Rethinking “Competition” – The Share of Voice Disruption

Summary: This article is inspired by a recent conversation with a leadership member of an insurance company. We talked about Digital Transformation and the challenges deriving from new business models and industrial disruption. He had one angle on the subject that kind of dumbstruck me and I felt silly to have never thought about it myself: the disruption through the inability to reach out to potential target groups in the attempt to get to the first A in AIDA: attention. Here’s my reflection on the conversation to share it with you.

The importance to get “attention”.

We live in a world of accelerating change and a substantial shift in generations and values. I don’t want to go down the route of Digital Natives and Millenials here. However, I suppose it’s obvious that attitude and values of the upcoming generations differ quite substantially from the one that’s kind of “in charge” at the moment.

If a company’s offering addresses more “classic” or even conservative values (e.g. retirement provision) it might be the case that the subject is definitely not top of mind anymore. Actively prompted the new generations might develop a momentary awareness but when it comes to “life determining” influencers, the conservative angles aren’t necessarily in the top position.

This means that you have to excel in getting to the first A in the good old AIDA model (of course it is  impossible to leave out the “social” extension in 2016…):


Only if a message gets past the attention barrier there is a change to convey the essence, build a relationship and maybe even initiation (inter)action.

When I used to work in marketing and advertising (before the internet) it was already a big thing that the amount of messages that were hammering on consumers created a challenge to marketers. The fight over creativity and exceptionally crazy ideas was built on that circumstance.

The times for communicators have changed. Substantially. Irreversibly.

The Share of Voice Disruption

The simplest analogy for “share of voice disruption” is definitely if someone steps on the hose when you’re trying to water the garden…

SoV Disruption

That’s what media companies, brands, TV series, game consoles and more or less the ENTIRE internet do to you if you are trying to convey a message that cannot remotely compete with the attractiveness of the “distraction”.

Like I said in the introduction: it really really bugs me that this hasn’t crossed my mind or that I didn’t pick up on it earlier. Simply because it’s so damn obvious!

Disrupting Share of Voice in inside facing channels

Since I spend the majority of my times advising on the Digital Workplace I realised that this model (or angle) applies there as well. The amount of messages and distraction keeps increasing and the “low value” messages (aka leader talk, policies & regulations) hardly make it on the top of the list of the required recipients.

The new “Competitive Advantage”

So in addition to re-thinking business models, value proposition, ecosystem and supply chain the communicators get a new role. It will be about intelligent and resonating communications. To some extend it could be a complementary dimension to McKinsey’s model used in the most recent publication on “The economic essentials of digital strategy” (McKinsey Quarterly, 2016).

McK Exhibit Digital Strategy

(c) 2016 McKinsey & Company

For everyone interested in the subject I can only recommend the article. One of the best compact publications on the subject I’ve recently come across.

Google Web Search is not Enterprise Search…

Summary: If you are in charge of Digital Workplace or intranet projects I bet a lot(!) on the fact that you continuously get the “requirement” to simply launch something like Google. Then the internal search experience will be so much better. This is a short but maybe a helpful one…

If it’s getting serious…the big “G” goes Taxonomy and Refinement, too

Yes, managing taxonomies is an effort. Yes, assigning taxonomy to enterprise information makes is less easy to just “dump” stuff onto a server. No, the application of meta data to information objects cannot be fully automated (yet).

There is a substantial difference between “finding something that somewhat meets my need” (aka Web Search) or “find something specific that is required to enable me to achieve a certain (unmovable) objective” (aka Enterprise Search). That’s why 2’300’000 results and a few “media type” categories won’t hep. You need refiners/filters, which are populated from a taxonomy. So if you’re trying to find a specific “thing” Google changes your search/refine experience as well.

Here’s a little example for the search query “laptop” in Google Web and Shopping search.

SIX15-02 Google Web vs Shopping

You can’t just “make up” stuff in terms of meta data that you apply to products that you want to register with Google Shopping. Similar to the categorisation and description that you have to apply to offers on eBay…if you’ve ever done that you know what I am talking about.

Web Search vs. Enterprise Search: it’s about controlling the “experience of finding stuff”

I’m simply sharing a slide that I’ve created as part of my work at Infocentric. Less for advertising but more of pragmatism reasons.

The Google Misinterpretation

Since it’s little hard to read here’s a link to a JPG.

If you need a few more reasons why taxonomies are essential to successful and user friendly (not publisher super low effort) experience:

  • freedom to combine/aggregate information objects dynamically
  • disconnect information from organisational/corporate structure
  • ability to deliver information to the relevant user profiles (matching information object and profile meta data)
  • option to associate “future” information objects (not in the system yet) to existing content via metadata
  • ability to “follow” subjects instead of people (like you partly deal with Twitter, when you follow/aggregate a #tag)

Is there proof that it works?

Yes. Simply get in touch with Estée Lauder, New York. The have extracted all their assets from the search index, applied a newly designed taxonomy, moved them back into the system and now: all purple roses! Check out the Twitter minutes for #intrelEU or Social Business Collaboration 2015 where they presented that insanely awesome project!


From “relevance” to the KPIs that measure communication quality & impact

Summary: In the long run the concept of “relevance” will undoubtedly replace the attempt to provide intranets that users can customise or personalise. Relevance targeting is driven by purposeful communications and clear objectives on the sender’s side. Evaluating the actual effect of distinct communication will allow communicators to continuously improve their skills and organisation to improve their channel mix and effectiveness.

Attending one of my client’s internal communications conference I felt inspired to document a workshop session with a little drawing:

Sending and Receiving in DWP

It summarises important aspects of the sender/recipient relationship. It furthermore hints to where the long sought for KPIs for internal communications and the Digital Workplace can be found.

