Social Workflows here we come
« A couple of weeks ago Tom Petrocelli (@tompetrocelli) shared with me his brief “IBM Brings Social Workflows to SugarCRM with IBM Connections“. It was a good read with many of his comments jumping off the page for me 🙂 There was lots of good stuff in the article, but not wanting to turn this blog post into an epic novel, I am going to very briefly touch on just 3 thoughts I had when I was reading Tom’s article. I may write separate blog posts about these individual topics at a later stage, as I believe they all warrant more detailed discussion. »
Business applications and processes need to be “social-ified” so that the effort of engaging with the social services (sharing, connecting, collaborating, discovering) is no more than a click away, and is contextual to the job you are doing at a specific point in time so that the benefits of that participation are both immediate and measurable. You shouldn’t have to move away from what you are currently doing in order to appreciate the value of a Social Business.
If we can combine the discipline and governance of the structured approaches with the flexibility of social
“Two Heads Are Better Than One but Could Be More Expensive” referencing the fact that to benefit from the social workflows in SugarCRM you need to separately buy the IBM Connections produc
I believe that this loose coupling of the social platform from the business application is the singularly most important characteristic of a successful social business strategy. I
The greatest value from the application of social across the enterprise, is that it can “connect the dots” between information and process silos. However
The problem with companies becoming « social »
« Saying that social is being used to make some companies less social sounds shocking. But in reality, rather than bringing companies and customers closer together, it could be forcing them further apart. When I look at the companies who are the least loved by their customers, they’re almost always the ones that, if you ask them about customer support, respond, « Sure, we have that covered…through our online communities and forums, self-services sites, and other tools where customers can learn from each other. » »
While these « social » tools are great assets for customers, the sad truth is that for a growing list of companies, social tools are no longer an adjunct to their customer support efforts; it has become the whole ball game, and other critical interaction points with customers are being severely neglected or abandoned
The message companies risk communicating by directing customers to poorly thought-out social solutions is, « Hey, if you have a problem, go talk to each other. But whatever you do, don’t bother us. »
Business is conducted and shareholder value is created in a multi-dimensional, multi-channel, and yes, in social world.
There is no question that customer communities and self-service portals are an important part of the experience €“ but when the right answer is not available, the escalation into the company is the opportunity for a company to differentiate itself.
Providing the right answers to the right people at the right time using the channel of their choice offers a differentiated customer experience
Megatrends: Future Paradigms for Business
« Sometimes I feel I am living in two realities or parallel universes – although it is probably more accurate to describe this as a transition from a past with which we are all familiar, to a more volatile future that is different in a number of fundamental respects.
The reality with which we are all familiar is a “business-as-usual” world in which change is slow and predictable, power and relationships are absolute, vested interest drives government policy, and future aspirations appear to be simply a reworked extrapolation of a seductive past. In my parallel “business-as-different” universe, where multiple futures have already arrived, change is exponential and disruptive in its impact, entrepreneurial energy abounds, social innovation (rather than just profit maximisation) drives purpose, and the business landscape being shaped bears little resemblance to what happened yesterday »
Today, because of our interconnectedness, these seven billion people all aspire to be as affluent as the most wealthy in our socie
, the means of production have merely scaled up to try and cope with the demand. This is now putting the economy, the environment, energy sources and governance practices under severe stress.
leads not to a celebration of diversity but to a monoculture of blame, superstition, division, rancour, conflict and terrorism instead.
Repressed emotional responses to world events generate feelings of hopelessness and futility €“ particularly among many young people, many of whom seem dangerously alienated; increasingly frustrated and dismayed by the materialistic world we have created and which is their inheritance
First, the human family is almost fully interconnected for the very first time.
Second, power no longer resides just in the hands of institutions such as the UN but is being devolved to a myriad non-elected entities.
Third, our corporate stewards are not worldcentric leaders.
Fourth, corporate production is massively unsustainable at a global level.
The combination of these four factors creates a compelling picture of an interconnected world that will increasingly demand our most powerful organizations be structured and governed by principles that transcend growth and profit maximization solely and begin to account for a truly worldcentric view of human, environmental and societal well-being.
It is not just because this framework deviates from what we assume to be normal. What the new framework promises is so radically different it shatters the social and business conditioning of 300 years of industrial economism. And that is scary for those of us who are trying to stop the future in its tracks.
COLLABORATIVE. Possibly because the era of rampant economic growth is fast coming to an end, our social mores are moving from competition (within an ethos of scarcity) to cooperation (within an ethos of abundance).
