0 comments on “Implementing #Change in the Context of the #DigitalWorkplace… Thoughts on #Drivers & #SuccessFactors; #socbiz #enterprise20”

Implementing #Change in the Context of the #DigitalWorkplace… Thoughts on #Drivers & #SuccessFactors; #socbiz #enterprise20

Thanks to being swamped with active involvement with my favorite subject I have again fallen silent on my sharing channel. For the ones who care: I am sorry. I makes me feel bad on the one hand. On the other hand I believe it’s the only way to come up with new and valuable content anyway.


Even though I have written about the subject on one of the other occasion the frequency in which questions on change and implementing new directions in information work has increased. The awareness for factors beyond design, technology and ambitious thinking seems to be stronger than ever. After digesting my past year’s experience and after resonating on successful and not so successful cases I decided to share the essence of my thoughts here as well.

I want to look at the subject from two essential angles. When I say essential I actually mean it. They are both (together) neuralgic point in organisational change and in particular when it comes to meddling with the way that intellectual asset is being dealt with in the future.

Angle 1: Motivation and Commitment

I’ve elaborated on the subject of motivation before. Nevertheless I feel the need to emphasise the strength of “moving away from challenges” again. On a few occasions I have been confronted with teams that had decided to motivate functional areas as well as executives with the glance on a bright and beautiful future. Everything at hand. Everything tailored. Everything social. What a great world.

A vision.

If you have visions, go and see a doctor.

(Helmut Schmidt, Former German Chancellor)

What people couldn’t see in the vision was the impact on the current way of working and what it means for each individual in terms of commitment and responsibility to build the foundation for that vision. Dull and cumbersome projects such as information architecture, taxonomies, document management systems and life cycle concepts would be what the core teams would be confronted with pretty soon.

If you’re lacking motivation to actually go through that pain it’s only natural that initiatives slow down or are dead in the water almost from the start.

I every single case where future stakeholders across all hierarchical levels and functions were able to “dump” their pain points on the table things were different. Pain points. Not the wish list. Not early Christmas. The stuff that’s driving people nuts and the things that make life more difficult than necessary – for everyone involved.

What is preventing you from being excellent? What is keeping you from performing beyond expectations?

Answering that and prioritizing the impact of challenges on business results and employee satisfaction became a strong foundation for planning and release management in all projects. It was the anchor for the project to argue need & value. It was the best way to surface, which concrete (measurable) benefits would be created from investing in new ways of working and the efforts for changing established behaviour. It was much stronger than any vision and outlook that the team could provide based on analyst reports and industry benchmarking.

Just one comment: if you decide to go down that route you should take into account that it means transparency for progress. As soon as you’ve named the priorities and challenges that will be addressed in the early phases on the Digital Workplace evolution and nothing changes…it’s visible. Very, very visible. Because you have created a concrete reference point for change.

Angle 2: Executive Buy-In.

No. I won’t be repeating the change management mantras. I won’t be preaching the 8 steps of Kottler’s approach to organisational change. You’ve heard all that often enough. However, let me tell you what I have learned about executive buy-in.

You DON’T have buy in of your executives if they have…

  • singed off on the vision that was built on the big three’s forecast for the future without explicitly matching it to the business and organisational challenges at hand…themselves!
  • not explicitly decided to disregard divisional business results as a source for power and independency and support a global approach across whatever kind organisational silos there might exist.
  • not changed the objectives of their next reporting line to resonate on the organisational support that your initiative will need (aka you have the executive buy-in…and only theirs).
  • attended one workshop and delegate their involvement in the next steps to someone else.

I could go on and on. As a matter of fact your initiative won’t be going anywhere if your executives including the ones in charge of the core business operations haven’t formed the winning coalition and have actively worked on determining the “what” and “why” themselves. Like in: spent more than 2 hours in one room including active work, idea gathering and experience sharing.

Oh, and you don’t have the buy in of your executives if they do not listen to the operational level and nurture honest and candid conversation on what’s going wrong. Listen like in: attending workshops, tie off, hands-on writing cards and working on concrete (!) solutions.

Actually: if you have established a well-oiled lean management machine, chances are that your cultural foundation for changing the fundament of information and knowledge work might be quite right.

One last wake up call. If your initiative isn’t connected to business KPI that actually stand for management attention you might be dead in the water as well. Because you will lack the argument to maintain your budget in hard times. If you cannot prove that you are actually changing things for the better you are the first ones walking the line. And hard times are waiting ahead…no matter what the economical trends might be.

