Envisioning and shaping the future of work and business.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to use Twitter to Connect with Audiences

11:21:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments
This presentation by Corrine does a good job at explaining what Twitter is and how you can use Twitter. It's visually appealing as well. One important message to businesses: if you haven't claimed your name on Twitter, do it now even if you have no plans today to use it!

Lots of interesting things to come

10:15:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

I have lots of interesting things and thoughts to write about and share with you, but I don't have the inspiration (or time or energy) right now to do so. So for now, I'll just save them for later.

Johan Ronnestam, from whom I borrowed the illustration above, expressed it like this:
"Rational things might make me interested. But passion, like great communication, make me and the right side go bananas."
Speaking of great communication, here are two fresh examples:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The slides from our Enterprise 2.0 seminar are now available

I've just uploaded the slides from our seminar "Enterprise 2.0 - Efficient Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange". Enjoy! ;)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Organizations don't need experts, they need mentors

Most organizations say they want experts, but what they really need is mentors with great knowledge and skills. Let's return to my frequently used quote by Andrew Carnegie:
"The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it."
People - especially those who possess valuable expertise - that can not, will not or do not share their knowledge and skills with others are worth little to an organization. That is why organizations must recruit and help people develop into experts that are also mentors ("a wise and trusted guide and advisor" - WordNet). They must also make sure that it is as easy as it possible can be for people to share their knowledge and skills with others.

If Andrew Carnegie would have headed a business today, I am pretty sure that he had focused on motivating people and making it as easy as possible for them to share and make their knowledge and skills readily available to others who need their expertise.

Using different kinds of rewards is the most straight-forward approach to motivating people to become mentoring experts. These rewards do not need to be monetary as there is a currency that is much more important to people; social status. The quest for social (such as professional) status is obviously what drives many people who are participating in social media. The best motivator is perhaps a combination of social and monetary rewards.

When it comes to making it as easy as possible for people to share their knowledge and skills with others, organizations obviously have a lot to learn from social media and the social web. Applying the similar kind of principles and technologies for their own purposes is an opportunity organizations cannot afford to miss. The simple reason that I would like to point to is that social media and social software such as social networks, blogs and micro-blogs leverage the power of informal networks. As informal networks have become more and more critical in the everyday life of knowledge workers, they have also become more and more critical to organizations. You should not need a business case to explain and make people in management positions understand that. If you do, then you are probably talking to the wrong person or company.
"Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it."

Steve Jobs, Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998 (Wired)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Microsoft making the shift to web 2.0

We developed our new Office products in response to a shift in how people and businesses use technology today. The line between home and work has blurred, so people want more choice and flexibility in how, where and when they work. They’re also demanding the ability to access and effectively manage their information whether at home, at work or on the go.

With these new products we are giving people a familiar interface across PCs, mobile phones and browsers to make it even easier for them to create, communicate and collaborate from any location.

By listening to our customers, we know that people want to stay connected to each other. They want an easy way to bring their ideas to life, and they want the freedom to use Office from more locations and on more devices.
Exchange 2010 will include integrated archiving and multi-mailbox search capabilities at no extra cost, making it easier for companies to, for example, comply with e-discovery requirements.

Exchange 2010 will power a number of new features, including the ability to view e-mail conversations in threaded form a la Gmail, and a button to ignore e-mail threads.

Outlook Web Access will include an instant messaging client compatible with Microsoft Office Communications Server and Live Messenger. Microsoft will offer APIs to allow other third-party IM clients to work in Outlook Web Access
Microsoft's Software + Service strategy has rapidly matured and is native to Exchange 2010. This architecture of a single environment that spans on-premise and cloud-based gives large firms an opportunity to leave some mailboxes on-premise and host others in the cloud to save money without incurring admin hassles.

Exchange 2010 is the first product that Microsoft has engineered to run as well in the cloud as on-premise. That means it will be easier to split your domain and run a single managed environment (meaning one admin console, one archiving management tool set, one legal hold implementation, one message filtering solution) across an on-premise and cloud-based implementation.
"Spam overwhelms e-mail messages" by Darren Waters, BBC:
More than 97% of all e-mails sent over the net are unwanted, according to a Microsoft security report. The e-mails are dominated by spam adverts for drugs, and general product pitches and often have malicious attachments.

It also found that Office document attachments and PDF files were increasingly being targeted by hackers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Businesses must support sharing and use of knowledge

"The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it."

This quote by Andrew Carnegie is one of my absolute favorites. Although these words were spoken about 100 years ago, they are even more true today than they were back then. Not only has the amount of knowledge work in virtually every kind of business increased since then, but how we share and make use of that knowledge has become increasingly critical to the survival of a business. At the same time, knowledge work becomes harder due to globalization, a more complex work environment and a distributed workforce. Peter Drucker, who coined the term "knowledge worker", expressed this challenge as follows:

The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers. It is on their productivity, above all, that the future prosperity — and indeed the future survival — of the developed economies will increasingly depend.”

