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.

Mobility…

…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.

IMG_1675 

My Summary of the World Café on “Value Propositions”

worldcafeintro

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

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…):

AIDA

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!

 

The New Executive Value Proposition of the Digital Workplace after the Hype

Summary: Reflecting on my latest mandates and conversations I can definitely confirm that the winds in the field of Digital Workplace have changed. The subject seems to have left the hype curve. I believe we’ve even left the valley of disillusionment. When approaching the executive board, team efficiency and search time per employee don’t cut it anymore. Now effectiveness is the real deal. Enabling growth, competitive advantage and dominance in the war for talent is what budget owners resonate to. This blog post is about the new executive value proposition and how to build the right alliances to formulate and drive it.

Moving on from inflated expectations and disillusionment

Just recently I had an interesting conversation with a fellow strategy consultant. We talked about our experience in the field of the inside facing digital channels (my new favourite expression for the Digital Workplace by the way). In order to compare our point of view we used the model of the Gartner Hype Cycle to visualise our understanding. Here’s my take:

IMG_0422

(Based on the Gartner Hype Cycle Research Methodology)

I strongly believe that we are now in the Age of Effectiveness. The time where initiative owners and project managers could convince their stakeholders based on social media metrics (number of blogs, posts, likes & comments) are kind of over. I have been in workshops myself where various user groups wished for “less social” and “more relevance” on the homepage of (really!) modern intranets.

In my last 10 initiatives we had to prepare a pitch to the board room at some point. In one of my first assignments I learned the hard way that an Executive Summary looks more or less like this…and if you don’t have the content available you won’t make it very far.

WHAT are you proposing WHY, based on which factual knowledge? What’s the expected BENEFIT and what are the consequences of doing nothing and what are the consequences of doing what you are suggesting?

What are you submitting for approval?

Come straight to the point. A telco once told me about their 45 min meeting principle: if you don’t make it in 45 min you’ll never make it. Essentially this is the key guideline for executive proposals: after the 4th bullet they will lose interest… I am not kidding you.

What is the proposal trying to address?

Excuse my French, but don’t try to bullshit yourself through this one. Don’t make stuff up – they will see through you. Don’t throw “research” at them – they know that each company has it’s very own DNA. Don’t go with “<add major consultancy> says that <add your industry> has to <add action here>” – that will only work in pitches and motivation talks. Have your homework done. Have your insight on the actual reference points and needs within the organisation. Have back-up through at least 3 names that mean something to them where you can say “I checked with Steve…and he agrees with <add challenge here>”.

What happens if we don’t do anything?

YOU might think that your proposal is “the next big thing”. Even if you feel like the saviour of mankind have your honest “we will survive even without it…maybe not as comfortable, but we will” in place. Again: don’t make up some weird threat to the company’s existence. Chances are that the folks you are presenting to have that covered already. They didn’t make it up there because they just knew someone. Probably the best advice is: be honest and realistic.

What will the benefit look like?

Efficiency? Simply: don’t. Employee satisfaction? Nah. Improved teamwork? Nup. Transparency and seamless information flow? Meeeep.

Don’t get blinded by executive motivation speeches and quarterly leader talk. If you pick up on their motivational and leadership messaging you will crash and burn. Not because they are mean but because it’s not in their KPI. That’s not what executive goals look like when they lead the business into a prospering future. This might sound harsh and very blunt but for the majority of organisations this is still true.

CAPEX savings and benefit. OPEX savings and effectiveness. Growth. Competitive advantage. Magic words to the executive ears.

Doing things right the first time…

That’s a quote of a regional president of a global industrial manufacturing corporation. His essence to argue for a Digital Workplace initiative.

You probably won’t need the actual Excel because it’s unlikely that you get access to the figures that you need to prove the need for change. But if you are able to NAME the right KPI and show how you have identified them and who backs up their relevance you are almost there…

Essentially: show the executives how you can make their life a whole lot easier in achieving their KPI through a well oiled and goal focussed organisation. Tell them what you can provide so that their “resource” can focus on the essentials and not constantly fight an uphill battle.

What’s the risk the executives will take if they follow your proposal?

Again: the guys are up there for a reason. If you go all “pink roses” you’ll get some chuckle and a wink. At the end of the day this your key test. If your proposal is good enough, if it’s worth taking some (or even big) risk, you’ll be in for good. Stable. With a budget. No matter what the quarterly results will do to other projects!

The importance of alliances

Honesty and substance require alliances. Find the right people to…

  • show you which buttons to press to get listened to (requires knowledge)
  • back you up when you make bold statements (requires loyalty)
  • lobby your proposal before you go through the gate of fire (requires experience)
  • keep your friends close and your enemies closer (requires empathy)
  • take risks in delivering proofs of concept and pilots (requires guts)

I get often asked about “change management”, which in too many cases gets mixed up with introductory campaigns, fancy intranet names and leader talk.

Change Management starts with day 1 in the initiative. It starts by really WANTING to understand the people you work for and with. It requires to answer the question of “what’s in for me” not just for the user base but for middle management and executives.