Essence of my experience

If you have the first angle on change management in shape chances are that you’re good to go to tackle the 2nd one as well. Because moving away from concrete challenges towards a better enablement of people and work excellence will deliver a lot of attention higher up.

Give your stakeholders all the good reasons to stick with you. Because you will make their life easier. At hands-on work and in the monthly Excel reports 😉

2 comments on “My 8 min. of fame at #TEDxTUHH – some thoughts on #motivation #leadership & why it’s essential to care about others”

My 8 min. of fame at #TEDxTUHH – some thoughts on #motivation #leadership & why it’s essential to care about others

I think I have rarely been that nervous on stage… So first of all I have to apologize to Prof. Carnabuci for slaughtering his name after I made him my source of inspiration for the start of my talk… Secondly I have to thank the TEDxTUHH team for forcing me through endless rounds of rehearsal – looks like one or two additional rounds wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Anyway…here we go 🙂

PS: the balloon story…I would have liked to support it with a little drawing…but the pen said “no” 😉 the stones I am talking about are with me IN the balloon…in case that doesn’t come across


0 comments on “My write-up of the “#Mobility in #Social #Business #Collaboration” WorldCafe at #wcsocbiz 2013 in Berlin”

My write-up of the “#Mobility in #Social #Business #Collaboration” WorldCafe at #wcsocbiz 2013 in Berlin

Summary: As part of the Social Business Collaboration 2013 conference in Berlin the attendants had the chance to discuss specific subjects in hosted groups in a so called “WorldCafé” format. The outcome of my “Mobility” round was incredible. Organizational and leadership subjects were discussed as essentials towards effective value contribution from a mobilized workforce putting a clear emphasis on expression like trust, care, managerial responsibility and expectations management. The severe impact on work and people culture in terms of quality awareness, individual responsibility and “caring for others” made clear how challenging it will be to simply squeeze existing business and operations models into a “mobile” mode. Really impressive was the fact that the “device” and “technology” angle was hardly touched in the discussion… Enjoy the read:

Perspectives on “mobility” as a foundation for the discussion

My role as moderator was to provide a couple of starting points for a discussion. I decided to draw a little illustrating setting out some key aspects of mobilized information work and workers.


In order to focus the conversation and retrieve tangible results from the conversation I decided to split the conversation into three major blocks, knowing that all of them of course converge and influence each other:

  • Management & Leadership – What it means to lead a mobilized workforce and how the roles of managers will be affected
  • Responsibility – The change of individual and collaborative responsiblity in a sense of making sure that others are enabled and that potential availability does not lead to a loss of work/life balance
  • Quality – How mobilized employees have to take into account what quality they will be able to deliver depending on device and situation as well as the quality expecations coming from the ones that request input from people on the road

The incredible outcome of 6 rounds of conversation, discussion and input

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY_boardAttendants from various industries (banking, business services, manufacturing, insurance, biotech…) were highly engaged and partly even emotional. TRUST turned out to be an essential element in the enabling a mobilized workforce to deliver success. Three dimensions of trust were discussed:

Trust that people will deliver even if they are not present.
Trust towards managers that the right work support is provided.
Trust that mobility does not mean “disconnection”.

In the same way the emotional expression of “caring for others” was put on the table. People have to develop a real interest that their peers are able to participate even if they are not present and that information is not kept in the “ivory tower” of the office.

So from a mobilized workforce derives a new level of responsibility: work result quality, contribution ad participation shall not be affected by absence. In the same way as managers have a new responsibility towards their subordinates in terms of not expecting a 24/7 availability and ignoring conditions such as different time zones. In that context 2 statements were particularly interesting:

“What can you expect from someone on the phone at 2 am in the morning?”

“Leaders have to understand that live broadcasting for corporate information to a globally distributed workforce will put a lot of people into a pretty miserable situation.”

Scalability was another interesting aspect: making sure that the impact of a specific expert(ise) is not limited by requiring physical presence. This might even go hand in hand with a note towards talent management: if relocation or unreasonable travel can be avoided for a particular role the options of high caliber candidates might increase substantially.

From an organisational perspective it was crystal clear that moving existing models of business operations unchanged into a “mobile mode” is destined to fail. Individual and collaborative value contribution in a mobile environment is substantially different from the one happening in a physically shared office space.

