0 comments on “The 2019 Intranet Reloaded (Berlin) – My Gold Nuggets from Two Days with Practitioners”

The 2019 Intranet Reloaded (Berlin) – My Gold Nuggets from Two Days with Practitioners

For the 8th consecutive year, @weCONECT’s Intranet Reloaded (#intrelEU) was the leading practitioner gathering around the future of intranets and the digital workplace. Despite the occasional “there are other ways, too, you know,” the dominance of Microsoft Office 365 in the field became even more evident.

The majority of cases showed early or slightly advanced solutions for internal communications and, in some cases, information management. What struck me the most was the emphasis on design and (yes, Swarovski SIA) outright visual beauty – next to the clear message to the audience:

You (experts) are not the user, you need to take UX and employee experience serious.

Mobile access is becoming an increasingly important aspect in the light of a more agile workforce and the need to keep blue collar workers in the game; Deutsche Post/DHL showed this in a quite impressive case for the 8th Intranet Reloaded Awards.

A similarly frequent topic was ‘change management’ and the impact of digitalisation on organisation and business processes. My favourites this year were delivered by Martin Wilckens (Deutsche Telekom) and Jacqui Randle ( @jacquirandle1 | Scottish Government).

Work 2028 – Trends. Dilemmas. Opportunities.

Martin gave a 20 minute summary of Deutsche Telekom’s latest report on the future of work. To make it quick: download the report, lean back and get ready for some serious inspiration. Two bits tickled my brain in particular:

Episodic Loyalty

In a nutshell, the counter opposite of the classic German career path. In the future, our commitment and engage for a business, a brand or a person will not last forever. It will be more bound to projects, roles or individual identification with the challenge at hand.

As a consequence, companies need to get ready for more frequent on-, re- and off-boarding of employees. Without proper digital support for the employee life cycle, this will turn into HR’s worst nightmare.

The Ability to ‘Unlearn’

Even though the report is about ‘unlearning the old understanding of leadership’, what clicked with me was the concept of ‘unlearning’ per se. Looking back at my recent experience in digitalisation projects core to the business logic (sales, legal, technical delivery), the ability to ‘drop the old habits and routines’ was essential to moving towards the new ways of working.

It is paramount to the change process that everyone understands that just executing the old ways with new tools most likely won’t deliver the desired result. That’s why we will have to be able to ‘unlearn’ existing (and comfortable) work patterns to move on and unleash the digital potential.

Handling Users along the Innovation Adoption Cycle

Jacqui from the Scottish Government gave a compelling presentation on change and change management in the context of a pretty intranet re-vamp. One that, for example, delivered the ability to onboard new entities on the concept for less than two grand, providing a result that would have cost millions in the past.

My favourite part of her presentation, however, was the connection of the Innovation Life Cycle to the attitude of digital service user groups:

Looking back at some recent change initiatives I’ve been part of, I might steal it with pride and slightly re-work it for explaining activities for specific user groups. Just on a quick side note: the need to convey purpose and implement (change) leadership throughout the organisation is of course present anywhere along the cycle…

So a big thanks to Jacqui for that one 🙂 It will stick with me for some time for sure.

3 comments on “Why ’digital empowerment of people’ still is a paradox in today’s world”

Why ’digital empowerment of people’ still is a paradox in today’s world

“We primarily work in analogue ways, using digital tools,” is what a client just recently told me. It was part of the reflection on the current situation and the question of why things haven’t gotten better with the availability of new ’tools’.

In another mandate, I could observe how people struggled with the adoption of ’new ways of working’. It didn’t matter that the level of commitment was (or better, is) incredibly high and that everyone had agreed beforehand, that the cautiously evaluated way forward was the most promising option.

In a third instance (the initiation of a new project) I asked the question “what does internal communication mean in your place?”. The answers of the core team quickly tipped towards information overflow, a cc-culture for email driven by fear and uncertainty and the lack of clarity for standards, practices and a common denominator.

The limits to individual bandwidth

All of the above made me realise, that the result of digitalisation combined with a globalised business world is pushing the limits of an individual worker’s bandwidth to the absolute limit. If there were a particular focus and limit to things people could do 20 years back, there seems to be the expectation that digital tools extend that ability x-fold – which they don’t.

The circle of individual attention and the outer ring of common value and culture
Click for a larger version

Today’s business world puts so much on the individual’s plate that the day doesn’t have enough hours to cope with everything. The attempt to limit email use to business hours and stop people from burning out by being “always on” is only a symptom of that problem.

If there weren’t an insane communication overkill, there wouldn’t be the need to cut it off deliberately.