The beginning: a purpose.

I truly believe communications without purpose should simply be banned from internal digital channels. Actually, thinking about it again, it should be banned from all channels, no matter if analogue, digital, internal or outside facing. The purpose of communications is usually driven by an over spanning objective. Purpose and objective create the foundation for “relevance”, the “reason-why” for the creation of a message and delivery to a particular audience. The tonality has to resonate on both and make sure that the core of the message is clear and easy to understand.

Practical example

Objective: reduce the risk of legal liability caused by wrongful handling of presents from suppliers.

Purpose: create awareness of a changed compliance guideline to the purchasing employees in Eastern Europe, Middle East & Asia.

Tonality: clear, straight forward, call to action (= go to the policy, read it, implement it) as the core element; background & change tracking should be stored in the context of the policy, not the communication, so it can be found even if people simply search for the policy itself and not the connected communication around it.

KPI for success measuring (Examples)

Deliver on communication purpose
  1. Unique visitors = effective reach of the message
  2. Distinct & scaled rating of the message = feedback for the senders on quality, clarity & relevance
  3. Click through rate = “conversion” from communication recipient to policy recipient
  4. Time on (destination/reference) site = recipient involvement with the reference material
  5. Receipt confirmation (if possible) = communication read & understood
Deliver on communication objective
  1. Quantitative evaluation of the implementation through line managers (read, understood, implemented)
  2. Cases of non-compliance in purchasing after the communications

Measuring success beyond media KPI

For a few years I have been chasing best practice and lighthouse solutions for success measurement in the context of intranet/DWP. So far the subject hasn’t really gotten the right attention and the majority of KPI we see in the field are “volume” KPI such as

  • members of a community or group
  • number of conversations
  • number of likes & shares
  • number of comments

To continuously improve the quality of Enterprise Information Management we have to deliver more insight to authors and publishers. The ones in charge for the mechanics and design of internal digital channels have to enable the ones in charge of the content to deliver on the requirements of all stakeholders. To date way too much guess work is involved.

How to get there?

Let’s simply stop asking for “analytics”. Let’s ask for Communications Insight & Intelligence. If I were in charge I would refuse to implement any KPI without a concept on

  • why measure? (reason-why)
  • how to report on the insight? (reporting format/frequency)
  • who will be reported to? (audience)
  • who is in charge of executing on insight? (accountability)
  • how shall KPI be interpreted? (figures > insight)

The last is probably the most important because at the end pure numbers mean nothing. The interpretation (and therefore the commentary for the report) is key for the actual execution on the insight. For that we have to pre-determine what particular figures mean and what has to happen with the learning, for example:

  • Low click-through
    > recipients only now that the policy is there but they don’t know the detail
    > implementation might fail
    > actively research through line management
  • Low time-on-site at the reference material
    > recipients only go to the site but don’t get involved
    > implementation might fail
    > actively research through line management

Why to pay more attention Communications Insight & Intelligence?

I believe that by implementing a more serious quality and impact measurement for internal digital channels we will achieve three things:

  1. Provide support to the governing organisation and enable them to iteratively improve the channel effectiveness
  2. Increase awareness for the fact that people have to pay attention to the alternative to e-mail communications
  3. Establish intranet/DWP as a work critical and essential part of the people’s work: the Good Morning for every day that you don’t want to live without

Who to talk to in the field?

Probably Philip’s Dennis Agusi is one of the guys in the field that has one of the best ongoing cases in DWP analytics. You can find him on Twitter: @DennisAgusi

Check out the tweets about is presentation at the Intranet Reloaded 2015 at #intrelEU (add his twitter handle to your search query to filter out the distinct tweets). But be aware: they hired a data scientist to pull off their attempt…


Some Thoughts on Relevance and the Value of Intranets; #relevance #socbiz #socialbusiness #intranet #enterprise20

Summary: over the last months I have been confronted with almost the same question in various cases: “People don’t read what we publish. What can we do?” Unfortunately I have only come to one – not always embraced – recommendation that I keep repeating: “Make relevance more visible and accept that some information means nothing to some you might like to see as your target group.”.

The major challenge: relevance to operational work.

In many articles I have emphasised that the key to a valuable digital workplace lies in its clear and tangible support of the work that information and knowledge workers do every day. Thinking about the “communication intranet”, so the part of a digital workplace that is meant to provide important information to employees, I might have to specify my thoughts a little but more.
In one of my last workshops I came up with a little sketch:


It’s read like this: there are three connections of information to the work of an individual.

  • Support: it makes it easier to do my work
  • Enablement: without it I cannot really deliver correct results
  • Execution: it is a direct part if it or could derive from my work as e.g. best practice

Information that supports or enables has a certain “distance” to the individual. The more it directly affects the personal environment (work critical) the more relevant (close) it is to the person – the more likely it is to be perceived and the more critical it is that the person is made aware of it. The next level (relevance to the larger work context – business critical) is slightly more distant from the person but still close enough to understand the effects. The outer part (not even touching “My Work” anymore) is the communication that is most likely to be ignored. The majority of people will not be able to make a connection to the content and the effect on the personal employment/work situation. Here’s the tangible example for each category:

Supporting ME: best practice for the work I am conducting.

Supporting US: a new range of product marketing that the sales team I work in uses.

Supporting the COMPANY: the CEO message on the quarterly results.