What came up from two angels was the war of generations at the mobile workplace. On the one hand in terms of “ability of adaption” and affinity on the other hand in terms of “training bottom-up” (not in the sense of using technology but in sense of “applying” it the right way!). For some representatives of the “established and experienced workforce” training from very young folks can be…challenging (how can they tell me how to “think mobile”).

With a decentralized and mobilized workforce one key paradigm definitely moves into the center right next to the aspect of “trust”:

Accountability vs. Control

It shouldn’t be the way to the result or the physical space in which the result was created. Management by objectives and results will be the key challenge to the established management pool that is in charge today.

The outcome in detail (MindMap in PDF Format)

In order provide – more or less – the actual results of the discussion I have consolidated the results in a MindMap. As part of the exercise I’ve tried to group them a little bit, which felt a little bit artificial because in many instances a statement can’t really be allocated to one subject alone. In order to keep it transparent and easy to read I’ve decided not to replicate statements for multiple groups connect statements across groups. I might have ended up with a subway map that actually scares of anyone who just remotely considers to think about the subject of “mobility”…

Social Business Collaboration and the aspect of MOBILITY
Click here to open the MindMap in PDF Format

7 comments on “is social maybe just a logical extension of information objects? #socialbusiness #socbiz #e20 #enterprise20”

is social maybe just a logical extension of information objects? #socialbusiness #socbiz #e20 #enterprise20

Summary: Demystifying social business or enterprise 2.0 is still necessary for the majority of companies. The current phase of consolidating the results of trials, pilots and experiments has to lead to the next big thing in business IT: Enterprise 2.0 at work. Maybe this process will eventually turn out to simply be a different angle towards social business and the perception of “social” as a logical extension to information objects and thereby operational workplace solutions.

To make sense of my train of thought I would like to specify “information object” first since this expression might have a meaning to a lot of people already. For me an information object is simply a collection of data that has a meaning in itself. For example:

  • Content of an e-mail
  • Content on a website
  • Blog post
  • Document of any sort
  • Wiki entry
  • Person (even though most people most likely don’t want to be seen as objects, I suppose…)

An extension to that object is everything that has a logical relation to that object – be it a tag, people, documents, the creator of that object, conversations etc…

From a very pragmatic point of view we are only looking at two radically new concepts or mechanics in this picture when it comes to business IT:

  • Everything is connected and the connections are used to enrich the core information object and make that enrichment easily accessible for the average user.
  • Dialogue (communication) is moved in the direct context (and more or less the physical space) of the information object.

In commercial and social IT these concepts have long been realized. Otherwise contextual advertising, relevancy based recommendations and behavioural targeting wouldn’t be possible. Furthermore information objects are an embedded part of conversations on social media sites – you will never find a conversation around a picture that everyone has stored on the hard drive.

In the future connected objects will simply share the same space…so they will be “social” 😉 (as social as objects can be…)

Extend existing business IT…socialize the 1.0 workspace!

I believe that companies need more connections – amongst people and amongst information objects. I also believe that more transparency, more dialogue and the culture of sharing will be essential to the evolution of information work.

I do not believe in the corporate social network approach. I don’t think that the internal Facebook or Twitter will deliver sustainable results and drive change beyond early adopters and nerds. I am not sure if “social software” has a long term future.

Socialized business IT (actual business applications that are flavored with social mechanics) that enforces the connected enterprise by simply connecting everything and everyone on the fly is the future on the digital desktop. “On the fly” however, will be the key: everything will happen in the day to day business context, the actual operational work individuals and teams conduct at the workplace. There will be no active “I have to share this” or “I have to connect myself to this”. If it’s relevant and if it shares context it will be connected automatically. It will become the common way of working.

One day we will look at a document that has no conversation around it, no statement such as “if you like this you might want to have a look at that” or no people connected to it and we will think: scrap it…it cannot be worth anything.

One day we will look at a profile that has no further connections and we will think: that person probably doesn’t work here anymore.

One day the extensions of an information object will be the real path to it and the indicator of it’s value.

One day business IT will add value to people with every single byte.

