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. (…)
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…
Summary: This year’s SBC was primarily about change. Once in a while you actually got the feeling of being at a Human Resources conference. But as fairy dust there were a couple of presentations that stood out because they provided a new angle on a couple of things. Telenor reported on their experience with Facebook@Work. Jen Regruth Crites (@jen_k_crites) talked about actually “branding” a new IT solution. Laurence Fourcade from Kelios gave a striking presentation on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace. Europa-Park shared the insight how social connects the “unconnected” bees with a new software called “BeeKeeper”. And I am only mentioning a product here, because I really like a few aspects of their approach because of my work for the industrial manufacturing industry…and without further ado, here we go:
We knew it for some time. Finally everyone is acting on it.
Let me keep this short and crisp: “social” finally got its emphasis in real life. The days of IT-driven initiatives seem to be over for good. Literally everyone on stage made it clear that without properly orchestrating the symphony of change management, SBC (or business IT in general) initiatives simply are destined to fail.
Leadership needs to believe in and sponsor the efforts
Senior and middle management has to play an active role in the process
People have to be guided and taken on the journey in order to allow the new ways of working to really take effect
And the journey of change isn’t one of “campaigns” and “visionary promises” anymore. It’s about tangible value and a close connection to what people need help with. It’s about empowerment and allowing talent to really contribute its value to what the organisation wants to achieve.
All success stories that were presented this year showed, how essential the three bullets above were. Henry Haijes from ABM AMRO even added a slight twist to the culture/strategy quote from Peter Drucker:
“Influential power is eating organisation power” says Harry from ABN AMRO at #wcsocbiz – love the variation of the culture quote 🙂
Same goes for driving change throughout the entire organisation. Paul from the European Commission actually have a really compelling presentation on what it means to make sure that everyone is on board.
The P&G heritage: branding as a success driver for IT tool roll-outs
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace
Keeping the bees involved…
1. Facebook@Work at Telenor
John Alphonse gave a pretty compelling presentation about their “roll-out” of Facebook@Work. For me the story was particularly exciting because it was literally the first company to report on their experience. Essence: it seems to work really well after some serious ramp-up efforts.
x-silo insight facilitated by FB@Work
State of “collaboration” at Telenor
“Every employee should be part of each box” John said at the conference
After Facebook worked very(!) closely with Telenor to get all set-up for enterprise readiness and prepare of an official data security audit, an audit Telenor & FB passed in attempt #1, which is probably one of the most impressive things I took home from Berlin. Not though, that FB passed the test impressed me here, but actually the fact that FB actively worked with Telenor and used their help and advise to gear up for the requirements of the enterprise world.
The 2nd interesting angle John reported on was, that FB@Work actually started in the world of Telenor’s Shadow IT. You know Shadow IT: it’s what the official IT department cannot keep up with on people’s laptops, tablets and smartphones (…long live the cloud). Telenor, however, has decided that they want to be inspired by their Shadow IT and that they will keep investigating new options for business solutions that have been “tried” by voluntary guinea pigs.
As part of my World Café Hans Dekker (@hansdekker) from IKEA even suggested that it makes total sense to actually actively encourage Shadow IT. He believes that allocating accountability to people and putting them in charge of finding new and better options outside the standard governance is rather an opportunity than a threat. Quite frankly: I think he’s spot on. With a certain set of reasonable rules this might actually be the solution to one of the key challenges of IT organisations: herding cats.
Thirdly John added a little detail: communication, exchange & networking (formal, informal, project) happens in FB@Work – Documents are managed in SharePoint. Literally all vendors that were mentioned had their short coming in document handling. So Telenor employees were simply encouraged to post links to SP in the FB conversations:
In Facebook@Work the main part of conversations happens in (open & closed) groups – in contrary to the private version, in which the majority of posts are in the public/main feed.