We need a different mindset to benefit from the digital promises:

Before we can indeed access what digital can offer us at the workplace, we need to change something…or better some things:

  • The way we use digital tools in the day to day work needs to be better agreed on a team level – we need to be more conscious for the common denominator for how to do things
  • Moving stuff to the next in line cannot be about ’getting rid of it’ anymore – we need to develop a more recipient focussed work and communication culture
  • Managers must accept that people don’t scale indefinitely, just because they are available – we need a culture that creates room for a life outside the email rat race (and no: enterprise social networks or persistent chat tools aren’t the answer)
  • The “weneeds to have room in corporate culture beyond mission statements and HR values – we need a more explicit emphasis on how we can drive things together (and no: a knowledge management tool or innovation community aren’t the answer)

Tools need to be part of the solution – not the answer.

Being asked, what my most successful project was so far, I had the answer straight at hand: a project, in which I was able to support a program team in developing a new way of staying coordinated and create transparency for what’s going on and what’s lying ahead.

Digital tools only played an enabling role. The success factors were a common language (terminology and structure) and a shared commitment to exchange and ’togetherness’ in the program. It was a human-driven solution that was only connected by tools.

  • Tools can create transparency for interested people.
  • Tools can scale capacities if people make sure that no one is left behind
  • Tools can bring people together, that care about being one team
  • Tools can make knowledge accessible and usable if people have the bandwidth to share and consume

Tools are never the answer.

Directives and functional training are not the answer either.

It’s a conscious agreement on how we will be doing things in the future, not just that we will be doing them. That agreement needs to be established, led, managed and be part of the future of work as much as all the digital nuts and bolts will be part of it.

0 comments on “Let’s build your story with Storyline Workshops!”

Let’s build your story with Storyline Workshops!

I am really passionate about designing and facilitating workshops. Now they finally have a name:

Your People, Empowered.

Storyline Workshops® are all about engagement, experience and impact. They follow a clear purpose, deliver tangible results and make participants feel that they are part of the solution.

You should think about using a Storyline Workshop if you want to…

  • turn a group of people into a powerful team.
  • help a team to initiate a successful initiative.
  • support a project team with delivering great results.

If you want to know more, please visit www.storylineworkshops.com.

0 comments on “How Leadership Drives Change. Concretely.”

How Leadership Drives Change. Concretely.

This week, I spent a lot of time with a group of sales leaders for a large industrial manufacturing firm. In the context of a large digitalisation initiative we discussed the role and specific tasks for leaders to drive and motivate sustainable change

In this post I want to share the essence of the discussion with one of the Senior Leaders in the aftermath of group work with the team.

We discussed using the model below, which is based on Simon Sinek’s hierarchy of Why, How and What, when it comes to leadership:

Leadership hierarchy model
A model based on Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”

With this model I tried to visualise, where and how leaders “take action”, when it comes to driving change.

Keep your hands away from the “what”

If you have hired the right people, and if you have managed to put them in the right role, your job is done. If you have to tell people what they are supposed to do, you have got the wrong people on board.

The “operational” level of “how”

Providing guidance for operational work through processes, frameworks or templates still is managerial. Even though some people might be asking for clear instruction and guidance for how they are supposed to apply their skills, I don’t perceive this particular element as “leadership”.

To motivate people and make them believe in the value of applying the standards, might be a leadership aspect of this part of “how”.

The “leadership” level of “how”

This is where real change kicks in. To motivate change and lead by example when it comes to fundamental change for i.e. the ways of working, is what is expected from leaders.

Thinking with the recipient in mind, turning personal experience into corporate knowledge or adopting new digital opportunities isn’t something that can be ordered. It is where leadership meets operations, because leaders will have to show the same attitude and act as a role model.

This applies to ways of working, not giving up on adapting new technologies as well as helping others to feel comfortable in the new world. There is no reason, why a SVP shouldn’t be the key user of a new collaboration environment.

Excellent leadership in this level will have the effect of empowerment. People will be equipped with the right mindset to put their competence and abilities to full play.

The purpose level of “Why”

Well…I’ll let Simon Sinek pick this one up. This entire post is inspired by his TED talk anyway…

Simon Sinek at TEDx: Start with Why (Source: YouTube)
0 comments on “Making change stick with rituals, routine & celebration.”

Making change stick with rituals, routine & celebration.

A senior leader of one of my clients said today:

I have the feeling, that change and change management have become empty phrases. A lot of people talk about it, but no-one really knows, what it means, and there is nothing tangible following the words…

(SVP Commercial Sales, Industrial Manufacturing)

I have to agree with him, because I have reached the point where I don’t even hear me say the word “change” anymore. That’s probably the destiny of an evangelist: you have to keep saying it, make it tangible and help people to understand what it means.

