0 comments on “Product #2: Explore inspiration. Connect insight. Apply knowledge. Learn together.”

Product #2: Explore inspiration. Connect insight. Apply knowledge. Learn together.

Quite some time ago, my wife and I began listening to the same podcasts or reading the same books. The conversations we share about much of this content are passionate and lively. Hearing each others take on the same subjects has helped us grow and deepen our understanding of not only these topics, business models and methodology but also of each other. This process has led to hours of debate, thinking and an enrichment of personal insight. Car journeys now go by in a heart beat.

I decided to share this experience with everyone who’s interested…

The Knowledge Elevation Journey

The Knowledge Elevation Journey helps you to break down silos and introduce insight from external sources to your own organisation. It’s about finding the right content, understanding its relevance, and applying new knowledge to the business challenge at hand.

The result: a common foundation for making well informed decisions.

Read more here…

0 comments on “My 1st product: The Onboarding Design BootCamp”

My 1st product: The Onboarding Design BootCamp

Click here for the product page…

 

You never get a second change to make a first impression

Optimising the onboarding experience is probably the most people centric challenge in a company. For this I can combine my passion for guiding others with my experience as a corporate employee, digital communicator and business coach.

Having arrived in large corporations myself multiple times, both as an employee and as an extern adviser, I have learned the hard way what it means to be new. It can be a complex and exhausting experience with various break points.

I have worked hard to become pretty proficient at simplifying complexity in my career in sales, marketing, consulting & coaching. Now you can make my experience work for you, your company and your employees to make onboarding the most seamless and enjoyable experience possible for everyone involved.

Designing the Onboarding Experience

 

Click here for the product page…

0 comments on “Why “agile” doesn’t mean to wittingly cut corners… (Guest article for Simply Communicate, London)”

Why “agile” doesn’t mean to wittingly cut corners… (Guest article for Simply Communicate, London)

I’ve worked in and for big organisations and I’ve witnessed the attempt to introduce less hierarchical and more “agile” organisations and ways of working. While it had worked in some places and projects, in a lot of instances the approach left me with the impression that the concept of agile (proudly stolen from software development) had been interpreted slightly wrong.

As a guest author for Smile Communications (London) I’ve collected my thoughts in a short blog article:

With less hierarchy and governance, companies want to become more agile. The goal is to tear down internal borders, encourage collaboration and be one step ahead of market and competition. Modern digital work tools are supposed to support and nurture this borderless way of working and thinking.

Start-ups get all of this engrained in their DNA from the beginning. Existing businesses have to reverse engineer the process and re-invent themselves. In this, the idea of “agile” often gets misinterpreted and people are left without framework, ground rules and the True North for wherever they are heading.

In this article I want to share my experience from my work in the triangle of leadership, organisational development and technology. (…)

Read more at: https://simply-communicate.com/misinterpretation-agile-modern-leadership/


Come & Join me at Smile Expo in May 2018

I will be on stage at Smile Expo, London, on May 21st. There I will talk about…

Successful organisational change in a digital workplace experiment

What happens, if you really question the norm? What happens if you set a few ground rules for internal digitalisation that require leadership, a non-hierarchical organisation and cloud technology to meet somewhere in the middle? What happens if you dare to adopt evergreen technology at full scale in a highly compliance driven environment?

You definitely get a case study that’s exciting to talk about, no matter what…

0 comments on “I love playing the imperfect piano (Inspired by a ‘Hidden Brain’ podcast)”

I love playing the imperfect piano (Inspired by a ‘Hidden Brain’ podcast)

Just recently I listened to the “Don’t Panic” episode of Shankar Vendantam’s npr Hidden Brain series. The episode is about chaos and why it makes sense to embrace it sometimes instead of trying to fight it.  One section of the podcast was part of an interview with Tim Harford. He talked about a transformative Jazz concert that was performed by Jazz legend Keith Jarrett on a (more or less) unplayable piano. The recorded concert turned into the best selling Solo Jazz album of all times. The story is also available as a TED Talk on “How frustration can us make more creative“.