I wonder if Microsoft ever considers the fact that they seem to stay (very) dominant in the “enterprise information management” part and that they should leave the field of “social glue” to the ones that know the real deal. However, after still not 100% delivering on a Yammer vision, maybe the acquisition of LinkedIn could add some momentum here. Who knows. Time will tell…
2. The P&G heritage: branding as a success driver for IT tool roll-outs
Jen Regruth Crites (@jen_k_crites) reported on how her Procter & Gamble learnings helped to support the roll out of a new IT tool. She simply asked the question: if a brand helps commercial organisations to differentiate and emphasise value, why shouldn’t IT departments apply this to delivering their “product” to employees. Jen answered that question with a striking presentation on how a well branded IT tool roll-out can make an impact: 6 months in the following KPI pretty much speak for itself:
54% of users recall the brand (starting from 3%)
375k EUR savings
83% Net Promotor Score
Active requests for MORE to the IT department
So FrieslandCampina (her gig at the time of the project) actually applied the Marketing 101 by the text book and even came up with a claim for the new UCC service:
Digital Meetings. Be there without going there.
3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace
Laurence Fourcade’s (Keolis Group) presentation touched my inner beliefs when it comes to the value drivers of the future Digital Workplace:
Driving content quality will deliver search experience.
Keolis really approached the submission of documents to the intranet from a SEO driven angle and they tried to drive awareness for content IMPACT. For each item readers (online consumption) and downloads are displayed. Doing this actually can help editors or content owners to understand if the information provided has any reach (or relevance) within the organisation. You could even go as far as “x readers, no downloads” could stand for “na, this isn’t what I was looking for” from a searching point of view. Combined with the search query we’d enter a complete new game of content relevance and quality management.
Laurence made it clear as well that the UX for the upload interface is essential to the success of the approach. Thereby she made clear, that AGAIN the people are in the centre of all thinking, because an easy and intuitive upload mechanism that enforces SEO relevant aspects has to be user centric. Thereby the user (here the editor) is clearly the success factor that needs to be catered to.
The fact that I had at least 3 other in-depth conversations on Enterprise Search and search in general at the conference shows that it’s still one of THE subjects companies are struggling with. And I am still flabbergasted by Estée Lauder’s guts to actually run a “re-work” of their search index…from scratch. It’s one of the presentations that will stick to my mind for quite some time.
4. Keeping the bees involved…
I’ve always enjoyed working for industrial manufacturing clients. To guide organisations that usually perceive digital transformation as the next SAP roll-out into the world and value of information and knowledge work is very rewarding… However, there is one key challenge that still hasn’t been addressed properly: how do we keep the blue collar work force involved? They don’t have a PC or a user account. They often don’ even have an e-mail address. Two things the majority of current solution require (as an either or) to actually get someone on-boarded to the party.
Anselm Müller from the Europa Park theme parks presented their approach to keeping the bees connected with a new software called “Beekeeper“. Authentication does not go through AD or similar services. It’s rather a “sign up” service, which gives full control over content and access to the maintaining organisation. In it’s core it’s a social network with streams, groups and all.
The adoption of employees at Europa Park confirms the expectations and now the organisation even considers to gradually say “goodbye” to its conventional intranet. I cannot wait for that success story to hit a stage…
So far for my little digest. The summary of my World Café session on “driving people and corporate value with the Digital Workplace” will follow soon. So, stay tuned…
Summary: I guess it’s fair to say “we did it again”. The European Digital Workplace and Intranet community had their annual “class reunion” in Berlin’s Kosmos Cinema to exchange honest experience, practice insight and progress at the 2016 IntraNET Reloaded. Reflecting on the conversations I had and the presentation I was able to attend there wasn’t a “next big thing” or obvious trend into a certain direction this year. However, things are getting more serious. The digital maturity in organisation has increased a lot and practitioners have left the age of try-out & guess work. It’s now about putting the past year’s experience to work and make the next evolution of the inside facing digital channels really count. Change is present everywhere. Change Management is not just a “need” anymore but has become a key element for the successful initiatives with a meaningful footprint. The conversation at my world cafe session on “Creating user and corporate value with the Digital Workplace” was very insightful. It sparked a lot of exchange and inspiration amongst the participants on how to motivate the various stakeholder levels to join the alliance on the way forward.