You won’t get anything to the “adoption” state if you’re not able to make some people look very very good in front of their superiors. A lot of modern leadership evangelists might say that that’s a bad thing. However, if you think win/win and “nobody lose”, it’s not such a bad thing. Everyone deserves a little lime light and a pat on the back along the way, no?

 

Enjoy the ride. It’s become more challenging…but it’s become way more fun at the same time if you’re in for the long run!

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.

Social Business Collaboration 2015 (Berlin): the summary of my World Café Session on “Stakeholder Management”.

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:

Stakeholder Map

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).

World Cafe Wall

A little transcript of the World Cafe Wall

World Cafe Transcript

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…

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The Digital Workplace. Essential for digital business transformation & employee satisfaction.

When I started working in the field, Digital Natives and Social Media were the key drivers for a lot of companies. Resonating on my most recent conversation I came to realise that things have changed. Organisations feel that current and upcoming business challenges require fixes in today’s productivity support. Retaining talent and unleashing their potential isn’t achieved through Social Collaboration alone. The entire subject has finally reached the hallway towards the board room. For good.

It has been a while since I found enough food for a publication. This article is inspired by three sources:

Key take away in this article

  • Digital Business Agility requires the Digital Workplace – my thoughts on what enablement of individual and organisational instances means to hyperawareness, informed decision making and fast execution.
  • Employee Engagement is what changes corporate culture – an extension to a beautiful model that could allow us to manage expectations better and make potential and success measurement more accurate.
  • DWP has to become the ERP for information & knowledge work – my proclamation that enterprise resource PERFORMANCE will get us on the CEO agenda for good.

Digital Business Agility requires the Digital Workplace

Michael Wide defines Digital Transformation as follows: “Digital Business Transformation is Organisational Change through the use of Digital Technologies and Business Models to Improve Performance.” If you carefully look at the statement it allows the interpretation that organisational change is driven by technology. I am pretty sure though that it’s now what he is trying to say. Over the past years – and through countless “here’s a new productivity platform, it can do everything, be happy!” project failures – we have learned: people need guidance. They need to understand why things are changing and what their stake and role is in this new world. No matter how close we move business IT to commercial services and what people love on their tablet at home, adoption isn’t something that comes for free. By the way: it doesn’t come for free for the big internet players either. They invest billions in software development, user research and experience design… The majority of companies however still start to hyperventilate if a Digital Workplace project asks for 5 millions over 3 years. ERP projects for 120 million are fine though.

Michael also introduces the model of Digital Business Agility in his framework:

Digital Business Agility (IMD, Michael Wade)

Source: Figure 3 in “Digital Business Transformation – a Conceptual Framework” (IMD, Michael Wade, June 2015) Connecting the three fields of Digital Business Agility to the concept of the Digital Workplace my take is the following:

Hyperawareness

This is probably the strongest case for two aspects of the Digital Workplace:

  • Integration with the outside facing channels & social media
  • Corporate Social Networking

The fact that it is become more and more business (and success) critical to stay on top of market, customers & competitors requires scalability. Collecting information, enriching it from multiple angles and making it available to the right stakeholders at the right time is a foundation of the internal enablement of hyperawareness. The Digital Workplace has to close the gap between the “outside” world and the internal information flow. Hyperawareness is not just about speed though. It is about “making sense” as well. Just being aware of something doesn’t help if consequences and options aren’t clear. A Digital Workplace has to provide the mechanics to classify information in a meaningful way and provide the right internal context. The delivery has either to follow urgency/importance rules or be driven by relevance, which requires a clear profiling of individuals and organisational instances.

Informed Decision Making

Michael already makes hyperawareness and connectedness corner stones of informed decision making. The Digital Workplace has to facilitate the process and allow companies to stay able to take decisions even in the scenarios of

  • geographical distribution of key decision makers
  • continuous organisational change (e.g. consolidation or M&A)
  • distribution of essential knowledge across hierarchical levels

The Digital Workplace won’t solve any of the scenarios though. All it can do is to enable people to stay on top of things no matter what the surrounding conditions are. At this point I would like to emphasise that leading informed decision making in dynamic business environments will become a key skill of leaders and managers. Companies have to stop procrastinating. In too many instances I have witnessed the “the next one in my position can take the decision” syndrome. This isn’t helping though because the third element in Wade’s model is:

Fast Execution

Today’s knowledge is tomorrow’s old news. We live in a time where a multi-day turnaround of customer requests, no matter if B2C or B2B, isn’t sustainable. Speed matters. It is driven by a new level of market transparency and the globalisation of markets. Customer’s aren’t bound to their local environment anymore. Today’s world offers a global market for goods and services – and jobs. If Fast Execution cannot be argued through customer value (even though it should) it can definitely be argued through employee satisfaction and eventually retention. Talking to business stakeholders and employees the main complaint is: speed of change. A lot of talk. No walk. Visions of a bright future and great opportunities have lost their leverage to keep people on board. In this context a little wake up call for change makers: talent and high performers are the first ones to leave after badly managed change, because they can. They will find and pursue other opportunities. One character trait of the new generation at the workplace is “mobility” – geographical and employment related. In an age where communication across the globe is better than before and hire-to-retire isn’t an option for the most, talent retention becomes a completely different ball game. This leads me to the second external source of inspiration:

Steve Smith’s article on “How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs influences Employee Engagement”.