Most of us know and understand that knowledge is something that is in between two ears. It is not something you can capture and put in a can. The concept of knowledge as a separate object that can be put in a database in corporate possession is not only dead, it is downright stupid. This delusion has led us astray for years. We simply cannot manage knowledge. What we can do is to facilitate the creation, exchange and use of knowledge. So let’s go back to the key sentence in the quote by Andrew Carnegie:

"The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it."

I’ve marked the two key words in this sentence: “share” and “use”. That is what we must focus on if we are to make the most of the knowledge that resides inside - and outside! - of an organization. Until now, we have focused too much on how to standardize, formalize and store representations of knowledge and much less on how to enable people to represent their knowledge in an effective way, to share it with others and how to consume the representations. This is where the principes of social media, Web 2.0 technologies and social software such as social networking platforms definitely have a role to play here, no doubt about it.

To round up this train of thought, researchers at IBM and MIT recently released a working paper in which they claim to have found that (according to Business Week) “certain e-mail connections and patterns at work correlate with higher revenue”. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

“In this study, we mitigate this gap by collecting and mining the largest organizational social network ever collected. We find that not only does the population level topology of social network correlate with performance, attributes of the nodes in a social network such as human capital and status that can be beneficial to work performance. In addition to an individual‘s own human capital and network position, the human capital and status in one‘s network can be instrumental to one‘s success.

From the article in Business Week about the research:

"For IBM, research into the networked behavior of its employees promises insights about teamwork, innovation, and the transmission of knowledge and ideas within the company. This is especially important for global companies—say, where experts in New York might be unaware that colleagues in Singapore are untangling a similar problem. IBM researchers fine-tuned management of industrial supply chains a half-century ago; now their challenge is promoting the flow of knowledge throughout the workforce."

If you haven't checked out my "Information is like water" presentations on slideshare before, here they are again:

Friday, April 3, 2009

This week in links - week 14, 2009

"The Implications of Cloud Computing for Work Teams and Leaders" by Betsy Carroll:

Cloud computing, by democratizing computing, will take us one step further into being an economy in which your knowledge and talents, rather than access to technology, give you an edge. Who might this affect?

  • IT leaders will spend less time focusing on managing capital investments and more time focusing on effective and efficient use of technology.
  • IT support will not need to focus as much on troubleshooting hardware, and can invest more in training people in the organization to take full advantage of applications.
  • Using technology to try out new ideas will be less risky - even if the idea fails, there will be little sunk capital costs.
  • Even physical space and interaction might change. For example, I am currently chained to my computer, so to speak, because of specific applications I use regularly. But I work with people throughout the organization. If my applications were accessed through cloud computing, I could work in many physical spaces other than my office. This could enhance our ability to collaborate both face-to-face (by accessing work together on a computer in one office) and virtually.
  • Virtual teams may be formed more often and in more organizations because cloud computing will give teams the tools they need to collaborate effectively and at a reduced cost to the organization.
  • Workers may see an increase in flexibility of work hours and opportunities for remote work.

"Findings from the NASAsphere Pilot" report by Celeste Merryman:

Why social networking...Because NASA is more that just one expert and one center. New ideas and new solutions for NASA’s complex missions require input from a geographically dispersed community of knowledge workers. By providing an online social network, NASA creates a collective intelligence and learning community for and by NASA knowledge workers that disseminates mission-related information broadly and quickly.

As described by a NASAsphere participant: “The network of a conversation spreads based on its topic rather than by person-to-person sharing.”

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the questions answered were by people different center than that of the person who posted the question.

"Employee social networking − Sabre Town case study" by Toby Ward:

Sabre, the company that runs most of the world’s airline flight reservation systems among other systems, is an impressive leader in employee networking. With nearly 10,000 employees spread around the globe (55% work outside of the U.S. where they are headquartered), Sabre is a progressive company that has Intranet 2.0 with spectacular results.

Sabre built an impressive employee networking platform called Sabre Town. Sabre Town represents the company’s need to build more meaningful connections with this geographically diverse employee population.

On Sabre Town, users can post a question to the entire organization, and the site’s inference or relevance engine will automatically send the question to the 15 most relevant employees (based on what they’ve entered in their profile, blog postings and other Q&As that have been previously posted).

The results have been spectacular:

  • 60% of questions are answered within one hour (one hour!).
  • Each question receives an average of 9 responses (9 responses!).
  • The system has already led to more than $150,000 in immediate, direct savings for the company, with much greater benefits not yet measured.