Enabling ME: a new purchasing guidelines for parts that are key to my deliveries

Enabling US: a new mandatory travel policy that affects expense processes for us as a sales team

Enabling the COMPANY: a new HR guideline on the personal use of the internet at work

Here’s the essence of the challenge: if the flood of information that touches all of the categories mentioned above is in no form or way targeted or indicated in relevance the recipients will simply turn numb. The will start to ignore all information and miss out on the essential and critical parts as well.

How to address the challenge?

Introduce targeting and indicate relevance.

It might be something that sounds like a tremendous effort. To create an editorial model that is able to specify and deliver information to pre-determined target groups. To provide intranets that are geared towards users and resonate on their role, geography, position and other relevant factors. To maybe even tailor the same message to different target group.
Rest assured. THAT is where the ROI on internal communications comes from. Not if you make it social, a stream or add pretty pictures to everything that is published – or (even worse) a strict “must read” rule that puts people even more work on their table through the required analysis & research efforts.

Introduce the indicators for a “call to action” (if there is one).

If you want people to react: tell them. Introduce the option to distinguish if a certain action is required (e.g. read, read & confirm, read & implement etc.). Make it easy for the user to classify information as urgent, critical or important. Allow them to invest only a little to follow what you want them to follow. For everyone’s sake…

the influence of #mobile on #productivity; #socbiz #enterprise20 #socialbusiness #mobility

Summary: Mobility is on top of the agenda of a lot of (if not all) companies – no matter if they have ever had their hand on a laptop or not 😉 Tablets and smartphones seem to have added new spice to the subject. Now it’s so spicy that mobility seems to be a whole new thing despite the fact that it’s nothing but a “situation” that a user is in. Triggered by a friend’s comment on my 2013 predictions I want to emphasise on a couple of angles on the mobility subject.

  1. “Mobile” is just a situation. Address it beyond enabling e-mail!
  2. Mobile employees require a different kind of leadership.
  3. The downsides of mobile work: friction, sloppiness & lack of balance.
  4. The upsides of mobile work: integration, flexibility & more balance.
  5. The future of mobile work.

1. “Mobile” is just a situation. Address it beyond enabling e-mail!

Let’s be frank: if an information worker is stationary at her/his desk then she/he’s mobile whenever the 23″ screen is not in sight. It’s that simple. Tablets and smartphones have not introduced mobility to information work. They might have made it easier to be mobile or to consume/contribute while not being at the desk. The concept, however, exists at least since the laptop was introduced as the information worker device.

With Blackberry mobile e-mail turned into a status symbol. I still remember the time where furiously typing people could be considered to be VP or higher in rank. Over time and with the introduction of iPhone, Android etc. mobile email has become a commodity – and to some extend what too many consider to be “mobile work”.

But mobile work – or better: working while not being chained to a desk – is more than that. It requires a new way of presenting information for quick consumption and prioritisation. It requires easy interaction with complex systems or even a “phased” interaction scope depending on the use of a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop. It requires the balance between web based applications and native apps that focus on particular interactions. To address that is the new challenge for IT departments and vendors and taps deeply into the concept of commercialised business IT because it has to put the user in the centre of all (conceptual) thinking.

2. Mobile employees require a different kind of leadership.

To cut a long story short: if presence does not equal productivity then an lot of managers have to change their thinking. Objective based management of people is the only way to create a foundation for a mobilised work force. They have to decide where and when they pave the way to the final delivery – individually and collaboratively. Managing people based on objectives is more leadership than management because only people that understand and believe in the objective will be able to deliver on it. In particular if there is no “watch dog” patrolling the home office…

3. The downsides of mobile work: friction, sloppiness & lack of balance.

Friction: not many people are capable of writing communications. That’s why only a small fraction of our society wins awards for copy writing, masters PR or publishes successful novels. Most of the information workers have a lot to learn when it comes to

  • specifying requirements, questions or tasks
  • giving written feedback in an understandable, constructive way
  • not choosing the wrong tone – in particular in another language

I am not implying that each information worker has to be fully trained but there are some simple rules that I would suggest everyone to learn and master:

  • Recipients cannot see your face – they might miss out on your sarcasm, winking or elvish smile
  • One word answers are efficient but rude if there isn’t an established relationship in place
  • Answering in novel length is rude – it’s unlikely that your colleagues are seeking stuff to read because they are bored
  • Think twice before hitting “reply to all”
  • If you have nothing substantial to contribute: don’t contribute!

Sloppiness: my personal impression is that mobile e-mail has substantially impacted the quality of people’s contribution to a “conversation”. Sometimes the speed of an answer seems to be in favour of its quality…or maybe it’s the mindset of “if I’ve answered it it will become someone else’s problem”. This might be caused by the fact that digital communications has led to a total information overkill and that too many people actually consider a response time >3hrs to be an insult. However, we would all benefit from an increase in reading/understanding time and a decrease in answering speed. Oh, and I would like to add: not all conversations are meant to be digitalised. Your smartphone still has a phone in there…even though you’ve never used it.

To my friends point: I actually think that smartphone displays are not meant to support substantial information work even though some furious typer might think that. They can support alerting, prioritisation, staying in touch and “light enriching”. Real (= substantial) contribution and value creation will happen on tablets and laptops.

Lack of balance: I dislike people that keep “raising their hand” (here, here, here…I am still important) when they are on holiday. There is nothing to say against checking e-mail on the beach once a day in order to avoid the bomb to explode when you walk through the door on day 1 after the holiday is over (yes, I actually think that’s ok!). However, please keep your fingers out of things that can be solved by others. You are NOT irreplaceable. Yes, sad but true: even YOU! That managers expect their subordinates to be available 24/7 is ridiculous and should be banned. The Sunday e-mail “I need this by Monday 9.30am” should lead to disciplinary actions (yes, I actually think that!). Simply because too many employees have difficulties in responding to that request on Monday at 9.45am with “Oh – Just seen your e-mail. Will deliver this asap.”