The anecdote made me realise why I enjoy doing what I do, so much…

Each of my projects is like a playing an instrument for the first time

Finding the right way to create real internal or external impact through digital is like creating a piece of music on an instrument I’ve never played before. It is necessary to master the basics but it’s imperative to really understand the specifics at hand to substantially influence the results delivered. This holds true regardless of whether it’s music or success in digital transformation.

In the interview and in his TED Talk, Tim Harford talks about the state of the piano that Keith Jarrett had to use: a harsh upper register, sticky keys, pedals that didn’t work. Against all odds, Keith was able to produce a piece of music that made history. Leaning on his experience, passion and will power he overcame the obstacles and delivered the proof that unfavourable conditions do not prevent success.

Now, I am definitley not a genius like Keith, and am I not implying that all companies I work for are broken. But I’ve definitely learned how to identify the areas that are “out of tune”, the parts of an organisation that require a little more “push” and the functions that are best worked around for now.

With my experience in combination with the expertise and insight of the client’s project team we have always been able to adapt the standard or “best practice” to the reality. We have moved stratospheric visions closer to the earth and come up with a way to move forward that harmonises with the people and the organisation. Together we’ve delivered a symphony of actions and created something tangible – something that executive and operational stakeholders could buy into.

My personal key learning: I enjoy the challenge of writing for an orchestra who may be missing their first violin

I even prefer it. I don’t seek to deliver a picture perfect digital world in mock-ups and business cases. My passion is not to look 15 years into the future and pave an idealistic way forward based on trends, innovation and disruption.

Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe that all of the above is necessary, to create momentum for change.

My role however, is rather more “down to earth”. I love to pick up where the visionaries have left off, tighten the strings to help them play in tune again. I enjoy looking at the imperfections, the discord and finding the best way possible, together with the people that know their organisation, to create a concerto.

So, if you feel that your organisation is a little “out of tune”, I am happy to come in and play some Jazz… (not literally though…because it’s one of my unfulfilled dreams to play an instrument)

0 comments on “Some thoughts on dialogue in the context of leading change in digital transformation”

Some thoughts on dialogue in the context of leading change in digital transformation

Summary: Dialogue and exchange are very common catch phrases used in today’s world of change and digital transformation. With the raise of social technologies in intra-company communications, dialogue and exchange became key drivers and motivators for introducing and motivating adoption of those new opportunities. Looking back on my years in the field I am frequently asking myself: What has to fundamentally change to really accelerate the impact and effectiveness of the new digital opportunities? This short essay contains my thoughts concerning the subject and was triggered by one of the latest TED Radio Hour episodes.

Disclaimer: As mentioned in my section on “Sources of Inspiration”, I get a lot of food for thought from the TED Radio Hour (by npr.org). Listening to one of the most recent shows on “Dialogue & Exchange“, two segments got my thoughts spinning. I need to mention, that what was triggered in my head does not match the actual context of the talks’s content. It’s more an “abstraction” of the two angles on dialogue & exchange.

TAKE 1: Moral Reframing. Manipulating the other side by using a resonating baseline of moral values to win an argument.

In his segment of the TED Radio Hour, Robb Willer and Guy Raz talk about the political divide in the US. Robb introduces the results of a study, in which democrats, republicans & liberals were surveyed on their position towards environmental protection after reading one of three essays. One essay was emphasising the moral values of republicans, one the ones of democrats, one was neutral and simply arguing the case. Republican & democrat participants were leaning towards supporting pro-protection arguments, if delivered in the moral value framing closest to their political position. Liberals would support the subject no matter what.

The study was proof for the method of “Moral Reframing”, in which the other side is persuaded to follow a particular argument, by delivering it through a morally resonating message. I believe, you can safely call that “manipulation”.

What my brain made of this…

Quite a while ago I realised that the saying

Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.

by Confucius is slightly misleading. It implies that we all live by comparable values, standards, preferences and ideals. I believe we can all agree, that that’s not really the case. At least I can name you a list of things – business and private – that I don’t want experience, while others would sincerely indulge in them.

Nevertheless, in a lot of change initiatives, the believes of either thought leaders, executives or advisors (or a combination of all three) are used as the driving arguments for change. Based on those believes new strategies are proclaimed, operating models established and IT tools get introduced. In only a very few of those initiatives the drivers really come from the base and represent the broad perspective on challenges, opportunities and options for a way forward. This is exactly the moment, where the arguments fall short and the need for change is only put out there but does not resonate with its audience.

