0 comments on “My interview with WYZE on “the state of digitalisation projects” (German/English)”

My interview with WYZE on “the state of digitalisation projects” (German/English)

WYZE Projects* recently conducted an interview with me to discuss my personal view on the current state of digitalisation projects. We talked about

  • The reason, why some digitalisation initiatives struggle to keep traction
  • The difference of digitalisation to classic business process initiatives
  • Where to find “digital leadership” within organisations

The interview was conducted in German. Click here for the German (native) and English (translation) version of the interview.


* WYZE is a consultancy for for particularly demanding and knowledge-intensive topics in the fields of transformation, change, positioning, and marketing. 

0 comments on “The best reward for 2.5 intense days…”

The best reward for 2.5 intense days…

One year in the business of being a freelance coach, it’s about time that I provide some insight into my actual work as well. So for a start I am sharing the “cloud of emotions” after 2.5 days of intense workshops with over 20 people…

Frankly, there isn’t a better reward than positivity.

A little case study on this will follow quite soon. So stay tuned…

0 comments on “Lessons in training yourself to observe how other people feel”

Lessons in training yourself to observe how other people feel

As a coach my goal is to work not just for but with people. A genuine interest in the emotional state of others is an essential part of what I do. To sharpen my empathy radar and to improve my ability to observe how others feel in a particular situation, I’ve started my journey into mimic resonance training (in German Mimikresonanz).

Identifying an emotion in someone’s face should not be confused with mind reading, trickery or lie detection. The TV series “Lie to Me”, while highly entertaining to watch if you’ve started to train Facial Action Coding yourself, has undoubtedly contributed to some such confusion on the subject.

The deeper purpose of mimic resonance as a methodology for acting on empathy however, goes way beyond unveiling a lie.

Communication for the benefit of the relationship

In business – and undoubtedly in private lives – communication is too often a one way street, the sending of a message. But if the effectiveness of communication is your objective, simply “getting it out there” isn’t enough. How a message is perceived, what recipients have understood and how the words resonate with the audience are key to ensuring a communication goal is really achieved.

The ambition to formulate a message with little room for interpretation is certainly a good start.  Conveying a message face to face theoretically allows us to actually see how the content resonates with the other person.

In the age of digital communications, the face to face option is often missing, leaving our empathy radar more or less blind. Maybe in the future we’ll be able to develop a way to create feedback loops for the digital world – perhaps with emoticons.  But for the moment, this form of improving communication and ultimately relationships rests firmly on the premise that we do not replace personal interactions completely with digital ones but rather the two complement each other.

Sharpening the radar for visual feedback, before taking action

I’m thoroughly convinced that it’s essential to remove guessing games from interpersonal communication and to do whatever we can to sharpen our observations of non verbal feedback in any face to face situation.

Mimic is built into us as humans. It’s there from birth and it is scientifically proven that expressions in our mimic are universal across all cultures. It’s a truly reliable indicator for our emotional state as human beings.

But the real challenge is in learning to resonate on what you observe in someones mimic. As opposed to the “mind reading” (I know what you’re thinking) angle, observing a particular mimic, identifying it, and matching it to the respective emotion is essential.  But questioning that emotion, its origin and cause is paramount to real understanding. Any sort of unfounded interpretation can easily lead you down the wrong path.

Remove obstacles in times of change

The training I’ve started will improve my ability to observe what’s happening right before my eyes and how to react to it. My goal is to sharpen my sense of people’s emotions and my skills to find the right words for the situation at hand.

  • Equipped with that, I will be even better positioned to help companies answer key questions in change and digital transformation scenarios:
  • Have people understood the WHY to our journey ahead?
  • How do people feel about the changes affecting themselves and their teams?
  • Are our teams confident and committed to their role in the process?
  • Is our leadership model authentic and does it resonate with the organisation?
  • Will our work deliver value for the people, employees and customers alike?
0 comments on “My predictions for 2017 (*wink)”

My predictions for 2017 (*wink)

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

So here we go with my 5 best shots:

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


Merry Xmas. Happy New Year. Make life count.


0 comments on “IntraNET Reloaded 2016 – My key take away & the summary of my World Cafe session”

IntraNET Reloaded 2016 – My key take away & the summary of my World Cafe session

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

  1. My key take away from the two days of sharing and exchange
  2. 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.

The Cloud…

…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”.

They used the reference of living in a “smart city” when it comes to using a Digital Workplace (which kind of reminded my of my 2015 analogy to “City Planning” (at the end of the post)).

Holcim Lafarge pointed out how a merger could drive the need behind a new Digital Workplace.

KBC’s Geert Vandezande from Belgium gave an impressive presentation on how to establish awareness for change, implement the right alliances and use the power of the crowd to implement it.

Work Out Loud

@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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 21.24.06

0 comments on “DesireIT is now “The Digital Sherpa” #TheDigitalSherpa”

DesireIT is now “The Digital Sherpa” #TheDigitalSherpa

It’s about time that my own digital footprint reflects my personal evolution.

I started blogging when I was still with Tieto, a large IT services company. There I learned that the key to successful IT projects is end user adoption. Since I am specialised in dealing with the digital transformation of information and knowledge work it was even that users had to “desire” the new service to really buy into it and change behaviour.

