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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

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Have you ever thought about what #collaboration actually means to your organisation? #socbiz #enterprise20 #e20 #digitalworkplace

Over the past weeks I’ve hosted various workshops on the subject of the Digital Workplace and Advanced Intranet. There was one thing all the workshops had in common: the participants suddenly were unclear what “collaboration” actually meant to them. For everyone it was clear that today’s intranets (not even close to work critical, rather an editorial graveyard) had to evolve to become the first step in the evolution of a Digital Workplace. It has to grow together with efforts and initiatives around collaboration, which are managed separately in almost all companies.

What does collaboration stand for?

It really depends who you ask. For IT departments collaboration usually is driven by the bells and whistles of a (social) collaboration platform. Their perspective is to make everything available so people can pick and choose what might suit their requirements. For business functions collaboration in a lot of instances is the ability to have at least documents in one place and use live collaboration abilities (aka chat, desktop sharing etc.) to fight data redundancies and travel efforts (and cost). For the management collaboration often ends up in the field of innovation (one big family striving for world domination) or cross-functional and -border synergies.

Get 10 people in one room and you have 15 opinions on collaborations…and probably 17 definitions.

After spending time to gather the aspects that could define the field of collaboration and trying to determine where the “act of collaboration” would actually create value participants of all workshops ended up with one common denominator:

Collaboration is more than the fact that people work work together and share files in the same place. It’s about creating assets that can be re-used by others and utilise the expertise that was created in previous team efforts. It’s about making sure that what we do happens in accordance with the framework (#FluffyHandcuffs) that is required by the organisation. It’s about connecting to experience and expertise of others that might help us to be faster or better in quality.

collaboration aspects

I am pretty sure that all readers of this post will say: yeah, but that’s totally obvious. Believe me, it’s not.

The biggest luxury in a project I have experienced recently is a pre-study that has “define what collaboration means to us” as it’s only objective. As a side effect, and this is becoming obvious already, it will create a coalition around the subject because we were able to connect to a lot of business stakeholders in the process of defining the field.

A final recommendation for the process of specifying “collaboration”: make “what is it not?” and “why is it special to us?” part of the evaluation. It will help you to scope what you’re doing against other initiatives – or build bridges to them since running them separate would cause disconnection and redundancy.

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My write-up of the Social Business Collaboration 2014 (#wcsocbiz) on the @infocentric blog

On September 29/30 I’ve attended the Social Business Collaboration conference in Berlin. I believe it’s one of the best gatherings of the intl. and European advanced intranet and digital workplace community. It was a pleasure to meet so many friends and new folks that shared valuable insight and learning from the past year in the field. The level of honesty and candid talking is so impressive. I can only recommend to join that community if you want to meet people that share your challenges and might be able to (in the culture of social collaboration) develop ideas together.

I’ve produced a little write-up of my conference impressions. It can be found on our corporate blog here: http://www.infocentric.ch/en/blog/2014/sbc2014-digest

I will be creating a little summary of the World Café sessions as well later next week.

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My digest of “#Social #Business #Collaboration 2013” (Berlin) #wcsocbiz #socbiz #enterprise20 #e20

Summary: On Sept 23 and 24 over 100 protagonists in the social business space had the opportunity to exchange their experience, opinion and expectations deriving from the endeavor towards a more social digital workplace. Similar to the IntraNET.Reloaded conference series in spring it’s literally possible to re-live the entire conference through Twitter at the #wcsocbiz hashtag. Nevertheless I will provide my digest of the conference. Essentially all organizations have left the experimental stage are now in the middle of connecting the ideology of “social” to the core business. Determining qualitative and/or quantitative business value (or even calculating a ROI) is not just part of the preaching anymore but brutal reality. Change management and the human factor has turned into an integrative element of all social strategies. Ask anyone and “simply rolling out a platform” simply isn’t enough anymore. At the same time platform providers are facing the challenge that “why you…what makes you so different?” is becoming a more and more frequent question. I could sense a certain fatigue towards always the same pitch around get connected, share stuff, follow topics”. I am actually very curious myself to see how the landscape of platform provides will be able to re-form the market in the coming years (or months?). Here we go…my digest (not cutting a long story short) and upfront apology that I will not elaborate on all presentations…