Otherwise it will actually stay an empty phrase for good.

Why change is so hard.

There is no better way of putting it than the following cartoon strip does:

https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/change-management/change-management-comic-strips/

Whenever it’s time to act, the audience gets thinner and thinner and the line of volunteers and heroes gets shorter and shorter. Because change sounds good, but it comes at a price…

And I am certain, you’ve seen this before:

You have to overcome the mountain of change before you can head for the paradise island of benefit and add value…

Triggers to make things stick.

Athletes know the drill: without embedding your physical challenge into your daily life every day, there will be no progress. You don’t become a long distance runner with the occasional jog, you won’t get the beach body from the weights you swing round twice month.

Rituals

To establish something new, it’s helpful to have a ritual. Something everyone does, every day, for at least 30 days. Then the ritual becomes a habit and it will be hard to give it up again.

Altered Routines

Most likely the things to be done will still be there. Not matter if it’s at the work place or anywhere else in life. If you want to introduce “new ways of doing things”, you need to alter existing routines and make room for the new stuff. That “new piece” can be a tool, an approach or simply a way of starting a conversation.  

Celebration of Success

We need to be kind to ourselves. It’s not always the won sales deal, the stronger abs or the better time for the mile. We need to celebrate success along the way, the newly established habit or simply the awareness for the new. Celebration is emotional, and positive emotion helps to endure the efforts of change.

But be prepared for setbacks!

There will be days, where your mile feels like eternity. There will be days, where the scales tell you: nah, not even close. 

Be prepared for that. Be prepared to be resilient.

In business, this means that you have to accept the fact that it won’t be a smooth ride all the time.  If a lot of people are confronted with change, anxiety and fear aren’t strangers to the game.

Embrace frustration & fear

New stuff can be scary and people usually don’t embrace change naturally. We need to develop a “we help each other along the way” mindset. We have to tune our radar to capture the little signs of discomfort and intercept early to not even let the bad feeling establish itself properly.

We need to learn to care for each other more, also at the workplace.

Share the discipline to stick with it

Don’t give up. Don’t fall back to old ways, because you know how to trick and fix them. Share discipline to give it another try. Be in it together to try, fail, try again, fail even harder and then succeed. It will be worth it in the end!

Change is a constant in today’s world.

BCG’s Jim Hemerling takes about 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change. It was one of the TED talks I watched this week over my home office lunch, my 30 minutes of daily inspiration. With that video I want to close today’s post – because essentially it says it all, and I wish I could spend one dinner with Jim to talk about his talk.

Enjoy:

There isn’t a better way to put it.
0 comments on “Back in Berlin soon! Help me to build a valuable session for INTRA.NET Reloaded 2019…”

Back in Berlin soon! Help me to build a valuable session for INTRA.NET Reloaded 2019…

After one full year of absence (*shiver) I will be back in Berlin for the 2019 INTRA.NET Reloaded Conference (April 11 & 12). Because I cannot sit still for two full days – and because the WE CONECT folks are super amazing – I will be hosting a little workshop:

Building a strong foundation for change in the early phase of a project (Day 1 @ 3pm)

To deliver something valuable to the people joining me in the session, I’d like to harvest my network for thoughts, ideas, questions & topics we should discuss. I will create a little survey with a next post, hoping for some feedback and input.

Inspiration & food for thought

In a couple of recent posts, I’ve shared some of my angles on digitalisation and modern leadership. Maybe they can help to spark some conversation:

1 comment on “Sharing: my framework for agile digitalisation & organisational development. Please challenge it!”

Sharing: my framework for agile digitalisation & organisational development. Please challenge it!

I’ve decided to put it in writing and out in the open: my personal checklist for digitalisation projects and programs.

Digital Sherpa Initiation Checklist

I am doing this for three reasons:

  1. to share my experience
  2. to seek your feedback
  3. to establish new relationships

I believe in sharing experience

In almost two decades in various industries and types of business, I’ve come across a pretty consistent pattern of challenges for digitalisation projects. There have been some differences from client to client, but more often than not, the same root cause had prevented previous success or was getting in the way of the newly initiated project.

This checklist is basically the deep dive into my previous article on “wittingly cutting corners”, that I published on Simply Communicate in 2018. It’s what I was referring to as the framework that puts an agile initiative (project or program) on a strong foundation.

Sharing this will hopefully get me some insight into what people think about my point of view and how my experience compares to that of others out there.

I’m always excited about feedback & exchange

What I’m sharing is my subjective experience. The best way to make sure that I’m on the right track is to find people who are willing to challenge my thoughts or complement them with their own. Through this, I want to add a little more objectivity to my point of view and increase the value that I can add to my client’s endeavours.