For over 8 years I am now in the field of the Digital Workplace. For 3 years I have worked with Infocentric and had the pleasure to work with clients in various industries and functions.

During all that time I have evolved a lot myself. I have learned so much with each single workshop, conversation and delivery. This has motivated me to give a presentation to my fellow colleagues on what companies like Infocentric should be to their clients.

Since I truly believe what I said I decided to adopt the metaphor and change the name of my blog. I move from DesireIT – the blog around about end user adoption, user centricity, change management and enterprise 2.0 – to The Digital Sherpa

I use the metaphor of “sherpa” because looking at what I do day in and day out is more or less is in-line what this tribe does to get their protégés up the Himalaya in one piece:

  • I help to plan the trip ahead because I have learned about many pitfalls and I can call myself an expert from practice.
  • I will carry only what my clients cannot carry themselves. I have learned to listen and learn about the maturity of organisations and individuals in order to only provide the support that adds value.
  • I make my knowledge theirs. I don’t believe in dependencies. I believe that the best way to create a long term and valuable relationship is built as a two way street. I am allowed to learn and to evolve so it’s the right of my client to be empowered to do things without me later, too.
  • I am there when direction is needed. I’ve gathered knowledge over my own journey through the subject in various industries. So I can show the options when it comes to crossroads…options with their benefits, consequences and pre-conditions.

So…Digital Sherpa it is from now on. I have to admit that I even feel a bit inspired by the Agile Elephant from the UK. Probably the best company name I have ever come across in my entire working career.

0 comments on “Wrapping up 2014; no #predictions from my side, just sharing some #learning & #insight; #enterprise20 #e20 #socbiz”

Wrapping up 2014; no #predictions from my side, just sharing some #learning & #insight; #enterprise20 #e20 #socbiz

Another year has passed and it’s been an exciting one – what else. It would be weird to say that nothing has happened and that it has been rather dull. If nothing had happened on the professional front I could at least have reported that I have given up my Munich home base after 39 years to relocate to Switzerland.

But of course stuff has happened…

Over the past 12 months I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people from various functions, industries, countries and age groups. In pure figures it looks a little like this:

My 2014 Year in Pictures

My key learning from all the conversations, thought exchange and conceptual work in a nut shell.

1. Awareness for business productivity & effectiveness

Intranet and Digital Workspace are finally on their way (not there yet though) to be as important to companies as the digital tools connected to their actual business logic. The times where only ERP, CRM & Co. get executive attention seem to be over. Business productivity and effectiveness have moved much higher on the leadership and management agenda. However, the level of investment (aka long term commitment) in information and knowledge work isn’t yet matching the one for enforcing, standardising and improving process & task based work. It’s definitely on the right way but it’s still easier to bump the 120 Million to 135 for an SAP installation than to get 200 grand for a fully functioning prototype of an application that will affect people’s work every single day.

2. IT departments have acquired new terminology

For years IT and management publications have been writing about the re-positioning of the IT departments. It had been predicted that IT will move much closer to the business side of things and argue their value through contribution instead of cost reduction. In many instances I have experienced customer and user centric thinking, which had not just been fluffy marketing talk. The awareness that functionality and up-time don’t really cut it anymore is definitely there. A lot of IT managers have changed from “here is it all, pick what you want” to “we can do almost anything if you let us explicitly know what you are trying to achieve with what you’re asking from us”. Requirements engineering isn’t “feature evaluation” anymore. It’s become the “seeking to understand before seeking to be understood” in business IT.

3. The internal Facebook isn’t the strongest competitor to e-mail anymore

Not ONE single client I have worked for had the “social intranet” vision anymore. It’s now about stealing with pride from all the successful services in the commercial world. The “conversation stream” has moved into the 2nd row on a lot of concept designs appreciated by business stakeholders.

The strongest competitor to e-mail is now a comprehensive and coherent concept for sending and receiving information. It’s less about “connecting the organisation” than about “enabling the individual to keep track of importance, urgency and interdependence”.

Concepts for notification, indication & orientation are becoming more and more important in order to make sure that users will find their way through the increasing jungle of communication & data.

4. The “enabling” intranet seems to be the one that might turn it into something work critical

When I am asked what my vision is for the future of intranets and the Digital Workplace my answer is usually:

The modern intranet or Digital Workplace has to be something that is work critical. It has to cause turmoil if you turn it off. It has to enable individuals to do their job with substantially less effort in order to unleash their potential for collaborative contribution. The modern intranet will make it easy to navigate through the continuously increasing complexity of today’s organisations. It will help people to overcome functional, geographical and hierarchical borders. It will create clarity, comfort and confidence for the every day work and become a motivating factor. It will be valuable.

“Enabling” people to do their job in confidence is an essential part of that vision. Have everything at hand that is required to create a proper foundation for individual success will be an important corner stone for collaborative contribution to corporate progress.