The power of VISUALIZING big data

I’ve just recently been confronted with the subject of establishing a data mining and reporting strategy in the finance industry. So it was extremely refreshing to see Nathan Bricklin (@socialbrick , Wells Fargo) talk about surfacing experts and expertise through the cloud of data that exists around them. In his point of view experts are

  • Self reported
  • Rated
  • Credible through seniority (if that’s applicable)

Imagining a 300+ thousand people company that is distributed around the globe one can imagine that the amount of data that is (or can be) collected and associated with specific people is vast. However, using the right approach it is possible to visualize connections between subject matters and people and thereby attach the right person to the right challenge. In Wells Fargo’s case even in the form of a career step and foundation of building new business. Being able to connect “the unusual” (in their case an intrinsic intrest in a certain subject) to their value proposition allowed the company to win business and to stand out in an RfP process (probably one of the best examples of a resonating value proposition I’ve ever seen).

Talking about influencers Nathan described them as connected with a well established reputation and open to content. In order to understand the impact there are certain indicators such as

  • title (not just the position)
  • number of followers (reach in the organisation)
  • (publication) frequency
  • content (type, format, comprehensiveness) and
  • geography

Why social enterprise matters…?

Nathan just boiled it down to the essence:

  • Differentiation
  • Participation
  • Access
  • Connections
  • Retention

It is probably the best foundation for a social enterprise mission statement I have ever seen (I am just making one up here!!):

We want to be different as an employer and business partner. We make it easy and tangible for people to participate and access experts and expertise independent from organizational, geographical or hierarchical location. We connect our intellectual assets and turn them into a continuous flow of value for our employees and clients – our foundation for retaining business and people.

His final recommendation was the one of a gateway drug. In Wells Fargo’s case it was the “digitalisation” of internal events and the connection of participants through internal social tools. The goal was simply to show the power of the mechanics in real life context.

Solving business challenges through a network

Linda Tinnert (@lindatinnert, IKEA) had her presentation built around one of IKEA’s core values:

Togetherness & enthusiasm

Besides the fact that their set of initiatives around social business have to meet clear business requirements such as

  • Networking
  • Communications
  • Planning & Organization
  • Manage Documentation
  • Accessing Documentation
  • Accessing Solutions

there is one key paradigm that she put on the screen and I just fell in love with it straight away:

Communication has to be trustworthy

This is probably THE game changer and shift within organisations. Because it makes game playing and corporate politics a lot harder (if not impossible).

Based on their solution IKEA has established three core areas in which the future of information and knowledge work is adding constant value to the company:

  • My IKEA product idea (innovation, entrepreneurship, dialogue)
  • Contact center Austria (updated, dialogue, speed & quality)
  • Virtual matrix meeting (sharing learning, cost & time saving)

Competence driven business

Wolfgang Jastrowski (@jaschi42, Swiss Re) gave a brief insight on how social enterprise is supporting a business model that is built on “risk” and very factual thinking. My essential of his presentation actually went straight into a tweet:

Capabilities are the functional building block of an enterprise at Swiss RE. Everything has to fall in one place.

My take: no matter if you are in professional services, finance or manufacturing. As soon as expertise is a key factor in creating value connecting it and surfacing it at the right time to the right people is KEY to winning the every day race.

Video to empower people and save time…for recipients.

BP’s Joe Little (@JoeLittle) gave a presentation that made probably half the media houses out their either cry or applaud – depending on their maturity in reaching out to their users.

Essentially Joe made the point that…

…it’s worth a lot to put a little more effort in the “sending” part because it will make receiving so much easier.