For detailed “Twitter Minutes” of the sessions (yes, the tweets are more or less up to that standard) check out #intrelEU as the conference’s hashtag. The following is my little summary of the event. I’ve split the post in two sections
My key take away from the two days of sharing and exchange
The summary of my World Café Session on the DWP Value Proposition(s)
My presentation on Effectiveness can be found on SlideShare:
My Key Take Away from Two Days of Sharing and Exchange
After this year’s conference the separation of (internal) communication and collaboration seems more artificial than ever. To enrich top down, bottom up or cross border information flow with communication, interaction and social engagement has become almost a standard. When it comes to governance it’s amazing to see how “control” has changed to “sustainability” for internal assets. What has been the need to control every bit of information provided to the organisation is now the ambition to make sure that the right people get the right information at the right time (aka relevance) and that we keep building a strong foundation for enterprise search.
If I remember right there was almost no mention of “social” being the driver of relevance this year. The aspects of meta data management and taxonomy seemed more present than ever. “Rubbish in, rubbish out” has moved from a statement to an accepted reality to drive search quality and experience. Also the need to provide dashboards with tiny little boxes that users can drag around seems to have vanished. No more portals. No more internal MyYahoo!’s anymore.
…is definitely a requirement for many and even creates business cases for award winning new applications like Orchard. There is an increased awareness for the case and value add behind mobile communication and collaboration and which service to which extend has to be fully optimised for mobile usage. Looking at this from my experience I couldn’t agree more. “Everything mobile” (aka mobile first) in the enterprise context simply is an investment that probably won’t pay off quickly.
It will be interesting to see how the mobile DWP will develop balancing “responsive design” of web based elements with dedicated Apps for specific services and interaction. In particular when components/modules in the PC based DWP are already delivered through an App based model.
…has left it’s “something for when we don’t have to worry about legal and compliance any more” stage for good. The adaption or even migration to the cloud is present in many cases. What comes with this change of “infrastructure” is a recognisable move away from customisation. Whoever is dealing with e.g. Office 365/SharePoint has learned from the past. On premise services still show the ambition to “hide” as much of the native software as possible. The cloud solutions however don’t try to hide but rather take advantage of the new richness in functionality, mobility and OOB apps.
Change & Change Management…
…is a key topic for the ones that are in for real impact. Some outstanding cases on change management:
Merck moved the ambassador and change manager role to a “job enrichment” level and claimed the folks taking care of guiding others to be “rock stars”.
@CallewaertFilip ran an extensive session on the subject. Across the entire conference “working out loud” was a theme in one way or another. Digital Workplaces or modern intranets have a clear job to do: connect people, make knowledge accessible, get experience and best practice back into the daily business. Just the “daily routine” cannot be the “loud” in working. We have to surface our assets from below the line and make it accessible to the right audience.
But: is there a too loud? I personally don’t believe there is… There is only a lack of relevance steering and information management, if people cannot tune in and out of their favourite or most critical channels and/or subjects with ease.
My Summary of the World Café on “Value Propositions”
My little intro to the session stands for the three general layers that value propositions have to be created for. On each layer value can be created for the individual(s) as well as for the area of responsibility of that individual. E.g. you can make the CFO’s life easier in two ways. Firstly, by supporting the CFO’s individual daily work and responsibilities with services that make it easer for his/her to reach personal objectives, secondly, by making sure that existing knowledge is re-used and put into force as often as possible in order to avoid redundant efforts (aka effectiveness).
Two aspects were particularly important:
Middle Managers need support for their own work day as well. The DWP’s value proposition cannot just lie in the enablement of the organisation they are responsible for. A lot of them have a tough job with more work than the day has hours. Let’s help them out…
The difference between a value proposition (e.g. feedback & best practice culture) and a resonating value proposition (e.g. the ability for retail front line staff to report on the effectiveness of new in-store marketing campaigns) lies in how well they land with the audience. The better we listen to our target groups and stakeholders the more likely we will deliver something meaningful and relevant to their actual work.