4. The upsides of mobile work: integration, flexibility & more balance.

Let’s create a framing:

  • individuals and teams are managed by objectives
  • individuals and teams have the appropriate (not prestigious) infrastructure available
  • teams have learned how to collaboratively achieve results without sharing a physical room

What would prevent them from working when and wherever they want and merge private and work life in a way that all parties benefit the most?

5. The future of mobile work

All bullets of the framing in #4 PLUS

  • essential information can be accessed/manipulated from anywhere
  • the intranet has become a digital workspace in which work is done and not just “stuff” distributed
  • social business mechanics have visualised professional networks and teams without impacting the quality of relationships
  • the special requirements of mobile work towards user centric service and application design has been accepted by IT departments and vendors – and they have been provided with the budget and the freedom to deliver on it

Sounds like a dream? Give it approx. 2 to 5 years depending on the size of a coloration and you will be asking yourself: how did we ever work differently??

my reflection on the latest McK Global Institute Report on #socialeconomy #socialbusiness #socbiz #enterprise20 #e20

Preamble: The McKinsey Global Institute has just recently published “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies” [1]. This is my personal interpretation of some of their reported results. All exhibits are taken from the report without changes and with reference to the original source within the report. All other excerpts of the report are marked accordingly with a reference to the original source.

Summary: Enterprise 2.0 has become a pretty serious subject. More and and more substantial reports are published on the subject. The software market is starting to slowly consolidate (sometimes even with a bang) but additional ( not necessarily mind boggling) software solutions are still being launched. Looking at the latest McKinsey Global Institute report there are some interesting tendencies and evolutions in the subject. What still strikes me is the fact that most of the benefit is still expected to happen in more “classic” information work roles (sales, marketing, r&d). Even though the fact that social is a feature, not a product, is recognized (MGI, p.17) I am still missing reports how in particular process and workflow related work was successfully flavoured and boosted with the use of social components. Connecting people with the same (quantitative) goal still seems to me the most promising approach towards applying the social business mechanics. Here’s my interpretation…and I haven’t cut a long story short.

A little dent to the hype.

“What’s in for the business?” is probably the most discussed question in social business initiatives and it’s one of the most frequent question I get asked as well. I believe that the biggest business case will lie in the individual benefit for the users of “socialized” business IT (see also Thesis #1 in (in German)). That the overall business contribution is important to justify substantial investments that will be able to compete with e.g. ERP budgets is however not disputable.

Looking at the following exhibit of the MGI report there is an interesting interpretation possible…


(Source: MGI 2012, p. 28, Exhibit 11)

All except one categories show a decline from 2010 to 2011. My personal take on this is that since 2009 companies have been experimenting with social software and over time adapting solutions such as Yammer and Tibbr – rolling out the internal Facebook. In 2010 involvement and activity in social tools as well as the amount of captured knowledge surely counted as “measurable gains”. Simply because no company has measured the baseline on which actual performance contribution could be evaluated. In 2011 there seems to be some kind of realization that just capturing the stuff doesn’t cut it. That’s why the intensity of serious ROI is seriously increasing. We will be seeing much more serious evaluation of business KPI based gains, that’s for sure. For that in particular it would be valuable to look at industry work tasks that could be improved with a better glue between people and process.

If you ask me relevant KPI for measuring social business inspired operational performance could be

● Run time of collaborative work (e.g. project overruns)

● Resource cost (time/people)

● Documentation efforts

● Efficiency of subsequent process steps that are heavily reliant on the preceding steps

With regards to that the MGI report even elaborates on the current state most corporations are at with the use of social technology: "(…) Most companies have begun to use social technologies, but the vast majority use them in limited ways and thus derive limited value. According to a McKinsey survey, almost 80 percent of corporations that use social technologies are still "developing", meaning they are reporting a low level of benefits from their use of social technologies to interact with employees, customers, and business partners. (…)" [2]

That would actually add even more reasoning to the interpretation of Exhibit 11 (above).

Contribution of social features.

I really like the way MGI has set out the areas where ‘social’ can add value in corporations.


(Source: MGI 2012, p. 8, Exhibit 3)

A lot of it has to do with “surfacing” and “matching” stuff (meant in a positive way). For my taste operations and distribution is the area where most of the quantitatively measurable gains would occur in the short term. This doesn’t mean that the other areas wouldn’t deliver measurable results. I simply believe that a substantial impact in cross-organizational and effectiveness oriented areas requires more time and in some parts even the so often emphasized organizational change. In operations and distribution particularly #3 could be even improved by replacing “distribute” by “connect” and “make transparent/trackable” and “easy to navigate”. I truly believe that a lot of work that is done with the help of ERP in the backend could be substantially improved by providing social glue between the formal elements of process based work and its protagonists.

Based on my experience one of the characteristics of social technologies would definitely be a huge leap forward: "(…) Social technologies enable new forms of content creation, distribution and consumption (…)" [3]. This isn’t just relevant and beneficial in knowledge work. Especially within processes as well as from the perspective of subsequent processes quality, transparency and completeness of documentation (and not just documents) is essential for the joint success.

Just to avoid confusion: I am not saying that in sales, product management, marketing etc. quantitative value wouldn’t be created. From an industrial perspective however, the real impact will lie within extending the concept of Kaizen [4] to the work that is attached to the actual production process (eg. the entire phase from selling to handing over complex industrial product specifications).

