Recently in Corporate Social Networking Forum Category
October 5, 2012
Christopher Murphy, writing for Multidisciplinary Design on "human resource":
It's no wonder monolithic businesses often fail. They grow and, in so doing, lose sight of what matters; people become humans and, in that subtle, but important semantic shift the people - the passionate individuals who drove the business forward, who gave it its lifeblood - become disillusioned and leave. The business, however, moves on, like a giant machine, unable to comprehend the significance of what it just lost, unable to understand the consequences of its now mindless actions.
Here's a thought: this shift often coincides with a business losing its strong sense of "why?" Why does it exist? Once, that would have been to "do a great job of providing X", where X is their line of business. At some point, the answer becomes something between "to continue existing" and "to provide stable income for senior management".
Humans are very motivated by "why?" - they are very unmotivated by those other questions. Never underestimate the power of "why?".
October 1, 2012
We need to throw away the old box, not think outside it. We need to give up on the idea of continuous economic growth. Its costs are too high. We need to see the economy as a possession of the environment, rather than the other way around.
The green economy is more labour-intensive than the fossil fuel economy. It provides jobs to be a route out of our current economic difficulties. Globally, subsidies for fossil fuels are six times higher than for renewable energy. Imagine if that was refocused.
We're stuck in an odd paradox. We have companies trumpeting their environmental credentials, even as the situation gets worse. Planes may be getting more environmentally focused - but as the planes get more green, their use goes up. It's a net loss.
There are some signs of hope. No-one wants your products - they want the use of them. B&Q realise that people want a hole in the wall, not a drill. So why not rent them? The need gets met, but resource consumption goes down. A human-powered MP3 player that looks like a plaster... Skype and Spotify stop us using planes or the plastic for CDs. You can make carpet tiles from recycled yarn.
What would replace the mechanism of capitalism that requires endless growth? This is a dangerous idea. But growth is creating dysfunctional, unequal societies. Happiness does not reply on it - that's about happy families, meaningful work and connected societies. Right now - unless there is growth, people lose their jobs, taxes drop and public services erode. We need a new macro-economic model that takes account of the limited resources of the planet. If the biosphere isn't getting any bigger, the sub sphere has to achieve a steady state.
A steady state is not a failed growth economy. A helicopter is designed to hover. An aircraft... is not. We need a helicopter economy. We need the same amount of better stuff, not more of the same stuff. We need to reform taxation, working hours and practices, pay structures, It's ambitious stuff - it need shift is attitude of politicians and the expectations of the public. We need to make the future we aspire to more positive than the fossil fuel driven one. We need enlightening people in business, in politics and in every walk of life.
Unless people like you care - nothing will happen.
Stowe Boyd is encouraging us to actively imagine a future where we ahem to rethink the fundamentals of business and society. Too much "social business" thinking is just too timid, he suggests. We have a challenge - we are always one step behind. We can only see the present clearly once it has become the past. But he's gonna help us try...
We're moving from a solid to a liquid world - the rate of innovation is growing exponentially. Great for medical research, for example, but bad for newspaper business models and the funding of investigative journalism. Social business has been an attempt to adapt to these changes. Things that arose in the social media world started to infect the business world. The big picture drivers are more important than the marginal economic benefit. Social business is post-modern.
The loosening to connection to employers and employment has been largely negative. Huge tranches of jobs are being swept away by automation and computers. Are taxi drivers next, killed off by automatous vehicles.
We've renovated our business by sanding the floors and painting the walls, not moving the walls around.
This is a concept used by the military to define decision-making problems in war:
- V = volatility
- U = Uncertainty
- C = Complexity
- A = Ambiguity
It applies to our lives now. Cities, like social networks, increase social density. People move there because they're cheaper, you can make more money there. They innovate out of proportion to their size. New York has low numbers of gas stations and air-conditioning costs because of that density.
VUCA undoes the conventional style of leadership.
Marketing latched onto social media as another channel - but they got infected by it. They started using it internally as well as externally. They wanted to do more of it - and it infected the whole business. But the old company is still there - it just has a new layer on top of it. Research shows that if you increase people's social density - give them more connections in the business - they're happier and more productive. This is independent of any other changes in the business. People will use these tools to make work better - even if management do nothing. Businesses are going to get more porous - weaker barriers between departments, weaker barriers between the organisation and the rest of the world.
Companies are decreasing their office space and allow employees to work whoever hey are. A Citrix study suggests that companies are planning 6 seats for every 10 employees.
Swift Trust: human beings have the capacity wired into us to co-operate. That's why freelance style projects - like Hollywood movies - work so well. People will come together and suspend their disbelief, do their work, and not bother with the battles for dominance and power in established organisations. It's projected to be 40% of the creative and professional working the US. This means companies can be more agile and experimental. That means that there's less commitment to workers, to their skills, to their pensions...
Social business doesn't really support social business yet. The tools don't really facilitate it. They don't interoperate very well.
So, what do we need to imagine? The Schutze method - that allows a huge number of people to vote on particular issues.
We need to move from exploitative models, to models based on people's relationships with small groups, that builds up based on the fact that everyone is connected. Our leaders are not giving us visions of the future. We need to do that for ourselves.