The following image is the (enriched) transcript of our session board. The top row contains four inspirational statements, the bottom part contains the collected essence from our conversation. I’ve tried to create four clusters in order to provide a little structure to the content. A PDF version of the mind map can be downloaded here.
My favourite statements were the following:
Be honest. Never promise “perfect”, “100%” or “everything”. We have to learn to openly talk about continuous improvement, iterative development and the “learning organisation” (incl. the DWP)
The Digital Workplace can act like a suspension between people and business process whenever work reality deviates from the set standard
Make sure that you decide on the right messenger for the right value proposition to specific people or groups…not everyone can talk to everyone. And this is not meant in terms of hierarchy.
People need to feel change, it has to be tangible. And they need to feel that they’ve been really listened to in the first place. Maybe try some “active listening” techniques in the requirements engineering phase…
And at the end of the day: think about your customers. The more effective, productive and content people are at work the more time they will have to deal with the really important thing: customer satisfaction.
Summary: Berlin, October 1st and 2nd 2015. The European practitioners for modern intranets, social business collaboration and the Digital Workplace gathered in Berlin to exchange on their experience and share insight & learning. As part of the conference I had the opportunity to host a “World Café” session on stakeholder management. This article captures the essence of our discussion.
The framing of the session
I used a little drawing to introduce my personal learning from the past years in the field. From my experience the key layout of stakeholders exists on three levels:
It’s 2015 and the top management (c-level, board room) have bought into the fact that companies have to break up silos. Globalisation is reality and collaboration/communication has to bridge geographical and functional distance. Digital Business Agility (read about this in one of my previous posts) is essential in highly competitive markets.
The people in business operations drive from bottom up. They have a solid understanding on how connectedness and collaboration can improve business success. They are desperate for a more integrated world, improved information management and the ability to work independent from time, place or device – no matter if Generation Y or Silver Surfer.
Squeezed in-between is the middle management. They either get left out in the process from “let’s get connected” to “this is the new connected world” or they are not measured based on the new paradigms. Middle management happens in Excel and PowerPoint, in an abstraction of the real world and represents the “channel” TO the top management. In addition to that it’s a rough world. It’s competitive and not everyone (aka only a very very few) are willing to take risk and accountability for change. They are the ones that we have to really care for. They get caught in politics, games and objective struggles. “What’s in for me” gets more and more important on this particular level in the stakeholder map.
This will become particularly important if our ambition is to further increase the work and business criticality of intranet, Digital Workplace. Then accountability and governance have to be with the middle management. They will be in charge of making it work for the organisation. Therefore we need have to have middle management on board as of day one and make it theirs.
The conversation’s essence
Everyone agreed that more time has to be invested in understanding the real stakeholder map and how they stand with regards to the subject (supporter, promoter, opponent, neutral and/or allies)
Finding the right “value proposition” for the various stakeholder functions is key to get them on board and keep them on along the entire journey.
Executives and top management have to adjust success measurement and KPI to make “connectedness” and “networking of knowledge and people” part of the actual middle management scope of work. The fact that effectiveness will provide competitive edge has to start trumping the “just get it done” attitude.
We have to accept the fact that “business ownership” doesn’t come through a title when it comes to stakeholders for the Digital Workplace. A director is not in the middle of things. Field managers are. They are the ones that primarily seek enablement and support from digital services. We need to have them on board to ensure that “user centricity” is built into the project.
If you have opponents or “disbelievers” in the stakeholder center, get them close to you. Give them a key role, a key stake and the opportunity to shine with the project. Thereby you turn them through pure opportunism…and it’s WIN/WIN.
Pursuing something that has an impact through work criticality will lead to politics. And politics. And politics. Be prepared and don’t expect “yes” to mean “yes” or “I am in” to stand for “I will throw all necessary resource at you”. The future Digital Workplace is cultural and corporate change…and it’s political.
The conversation cards & transcript
We’ve collected a lot of angles on stakeholder management. Below the little moderation wall you can find a (more or less) transcript from the cards collected during the sessions (5 groups attended, approx. 50 participants in total).