All three characteristics would contribute immense value in that context:


(Source: MGI 2012, p. 16, Box 1)

Therefore I actually believe that the sector of industrial manufacturing should range higher in the following chart:


(Source: MGI 2012, p. 10, Exhibit 4)

A new category: interaction work

It’s the first time that I explicitly read about interaction work categorized as “(…) employees whose work requires complex interactions with other people and independent judgment (…)[5]. With regards to quantitative benefits and measurable results this actually is a real good description of the area of information work in which socialized software could add substantial value.

The following illustration sets out the areas in which social technologies could raise productivity of information workers:


(Source: MGI 2012, p. 47, Exhibit 20)

At the end of the day the illustration is describing information logistics and communications – probably the most challenging parts of e-mail and network folder based information work. The only thing I dare to doubt is the improvement in role specific tasks that do not qualify as communication, collaboration, information handling or e-mail management. Depending on the level of dependency of others (not collaboration in the sense of “co-creation”) this could be substantially higher.

RETRIEVAL is the magic word

(…) It is so early in the learning cycle about social technologies that there is not
yet a reliable instruction manual to tell large organizations how to use social technologies most effectively. However, we have seen enough evidence to
believe that the long-run potential does exist. Organizations that are moving
along this path have begun to experiment with new organizational processes, forms, and practices. We can point in the direction of some factors that can guide organizations’ experiments as they seek to capture this value over time.

The idea of communicating with colleagues across a company the way employees communicate with friends on Facebook is easily understood, but actually embedding the use of social technologies into day-to-day workflows is
 a considerable challenge. It is also easy to see how turning business messages into content that can be discovered and accessed by many people can make life easier for interaction workers, but making sure that the most relevant information is fed to people when they need it is a problem for which technology solutions will continue to improve. (…)[6].

Creating content and feeds of ideas, actions, comments, questions and other “stuff” is one thing. Making sure that people can be 100% certain that they won’t miss out on essentials is another (ref. to; a related blog post on the subject). I agree that technological solutions will improve over time. However, I do not believe that we will be ever reaching the “everything on a silver plate” level of automation (ref. to; related blog article on pro-activeness and responsiblity). A lot of the – even in the MGI report so often emphasized – required cultural and operational change will have to do with the mind set change of employees. There will be a lot more means to be more effective, efficient and well informed. To achieve this will only partly have to do with technology. Employees have carry more responsibility for themselves as well as for others. Managers will have to support that development and create the formal framework in which performance evaluation has to incorporate collaborative elements as well as the ability to share (not just dump stuff into an activity feed) and retrieve (not just sit at a dashboard waiting for relevant stuff to pop up).


The social and commercial media inspired workplace and the related organizational, structural as well managerial change is a revolution. Things will never be the same and information work will be transformed into something that wouldn’t have been possible without the inspiration of commercial IT. If one has the chance to get involved with the subject: go for it! Following the evolution of available publications on enterprise 2.0, social business and social technology is mind boggling. It’s already obvious that we’re on off the plateau of the enterprise 2.0 hype – slowly but steadily. We shouldn’t make the mistake to completely suffocate the new potential by ROI, excel sheets and cries for KPIs. However, if the enterprise 2.0 enthusiast (I count myself to those) want to tap into the same budgets as the ERP folks we have to prove the value of the “new way of working”. We have to show how socially inspired business IT can change the day to day work and unleash incredible potential that lies hidden within large corporations.

It couldn’t be more exciting, could it?

“Jetzt seid doch mal sozial!” German essay on #enterprise20 #socialbusiness #e20

Ein Essay über den Einsatz von Social Business Software am Arbeitsplatz und die radikale Veränderung von Wissens- und Informationsarbeit.

Da ist noch was drin!

Enterprise 2.0 (aka Social Business) beschreibt den Einsatz von Software am Arbeitsplatz, die ihren Ursprung in der eher kommerziellen IT hat. Bereits 2009 hat Andrew McAfee mit seinem Buch “New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges” (2009, Harvard Business Publishing) die IT Abteilungen aus einem Dornröschen-Schlaf gerissen. Chat, Blogs, Wikis, Tag Clouds, Activity Feeds & Co. finden ihren Weg auf die Monitore der Wissens- und Informationsarbeiter. Eingesetzt mit der Überzeugung die Menschen von 9 bis 17 Uhr nun mit dem zu versorgen, was sie sowieso toll ganz finden.

Der Beweis dafür scheint ja bereits erbracht: Sobald es auf einer Konferenz heute um die sozialen Medien geht, darf es nicht fehlen: das Facebook Slide! 900+ Millionen Nutzer[1]. Das drittgrößte Land der Welt. Mindestens so beeindruckend ist die unfassbare Zahl an (sauber verschlagworteten und geo-getaggten) Fotos (300 Mio.) und Likes/Kommentare (3.2 Mrd.), die im hier pro Tag zugefügt werden[2]. Am Ende des Monats haben Nutzer dann im Schnitt bis zu 8 Stunden[3] vor der Kiste verbracht und sich aktiv mit Facebook auseinander gesetzt.

Pro Minute… [4]

  • 98.000+ Tweets
  • 100 neue LinkedIn Accounts
  • 600 neue Videos auf YouTube

Das ist es. Das muss es sein. So kriegen wir sie!

Social Media am Arbeitsplatz.

In den letzten Jahren haben sich (abgesehen von einigen Ausnahmen) zwei grundsätzliche Ausprägungen für Social Business Initiativen heraus kristallisiert.

