Balancing Technology and Culture During a Social Business Implementation
The topic of corporate culture and social computing has been done to death but still seems to rumble on as an undercurrent for many blog posts. Views range from the suggestion that corporate culture needs to be right for social computing to succeed all the way through to suggestions that social computing can act as a catalyst for cultural change. Of course its never as clear as either of those academic stances and when you listen to people in workshops saying, « it’s not about the technology, it’s about the people, » in the same breath as, « the platform has to be perfect, » it becomes very apparent very quickly that there is confusion over where the optimum balance lies.
Let me start by saying the final aim of any social business program shouldn’t be to find balance between technology and culture.
In a company with a good culture they’d see the benefit of sharing and make the best of the tools they have. In a poor culture, one where there is fear or dislike of sharing, it’s easy for people to use the drawbacks of the technology or process as an excuse not to share. « It’s too cumbersome to upload a document, » « It’s too difficult to find a time when everyone is available for a meeting. » In this case an answer would be to set-up a blog platform. Make the blog platform easy to use. Make the process of posting to the blog wonderfully simple. Those people who didn’t share simple because the ways of sharing in the past weren’t good enough will now be able to share. Those who used technology as an excuse will still not share.
Five lessons learned about cross-cultural social networking
Social networking theorists like to debate whether and how much cultural differences impact the way people respond to and interact with social networks.*
Some, for example, argue that networks such as Facebook mainly reflect and accommodate values and norms prevalent in Anglo-Saxon cultures (U.S., UK, Canada, etc.) €” which explains why they’re much less successful elsewhere.
Chez les développeurs, trop de connexions freine l’innovation
Viktor Mayer-Schà¶nbergeren est persuadé, dans le futur « nous verrons apparaître des poches d’équipes réduites avec moins d’interconnections et un mode de pensée moins grégaire ». Elles pourront ainsi prendre plus de risques et s’aventurer à essayer des solutions plus radicales. Il est également urgent de réintroduire une certaine compétition entre les différentes équipes de développement. Et de faire évaluer les projets non par des pairs – comme c’est l’usage – mais par un panel d’experts évoluant dans des domaines légèrement en retrait de celui étudié.
The Social C.R.M Iceberg
Greg Oxton from the Consortium for Service Innovation (CSI) shared with me a model for understanding how engaged enterprises really are:
* 1% of customer conversations are assimilated as organizational knowledge
* 9% of customer conversations touch the organization, but no learning occurs
* 90% of customer conversations never touch the organization
But before you leap into reinventing your processes for transformative value, step back. You can’t collaborate with your customers before you learn to collaborate with your employees. In the spectrum of risk taking, its best to deploy from the inside-out.
Fundamentally, they only way we can find information is with each other, and with each other it can be knowledge. Search returns relevant results. Relevancy is good, it saves time. But it differs from answers. Information has no value until it informs a decision
, and when it does, you can measure its value. Answers can come from your own judgment upon information, which is only truly possible with information in social context, but you should at least leverage the judgment of others.
What I do know is this, we spent the entire industrial revolution dehumanizing not only our employees, but customers in pursuit of ruthless efficiency and profit. We will rediscover the efficiency and profit lost by working together in ways we haven’t yet imagined.
Implementing Enterprise Micro-messaging at Océ
I recently spoke with Samuel Driessen, Information Architect at Océ, about their enterprise micro-messaging experiences. Océ is a leading international provider of digital document management technology and services. Samuel is located in the Netherlands and his responsibilities include both the information architecture for structured data in applications such as PLMS and SAP and the unstructured content in places such as email and knowledge management programs.
The low barrier to entry helped expand the number of users. The intuitive and attractive interface also helped. Samuel said that there were only about 15 to 20 people using Twitter in the company when he introduced Yammer. Now there are over 250 Yammer users
about what they are doing and ask questions about their work while they work. Samuel has found that everyone who participates is very helpful and polite. There has been no bashing. He is collecting examples of where micro-messaging helped the organization.
First, many people do not understand why you would want to share what you are doing. They see micro-messaging as a toy and a waste of time
Second, there are security concerns. They are using the free, hosted version of Yammer as part of their initial micro-blogging experiment
Humanizing the Employee, then the Customer
My CEO often says you can’t collaborate with your customers until learn to collaborate within your company. This is where I think the humanizing begins. Without the right people, process/practice and technology within the edge of your organization, your edge will be jagged when building trust with customers.
Beyond Product Innovation
Instead of thinking about innovation merely in terms of what you provide (i.e. your products and services), you should be looking at ways to innovate across the entire business model in an effort to meet important customer needs in unconventional ways.