Like every year the international community around intranets and the Digital Workplace gathered in Berlin to share experience and seek inspiration for the next step. This year was dominated by down to earth steps towards the future of information work. Migration & consolidation are in third gear. Relevance, personalisation & decluttering are key drivers of today’s initiatives. Social is still there…but we have learned a lot. In particular that we have to listen, understand and resonate on what’s going on in this new sphere of communication & collaboration. Plus: we have seen the first set of KPI that go beyond media metrics (aka traffic & volume). Thank you @DennisAgusi…
Let me start with my final comment as the chairman of day 2
I am proud and humble to be part of a community that never searches the lime light. We meet at in Berlin to exchange, to share, to inspire each other and to learn. Over 200 people have one guiding principle: make the life of our colleagues, the consumers of intranets and the Digital Workplace easier. Provide relief to their daily challenges and deliver everything they need to do their job with less effort and more fun.
We don’t go on stage to brag. We go on stage to share success, failure, progress and challenges.
It’s an amazing attitude.
Taking a massive leap the pragmatic way
This year’s IntraNET.Reloaded was kicked of by from Swiss travel company Kuoni. In a bold move they have banned the classic concept of navigation and real estate from their internal channel. Built on Colygon’s MatchPoint/Snow collaboration platform Kuoni has taken branding to a new level: color brush up and a logo. The rest of the service provided to its users comes pretty much out of the box. In addition to the fact that the team was able to get the project through the door in an almost inhumane time frame the users seem to love it! With that move Kuoni has even succeeded in merging collaboration and communication in one environment – something that is part of the releases yet to come in many companies.
There is no navigation on #Kuoni workspace, users will have to use search – user driven !!!! #IntrelEU
Christophe RALITE (@CRALITE) from Nexans proudly reported on a big bang in which the organisation consolidated 85 intranets and various collaboration spaces into one SharePoint 2013 based first release on their journey to a full blown Digital Workplace.
Well, in all fairness: the big bang was more an experience for the users since they left the office shutting down the “old world” and were greeted by the “new world” the next day. Content and intranet owners had roughly 12 months to clean-up, de-rubbish and classify/tag their data before the migration.
Angela Rositter (@brightrossi) from Linklaters LLP provided an amazing insight into what it means to consolidate all internal channels and the (business critical) knowledge management into one central solution. I mean, is there another type of business that is more driven by secrecy, confidentiality and “closed shop” thinking than a law firm? However, the awareness that a key to future success and a growth in billable hours lies in the effective use of knowledge, experience and expertise was motivation enough to give it a change.
Intranet and digital veteran Angela passionately reported on her journey towards the new single source of truth for Linklater LLP’s lawyers around the world. On step being the consolidation of 145 top navigation items (crucial and must-have of course) into 5 pillars of content and substance.
Little Boxes & Content Marketing
“I want everything out possibly think of on one page surfaced in little boxes” was NEVER said by ANYONE – yup @everestk at #IntrelEU
Probably one of the most spot-on statements at this year’s IntraNET.Reloaded. Kathryn Everest (@everestk) from Jive complemented it with another very interesting angle: display advertising start losing ground to social and content marketing. Since our field has continuously been inspired by applications & performance in the internet we might want to pay attention to this development too. It might stand for the fact that contextual relevance and the monetisation of interaction and involvement are stronger than static content that keeps hammering onto the same target groups over and over again.
Governance. Governance. Governance.
The majority of the “challenge your peers” sessions seemed to hover around on of my favourite subjects. For the most attendants it has become crystal clear that continuity and consistency in user experience, content/document management and information architecture is an essential foundation for what we all ask for: de-clutter the internal channels!! Relevance and profile based information delivery is only possible if the ground work has been done and kept alive.
Awards for user focus, togetherness and relevance.
This year’s IntraNET.Reloaded awards (1st place) were given to KPN, Allianz Turkey and Roche.The fact that the user played a key role in all three solutions definitely was a driver for the votes.