To everyone’s surprise, I’m keen on winning new clients

First of all, it still humbles me how many people have decided to support my new freelance adventure. They have put their personal trust in me, and for that I am very grateful.

After one year, I’ve decided to investigate the options of building entirely new relationships and “actively market” the Sherpa. So this is my first step in that direction.

Call-to-action…

If you like what I’ve shared today, and especially if you think I might have hit a nerve in your organisation, please get in touch.  Put me to the test and see if I can bring something to your team, something that makes the climb to the digital summit more pleasant.

1 comment on “Sharing my executive briefing on motivation, challenges & leadership for internal digitalisation”

Sharing my executive briefing on motivation, challenges & leadership for internal digitalisation

A couple of weeks ago, I’ve worked on an executive briefing on my experience with internal digitalisation in large corporations. Based on my work in industrial manufacturing, insurance, pharmaceutical and professional services environments, this is my collection of

  • Motivation for internal digitalisation
  • Challenges that companies experience along the way
  • The role leadership & management has to place in digital transformation

It’s important to say, that not all aspects apply to each company but it’s quite striking how many aspects of motivation & challenges a lot of companies have in common…

Change Management (Executive Briefing)
(click for larger version)

Download a PDF of the image here.

0 comments on “Have we forgotten about middle management?”

Have we forgotten about middle management?

While working on a series of articles for a client (<— #braggingmoment), I’ve stumbled across an intriguing question: who’s actually in charge of keeping an eye on middle management and their needs and role in digital transformation?

Bam! You’re now a coach.

Flat hierarchies, agile teams and distributed accountability – the new world of organising information and knowledge work. Leadership doesn’t get tired of preaching a “new togetherness” and how the own network of expertise and experience will blow the competition out of the water. More and more employees ask for flexibility and freedom to do their job whenever, from wherever and with whatever – and that’s not exclusive to Digital Natives or Generation Z.

The middle (or operations) management, however, only finds itself in foot notes and at the bottom of a bullet point list. From there they learn that task based management is out of date and how too much control & conquer will suffocate creativity and corporate culture.

They find their new roles described as coaches and guides to their teams. Most of the time description ends on exactly that level, though. But what does it mean to be a coach? What will they be guiding people through and how will good guidance be determined?

Change management must not be exclusive to the employee level

To give change a positive and long lasting effect on corporate and collaboration culture, middle managers need help with their role transformation as well. It’s not fair to expect that they just adapt to a completely upside-down environment and adjust their style of working and managing based on gut feeling and best effort.

No matter how non-hierarchical or flat a company structure is, there will always be a certain group of people who are accountable for overseeing performance and results. Leadership cannot be at the stern and at the same time have an eye on every functional crew member of the ship. At least that’s my humble opinion, and I am aware that there are a lot of other voices out there.

Middle management has to be part of the active change management in an organisation –  in the role of recipient and as shapers.

  • Their WHY needs to be adjusted to the new system and provide them with motivation and means to transform their purpose
  • Their HOW might require a change of skills and perspective, when it comes to rather leading than managing people and objectives – even if they are very operational
  • Their WHAT will probably be determined in a more dialogue fashion – with both, leadership and employees

Additional thoughts on this, anyone?


*** Promotion ***

Interested in my checklist for change? Check out my recent blog post or go directly to the Digital Sherpa checklist here


2 comments on “My checklist to determine the foundation for change in digitalisation initiatives”

My checklist to determine the foundation for change in digitalisation initiatives

The inspiration for this blog post comes from “Hidden Brain“, an NPR podcast series. One of the latest episodes in the You 2.0 series, Check Yourself, is about the history and the impact of using of checklists in aviation and surgery.

While listening to the podcast, I realised a similar pattern of “we know what we’re doing and we are in-line with everyone involved” attitude in a lot of people I’ve worked with in the past. This attitude, however, is not rooted in arrogance or ignorance, but in the confidence in professionalism, dedication and motivation of the surrounding system.

I believe, that – like in aviation and surgery – it could be beneficial to ask some fundamental questions before embarking on the journey of a digitalisation project or program. At least it’s my experience that in a lot of cases, the ticks in the boxes were what was missing in the foundation for joint success. Too many initiatives lack stability or credibility simply because of a lack of alignment and transparency.

Just recently I’ve added a little “Digital Sherpa in a Nutshell” section to my website. Based on the four key dimensions of my work as a coach, I’ve created a little checklist, that I’d like to share with anyone interested out there.

The_Sherpa's_Checklist
(click to see larger version)

Download the checklist in PDF format here