Da gibt es die Unternehmen, die 1:1 auf den Hype aufspringen und direkt kopieren, was das Internet vorgibt. Eine Kategorie von Social Business Software orientiert sich stark an Aufbau und v.a. Funktionsumfang der sozialen Medien. Darunter fallen z.B. Yammer, VMWare’s Socialcast oder Salesforce Chatter. Mit Hilfe dieser Software versuchen Unternehmen nun zu imitieren, was im Netz passiert und die Mitarbeiter zum Bilden von Wissensnetzwerken und dem Teilen von Expertise zu bringen. Man könnte die Einführungsstrategie etwa so umschreiben: Los. Seid jetzt mal sozial!

Die zweite Variante ist der Einsatz von Social Business Software, die alles an Funktionen im Gepäck hat, was man sich nur vorstellen kann. Süffisant wird diese Software-Kategorie auch gerne als “900 Pfund Gorilla” bezeichnet – und wenn Sie den ungezähmt durch die Gänge scheuchen, können Sie sich ungefähr ausmalen, was passiert. In dieses Segment fallen z.B. Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Connections und JIVE, die Riesen im Bereich Business Software (vgl auch Forrester Wave™, Q3/2011). Die Einführungsstrategie dieser Lösungen ist (auch hier von Ausnahmen abgesehen) ist dann: Alles da! Sucht Euch raus, was ihr gerne hättet.

Der Mensch ist ein Gewohnheitstier.

Beiden Initiativen würde man in der Schule das Zeugnis “sie waren sichtlich bemüht” ausstellen. Denn ohne Zweifel glauben Unternehmen ihren Mitarbeitern etwas Gutes zu tun. Es steht auch außer Frage, dass immer eine kritische Masse an Nutzern findet, die mitmachen. Fragt man die richtigen, wird auch über die Effekte berichtet werden, die man sich erhofft hat: Netzwerke sind entstanden und Wissen wurde geteilt.

Ich frage aber: was hat sich substanziell verändert? Gab es eine radikale Veränderung der Arbeitsweise und Zusammenarbeitskultur – eine Veränderung an der Wurzel? Meine Überzeugung ist: nein. Zumindest hatte ich noch nicht das Vergnügen ein echtes Enterprise 2.0, ein Social Business, eine echte, vernetzte Organisation kennen zu lernen (Anmerkung: Wenn das hier jemand liest, der in einer arbeitet, bitte melden: @for_desire_it)

Aber warum ist das so?

Weil der Mensch ein Gewohnheitstier ist. Ganz einfach. Über die vergangenen Jahre haben wir uns an Paradigmen gewöhnt, die für den “Switch” in Richtung Social Business überwunden werden müssen. Nicht umsonst werden immer noch in zahlreichen Firmen Facebook, Twitter & Co. blockiert (Hier wird gearbeitet!). Wer auf seine Zielvereinbarung schaut, wird die folgenden Ziele auch eher selten finden:

  • Wiederverwendung von bestehendem Lösungswissen beim Erfüllen der eigenen Aufgabe
  • Verfügbar machen von eigenem Wissen über ein gepflegtes Profil und auffindbar abgelegte Dokumentation
  • Mind. 15 Menschen pro Quartal essenziell helfen
  • Mind. 5 Mal im Quartal Dinge außerhalb der Komfortzone tun und dabei aktiv um Hilfe fragen

Wir haben Menschen daran gewöhnt, dass Business IT (also die Software am Arbeitsplatz) etwas ist, was man nutzen MUSS. Wir haben Menschen daran gewöhnt, dass man zwar im Team arbeitet, Bonus, Gehalt und Karriere aber direkt an der “individuellen Performance” hängen. Wir haben Menschen daran gewöhnt, dass Wissen Macht ist und dass die Frage nach Hilfe eher ein Anzeichen von Schwäche ist. Diese Verhaltensweisen stellt man nicht mit einem Stück Software ab.

Ja, diese Sichtweise ist sehr schwarz/weiß und einige Leser werden sagen: „so schlimm ist das bei uns nun auch wieder nicht“. Arbeit an der Wurzel findet aber nur statt, wenn man hier und da auch gesundes Gewebe zur Seite schiebt.

Die Herausforderung für Organisationen liegt nicht in dem Roll-out neuer (vielleicht auch besserer) Software. Sie liegt in der Transformation und der Erkenntnis, dass es nicht mehr die Universallösung gibt. Wir machen aus hierarchischen Firmen keine freischwebend organisierten Netzwerke. E-Mail lässt sich nicht per (pressewirksamer) Arbeitsanweisung verbannen und durch Aktivitäten auf einer Social Business Plattform ersetzen, wie es der CEO eines global agierenden IT Dienstleisters versucht hat.

Menschen motivieren, das ist die stärkste Art und Weise, Veränderung von Verhalten zu etablieren. Unternehmen müssen das schaffen, was die sozialen Medien eindrucksvoll beweisen: Menschen setzen sich dann mit einer IT Plattform auseinander, wenn sie den individuellen Nutzen erkennen, spüren können. Denn Facebook und Twitter sind nichts anderes als IT Services mit einem stetig komplexer werdenden Umfang an Funktionen. Dennoch nehmen die Nutzer- und Nutzungszahlen stetig zu. Denn die sozialen Medien haben es geschafft, intrinsisches (von innen kommendes) Verhalten zu adressieren:

  • Teilen, Mitteilen, Beteiligen
  • Gegenseitige Inspiration
  • Kommunikation in Echtzeit
  • Sich kennenlernen, vernetzen, befreunden

These #1: Es geht nicht um die Kopie eines digitalen Internet-Angebots. Es geht um die Fähigkeit, Menschen zu einem ähnlichen Verhalten am Arbeitsplatz zu motivieren.