Walking the crowd through the treasure of BP’s corporate media platforms he showed everything from brand communication and marketing archives through educational videos to webcasts and training. Video has become an essential pillar in BP’s communication and knowledge exchange strategy.

I am still impressed…

Play a game with me…and win a badge (but not for everything)

Bryan Barringer (@collab_me, FedEx Services) delivered his presentation on employee engagement and unlocking knowledge (yes, I had to have the word game here as well). So far the standard “mental model” (believe how things work from good and bad experience) is

“I have knowledge and must control that intelligence in order to be valuable”

In the (not so far) future that mental model has to change. If companies want to unleash their potential that lies buried in today’s information and knowledge work they have to build the foundation and trust into the new version:

“I am valuable because I am knowledgeable and I am willing to share that knowledge”

Along that process and in order to catalyze the right pieces companies have to pay proper attention on what level and to what extend the model has changed already…

Gamification (engagement > adaption > viral growth) and badges (virtual rewards for certain actions) are two models that FedEx is introducing to their organization in order to drive and and motivate the change towards that mental model. However, Bryan made the important point that immunification can be one evolutionary phase of introducing playful business applications if literally the whole day is turned into a game.

Furthermore he made a clear statement:

So if you’re struggling with social how will you deal with gamification?

People still come to work in order to work – not to play. There will be a difference depending on who you’re approaching (FedEx is currently dealing with 5 generations in the workplace) but it’s good to really seek to understand before seeking to…give playful work a try.

Badges (like you can find them e.g. on foursquare.com) are one variant of gamification. The concept can for example be used as part of an education & training program: tell others you’ve improved your expertise

Eventually here are four (pretty good) don’ts on the roadmap to gamification:

  • Don’t lock down functionality (making them need a badge to access it…that will be the source for frustration)
  • Don’t assume to know your user base (you’ll make an ASS out of U and ME)
  • Don’t start with 300 badges and give badges for—breathing (literally…)
  • Don’t start a program if you don’t keep it going (that should be pretty obvious…but it rarely is)

Asia ahead of the game

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the full presentation of Deepak Bhosale (@db1904) but parts of the initiatives that Asia Paint Ltd. from India has in place are simply overwhelming. Imagine you’d publish drafts of HR policies in your company to get refinement from the cloud BEFORE they are put into force... I have to admit that I haven’t met one other company that could even do that.

Connecting sales organizations and creating customer centric solutions are only two further use cases Asia Paint Ltd. has put into place.

Global Voice & Online DNA

AkzoNobel’s Bram Kokke (@bramkokke) made me cheer when he mentioned that his company is aware that they need an Online DNA. It is one of the rare occasions where a company has obviously realized that “digital” has to be built straight into the company’s business strategy. Bram’s presentation motivated me to tweet (in the sense of…)

You don’t need one global language – you need one global voice.

So the conference has finally given me the spot-on recommendation if I am involved in “what language shall we use” discussions. It’s so simple, clear and comprehensive and it would solve so many challenges that global organisations are facing.

The social enterprise rockstars: Novozymes

At the IntraNET.Reloaded in April 2013 Frank Hatzack ( @frankhatzack) already rocked the stage with his insights into Novozymes approach towards social collaboration, networking and innovation management. He stuck to his principle, brought a Digital Native (@tillegreen) to the stage as well and kept rocking the crowd. Their way of telling stories that even contained references to significance of collaboration in an statistical (for real) context was as refreshing as always. At Novozymes (like at Wells Fargo) connecting the social sphere and power to real events and jams was one of the driving factors.

And even at Novozymes they said at some point “let’s get real” and started digging into the business value and potential of the newly surfaced ideas.

So what have I learned? Maybe I can put it into one statement:

Social Business has started its evolution from playful into powerful and essential. First steps are taken. First results are visible and measurable. Social is there to stay and change the way we work, achieve and balance. I can’t wait…

Please stay tuned…in my next blog post I will provide the summary on my World Café session on “Mobility in the context of social business collaboration“…