What if we first listened to the ones that have to adopt change and that need to be taken on the journey towards the future? What if we decided to really seek to understand the fundamentals that move the people that we need by our side to really make a change? What if we used the learning from that process and modified the arguments in a “morally reframed way” to persuade people based on their values to come on board and take an active role?

I can hear the shouts of “that’s manipulation!”. But what, if you also apply another Stephen R. Covey habit of “thinking WIN/WIN“? Then the “manipulation” is not harmful but essentially in the best interest of everyone and a good way of getting a larger adoption of behaviour that is required to really make a change.

What if…?

TAKE 2: New challenges for diplomacy + The ability to have a dialogue without trying to convince the other side

Jonas Gahr Støre is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Norway. In his TED Talk he is picking up on the raise of intra-country conflicts and the roles of diplomats in a very difficult environment of extremism.  One piece of his talk that triggered a particular thought process in my mind was this chart (screenshot taken from a still of the video on npr.org):

ted_screen

Besides the fact that this is a massive challenge for diplomats that are trained to solve INTER-conuntry dispute, I suddenly asked myself: might it be the case that corporate leaders and managers are facing a slightly similar issue?

Looking back at my time in larger (and some small) corporations (as an employee at them or a consultant to them) I remember the phrase

“We are dealing too much with ourselves and not enough with the market, our audience or the competition.”

really well. Firstly this means that too many capacities are bound by internal ineffectiveness (not to be muddled up with inefficiencies!). Companies are not applying the right people or skill to solve INTERNAL problems, so things tend to drag on forever. They might be throwing some weight at the problems, but it’s not the right weight. I’ve learned about this angle in a talk from Dr. Gerhard Wohland when he said (something in the direction of):

Whenever a surprise hits, companies tend to ask the wrong question. They usually what to know “what are we going to do now?”. That’s the wrong question. If you knew your options, the situation wouldn’t be a surprise. What you need to ask yourself is “who is the right person in our company to deal with this and find out what to do?”.

Secondly, the majority of people hired for a job (if not hired for an HR role) are trained (and framed) to deal with OUTSIDE facing topics. They are (if hired well) diplomats to deal with EXTERNAL challenges on the client, partner or industry side. They have not come on board as diplomats and problem solvers for the INTERNAL conflict – even though that solving those would automatically lead to improved business success…I dare to quote Richard Branson in this context:

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.

Those two thoughts lead to two questions, that might be a starting point to resolving the INTRA-company challenges.:

  1. Are the right people dealing with our internal challenges? (instead of: are we doing the right thing?)
  2. How do we attract the right people that we need to deal with our internal challenges? (and most likely this will not be the next VP with an impressive commercial track record…)

Listening without the goal of convincing.

Another part of Jonas Gahr Støre’s talk referred to the ability to

Distinguish talking from making decisions.

What resonated with me here is the fact, that too many intra-corporate conversations don’t have the objective to understand. The dialogue is either “fake” (aka the feedback doesn’t really weigh as much as the initial statement) or the only aim of dialogue is to find the right angle to convince people of something else.

I am sure, we all have been in a situation where we’ve been invited to a “constructive conversation”, which turned out to be an environment in which – after having voiced the own perspective – the only objective was the attempt to convince us.

You’ve been there, right?

Now there is a difference between my TAKE 1 on “moral reframing” in this essay and the lack of dialogue I am referring to here. Because the sort of dialogue I am promoting in my TAKE 2 is a necessary foundation for being able to find resonating arguments. It can only derive from the will to walk into a conversation with the sole objective to understand, not to immediately respond and convince. For this methods like “active listening”, in which a listener repeats the perceived message in own words to then see if the sent and the perceived meaning actually match, can be very helpful.

If the objective of a conversation is a real understanding of all parties at the table, there is no need for neutrality or consensus to maintain a good conversational climate. It would be baked in by the fact that real interest into the other’s point of view is the driver of the talk, instead of the “polite waiting period before I blurt out what all the others have to believe anyway.”

My Essence: Effective change requires a foundation derived from a real dialogue.