What happens if you let a DATA SCIENTIST play the magic harp…
Dennis Agusi (@DennisAgusi) from Philips gave a 35 minute pitch for the beauty of data analytics for their intranet and social channel. I was and still am in awe. For the first time the crowd had the chance to look at KPI that went beyond classic traffic, volume and social interaction measures. In too many instances pride is taken in the thousands of participants and happiness is driven by thumbs up and sharing. Dennis gave an impressive example for what it means when you show publishers/authors deep insight on x-functional interaction or clear indicators on content quality and involvement.
What might have slipped one or the other attendant’s attention: Philips has unleashed this powerful steering tool based on a custom built application and has hired a data scientist (a SCIENTIST!!) to pull the right strings and make sense of big data.
The Young Generation and an HR Executive share the stage.
Ruggero Crameri (@RCrameri) from Swisscom told me in the briefing for the introduction that they had been asking themselves the same question for years: “We keep talking about the new generation and executive stakeholders, but why are they never on stage?” As a consequence and – real representatives of the future of our corporate talent – and Dr. Hans Werner, Yasmin Ogi and Melanie Willhelm entered the stage.
Yasmin made it clear to the audience that “closed shop thinking” and “secrecy” do not fit with the attitude of the new generation at the workplace. “We are a generation of openness and sharing. It’s not about individual knowledge, it’s about collective power.” set the stage what came next.
“we cannot evolve and we are constrained in companies that aren’t open” says Yasmin from @Swisscom at #IntrelEU
Swisscom is literally re-inventing itself. A self governing environment and a crowd driven optimisation of content, knowledge and results is the framework of the new digital way of working at Switzerland’s leading telco. Dr. Hans Werner openly shared his initial challenge with the subject that it hasn’t been always easy to follow the radical path the internal project team decided to walk. But in the end it has paid off and his passion for the subject was obvious in the way he talked about the results that the new way of working delivers to the company.
In order to make a point even applied for a new job at Swisscom: “This year I will end my apprenticeship – wouldn’t it make sense if you had a seat for the Young Generation in the board?”.
application of a youngster for a position in the executive board – in front of the #IntrelEU crowd. careful what you say now 😀 awesome 🙂
I am not sure if it’s better to run a World Café session with 5 groups or to be part of the attendants and experience more than one subject. Well, this year I had no choice and moderated my session around “Managing the Digital Workplace in a distributed organisation”. In order to spark conversation I provided three angles and their “hidden reality” to the subject to the participants: How to balance local, regional and global needs & how to deal with power that derives from a strong economical position of e.g. a division or geography and their access to budget or decision makers? How to balance common value vs. closeness to the business logic & how to avoid a scope and/or complexity that turns smart projects into multi year ordeals? How to get commitment, resource and budget from business stakeholders & how to we make sure that the commitment doesn’t disappear with the next round of rough times ahead? The final result of 5 rounds of conversation and sharing looked like this…
My personal favourites of sharing and input were…
If you want to balance needs you need to listen. A lot. Again. Again & again.
Asking for budget from a weak position in order to actually improve the position can be tricky…kind of a catch 22.
Allow yourself to build islands, if you have a solid concept on how to connect them later
Ask why five times. Then you really know what the requirement is about.
Common Value vs. Business Logic
It’s not that easy to evaluate potential of something that wasn’t used before…or hasn’t even existed before.
Build the case on the fact that “WE believe” (the strong coalition) not a single opinion or believe.
If you start to think like entrepreneurs you have a good chance to come up with solid arguments.
It’s now always easy to pass the “front desk” or the “blockers” if you want to get access to the actual decision makers (aka the executive floor)
PowerPoint won’t get you cash. You need a proof for what you pitch.
Trust is key.
You might want to turn “blockers” into active or even leading parts of your initiative in order to suppress and neutralise their negative influence.
Find the right moment and tone to “pop the question”.
In addition to the conversation around the three angles all groups elaborated on the fact that it’s not the executive floor or the work force that prove to be challenging in change situations. It’s the middle management that is lead and therefore manages via Excel files. What is preached and asked for from the top doesn’t find it’s way into the objectives of the ones that have to carry the responsibility and help people through this process. That managers then are hesitant is more than natural.