OPEN SOURCE. In situations where competitive behaviours are already obviously failing us we are witnessing the power of peer-to-peer networks, open source activities, and global commons initiatives €“
DESKS ON WHEELS. Many conventional institutions are withering and struggling to stay afloat as traditional hierarchies collapse and friendships and intimacy become the basis for organising human enterprise.
WORLDCENTRIC. Driven by new social media we can connect to almost anyone, anywhere, at any time and for any reason.
DISTRIBUTED. Driven by the convergence of new communications technologies, distributed energy and 3D printing – a third industrial revolution is underway. T
Energy Efficiency: Everyone has heard about Moore’s Law €“ the doubling of computing power every 18 months. Not many understand that the same principle also applies to energy efficiency.
Substitute Economies: The market economy is being relegated to just one of a number of different modes of economy production. The “gift” economy based upon different social, cultural and financial notions of value and exchange will be scaled-up
Nomadic Work: Enabled by more sophisticated and pervasive information and communications technologies the shift from places to spaces promises to save costs by encouraging increasingly nomadic organisational arrangements.
New Measures: New measures will assume greater prominence as externalities are factored into the real cost of goods.
Natures’s Way: Biomimicry will become increasingly important in terms of manufacturing and design as we successfully decipher many of the problems that nature has already solved.
But these shifts also imply a higher level of conscious leadership to ensure success: a leadership based upon collaboration; leadership capable of adapting wisely and in real-time to unforeseen events;
Networked intelligence via preferential and collaborative networks will increase our appreciation of what matters – and when€¦.
Foresight. An expanded “now” will replace “the vision thing” €“ collapsing past, present and future states into a new awareness of strategic opportunities
Strategic Navigation in real-time, with its emphasis on adaptiveness and decision-making based on real-time strategic intelligence is replacing conventional strategic planning
Deep Design capability that engages all manner of people in different dialogues and community decision-making about every aspect of the business replaces the executive license for determining strategy
Brand Resonance €“ the amplification of aligned, ethical, messages where trust, authenticity and being seen to be a force
The Rise of the Creative Service Worker
« The lesson of Toyota, which rippled throughout the auto industry, was that treating workers as collaborators is good not only for their self esteem, but for the financial health of the business. The service economy is just starting to learn it. »
But the reason we’re going to beat the big three, he said, is because they see a worker as a back and a leg and a hand; we see our workers in our factory and in our suppliers as a source of knowledge and ideas, as a source of this kind of group creativity
We need to make them better jobs, and the only way to do that is to harness the knowledge and creativity of the workers to have them as part of the innovations to boost productivity.
when you add knowledge and skill to service work, when you pay workers better, when you engage them, the company does better, the workers do better, and I would argue, in addition to the workers doing better and the company doing better, the community, whether it’s New York or San Francisco or Pittsburg or Columbus or Charleston, the community that engages the service businesses and make them more productive, its productivity and competitiveness will increase, too.
Building a Social Business: Start with Email
« I often say that people come to communities for content and stay for relationships. This is true regardless of the type of community, but internally relationships already exist so internal communities need to focus on deepening existing relationships and extending beyond to form relevant new relationships around the organization. The dynamic of communities and the unique context of organizations requires organizations to both change where information is consumed and interacted with and change conversational habits. One great place to start is to look at how email is used in your organization.
What I recommend organizations do first is the following: »
Survey people regarding the percentage of their emails that fall into the following categories:
Analyze the inboxes of 25 people more closely
Move all distribution lists that are not confidential to blog
Give all project teams a closed group and encourage them to work out loud €“ updating the group whenever the have accomplished something or run into a question.
Turn off or discourage people from using cc or bcc features on email (
Turn off or discourage emailing documents.
Encourage people to answer questions that they receive through any channel in a blog post
Start retraining people on how to use email €“ for confidential information (and that should be done carefully), for scheduling, for personal notes and for accepting email from external contacts, some of which should be automatically forwarded to a networked internal space.
This waste is not really €˜seen’ by the organization because it’s been absorbed primarily by individuals in their €˜free’ time. The accountants €“ and often therefore executives €“ don’t really see this waste so it goes ignored.
The Bossless Office Trend: Don’t Be Surprised If It Doesn’t Last Long
« Most of the stories I’m talking about are focused on some sort of workplace “trend” that The Journal has bumped into, and that they present with all the vigor of a supermarket tabloid that’s discovered the latest on the dating habits of a Kardashian.