Let’s not take the detour over “Starting with Why?” (Simon Sinek) again 😉

Let’s take it as a given and agree, that the purpose for change, for the introduction of new ways of working and the move towards a connected organisation has to start with a real dialogue.

Before companies whip out their value propositions and try to encourage behavioural change, they might want to get a deep understanding of the values and drivers of the people the change will affect. This will help us to work with resonating value propositions, which in itself are much stronger in their effect.

Let’s seek a dialogue that has the objective to understand, not to convince or manipulate.

If we want to proclaim the power of the crowd, holocracy and flat (or no) hierarchies, let’s find the real motivators to do so. Because a stock price, competitive advantage or a steep increase in bonuses won’t be it. That much we should really know already…

Let’s introduce a new breed of (non-HR) managers: diplomats for internal affairs.

0 comments on “Managing internal digitalisation like a start-up (Mini Series 1/4)”

Managing internal digitalisation like a start-up (Mini Series 1/4)

To get back into the flow of publishing my thoughts I’ve decided to put a little bit of social pressure on myself. So this one is the first of four posts (aka a mini series) inspired by an Inside Intercom podcast called “Best Practices in Product“. Stay tuned for the remaining three…

“Jobs-to-be-done” thinking when launching new digital workplace services.

Bob Moesta (President of the ReWired Group and Jobs-to-be-Done architect) says in the podcast interview:

There’s actually no new consumption. They’re already getting the job done one way or another through a different category. (…) They always switch from something.

In corporate environments this is very much the reality every single time. I haven’t met one single organisation that would tick off statements like

  • At our company we don’t collaborate.
  • We don’t have any internal communication.
  • People here have no idea what we do or what we have done.
  • Our experts aren’t connected and we operate like lone wolfs.
  • We can’t produce positive business results because of IT.

Whenever I was allowed to work with people in transformational and change projects, the key driver was to make people’s life easier so they have more time for…

  • client interaction
  • innovation
  • knowledge management and re-use
  • social interaction & networking

It’s about relieving people from unnecessary effort. It’s about allowing people to be effective with their own resource, which might be an intrinsic motivator for the audience you really want to reach: the high performers.

Giving people options that are better than today’s way of doing things is not enough in the corporate context.

The reality is that there’s no more time in the world. You can’t create time, and so now they’re choosing to do Snapchat and not do something else. (…)

… Bob says in the context of explaining the effect of substituting one social media service by one that gets introduced later and triggers a particular user need or preference.

I keep experiencing the effect that potentially better options stay untouched or only occasionally used. From an outside angle the newly proposed enablement of individual or collaborative productivity seems a “no brainer”. The people, however, decide to stick to the old – cumbersome, time consuming but comfortably familiar – ways of getting things done.

In companies a new reference point, a new motivator, drives adoption – not a new tool.

The only way to address this is to change the context work is done in. This immediately becomes a leadership and management task. In order to guide people into new, ideally more effective ways of working, they need new motivators. The meaning of “jobs-to-be-done” has to change in order to allow people to evaluate the newly introduced option differently.

For example: if “capture the minutes of the kick-off” is the “job-to-be-done”, there will be almost no motivation to adapt new collaborative tools, that would at the same time help to manage task, track progress etc.. The new (and enforced) focus has to be “use the follow-up session to give feedback on results and progress and decide next steps based on our learning“. That way it’s clear, that attending the next meeting will require “being on the same page” and “transparency for how we’ve moved things based on the kick-off” (aka preparation…and when have you last been in a well prepared meeting?!). The minutes themselves won’t be very useful. Only the actions triggered by the kick-off, the individual contribution, and how things stand before the group re-gathers is now relevant. The minutes become merely the “documentation of our joint foundation”.

So when you work on introducing new digital services for your employees, it definitely makes sense to think about the motivators of adoption and change. Guide people into the new world of increased productivity and make them experience what it means to “get-the-new-job-done”, the one that makes us all better and more successful.

***

Next time: Telling your product’s story – why change management needs a solid, thought through and resonating story line for the people that are supposed to change.