So far so good.
Oh, by the way: my 30 mins on stage in slides and as a little sketching video (thanks WE CONECT!!)
Summary: I’ve spent the last 1.5 days with Digital Workplace practitioners and thought leaders discussing the connected enterprise and social media inspired ways of working. Once again I have left the venue inspired and with a lot of food for thought. However, I have to admit that there is a struggle with the transition to the next phase. Various conversations at the conference have confirmed this impression. We have definitely left the age of “technology driven” change (was there one…like ever?). Now we seem to be stuck in the phase of “awareness for the real drivers” of management buy-in, business value and strong business logic integration. Don’t get me wrong: there is momentum and the whole things feels like getting out of a really really tight jumper…you’re just waiting to finally pull it over your head and go: YEAH! AIR TO BREATHE!
My last two days were full of inspiration. A lot of it. In addition to the joy of listening to another of Jane McConnel’s (@netjmc) inspirational talks and her insight from her Digital Workplace research I finally had the honour of listening to one of Dion Hinchcliff’s (@dhinchcliffe) keynote. The two field (knowledge) heavy weights were complemented by practice and vendor presentations. Bayer Material Science’s CIO Laurie Miller’s (@lauriemiller44) presentation definitely stood out and her angle on connected experts has provided a new and strong value proposition to me that will come in handy in future conversations.
So let me start with this new value proposition as one of my key take aways:
The Personal Brand. Inside an Organization. Built on Expertise & Experience.
This one has struck me in a way that it’s quite annoying because it’s so obvious. Any industry that is in its core driven by IP (intellectual property) lives (sometimes even exclusively) of its talent. Looking back into my past in advertising in marketing I remember that client’s moved with their creative counterparts from agency to agency. About professional service firms (aka consultancies) we say that it’s “people business”. If expertise counts you don’t hire the firm, you hire (or rather borrow) the person and you will move the firm if the person moves, too From a corporate HR angle I really agree to the statement that “you don’t leave companies, you leave managers” – and they become known if it starts being a trend.
Athletes are brands due to their physical capabilities and performance. From a recent conversation I know that those brands are worth billions and nurture entire industries.
With the introduction of “social” to the mechanics of communication, collaboration & information flow within organizations we have changed the perspective from “outside” to “inside”. From a branding perspective we could – or actually should! – do the same thing when it comes to people brands.
As much as I believe that companies should measure collaborative success and joint value creation I also think (since today) that it would make sense to lead people towards creating their personal brand. Leading in terms of creating awareness, enablement and formal measurement, if we want to put the real beef to the bone.
If companies and their people managers are able to drive the profiling of high performers or subject matter wizards, we solve so many issues at the same time:
Capturing of intellectual assets and exposure to the organisation
Refinement and sharpening of people profiles as the foundation for relevance based delivery of information & communication
Improved retrieval of expert profiles (automated or manually)
My journey to find stakeholders and ambassadors for the “personal branding” business case starts today!
Social vs. Enterprise Collaboration
To be honest: I haven’t put much thought towards trying to actually separate the two. My strong belief is, that the fundamental business case (the organisational one) lies in the enablement of individuals and teams to successfully execute on core business processes and navigate through the company’s business logic. Well… with reference to the above I actually see the case for Social Collaboration as a separate thing. It derives from Enterprise Collaboration (EC) and is some kind of “spin off”. However, it’s not a layer but rather the glue between the protagonists of EC (and I am explicitly not calling it “foam” for the ones that were in Paris…).
Social Collaboration (SC) is a subject that has to be handled carefully because it’s not the free pass for the corporate Facebook (I’m not too keen to see it “at work” by the way) or the “social context will connect the dots” wild card. It will be the real art to make SC less “business” and more “people” but still have it sit on the same strong foundation (aka IA/taxonomy) and have a strong connection to the EC side of things in order to use assets that derive from SC in the context of the core business logic with ease (aka without media or UX break). Furthermore it has to be ensured that actual assets (e.g. documents) aren’t suddenly stored all over the place. This thought is definitely inspired by the slide @lauriemiller44 put up but maybe not 100% in-line with the content…
Anyway, this angle is food for thought for me…and I wanted to share it even though I haven’t digested it completely. Maybe someone else has something to share here as well.