The community helps itself, with members answering each other’s questions,” says Johnson [at Sabre]. “Members tap into a collective brainpower they can’t get from systems alone.”

"NYTimes.com and Knowing the Difference Between Innovation and 'Bright & Shiny'" by Heather Snow:

    1. We mustn’t be transfixed by the bright and shiny. Never should a tool or tactic be executed because it’s cool or buzzy. What are we solving for? Strategy planning should start with a question, not an answer. Social media is not a strategy.
    2. We mustn’t overlook Return on Innovation in our mad dash for Return on Investment. Innovation is hard, and its rewards aren’t immediate. But innovation has the potential to pay dividends, hand over fist.

"Study: surfing the Internet at work boosts productivity" by Jacqui Cheng:

Workers are more productive when they are able to occasionally do non-work stuff online, researchers at the University of Melbourne have found. Dr. Brent Coker studied the habits of 300 workers and found that the large majority engaged in what he calls "Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing" (WILB)—surfing the Internet for personal reasons. But despite the common perception that such a behavior is a drain on employers, Coker says that these employees are able to focus better when performing tasks for work.

In his report, Coker said that 70 percent of workers engage in WILB, the most popular of which involved looking for information about products, reading news, playing games, and watching YouTube videos. "People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," he said in a statement. "Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Undercover banker

12:09:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg No comments

A lot of bankers dressed down to avoid being harassed by protesters during the G20 protests in London yesterday. Someone (a collegue?) obviously played a joke on this poor banker.

(photo picked up from The Financial Services Club Blog).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Age of Transparency – Rebuilding trust

7:12:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg 3 comments
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

These days, many of us are amazed by how a few people have been able – or rather allowed – to make decisions that have put well-respected companies at the brink of collapse, not to say how they have been able to create bonus systems with no upper limit generating huge bonuses independently of how the company performs. What the h--- went on in those board rooms? What went on in their heads, how were they thinking?

I think that a major clue to answer to these questions can be found in the scientific answer to the classic philosophical riddle above; if no one is there to hear the tree falling, then there is no sound. The falling tree does make a sound wave, but if there are no ears around it does not convert to a sound.

Even though their appearance matters to most people, it is less important how they appear when there are no eyes around to watch them. If no one sees you on a bad hair day, do you really care? Probably not so much (if you avoid mirrors). Many people are even ok with performing criminal acts if the risk of getting caught is minimal or non-existing. This seems to be a primal human behavior, one that can have disastrous consequences. To avoid it, we need to acknowledge that this behavior exists and take measures to protect ourselves from it.

This is where transparency comes into the picture. Transparency makes decisions and actions visible. By seeing what goes on in a business, we get a chance to discover and act on issues or problems before they get catastrophic proportions (we also get a chance to discover and act on opportunities!)

Another dimension of transparency has to do with trust. A lot of businesses, especially financial institutions, have recently lost a lot of trust from customers, employees, shareholders, customers, government, media and the public in general. As a consequence, they run the risk of losing customers, employees leaving, shareholders selling their stocks, government intervening in their business or resisting giving them financial aid, and media and social dragging their brand in their own dirt. Much of this can be attributed to a lack of transparency.

The thing with transparency is that it helps to builds trust. This is probably the major reason why we are seeing more and more efforts to increase transparency these days. But, increasing transparency does not come easy. Again, it has to do with human behavior. Most people simply find transparency, at least initially, scary and do what they can to keep the door locked and the curtains down. Transparency means that other people will be able to see what you are doing - or even worse, they might be able to see what you are not doing. Suddenly, you will have to care more about how your work you do appears in the eyes of others. Having a bad day at work? People will notice.

Transparency is one of the characteristics of social media and it is hence one of the key benefits that comes with implementing social software and applying the principles of social media in a business context. Transparency builds trust and trust is essential for people to help each other, to join forces and to decide to collaborate towards a shared purpose or common goal. Transparency makes work visible, which is essential if you are to coordinate people and their actions and to make the right decisions and actions in time. By making work visible, you have much greater possibilities avoid sub-optimization, duplication of work, unnecessary waste of time and resources, over-administration, bad decisions due to lack of the right information, lost ideas and blocked creativity, failure to make use of internal skills and resources in an optimal way…the list can go on and on forever.

We are now seeing the dawn of The Age of Transparency. We are slowly leaving the dark ages of industrialism behind us; the times when people could grant each other huge bonuses independently of how their business performs and where people could hide in a large organization without contributing to the business. From now on, what you do will be more important than where you are. You will be judged based on your contributions rather than hours spent at the office. Face time is over and action time is here. But it inevitably requires a new level of transparency in business, like it or not.