0 comments on “Talking about Enterprise Search at the 2017 INTRAnet.Reloaded (Berlin) {Slides}”

Talking about Enterprise Search at the 2017 INTRAnet.Reloaded (Berlin) {Slides}

Just a quick share of the slides that I used to present at the annual gathering of the international Digital Workplace and Intranet community at INTRAnet.Reloaded in Berlin.

 

0 comments on “My predictions for 2017 (*wink)”

My predictions for 2017 (*wink)

It’s the time of year again. All experts are gathering around the crystal ball to predict what we will be doing in the next 12 months. Of course I need to chime in because if you operate under the “Digital Sherpa” metaphor the “Shaman” isn’t that far off…

So here we go with my 5 best shots:

  1. All technology driven initiatives to digitally transform the mechanics of relationship management, business development or productivity will fail.
  2. “On premises” is dead. If someone tries to tell you, it’s not: there some personal stake in maintaining the legacy involved.
  3. We will see less Chief Digital Officers and more digitally empowered, mature and passionate people in leading and executing roles. It will become a very tough environment for consultancies.
  4. The artificial separation of “intranet” and “internet” will be torn down because it literally makes no sense.
  5. We will reflect on 2017 in December and make similar predictions again because corporate politics, power struggles and lack of disruptive thinking will keep things at a slow pace…no matter how quickly the field evolves.

Opinions?

Merry Xmas. Happy New Year. Make life count.

phil

0 comments on “Social Chicken Network – The Need to Change the Foundation for a Collaborative Future”

Social Chicken Network – The Need to Change the Foundation for a Collaborative Future

Summary: Margaret Heffernan’s TED Talk on “Forget the pecking order at work” inspired me to write this post. I’ve talked and published a lot about why Enterprise Social Network by itself don’t seem to really deliver the success people expect. Listening to Margaret’s talk I was quite baffled that research on chickens was actually able to draw some parallels to business life. So this article is about the need for a new kind of leadership – in particular around motivation & reward models – when you want to lay the foundation for a more “WE” driven attitude in companies.

I’ve now worked from almost 8 years in the field of the Digital Workplace and Advanced Intranets. Over the years my job has evolved from “making people desire IT” to “establishing a successful foundation for cultural change”. One of the most striking things in my line of work is the fact that the attempt to establish Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) sustainably seems to be so challenging. I am, however, not implying that there hasn’t been a company succeeding in the attempt to establish an ESN. Unfortunately the real (like in: substantial impact & cultural change) success stories are rare and in a lot of cases limited to distinct use cases such as R&D, Sales or Marketing/Communications.

We’re conditioning future leaders the wrong way

In her TED Talk Margaret Heffernan talks about an experiment with chickens. To cut a long story short: Creating an average chickens flock delivered a happy camper group of hens that after six generations even showed an increase in (egg laying) productivity. Putting only the most productive “power hens” in one superflock delivered…oh well…only three chicken still alive after they started pecking each other to death at some point.

Then Heffernan says “(…) But for the past 50 years, we’ve run most organisations and some societies along the superchicken model. We’ve thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars, the brightest men, or occasionally women, in the room, and giving them all the resources and all the power. And the result has been just the same as in William Muir’s experiment: aggression, dysfunction and waste. If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work and a richer way to live. (Applause) (…)”. (Source: Talk Transcript on Ted.com).

This goes hand in hand with my experience from requirements engineering & needs analysis. What people are looking for is enablement and empowerment for their own work. They want to be put in a place in which they are able “to get sh** done” with reasonable effort.

A new way: focus on productive work that you cannot deliver by yourself!

We need to change two fundamental things:

  • Empower people to focus on productive work and take everything away that consumes time for unnecessary tasks and actions.
  • Lead people towards collaborative success and create an environment (incl. incentive and compensation models) in which “WE” behaviour is rewarded.

It’s important to emphasise that neither improvement works without the other if you’re really looking for a proper leap in results and productivity. It’s a little like it is with technology: digital transformation is built on organisational, managerial and leadership change…but without a proper piece of software in the background, there is no “digital” transformation.

We need to introduce ways to “synchronise coffee breaks” all day long. Then we will be able to end up in a place Heffernan reports on on the TED stage: “(…) When Alex Pentland suggested to one company that they synchronize coffee breaks so that people would have time to talk to each other, profits went up 15 million dollars, and employee satisfaction went up 10 percent. Not a bad return on social capital, which compounds even as you spend it. (…)” (Source: Talk Transcript on Ted.com).