Collaboration needs a meaning
@dhinchcliffe’s keynote was really inspiring and I could see so many things in there that I have stumbled across myself. What stood out for me was his recommendation to connect initiatives to business functions that can find value in the new ways of working quickly. (Right side of the following slide)
Essentially because the new opportunities that social and enterprise collaboration provide suddenly enable us to capture and enable things digitally that so far only existed outside of office, ERP and BPM.
To some extend this goes hand in hand with the search for purpose when it comes to “less formal” collaboration in the virtual space. @Judith_Will from BNP/Paribas Cardiff already said it in Berlin in 2014 at the INTRAnet.Reloaded conference: “What’s the project of your community?” I share her opinion that collaboration just for the collaboration’s sake doesn’t have much future in organisations that want to see some beef to the bone and ROI on their business productivity investments.
Another slide that Dion put up showed the potential evolution of collaboration (services) along the people or protagonist perspective:
It reminded me of one of my core (evangelizing) messages of the past few years. Because I believe that a lot of companies have jumped the stage of enabling “people with shared goals” in their approach towards the new ways of working. Inspired by impact and performance of Social Media in the outside world a lot of companies kicked of their enterprise 2.0 endeavors by connecting “people with shared interest & passion”.
That “interest & passion” however, weren’t the primary drivers for the majority’s work day was kind of forgotten in the process. I believe that this has been one of the reasons that enterprise 2.0 or social business initiatives haven’t delivered the substance in business impact.
A more general reflection on the content
Common denominators of almost all presentations – practitioner’s as well as vendor’s – were the following subjects:
Without executive buy-in enterprise 2.0 will be going nowhere.
We need change agents and ambassadors to drive and implement change.
Enterprise 2.0 isn’t a technology discussion. (Uhm…reality check: yes it is. In the end it always is. We just have to make sure that we have clarified the “why” and “what” before the CTO lets the “how” out of the box…pun intended).
We need to nurture conversation and exchange across silos and we need to break up closed space thinking.
So this leaves me with a major question:
What is preventing the actual digital transformation?
It was @dhinchcliffe again who might have put one essential piece to the puzzle on the screen: the transformation of business functions (and their processes) processes is essential in the enablement of the connected enterprises we’re so desperately seeking for.
A lot of the guidance is more or less “disruptive” to the old world. It could definitely create tension, competition and awareness for change. So my question is: who is the actual stakeholder group that we have to form a coalition with in order to drive the internal transformation and introduce disruption to what we know as “established and working”?
So I am closing this article with a simple proposal:
With social collaboration and enterprise 2.0 initiatives we intend to nurture the corporate dialogue and connect experts and expertise more effectively. Let’s find a way to get the stakeholders of the actual digital transformation into a conversation to speed up the process until the next conference…
On September 29/30 I’ve attended the Social Business Collaboration conference in Berlin. I believe it’s one of the best gatherings of the intl. and European advanced intranet and digital workplace community. It was a pleasure to meet so many friends and new folks that shared valuable insight and learning from the past year in the field. The level of honesty and candid talking is so impressive. I can only recommend to join that community if you want to meet people that share your challenges and might be able to (in the culture of social collaboration) develop ideas together.
I really like the outcome since it shows how many complex challenges we will have to solve to really unleash the power of Digital Workplaces. What we all believe in and what we all hope for in the future will require more than an activity feed and a “I like” function. New communications concepts of interfaces with users, senders that care for their recipients and a new awareness for self responsibility on the recipient side will be essential for the success.
Even though some might be a little put off by the substantial requirements I am actually even more excited. We are facing a great change in communication, collaboration and eventually corporate culture. We all we be part of it. That’s awesome!!
Here is the moderation board of my session as a little teaser…