Aber wie erklärt man aber einem Menschen, dass er sich ab heute am Arbeitsplatz genauso verhalten soll, wie am Abend mit dem iPad vor der Glotze? Wie erklärt man Managern, dass sie plötzlich keine Überwacher zu erfüllender Aufgaben sondern Coach und Wegweiser durch das Netzwerk der Organisation sind? Denn beides war in den letzten Jahrzehnten nicht gefragt. Da ging es um Prozessanweisungen, Regelwerke für Wissensmanagement und die Gleichung “Anwesenheit = Produktivität”.

Man erklärt es mit einem Business Case. Auch wenn Andrew McAfee gegen die klassische Evaluierung eines potenziellen ROIs ist[5], um Social Business Initiativen zu argumentieren, ohne ganz ohne „Case“ geht es nicht. Allerdings braucht Social Business den Case für die Protagonisten und nicht die Entscheider und Manager. Es geht nicht um den Case „Wie rechnet sich Social Software für unser Unternehmen?“ sondern um „Wie rechnet sich mein Beitrag und meine Beteiligung bei diesen neuen Angeboten? Was ist für mich drin?“ Diese Frage muss beantwortet werden, damit unter den aktuellen Rahmenbedingungen der Einsatz von Social Business Software einen substanziellen Beitrag leisten kann. Aufgrund von Breite (Anzahl) und Tiefe (Anwendungsfälle) der Nutzung in einer Organisation. Weit über das „interne Facebook“ hinaus.

These #2: Die Veränderung der operativen Arbeit ist der Schritt vor dem Etablieren interner Communities und Netzwerke. Der digitale Arbeitsplatz muss eine neue Qualität der Arbeitshilfe werden – inspiriert von erfolgreichen Methoden aus sozialen und kommerziellen Internet-Angeboten.

Schon Stephen R. Covey hat als eine Regel seiner “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”[6] festgelegt: first things first – immer schön der Reihe nach. Ich bin der Überzeugung, dass der Weg zur vernetzten Organisation – auch über die Grenzen des Unternehmens hinaus – über die folgenden Stufen gehen muss:

STUFE 1 – Das Verbinden von Menschen mit gemeinsamen Zielen

Informationslogistik und Kommunikationseffizienz stehen hier im Vordergrund. Menschen, die gemeinsam zum gleichen Ziel kommen sollen, stehen regelmäßig vor der Herausforderung das ohne Hürdenlauf bewerkstelligen zu können. Hier neue Methoden für den Umgang mit Daten, Information und Dokumentation zu etablieren und alle kommunikativ auf den gleichen Nenner zu heben, liefert direkt spürbar Wert.

STUFE 2 – Das Verbinden von Menschen mit gemeinsamen Themen und Interessen

Es ist an der Zeit, sich um die Aktivierung der DNA der Organisation zu kümmern. Es geht um das Wissen, was in den Köpfen und Servern eines Unternehmens schlummert. Bisher haben wir versucht es mit immer gleichen Aufklebern zu versehen und in Kisten zu packen – irgendwer wird’s schon wieder finden. In Zukunft geht es um Wissensaktivierung. Die Intelligenz einer Organisation (egal ob als Mensch oder Dokument) muss sich automatisch an Herausforderungen heften. So, wie es bezahlte Suchergebnisse und Profil-gesteuerte Banner mit Nutzern im Internet machen.

STUFE 3 – Die Vernetzte Organisation

Wenn wir (um einiges) weiter in die Zukunft blicken, werden wir etwas finden, was heute eher noch eine Ausnahme ist: temporäre Intelligenz-Schwärme zum Lösen von Herausforderungen. Menschen finden sich spontan und situationsbedingt, um gemeinsam eine Aufgabe zu lösen. Danach löst sich die Gruppe wieder auf. Die Dokumentation von Erfolgen steht allen jederzeit zur Verfügung – der Einsatz des Wissens andere für den individuellen Erfolg ist ein essenzieller Bestandteil von Zielsetzung und Erfolgsmessung. Nur gemeinsam ist man stark. Diese Vernetzung wird über Unternehmensgrenzen hinaus geschehen und das bisherige Verständnis von Unternehmen als nahezu geschlossene Ökosysteme in Frage stellen. Genauso wie neue Arbeitsmodelle, bei denen die Festanstellung eher Seltenheitswert genießt.

Der Nutzen aus diesen Evolutionsstufen sollte der Treiber für die Veränderung in Richtung einer vernetzten Organisation – eines Social Business sein. Meinem Gefühl nach sind Unternehmen aktuell motiviert, den Schritt in Richtung Social Business zu machen weil sie eine echte Unsicherheit im Umgang mit der neuen Generation von Mitarbeitern spüren. Die Digital Natives bereiten den klassischen Managern echte Kopfschmerzen. Da kommen nun die, die mit dem Internet aufgewachsen sind. Sie sind fordern mehr Flexibilität und einen digitalen Arbeitsplatz von der Qualität moderner Internet-Services. Das mag so sein. Nichtsdestotrotz sollten wir die Leistungsträger nicht aus dem Auge verlieren, die heute das Rad am Laufen halten. Die tatsächliche Herausforderung liegt darin, den Menschen, die heute für uns arbeiteten und denen, die in Zukunft dazukommen einen gemeinsamen Nenner zu ermöglichen. Sie müssen gemeinsam ihre Ziele erreichen können.