5. If you’re looking for the right anchor for the Digital Workplace…look out for a Lean Management initiative

One of my clients has directly connected the Digital Workplace with an initiative to introduce “Lean” to their organisation (aka continuous streamlining by everyone being in charge to identify areas for improvement). Another business contact has managed to connect the Digital Workplace to tightly to their business logic that parts of the business won’t be able to operate during a down time. I personally think that “Lean” is the right place for modern intranets and Digital Workplaces. It bridges individual enablement and collaborative exchange. It nurtures “us” thinking and creates awareness for the value that everyone can generate by just going through the work day with open eyes. The Digital Workplace can be the channel to collect, distribute, refine and implement everything that is required to be more “Lean”. I like the idea and I will pursue this more explicitly in 2015.

Now I am really curious what 2015 will bring…

Everybody take cover! Here’s an ad:

Even though I might be annoying my followers I would like to use this opportunity to (again) advertise the Digital Workplace Gold Dust white paper in which I have shared a lot of my insight an learning of the past years. If you can be dared please visit my employer’s website and request your personal copy…and sorry again…

Digital Workplace Gold Dust

0 comments on “My #summary of the IntraNET.Reloaded World Café on “Sending and Receiving” #intrel14 #socialbusiness #e20 #enterprise20”

My #summary of the IntraNET.Reloaded World Café on “Sending and Receiving” #intrel14 #socialbusiness #e20 #enterprise20

As promised in my previous post I’ve now finished my summary of the World Café Session at the 2014 IntraNET.Reloaded on the subject of “Sending & Receiving as key pillars of success in modern intranets and Digital Workplaces”. You can find my post here on the Infocentric corporate blog.

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…


0 comments on “My #summary of IntraNET.Reloaded 2014 #intrel14 (Berlin, April 10/11)”

My #summary of IntraNET.Reloaded 2014 #intrel14 (Berlin, April 10/11)

The annual get together of the European intranet and Digital community in 2014 was amazing! The energy level never dropped over 2 days – not even after lunch or after almost 10 hours of content and conversation. It was the year of the “Reality Check”. Vision and aspiration were replaced by practice sharing and insights from the first steps in social intranet, digital workplace and digital transformation initiatives.

Visual Minutes of my Presentation at IntraNET.Reloaded 2014
Summary of my presentation at the conference…

I have posted my summary of the conference to our corporate blog at Infocentric.ch here. Since I was told that Google doesn’t appreciate duplicate content across multiple sites I will not repeat it here. I hope my followers understand. It’s a “safe” click…you don’t have to expect a sales pitch or continuous rampage on how this all connects to everything Infocentric does. That would defeat the purpose of my blogging efforts.

Enjoy the read!

My Summary of the 2014 IntraNET.Reloaded (Berlin, April 10/11) – The Year of the Reality Check” on Infocentric.ch

If you’re interested in my presentation at the conference, here are the slides:

0 comments on “personal thoughts on HBR’s “Best Workplace on Earth” http://goo.gl/XJHNR; #hbr #pragmatism #realism”

personal thoughts on HBR’s “Best Workplace on Earth” http://goo.gl/XJHNR; #hbr #pragmatism #realism

HBR’s Article “Creating the Best Workplace on Earth” by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones (http://goo.gl/XJHNR) has been trending in my Twitter network over the past couple of days. Today I took myself the time to read it and I somehow feel like “I have to say something”. Since I am not smart enough to do that in 140 characters I’ve decided to dedicate a blog post to it – and feature it through channel 140…

The article itself is referring to common sense quite a lot. However, I am asking myself how much common sense today’s combination of economy and society actually allows. There are a lot of good examples of large organisations that have fundamentally changed how things go and people are treated. Nevertheless the majority of our economy is driven by the root of all evil:

Shareholder Value

Were it human shareholders that would have a substantial interest in securing long term stability and profit for companies we would be better off than we are today. Too much corporate value is owned by virtual constructs in which the actual human factor of value contribution and the awareness of “it’s a company, not a sponge” simply get’s lost. Increasing personal wealth by outsourcing the nasty work to the stock market mechanism is simply not a good foundation for sustainable thinking on the other end of the food chain.

It’s an easy thing to say that we should provide authenticity, sense, transparency and freedom.

I’ve learned myself over the past 10 years that it’s not that easy. Due to the abstraction of steering mechanisms the amount if Excel-based steering increases the higher in the hierarchy you get (yes, yes…flat hierarchies…I know). That fades away as soon as you enter the C-suite. So for them it’s easy to preach forward looking thinking. At the end of the day it’s the middle management that “screws up”. They are the ones (like the stock market mechanisms) that have to do the “dirty work”. Because even the most forward looking company has to achieve the goals committed to in the latest quarterly forecast (or crystal ball report as I love to call it).

If we don’t want the good examples to be rare and outstanding – which they can only be if it’s different enough from the common world – we have to substantially change the way our economy works… It’s a little bit like the criticism of today’s food industry (seriously…the words don’t even go together). As long as everyone in the first world is expecting cheap meat (or any kind of food) on the table every single day, independent from season or geography, we’re just begging for scandals and things we didn’t want to find on our plates…

But maybe that’s as naive as asking for a replacement of corporate social media policies by five simple demands:

Social Media Demandments