Enterprise 2.0 Does Not Necessarily Mean Power To The People
Instead of run-of-the-mill questions about staffing, content management, governance, and employee participation the client asked a very pointed question: how do we keep employees from unionizing with our Enterprise 2.0 platform.
E20 Transition Strategies
Teens Don’t Tweet? Not true!
“Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.”
Open Innovation Lessons From P & G
As you start the evolutionary process of adopting open innovation to your organization, always remember that open innovation is just a tool, not a goal. The goal is to grow your company and make a profit. Some companies might also have the goal of changing the world to a better place.
Understand that open innovation is only a piece of an overall innovation strategy. To begin, look for opportunities to develop overall open innovation capabilities out of the pockets of open innovation you may already have in your company in areas such as key partnerships, supply/value chain, and selected employees with the right mindset and toolbox.
Netflix: « Plus l’entreprise grandit en taille, plus nous donnons de liberté à nos employés »
Quand une organisation croît en taille, constate Netflix, son fonctionnement devient plus complexe. La direction tend souvent à réagir de la même façon: plus l’organisation grandit, plus elle resserre le contrôle sur ses employés, via Netflixslide des procédures sans cesse plus strictes. Le but: éviter le chaos.
En optant pour cette voie, le management pave toutefois le chemin d’une nouvelle difficulté. Les talents fuient les procédures rigides qui laissent peu de place à la créativité. Soit ils se détournent de l’entreprise. Soit ils passent en mode passif et ne s’investissent plus qu’un minimum.
Sur le court terme, le resserrement des processus peut avoir un impact positif sur le résultat. L’effet, toutefois, n’est pas de longue durée. L’organisation génère des foyers d’inertie. Les employés, valorisés par rapport à l’application des processus actuels, résistent au changement.
Or, l’environnement économique est mouvant. De nouvelles technologies et de nouveaux concurrents apparaissent sans cesse. L’entreprise ne parvient plus à s’adapter assez vite aux nouvelles circonstances de marché.
Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report
While much has been written about Toyota Motor Corp.’s production system, little has captured the way the company manages people to achieve operational learning. At Toyota, there exists a way to solve problems that generates knowledge and helps people doing the work learn how to learn. Company managers use a tool called the A3 (named after the international paper size on which it fits) as a key tactic in sharing a deeper method of thinking that lies at the heart of Toyota’s sustained success.
How to Design a Flat Organization
Take the case of French company FAVI, an autoparts supplier manufacturing copper alloy components. CEO Jean-Francois Zobrist eliminated the personnel department immediately upon taking the helm of the company in 1983. But that wasn’t all he got rid of. Says Zobrist: “I came in the day after I became CEO, and gathered the people. I told them tomorrow when you come to work, you do not work for me or for a boss. You work for your customer. I don’t pay you. They do. Every customer has its own factory now. You do what is needed for the customer.” And with that single stroke, he eliminated the central control: personnel, product development, purchasing€¦all gone.
MySpace is to Facebook as Twitter is to ______
Twitter and Myspace are different companies in different markets but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that they share, and will always share, the exact same problem. MySpace and Twitter are hugely popular for uses neither company anticipated. The mission of each company is so vague that their products are stretched and molded into a variety of different uses. Instead of targeting and building their business around one of these users they take their sudden popularity as a sign they have a killer product. They don’t.
The Nexus of Defined Business Process and Ad Hoc Collaboration
ECM enables controlled, repeatable content publication processes, whereas social software empowers rapid, collaborative creation and sharing of content. There is a place for both in large enterprises. Sameer’s suggestion was that social software be used for authoring, sharing, and collecting feedback on draft documents or content chunks before they are formally published and widely distributed. ECM systems may then be used to publish the final, vetted content and manage it throughout the content lifecycle.
Sanity check: Is IT no longer about technology?
It’s become horribly cliche to talk about the importance of IT-business alignment and the need for IT professionals to become much more business-savvy, but Gartner’s Tom Austin (right) takes it to the next level. He believes that the IT professional of the future will be less of an engineer and more of a social scientist.
What? Yes, you heard that right €” the word “social” will become a key part of the IT professional’s job description. It flies in the face of most of the stereotypes about techies and it sounds a little corny, but Austin does draw some interesting conclusions that are worth a look, if only because they are so unconventional.
“Too often, we have measurement and reward systems that are focused on how many transactions did you process, how many orders did you ship, and how many deals did you close €” rather than who helped these other people succeed.”
“There are still people in IT who’ll have to worry about keeping the systems running, but now we’re going to think more about how to exploit the things we can do with social networking, expertise location, and all of the other higher-level social ordered phenomenon we can facilitate using technology.”