So, here’s the latest workplace “trend” from The Wall Street Journal: The “bossless” office. »
The Journal ties this “trend” to the overall flattening of management structures that have been going on for quite some time and that accelerated during the recession when so many organization’s got rid of large chunk’s of middle management. It also gets into how W.L. Gore, the Delaware-based maker of Gore-Tex, has eliminated most (but not all) titles and cut back on the number of bosses
Problem is, humans don’t usually make group decisions all that well. Someone €” anyone €” needs to be the final arbiter if you ever want to get something decided and keep things moving ahead.
- The world, and most companies, can get along with a lot fewer managers; and,
- The “bossless office” is a management oddity that may work for a company here and there, but is impractical for most organizations, where a bossless environment would soon turn into a corporate version of Lord of the Flies.
Going Boss-free: Utopia or ‘Lord of the Flies’?
« The bossless office: Is it the wave of the future or an idea that will always be a utopian dream, given the inevitable intrusion of human nature?
Recent articles in the business press have extolled the benefits of work environments where there are no bosses and no titles, where employees decide among themselves which projects to pursue and which people to hire and fire, and where each employee is responsible for deciding his or her own salary, raises and vacation days.
Reactions to the idea are varied. Even proponents of bossless offices note that decisions can take longer to make when there is no hierarchy. In addition, human nature suggests that someone will most likely rise to the forefront of any group and, even without the title, assume the role of leader — not always in a helpful way. But these proponents also say that a flat organization allows employees to work more creatively, more productively and more independently, and feel a greater stake in the success of the company. «
Everyone takes part in the decisions, so it’s not being directed from above. The idea is that the people doing the actual work probably have a better sense of how to get it done than their bosses do. It’s a matter of distributing the expertise to where the expertise actually lies
Over time, the workers became more oppressed than when the bosses were there, » notes Cobb. « Everyone became a monitor, constantly checking up on their fellow employees, even setting up a board to track what time people came into work and when they left.
They are a common enemy. Workers know the opposition. When employees become self-managed, it’s hard to tell if you are all working together, or if everyone is working against you
rather than having one manager you could ignore, you have all your colleagues on your back all the time. The peer pressure can be very tough.
I don’t think the bosses were comfortable with the command and control style of management because they didn’t feel they had the credibility for it
The speed of decision-making is often slower if you need consensus.
and they help prevent what economists call « free riders » — employees who shirk their responsibilities and need to be monitored. Social pressure from peers may prevent this, but it may not
One of the advantages of hierarchy is facilitating efficient coordination
When people know who’s in charge, it’s much easier to assign roles and delegate tasks. In a boss-free office, people often face uncertainty about who has authority, status or responsibility for a given project
This creates a risk that extroverts will gravitate toward being dominant and assertive, with introverts resorting to quieter, more reserved roles
it’s virtually impossible for a company to get along without a few people who are in charge to do things like make sure employees get to work on time, decide that everyone will get a 3% raise instead of a 4% raise » and, above all, « tell Joe that he isn’t pulling his weight and it’s not fair to the rest of the team.
For most organizations, he adds, « a bossless environment would soon turn into a corporate version of Lord of the Flies. »
In this scenario, managers provide the necessary resources, deal with office politics, make sure information gets channeled to the right places and so forth. The dissatisfaction comes with what Davenport calls « the manager death spiral, » which occurs when an organization promotes an employee to the position of boss based on the fact that she does her current job better than anyone else — rather than because she has demonstrated any leadership or mentoring skills
Davenport is skeptical that self-described bossless environments are truly bossless. If one walks around and observes how a company operates, he will see « natural leadership coming out in every meeting. That’s how humans work. The people may not have the title, but someone is emerging to direct the conversation and come up with ideas…
Emergent leaderless groups » do not make the necessary decisions about resource direction, product pricing and other issues. But the key is to handle these issues in a way that allows employees to be autonomous and self-determining
, which allows baggage clerks the freedom to decide how to solve a customer’s complaint on the spot, without having to say, « ‘Wait while I consult my boss.’ In a service-oriented environment, it can foster greater customer satisfaction,
Yoplait, for example, has a history of relying on self-managing teams charged with launching new flavors and products — one of the more creative sides of the business.
in the U.S., we like to think of ourselves as living in a democratic society, with the idea that everyone is represented, that everyone has the right to have a say and be heard, » he says. « So how do you create economic structures that can leverage that? People have experimented with it forever, with varying degrees of success. »