going on in my network. Social/organizational network analysis practitioners know full well that a map of an organizational network always contains surprises. Sure, savvy executives may have some insights, but will always welcome the detailed analysis that includes metrics that lead to action.

"Are we really collaborating?" by Penny Edwards:
In his article "Collaboration vs C-Three (Cooperation, Coordination, and Communication)", Leo Denise (1999) distinguished between those terms as follows (and to which I have added a few thoughts):
  • 'Communication' refers to how people understand each other and how information (including prospects, rumors, feelings and failures) is transferred
  • 'Coordination' is about efficiency and making sure people know when and how to act
  • 'Cooperation' is a factor in moving in a unified direction, but highest value doesn't derive from group think and continually following established norms. 
  • Whilst the above 'C's tend towards controlling and centralising efforts, 'collaboration' is about creation and is the driver of innovation. It involves bringing people together to achieve a goal which cannot be achieved by applying more effort to the other 'C's. 'Collaboration' thrives on difference, insight and spontaneity, rather than structural harmony. As such, it requires a shared space, time and environment to allow people to devise the solution to meet the goal.
Conventional enterprise technology that accelerated people's productive 10 years ago no longer has the same impact, and in fact is counter-productive for many workers in today's global, information overloaded environment. The classic example here is the systemic overuse of email as the means to facilitate each of the 'C's. Whilst email doesn't necessarily need to be replaced, it does need to be put in its place. And with the range of social tools presently available, companies' competitiveness will depend on identifying and adopting those tools which best suit their work processes. In fact, when integrated in a platform, social tools can facilitate new models of interaction, co-creation, collective intelligence, networking and user participation, whilst supplementing traditional face-to-face, telephone and email communications.
"The Implications of the Information Economy" by Rachel Happe:
The information economy has changed the way people behave - particularly in the consumer world:

- More product and service transparency is making it vital for companies to think hard about the quality of both their products and services and ensure that the experience is consistent across the customer lifecycle.

- People can now act immediately on information. This is good and bad - for companies with discrete products, selling things through search advertising has been a huge boast. Independent niche product companies can survive like never before - and customers can find just about anything they need or want. For complex products and services however, customers can make purchases without thinking through the implications of their actions.

The information economy has created a better informed but often impulsive consumer and it has created a networked information effect that ripples quickly through society allowing small pieces of information to set off a disproportionately large reaction - some positive and some negative. Like never before we can also act on information immediately creating economic whiplash.