April 16, 2012
I'm in the midst of a small but interesting piece of work for some old property industry contacts, and it's really caught my imagination. I'm talking to some businesses that have successfully transformed their company with input from a firm of consultants, and the stories that are emerging are compelling and inspiring.
I've long wondered about the way publishing businesses have tried to go through this period of transition. Change management is hard. It is, in essence, a whole set of skills in it own right, a discipline if you like. And I've seen precious few - if any - publishing businesses call in the professionals. They've instead relied on internal change agents, people who agitate for change from within. People like I was for RBI, for example.
There are two problems with this:
- The change agents often have the required craft skills, but have to learn change management as they go along.
- They are part of the company's hierarchy, so anything they say will be filtered through the internal politics of the organisation.
The advantage of bringing in an outsider to do some or all of this work is a powerful combination of skills, focus on change management and providing someone to challenge and provoke who isn't invested into the political infrastructure of the company.
This isn't any great insight, I admit. But having worked as an internal change agent, who is now doing some initial projects as an external change consultant, I'm beginning to see that the latter might be the more effective role.
March 28, 2012
Back when I started training journalists in blogging (which must be close on seven years ago now...) I noted a tendency for them to try and understand blogging in terms of concepts they already knew. They looked at blogs. They realised that virtually all blogs were written in a personal voice. What kind of journalism is written in a personal voice? Opinion columns. Ergo, blogs are opinion columns.
They then went on to write 500 word opinion pieces on a blog three times a week, and wondered why no-one came to read them. Blogging, of course, wasn't just opinion columns. It's a new style of publishing which has a distinct, personal voice. The much-neglected term "personal publishing" captured that brilliantly, I think. Those journalists identified the right characteristic of blogging, but they went on to misapply it.
As I look around the corporate social media world of today, I wonder if the same thing isn't happening there, too. Companies are looking at social media, understanding that it is in some way important, but are trying to understand it through the lens of the old. "Social media is about connecting with people. Ergo, it's marketing." And I think that's a mistaken assumption and one that prevents companies from truly grasping the power of these new social tools.
Let's substitute another communications medium into that sentence from above:
"The telephone is about connecting with people. Ergo, it's marketing."
That's nonsensical to modern eyes. Everyone in a business has a telephone and is expected to use it to communicate with their colleagues, clients, suppliers and partners. But telephones were heavily regulated and controlled when they were first introduced into businesses, and only became ubiquitous over time as people realised their worth to the whole business.
So, we have at least two transitional stages:
- Try to understand new medium through lens of the old
- Restrict new medium to certain departments
Here's my thesis: companies that manage the transition in such a way that they avoid stage one completely and pass as swiftly as possible through stage two into more useful models, will be the ones that gain competitive advantage. And it's not like I'm the first to articulate this: the Altimeter Group have been producing research on this for a while.
So: here's my question. Why are so many companies in the UK hung up on equating social media completely with marketing? Sure, it's a great marketing tool. But that's not all it is.
[Hat-tip: Neville Hobson]
June 8, 2009
2nd panel discussion, hosted by Iwona Petruczynik of Frost & Sullivan
What is web 2.0?
Olivier Crieche: the stuff people use at home and are now starting to use at work
Zeinab Lenton: It's about sharing and community
JP: It's what the web should have been
How to implement?
JP: get on with it. Look at e-mail. How much never leaves the company - is there a better way to do that?
When it goes bad?
Dominos Pizza: reputation damaged
KFC: had to cancel a promotion because bloggers spread it too fast and it was costing them too much.
One clent of Six Apart complained about the lack of feeds in Movable Type - which are built in. The UT department just didn't understand the product.
JP: you need both benevolant dictatorship from top and bottom-up adoption. If cost if repair is same as cost of entry, you suceed. If enough people can inspect information, you can make it good. You need a pincer movement on the immune system in the middle.
OC: use it to monitor customer problems with products, so they can reach out to them.
ZL: Teaches people new behaviours with low cost of entry.
JP: Twitter is publish/subscribe. 2. Is brief. 3. Assymetric follow. 4. 31 million reasons you carry on
[Switched to iPhone due to laptop battery death - please excuse typos]
Thijs Sprangers of Krem is up, asking why we aren't talking more about LinkedIn. Krem have defined five relationship roles, and think it is important to figure out what relationship your network is serving.
Look where your audience are active already and head there. It's not only business doing this, it's politics, it's banking...
Menno Braakman up now:
Who are your target group and what us their online participation?
Objectives: Determine the goals of the community
Strategy: how will the goals change the relationship?
Technology: Then choose the right social tools, based on the above.
eg Alumni networks are a useful source of business referrals and recruitment. So they built a network for ORMIT Alumni, and connected with LinkedIn. Use the Alumni group on LinkedIn to advertise the functionality of the private group.
- 6 weeks to launch
- £4k to launch, then another £6k for a nice design later
- vBulletin for forums, Wordpress for OurIdeas - heavily customised
- You need to hide from/ignore/bribe IT, Security, Risk, Compliance, etc...
- Recognise that sharing and learning are valued
- Seek out information for yourself
- Bee a good networker
- Support others
- be inclusive
- Be sensitive to commercial boundaries
- Use tech to add value
- Consider their work/life balance.