You can find the full article here. I’ve stolen the key image though, to have the reference point to my next thought right here: Hierarchy of Needs influences Employee Engagement

Source: Steve Smith’s LinkedIn article on how to apply the Maslow pyramid to Employee Engagement I adore how Steve has put the different levels of employee engagement in the context of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs concept*. It allows a differentiated point of view on the potential audience of a Digital Workplace. This differentiation is essential for two main factors:

  • expectation management on leadership and management level
  • potential & success evaluation

Expectation Management

We have to make sure that executives and managers realise that the only way to unleash the intellectual power of an organisation is to engage with it. Engagement however can mean different things:

  • create the right environment for people to engage or achieve self actualisation
  • go ahead and be a role model; don’t expect bottom up change management for corporate culture
  • engage with the engaged and give them a voice and visibility so they can reach the level of self actualisation through impact
  • None of this can be delivered by a Digital Workplace but it can make all three hell of a lot easier and pleasant.

Potential & Success Evaluation

One of my key questions around a new service on the roadmap for a Digital Workplace is “What’s the expected impact? How big is the audience and – independent of its size – what’s its foot print in the company?”. It’s a false promise to believe that you can reach everyone. It’s a much better aspiration to only reach a few but make it really matter. Then success measurement will happen on a different scale as well. “Volume” (my most hated KPI in internal DWP measurement) suddenly has to be replaced by “impact”. It doesn’t matter anymore how many people join a community, how many likes a document has or how many shares a profile got. The substance deriving from the community and the effect of all the likes and shares will be way more important. This means that you can happily rely on the distribution Steve’s pyramid implies. If the upper two segments really kick it then you’re all good… Maybe one additional aspect: success measurement could go as far as measuring “transition” within the pyramid. Maybe moving people up the pyramid could turn into a nice management goal, couldn’t it?

Conclusion: The DWP has to become the EPR for knowledge and information work

If Digital Business Agility can be substantially enabled by the right services delivered by a Digital Workplace, if Employee Engagement can be facilitated by the right opportunities to express, connect and deliver impact of knowledge…where should we take it? I believe we should take it to the next level. Today, in August 2015, ERP projects to optimise process flow and standardisation in work execution still (and sadly) trump business productivity and communication projects. One reason might be the wrong way of putting it on the executive agenda. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. If we give the acronym a new twist and turn it into

Enterprise Resource PERFORMANCE

then we might be able to move up a notch on the CEO’s agenda. I’ve learned (the very very hard way) that EFFICIENCY doesn’t matter to most (not all though!!) decision makers. EFFECTIVENESS – the ability to grow without hiring – seems to be a much stronger argument.

  • Do things right the first time (aka re-use)
  • Utilise resource to the max and avoid “down time” (aka avoid admin overload)
  • Use resource where it work’s best (aka talent management)
  • Combine resource for economy of scale (aka connectedness)

I believe this is the new way to go:

Effectiveness – Performance – Growth

Let’s go…the board room awaits us!


(*) I felt the need to slightly disagree with the “I’ll leave if something much better comes a long” bullet of the engaged cluster. Gallup puts engagement before satisfaction as a key driver for employee performance and retention. So I didn’t believe initially that engaged people will leave that easily, not even for a “much” better opportunity. It would not resonate with the characteristic of people that consider themselves “vital to the business”. If you are really vital and then jump ship you might end up losing your face, which would get known beyond company borders. Then I looked at myself and my past business moves and I realised: engaged people do jump ship. Cautiously, but they do jump eventually.

We did it again! IntraNET.Reloaded 2015. 2 days full of inspiration, exchange & insight #intrelEU #digitalworkplace #intranet

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.

Big. Bang.

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.

Law unleashed.

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

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.

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?”.

Power. Scope. Politics.

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…

 

IMG_0424

My personal favourites of sharing and input were…

Balancing Needs

  • 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.

Commitment

  • 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!!)

The slides…

 

Now it’s another 6 months until I will attend the Social Business Collaboration…and I cannot wait to see what the folks that deliver the substance of that conference will bring to the table.

My digest of the Enterprise 2.0 Summit, Paris (February 2015) #e20s #enterprise20 #socbiz #socialbusiness #digitalworkplace

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:

Dion Hinchcliffe Evolution

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”.

evolution_along_people

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.

In a recent article by McKinsey on “The seven traits of effective digital enterprises” the firm’s experts set out a guideline for the digital transformation of companies and seven essential building blocks. I’ve started to resonate on the article from an “inside the organization” perspective here. The seven building blocks are:

  • Be unreasonably inspirational
  • Acquire new capabilities
  • Ring fence and cultivate talent
  • Be quick and data driven
  • Challenge everything
  • Follow the money
  • Be obsessed with the customer

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…