5 comments on “#motivation: avoidance more motivating than objectives? inspired by a friend + coach #e20 #socbiz #socialenterprise #enterprise20”

#motivation: avoidance more motivating than objectives? inspired by a friend + coach #e20 #socbiz #socialenterprise #enterprise20

Summary: I want to share my point of view on avoidance vs. objective orientated motivation and the way that this has actually methodologically helped me in providing support for prioritisation, roadmap management and quick win identification. Please understand it as “playing with a thought” for now 🙂

In an inspiring discussion around organisational change and leadership a good friend of mine raised the argument that people are more motivated by getting away from a certain state (e.g. low social status) than by trying to achieve a new one (e.g. becoming a top manager). Looking at what seems to be driving (the majority of) companies to start or accelerate the endeavours around enterprise 2.0/social enterprise this is a really interesting perspective. Most of the time presentations and mission statements read stuff like

  • we want to activate out expertise and talent
  • we want to get people connected
  • we want to improve knowledge management and access
  • we want to re-use out experience
  • etc.

At the same time motivation, driving adoption and cultural change are (undoubtedly) perceived as key success factors. Based on the conversation with my friend I am asking myself: what would be
different if the motivation for ’change’ would be communicated in the format of ’what we are trying to get away from’ instead of ’where we will be in 5 years’?

I actually believe that there could be something to it…

Ever since I’ve been dealing with the enterprise 2.0 subject it has been a challenge for people I spoke to to really put a finger on what they want – or what they believe to need. Describing it without using technology, platform or benchmark references this exercise is always pretty tough. In particular if the description had to be very short term focussed – not something that eventually will be the result of a larger change (in the worst case even requiring substantial cultural change). To some extend this is even logical. Because how would you know what you want if you have never seen it in action in the context of your daily challenges?

Remember: ’what do you want?’ is not how market research is done in the field of commercial goods. It’s rather:

  • what don’t you like about the product?
  • which of these do you like best?
  • what should be different to make it better fit your needs?

Professionally I’ve (first subconsciously then actually based on actual methodology) addressed this issue by simply asking the questions: ’What is preventing you from being excellent?’ and ‘How did you manage to achieve excellence?’. In this context it’s important to emphasise that I don’t care about what’s required to achieve goals or expected results. I only care about excellence…being unbeatable…way beyond average…being a super performer.

Answers to that question were totally easy to give. If not limited by time the conversations around what keeps people from really kicking it could have gone on forEVER 🙂

What I learned from the conversations was what people are trying to get away from. Things that are driving them nuts every day. Efforts that are draining them and sucking all the energy from them. That particular knowledge has always been the most valuable in distinguishing priorities and roadmaps. Furthermore it has been extremely helpful in active listening exercises to match suggestions to requirements.

Now…applying this on operational level and in the initiation and development of social enterprise endeavours isn’t that much of a challenge. Applying this in the larger context and as an essential pillar of change management and implementation requires certain basic conditions that are…to be polite…challenging for some organisations:

  • Are you willing to openly communicate where you (excuse my English) really suck at?
  • Have you been (like REALLY) listening to people and their operational pains?
  • Are you aware that a networked organisation needs the time and inspiration to network, which means: less hurdles in the day to day work?
  • Are you able of openly communicating the shortfalls in business operations and thereby create the (measurable) benchmark for the improvements (= create a foundation for ROI calculation)
  • Are you willing to accept excellence as the benchmark?
  • etc…

I believe that the motivation to avoid concrete hurdles is more effective than the one to win the 200m run (yes…if you’re Bolt, things might be different…but if corporations would be made out of Bolts we wouldn’t have half the problems ;-)). However, I am NOT saying that a vision is no longer needed. I just believe  – even though I might be stating the obvious here – that a tangible perspective and reason-why are very powerful to drive adoption and commitment on the journey to the connected enterprise.

0 comments on “#Salesforce to Lure #Enterprise into #Social Collaboration (via mashable.com)”

#Salesforce to Lure #Enterprise into #Social Collaboration (via mashable.com)

I seriously doubt that salesforce, Yammer or socialcast.com will be the winners in the enterprise 2.0 battle. Simply because it isn't a platform thing. Yes, viral effects will create a visible and reportable user volume. It will be a matter 'owning the figures means owning the success' because the actual effect on communincation efficiency, productivity and essential business impact will not be the focus for now. But introducing employees to Facebook style platforms assuming that (because 600m are on FB anyway) they will be adapting to this new style of communication and information management is a major mistake. It requires a certain amount of change – in particular culturally. 

Ask yourself the question: if you're blocking Facebook and Twitter from corporate PCs – why would your talent suddenly work based on their principles?


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