If you empower people without a change of the reward system…

… what you get is people with a lot of time at their hand. 20% of those will spend the time on figuring out ways on how to be the next VP and gain more organisational power. The remaining 80% will…well…do their job with less effort and find ways of “burning” the time until it’s time to go home.

If you lead people towards collaboration but don’t take away the productivity road blocks…

… you might drive people insane – in particular the good ones. There is nothing more frustrating than the right perspective, the right purpose and a feeling that the right behaviours is rewarded, but you cannot behave that way. Coffee breaks, personal networks and meetings can only deliver limited impact. We need the support of modern technology to take the pieces out of our day that keep us from delivering results and enrich it with new opportunities to reach out and combine our talent with the talent of others for the “next big thing”.

The power of purpose…

Just to wrap this up I would like to reference Simon Sinek as well. Basically it’s a must if you talk about #change and #leadership.

I strongly believe that leadership towards a more collaborative work and corporate culture will not be driven by the classic corporate goals. In an interview in the npr TED Radio Hour Heffernan talks about her witnessing a corporate meeting in which the joint objective of 60 mUSD. “Who get’s motivated by trying to achieve a 60 million Dollar profit?” she asks.

And it’s true, if you want to get people engaged and committed you need to provide more than just SMART goals in a financial sense. For that it’s worth to (again) check out Sinek’s talk on “purpose” on the TED stage.

0 comments on “DWP: The Single Entry Point to the Truth”

DWP: The Single Entry Point to the Truth

Summary: Even though the field has agreed (and I’m on board here) that there is no such thing as a “Digital Workplace”, we’re still trying to find a tangible description for it. Based on my most recent gig at Social Business Collaboration and a little new business pitch I am involved in I’d like to add an (not revolutionary but maybe helpful) angle to the subject. Let’s call it the “Single Entry Point to the Truth”, in particular acknowledging the fact, that there is no such thing as a “Single Source of Truth” either. So this article is about what the DWP could actually be…whatever it’s built on.

Learning from my work in the field

I’ve used the following illustration in my most recent presentation at the Social Business Collaboration in Berlin. And maybe it’s me or the stuff I am getting involved in…but no matter how high the ambition is around collaboration, social or innovative things…we always end up at the same thing: I just need my stuff…easy…personalised…please!!

whattheymean

I was just working on a summary of a business case development project and the outcome was exactly that. What the majority of people in business functions wish for, is one single place in which they will find all their reference and work material…no matter where it lives or who’s created/published it.

Now… Let’s accept a few basic conditions:

  • The Digital Workplace is no “thing” – it’s a metaphor to describe what we need in information and knowledge work to drive effectiveness, foster working out loud and make it easy for people to reach their goals.
  • There is no “Single Source of Truth”. Period. Depending on what the truth is, it might be web content, a document, a post, an email…name it. So that all of this can reside in ONE huuuuuge container…come on.
  • There will never be one single digital communications or information management channel. No matter how many “one intranet” or “one company” or “MyXYZ” initiatives we run, there will be other channels that pop up in parallel, after it or were there to stay in the first place.

If that’s the reality, what we need is the:

Single Entry Point to the Truth

It would be the…how did one of my clients phrase it: everybody’s good morning.

The first touch point that guides you through the day. It show’s what’s going on, where people are dependent on input or things that need immediate attention. It would be the place that is directly connected to the user’s work day and business context and allows functions like Corporate Communications to sneak (relevant) messages into that context.

entrypoint

It could be called an aggregation layer, a wrapper or a portal. The name doesn’t matter – as long as it hasn’t been burned by previous initiatives and is better never mentioned in public anymore (Boogie Man…Boogie Man…Boo…….).

What we create is something that contributes to effectiveness (happy executives) and efficiency (happy employees). It would take away the digging, searching and crossing fingers that I got everything I need to “do things right the first time”.

digitalchannels

And it would be the place that would pick up from the business logic, the co-creation, the projects, the iterative work and turn the final items into corporate reference material.

So…does anyone got any thoughts on this? 🙂