Social Business ist eine Revolution. Diese Revolution verändert die Art und Weise, wie Menschen miteinander arbeiten und Wert schöpfen. Sie verändert die Rollen von Managern, Organisation und Zielvereinbarungen. Sie macht aus Kooperation Kollaboration. Sie wird Menschen und Wissen in einer vollkommen neuen Art vernetzen. Diese Revolution wird sich aber nicht in der Nutzerzahl von sozialen Features am Arbeitsplatz reflektieren. Sie wird sich in der Veränderung von Arbeitskultur, dem Verständnis für Management und Leadership und in einer tatsächlich neuen Art des Arbeitens niederschlagen. Business IT, die sich von sozialen und kommerziellen Medien inspirieren lässt, wird nur ein Baustein sein, der bei dieser Veränderung helfen kann.

lack of #certainty and #clarity will prevent #change in #communication behavior; #socbiz #enterprise20 #e20

Summary: This article is about the level certainty user of alternative communication channels need. The sender has to be sure that the message reaches the right recipients. Potential recipients have to be sure that they won’t miss out on important or relevant information. Without that certainty user will never move from the old fashioned e-mail channel to much better alternatives

Recently I have posted about the options to replace e-mail with new channels for communication and data distribution (link). While attending a test-pitch for enterprise 2.0 I was able to switch perspectives. Due to a role play I was forced into the situation of a stakeholder that is completely hesitant to but into the concept of social business. On a side note I would like to recommend everyone to do this from time to time. Take the role of someone who just doesn’t want to change and accept new opportunities (why? because I don’t want to!). Make up everything that comes into your mind to argue against the presented subject…a mind opening experience.

Anyway… An important thought suddenly crossed my mind: how can we create certainty and a comfort zone for users of the new channels? This actually counts for both perspective of communication: sending and receiving.


1. Sending: Being sure that my message though in-direct channels is still

S pecific enough to trigger the right action
M eaningful enough to be picked up
A ddressed to the right people
R elevant enough to others to get involved
T imely responded to in if response is required

Sending an e-mail (the ones starting with ‘Hi All’ or ‘Team’ and CC-craziness for addressing groups excluded) to seek for help, an answer or a certain piece of data doesn’t even have to be very SMART. There are trained behaviors and certain motivators not to ignore e-mails most of the time:

If you are addressed by name you will at least answer something. That’s something we get taught by our parents at home. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer contains much value but ignoring a direct request isn’t very established (assuming proper education).

From a more corporate perspective ignoring a direct request is pretty bold. It might lead to escalation through line management or in the worst case to being labeled as the unhelpful person that’s not caring for anyone else. If one repeatedly ignores other’s e-mails there will be consequences to some extend.

It’s simply difficult to say ‘na, didn’t get the e-mail’ if you were in the TO-field and personally addressed. Not picking up or responding to a status update, a posted question or a comment has literally no consequences at all. You just didn’t see it…

The sender puts himself in a very vulnerable situation as well…from multiple perspectives: the answer ‘I’ve posted a couple of questions and am waiting for someone to respond’ is a pretty brave if the boss asks ‘How far did you get with the issue?’.


Furthermore – and this is a real life response from a workshop – exposing lack of knowledge to a broad public isn’t very popular in some organizations.

There isn’t one simple answer to this challenge. (Work) cultural and managerial change is required in many cases to create the right foundation. Certain principles (not ‘have to’ rules but ‘how to’ guidelines) have to be established. Interest and research (yes…not everything will find the right person automatically) have to be part of daily information work. Senders have to have a level of certainty that there will be open eyed recipients out there.


2. Receiving: Making sure that one stays on top of things…

If e-mail is the information worker’s hub – in the worst case even the repository for files – one thing is created: certainty. There’s only one place where my stuff can be and only one channel how new stuff can get in there.

Establishing new channels for communication and new locations to maintain data has to incorporate one essential element: clarity. There can be only one channel for a certain type of communication or data distribution. There can only be one single repository where data resides if it’s not my personal one.

If the clarity of the system (and thereby the certainty for the recipient) isn’t created there can and will be only one natural reaction: denial. People are creative enough to find ways of maintaining the way that it has worked well for them so far. IT guidelines and managerial orders haven’t been the most effective way of preventing that so far and they will be even less effective in the future.


Just to avoid confusion… 

Introducing new channels of information distribution, retrieval and enrichment shall not trigger a vast set of rules and guidelines. However, as attractive the use of social and commercial inspired work tools might feel, posting, commenting, linking, tagging etc. have to be ‘learned’ in corporate context. It won’t come natural and people…not even the Digital Natives. The closer the new services will be to the actual context of the users the easer it will be for them to adopt (link). Moving further up the ladder towards the endeavor of a networked organization needs hand holding…and a new way of leadership. A leadership that stands for openness, curiosity, shared responsibility and accountability as well as trust…a leadership for the new way of working: collaboration.


how to replace #email with other channels or #services? #socbiz #socialbusiness #enterprise20

Attending a conference in Berlin I was part of a discussion that quite frequently comes up in the context of a social media inspired workplace: ‘How much e-mail volume will we be able to avoid if we succeed in re-channeling some messages to other (social) channels?’ One participant however, raised the even more relevant question: ‘How can we ensure that people don’t get lost in figuring out on which way the expected or desired piece of information will find them?’.

I still remember the announcement and then the related work order of a larger IT player that intended to encourage (or shall I say force) its employees to use social channels instead of e-mail to distribute internal information. How far that company has succeeded with this endeavor I actually don’t know.

Even though I can understand that a clean cut seems to be a promising way to execute this transition I am not entirely sure that it will be very much appreciated by the individuals. Radical change isn’t favored by a lot of people. Whenever the ‘Big Bang’ is mentioned people tend to twitch…

Getting used to the new way bit by bit

On multiple occasions I have elaborated…

Read more in my post on our corporate blog: