What’s in it for you? What’s in it for THEM?

Let’s imagine you’re convinced that your organization needs to adopt an ecological, holistic approach to learning. How do you get skeptical management on board? How do you overcome the inertia of the day-to-day in order to lay the foundation for the future?

Begin by figuring out where you are. Are you just starting out or down the path a ways? Is management pushing for the change or resisting it or unaware? Is your organization’s use of web 2.0 in infancy, childhood, or maturity?

Select business drivers for change. Don’t try to solve all problems at once. One or two make for a good start:

  • Speed up the flow of information through the organization
  • Improve customer service
  • Streamline workflow and slash bureaucracy
  • Unleash the power of collective intelligence
  • Create a nerve center for corporate news and market intelligence
  • Make all corporate know-how accessible 24/7
  • Recruit best candidates for new positions and make them productive quickly
  • Replace training classes with informal, hands-on learning
  • Open the process of innovation to all employees
  • Help workers build strong, supportive relationships
  • Enable managers to assess the status and direction of projects
  • Empower all employees to contribute ideas and feel part of the team
  • Better relationships with customers, prospects, recruits, partners, suppliers

Are you trying to save time, increase revenue, cut costs, or improve efficiency?

For a more extensive list, check out What do you want to improve?

Consider your options
You might pick one of the learnscape patterns here or in the printed material: professional subscriptions, central information sharing, voluntary social networks, and so on. Perhaps something on this list will lead you to an ah-ha moment.

Organizations & community
ROI

Comments (0)

Permalink

Are you ready?

First of all, think about whether your organization is ready for change. My friend Beth Kanter says the answer’s probably yes if people already share knowledge and ideas, respect people at all levels, and can deal with messiness. And it’s probably no if workers are not online, management is obsessively controlling, and everything requires central approval. When you’re faced with a no, resign yourself to small project or, better still, find yourself another organization to work with.

If your objective is to tweak the learnscape of the entire enterprise, it’s vital to grapple with corporate culture. What does the organizational feel like? What are the norms? How committed is the organization to change? Where are we starting? What’s the problem? What do we need to change?

You need to assess this for yourself, and you’ll need evidence to present to others. It’s not easy for an organization to see what’s in the mirror. Here are a few ways to sharpen the picture:


If you’ve known the organization long enough, contemplate the trajectory of its culture. Where are you along the organizational life cycle?

Next: What’s in it for you?

Context
Two fish are in a tank.
One says to the other,
“I’ll man the guns, you
drive.”

Organizations & community

Comments (1)

Permalink

How do you motivate people?

How do you motivate people?

* listen to them
* show them respect
* help them find their voice
* have conversations with them
* show genuine interest
* give them help and support
* engage with them
* trust them
* give them responsibility
* give them recognition
* give them opportunities for self
* don’t tell them what to do

Source: David Gurteen

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

The major obstacles

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Audit your learning culture

Take a Learning Culture Audit. Learn how in this classic article, Creating a Learning Culture, by Marcia Conner and James Clawson.

This is marvellous. Answer two dozen questions like these to assess your organization:

People at all levels ask questions and share stories about successes, failures, and what they have learned.

Managers share information on a need-to-know basis. People keep secrets and don’t describe how events really happened.

Everyone creates, keeps, and propagates stories of individuals who have improved their own processes.

Everyone believes they know what to do, and they proceed on that assumption.

People take at least some time to reflect on what has happened and what may happen.

Little time or attention is given to understanding lessons learned from projects.

People are treated as complex individuals.

People are treated like objects or resources without attention to their individuality.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

The Learning Organization Litmus Test


How do you know if your company is a learning organization? These simple litmus tests can help determine whether or not your company qualifies:

Does the organization have a defined learning agenda?

Learning organizations have a clear picture of their future knowledge requirements. They know what they need to know, whether the subject is customers, competitors, markets, technologies, or production processes, and are actively pursuing the desired information. Even in industries that are changing as rapidly as telecommunications, computers, and financial services, broad areas of needed learning can usually be mapped with some precision. Once they have been identified, these topics are pursued through multiple approaches, including experiments, simulations, research studies, post-audits, and benchmarking visits, rather than education and training alone.

Is the organization open to discordant information?

If an organization regularly “shoots the messenger” who brings forward unexpected or bad news, the environment is clearly hostile to learning. Behavior change is extremely difficult in such settings, for there are few challenges to the status quo. Sensitive topics — dissension in the ranks, unhappy customers, preemptive moves by competitors, problems with new technologies — are considered to be off limits, and messages are filtered, massaged, and watered down as they make their way up the chain of command.

Does the organization avoid repeated mistakes?

Learning organizations reflect on past experience, distill it into useful lessons, share the knowledge internally, and ensure that errors are not repeated elsewhere. Databases, intranets, training sessions, and workshops can all be used for this purpose. Even more critical, however, is a mind-set that enables companies to recognize the value of productive failure as contrasted with unproductive success. A productive failure leads to insights, understanding, and thus an addition to commonly held wisdom of the organization. And unproductive success occurs when something goes well, but nobody knows how or why. There is a peculiar logic at work here: to avoid repeating mistakes, managers must learn to accept them the first time around.

Does the organization lose critical knowledge when key people leave?

The story is all too common: a talented employee leaves the company, and critical skills disappear as well. Why? Because crucial knowledge was tacit, unarticulated, and unshared, locked in the head of a single person. Learning organizations avoid this problem by institutionalizing essential knowledge. Whenever possible, they codify it in policies or procedures, retain it in reports or memos, disperse it to large groups of people, and build it into the company’s values, norms, and operating practices. Knowledge becomes common property, rather than the province of individuals or small groups.

Does the organization act on what it knows?

Learning organizations are not simply repositories of knowledge. They take advantage of their new learning and adapt their behavior accordingly. Information is to be used; if it languishes or is ignored, its impact is certain to be minimal. By this test, an organization that discovers an unmet market need but fails to fill it does not qualify as a learning organization, nor does a company that identifies its own best practices but is unable to transfer them across departments or divisions.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Survey the pulse

When management needs “evidence” that it’s necessary to make a change, an in-house survey is a quick way to provide it.

Several free tools on the web simplify the creation, administration, and interpretation of surveys. In early 2008, I polled several hundred companies using a free application named Survey Share.

I formulated the survey questions and made them available online. I invited people to complete the survey from my website. More than two hundred companies responded. You could do the same thing in-house.

The raw survey results are here, and a graphs of the data are here.

When I was a college student, I worked part time at Gallup Poll. It was quite an eye-opener. Give people a chance to misinterpret a question, and they will. Hence, always pre-test a survey before doing the real thing.

Another suggestion: include open-ended questions. The responses to yes/no, closed questions seem precise, but can totally overlook hide something more important that wasn’t asked. Always include questions like “Anything else you’d like to mention?”

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Put the organization on the couch

Imagine your company is a person. Describe that person. Does she have a bright future or a dismal one? Is she optimistic or pessimistic? Is she hip or out of it? Is she rigid or flexible? Do you like her? Is she healthy or sick? Is she thriving or is she in decay?

How does the organization feel about herself? Is she emotionally together? Does she have a positive self image?

Does she feel young? Old? Vibrant? Tired? Bold? Scared? Happy? Depressed? Living up to her potential or just going through the motions?

Does she take time to exercise? Does she meditate? Does she reflect on experience? Does she take time to smell the roses?

What advice do you have for her?

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Pick some pictures


Learnscape architects never get to start from scratch because evert client has a legacy. Organizations large and small are chock full of stories, culture, values, sacred cows, taboos, rules of thumb, attitudes, and personalities. How can you sort out the important things from the trivial? Sometimes the best way to capture a snapshot of what’s on people’s minds is to ask them indirectly.

A rough-cut assessment tool that I’ve used to unearth people’s feelings about their organization uses hundred of pictures of people and work situations I’ve torn out of magazines and annual reports. I’ll spread them over a large table and ask team members to select three or four images that feel relevant to the state of the organization. Then we take turns describing each image and how it exemplifies what’s going on in the organization.

Here are some of the results of such an exercise. The participants manage groups of instructional designers, Intel University, and instructional staff.


Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Work and the Web are Converging

Since seeing the first website (Tim Berners-Lee’s site at CERN) in the early 1990s, I’ve been ecstatic about the web. Having spent the previous 14 years in the corporate training business, it was only natural for me to speculate about its potential for learning. With the web, information was available everywhere. I could share a single copy of a document, eliminating the hassle of distributing updates. The system could keep track of goals and progress. FAQs and mentors were a click away. What’s more, you didn’t have to be in IT to create and post your own content. A cyber campus I could access from my home office. I was in heaven.

Fifteen years on the web have made me less starry-eyed and more reflective. I’m still excited, because we’ve only scratched the surface of what the web will become in the next 15 years, but I’m able to realize that the web is doing a lot more than making communication instantaneous and information available to all. The web is changing culture.

Aided by the web, school children work with one another to complete assignments. Confined to the indoors because of random craziness and violence outside, kids maintain continual contact with friends through Instant Messenger. They get to know one another by sharing photos and thoughts on communities like MySpace. They are accustomed to learning by assembling snips of knowledge on the web into coherent papers and presentations. They work in the now, and they are starting to enter the workforce.

Culture shift

First we shape the web; then the web shapes us. E-learning has shown me that it is easy—and often okay—to skip subjects or presentations that don’t seem to be taking me anywhere. Click. Good-bye. My online behavior now shapes how I act in real life. For example, when listening to a presentation at a conference, despite the fact that I usually sit in the front row, if the presenter is not delivering the goods, I leave. I think of it as clicking on a fresh link.

The ways of the web are changing corporate behavior, too. People expect organizations we deal with to have a website, to explain how to use their products, to give us an email address or two for getting in touch, and to provide fresh information. The web is spreading values and expectations that we’ll call “Internet culture.” Here a few examples:

Customers expect a response to a query within a day or two, and sometimes immediately. However, when snail mail was the vehicle, a week was an excellent response time.

Many managers assume that workers are aware of what is going on in their organizations, which was not the case when information was always sent via memo.

The old notion of “us” and “them” no longer applies. Haughty companies will be called on it. We are all nodes on the net.

Nothing is set in stone. It’s tough to recall a book, but easy to edit a webpage.

Many presume that keeping something secret is probably a cover-up.

Unfortunately, the typical corporate manager is unfamiliar with Internet culture. They consider the web as “a marketplace for mass speech, a jungle where children are prey, a mall or concert hall, a safari for surf, a commercial space much in need of zoning,” writes Wesley Cooper in “ Information Technology and Internet Culture.

Corporations must embrace the web, however. Organizations cannot only reap the tangible benefits of connectedness, they must also internalize the memes of Internet culture. It is internet culture that can reinforce the values of collaboration, sharing, rapid response, innovation through prototyping, openness, authenticity, and agility.

The role of learning

Corporate learning can be an ideal place to initiate this Internet acculturation. In addition to providing a framework for learning the metaphors of the web, organizations can receive a large and quick payback in cost savings and improved performance.

Today’s work is knowledge work. Try to imagine working in this environment without Internet culture.

Workers are challenged to make their own decisions, on the fly. The boss is spread too thin to answer questions. No one has time for workshops and courses. Real-time learning is replacing learn-in-advance courses. Networks glue teams together and promote two-way relationships with customers and suppliers. Increasingly, people acquire the skills they use at work informally—observing others, trial-and-error, Goggling, and checking the Net so see what people have done in the past.

internet culture
Learnscapes

Comments (0)

Permalink

Implementing eLearning

Early eLearning was an utter disaster.

A study by ASTD and Elliott Masie found that 31% of potential eLearners failed to register for compulsory e-Learning; 68% failed to register for voluntary e-Learning. Drop-out rates of 50% to 80% were not uncommon. The study concluded, “For learners, how extensively the course was marketed and promoted was the single most influential factor for increasing the likelihood that learners would begin the course.”

In 2002, Lance Dublin and I wrote a book, Implementing eLearning, to address two issues:

  • How can we make it more likely learners will come? And complete what they start? 
And come back for more?
  • How do we prepare the organization to not only install, but also then implement and ultimately institutionalize e-learning?

We contended that successful implementation takes change from the top (necessitating change management) and demand from the bottom (using the philosophy and techniques of consumer marketing.)

The marketing we were talking about is what David Packard referred to when he said, “Marketing is far too important to be left to only the marketing department.” Our rationale was, as Larry Wilson said, “People love to buy but hate to be sold.”

Here is Chapter 1 at Amazon. (See this tag cloud at Amazon for the focus of the book.)

The book is structured around a number of exercises to tease out a change management strategy and marketing plan piece-by-piece. The capstone of the book is a template for an action plan. (Here’s a copy in Word, should you want to truly fill in the blanks.)

I found it outrageous that our publisher charged $38 for our 140-page book. (They must have missed school the day the price-sensitivity of demand was discussed.) I created a website on implementing eLearning where I published portions of the raw first draft, titling them The Author’s Cut, and promising “what didn’t get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas, and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart.” After an introduction, those sections cover:

This book is now six years old but it has aged well. To my amazement, the fundamentals still apply.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Learning Implementation Action Plan

Worksheet for Developing a Learning Implementation Action Plan

By Jay Cross and Lance Dublin

Derived from Chapter 10 of Implementing eLearning, a 140-page guide to building a successful change management and internal marketing plan for your organization. You may purchase copies of Implementing eLearning from ASTD Press or Amazon.

Learning Implementation Action Plan Worksheet

Instructions in italic are for you. Delete them after you’ve put together your Action Plan by answering the questions that follow.

If you’ve read the book, insert the information you developed there into this worksheet.

Then go back through the worksheet, making things consistent, refining your plans, adding details as appropriate, and deleting things that don’t make a difference. Add a schedule of events.

What remains is your eLearning Implementation Action Plan. Congratulations.

MEMO
Date:
To:
From:
Subject: eLearning Action Plan for _____________ Corporation

The profit potential of eLearning at ___________ Corporation is staggering, but it won’t be successful without your support. That’s why we ask that you review our findings before we meet. Are we on target? Might you suggest things we can do better? Do you buy our proposals? Can we count on your support?

This memo summarizes how we think ___________ Corporation should implement eLearning and how it will benefit our organization. We will share how we plan to integrate eLearning into our corporate culture and operations, and how the company stands to gain from the proposed initiative.

We just completed an analysis of what we need to do to maximize our ROI from eLearning. We began by addressing these key issues:

What can we do to prepare our employees, customers, and partners to get the most from eLearning?
How can we improve the odds of success?
How do we keep people coming back for more?

In the past, offering individual courses and workshops, we were content to assume that we knew the answers to these questions. Those individual courses didn’t justify market analysis and campaigns.

eLearning is a different matter, because:

  • eLearning is an ongoing process, not an event
  • eLearning represents large-scale organizational change
  • not everyone is on board
  • a large investment is at stake
  • achieving results is no longer optional
  • many people do not understand what eLearning is
  • skeptics are critical of its effectiveness.

Our in-house goals are to:

  • motivate learners, managers, and the entire organization
  • win the support of our varied stakeholders
  • build an eLearning infrastructure
  • achieve lasting results.

In a nutshell, our action plan is to…

Insert your elevator pitch from chapter 6. Briefly describe your proposed brand identity, target markets, and positioning.

Challenges 
(from chapter 1)

What is your gut instinct about the challenges you will face?
Take a look at factors within your organization that may help or hinder your implementation. How many good signs do you see and what are they?
What are the bad signs you need to watch out for or plan to address?

Business Issues (from chapter 2)

The primary business issues involving our eLearning are:

  • Who are the major stakeholders? Owners? Managers? Workers? Partners? Outside customers?
  • How does your proposal support the vision of management?
  • How does this eLearning create value for your stakeholders?
  • What trade-offs are you making?

Describe the risk in your proposal and compare it to the rewards.

  • How do you think your customers will feel?
  • How are you applying the 80/20 rule? What high-leverage groups or activities have you chosen?
  • What impact will your initiative have on the bottom line?
  • How does your eLearning focus on core strategic issues instead of context?

Describe the cost-benefit analysis for your proposal.
The primary change management issues involving our eLearning are:

  • What leads to the sense of urgency around this project?
  • Who is on your guiding coalition?
  • What corporate changes are you attaching your eLearning wagon to?
  • What short-term wins do you foresee?
  • What stakeholders can you recruit for your coalition?
  • How will you anchor eLearning in your culture?
  • How do you plan to recruit innovators and early adopters?
  • Who are our primary customers? Employees? Salespeople? Customers?
  • What is the clear and compelling promise of your brand?

Describe the relationship you seek with your customers.

Organizational Culture and Change
(from chapters 3 and 4)

We must keep in mind that our organizational culture is: 
List prime characteristics of your culture here:

  1. What artifacts typify your organization’s culture?
  2. What are the distinct features of your corporate culture?
    Where do you see your culture on Hofstede’s scales?
  3. And how might this encourage or block eLearning?

We are preparing to support our eLearning implementation through leadership. Which organizational leaders are backing our efforts and why?

Who are our change agents and why? What will we do to support them?

Are the learners prepared for this change? Is our organization prepared for change?

Is our technology up to the task?

How will the initiative be governed?

Do the skills, knowledge, and abilities exist in our organization to ensure the success of our implementation?

What is our vision? [A vision statement is a picture of what you want the future to look like- what you aspire to become, to achieve, to create.]

What is our mission? [Your mission examines the project’s purpose and expresses its sense of value. Perhaps most important, a mission inspires people to stand out, and it guides leaders.]

  • What audiences do we need to reach with our communication plan?
  • What are the messages these audiences need to hear, and when?
  • What are the communication vehicles and activities we’ll use?
  • What will we do increase awareness?
  • What will we do to increase involvement?
  • What will we do to increase commitment?

Market Research
(from chapter 5)

We undertook the following research to learn about:

  • our consumers, the learners
  • consumer behavior
  • competitors for consumers’ attention
  • sponsors
  • our brand image
  • organizational goals
  • our industry’s environment
  • the macroeconomic environment
  • trends in eLearning technology

Our consumers: We’ve identified and described the target customers for our eLearning.

The consumers, your customers, are the most important topic of all. Use the 80/20 rule to select the groups with the most likely impact. Then describe each group using a target consumer description form. Two forms are provided below. See figure 5-1 for some examples of how to do this.

Target Customer Description

    Identity:
    Number:
    Location:
    Tenure:
    Turnover:
    New hires:
    Learning needs:
    Line sponsor:
    Bottom-line impact expected:

Target Customer Description

    Identity:
    Number:
    Location:
    Tenure:
    Turnover:
    New hires:
    Learning needs:
    Line sponsor:
    Bottom-line impact expected:

Competitors: We’ve identified the major competitors for the time and interest of our employees.

  • What or who are your major competitors?
  • What other corporate priorities will you be competing against?
  • What objections do you expect from your customers?

Sponsors: We’ve coordinated our plans with many people in the organization.

  • Who are our executive sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Who are our line management sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Who are our technical sponsors? What’s in it for them?
  • Whom must we rely on for success? What’s in it for them?
  • How do we plan to get their backing and support?
  • Organizational goals We know and support what our company is trying to accomplish

What are our organization’s overall goals?
What is the current mandate from executive management?

How does our eLearning initiative relate to its achievement?

Our industry’s environment in light of the direction in our industry, we’ve identified trends that will influence our eLearning initiatives.

  • What are the major trends in our industry?
  • Is solution selling replacing point sales?
  • Are customers going for self-service?
  • Is automation changing the flow of work?
  • Is the enterprise becoming more international?
  • Are processes being outsourced or moving overseas?
  • Are competitors introducing new generations of products?

Macroeconomic environment. We expect global events will affect our industry and its need for learning.

  • What political, economic, and social changes in the world at large may affect our business?
  • What impact do you expect from increasing workforce diversity? Aging of the workforce?
  • Economic volatility? Declining half-life of knowledge? Faster pace of business? Increased regulation? Globalization? International terrorism? Declining public education standards? Other factors?
  • How do we plan to adapt to the changes deemed relevant to our industry?

Learning technology: In all likelihood, the next three years will see shifts in eLearning technology, and we need to lay the groundwork for adaptation now as…

  • learning and knowledge management converge
  • eLearning becomes a Web service
  • simulation replaces linear subject orientation
  • eLearning and other enterprise-wide systems converge
  • content becomes more industry-specific
  • extent of high-quality generic content increases in core areas
  • individualized learning prescriptions are based on competency assessments
  • competency management replaces needs analysis.

If you’ve shared your findings with others, perhaps via your intranet, describe the confirmation or suggestions you’ve received from them.

Your market research could fill an extensive report. Don’t let it. Less is more.

Go back through your findings and eliminate anything that doesn’t matter. After all, not every industry trend or competitor is going to make even a ripple in your eLearning pond. Less is more. Pick the two or three most striking findings in each category, and use them to write a terse market research summary.

Marketing Design
(from chapter 6)

Effective consumer marketing strategies rest on a foundation of

  • a brand that creates a reputation that keeps customers coming back and attracts new customers
  • market segmentation that optimizes results by leveraging the most appropriate groups of customers
  • a position that places your product in the “sweet spot” in the mind of the customer.

We have used these concepts to develop our eLearning implementation plan:

[Please restate your elevator pitch here.]

  • What do we want our organization and services to be known for? What do we promise our customers?
  • What is our functional value proposition to our consumers?
  • What is our emotional value proposition to our consumers?
  • How will our brand identity give meaning to the lives of our customers?

Just as a brand identity may reflect a person (personality), it may reflect an organization and its culture.What attributes of your organization might your incorporate into your brand identity?
With these factors in mind, the brand identity of our eLearning consists of the following elements:

Brand name:

Brand symbol or logo:

A few core values:

What are our target markets and why did we choose them?
Which market segments will we focus on?

Launch
(from chapters 7 and 8)
Include the materials you developed in chapters 7 and 8. For example: a three-paragraph email announcing the eLearning initiative, a draft brochure for the program, an email invitation to an open house and demonstration, and a publicity poster.

List five ways you intend to create “buzz.”
List five common obstacles to eLearning, and for each explain how you propose to overcome it.
[If you are receiving help from your marketing communications department, you’re naturally going to describe what they are doing for support and show any samples they have developed for you.]
Sustaining eLearning
(chapter 9)

  • How will we provide feedback to learners and their bosses?
  • How will we handle complaints?
  • How will we assess customer satisfaction?
  • How will we keep our focus on the customer?
  • How will we show our customers that we respect them?
  • Do we plan to use “mystery learners”?
  • How will learners be able to co-create future learning events?
  • Are we setting up a learner council?
  • Are experienced employees to mentor new employees?
  • How will we support the development of communities of practice?
  • How frequently will we provide progress reports to stakeholders?
  • What will be in stakeholder reports?
  • How will we identify or solicit new challenges?
  • How will we monitor satisfaction?
  • How will stakeholders request improvements or additions?
  • Are we setting up a board of advisors or a steering committee?
  • Is professional development of one’s direct reports in managers’ job descriptions?
  • Have supervisors themselves learned to support and reinforce their subordinates’ learning?
  • What systems need to be changed?
  • What performance management systems need to be changed?
  • What formal and informal rewards and recognition systems will you leverage?
  • Hitch a ride! What organizational initiatives will you seek to become part of?

It’s a shame when people work hard to create a program and then blow it by under-investing in packaging.

We’ve presented the development of your eLearning plan as a fill-in-the-blank exercise. Filling in the blanks is not all you need to do. 

Have some old hands and people unfamiliar with your project read through your plan. Pay attention to their feedback. Tighten up your logic and your writing. A couple of months’ work justifies a few days’ polishing to sell your ideas.
Remember the old story about the retired engineer who’s called back to work to fix a boiler? He raps it once with a hammer and asks for a fee of $10,000. Incredulous, the management asks how he can charge so much for one tap with his hammer. He presents an invoice:

Boiler Repair
Tap once on boiler ———- $1
Knowing where to tap —- $9,999

In the realms of eLearning, marketing, project management, design, publicity, and boosting morale, Jay knows where to tap. Maybe a tap is all you need.



Find out more of what didn’t get into the book. Typos, far-out ideas,
and topsy-turvy presentation. This is unedited. From the heart.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Implementing eLearning

Implementing eLearning

by Jay Cross and Lance Dublin

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: ASTD Press (October 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1562863339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1562863333

How To:

Manage the Change to E-Learning
Successfully Market to Learners
Create an Implementation Strategy

Strategy, marketing, and implementation are key to a successful deployment of e-learning. I am pleased to see a new book that addresses the nitty gritty of how to actually implement e-learning in an organization. This is a book that will save dollars and headaches. –Elliott Masie, President, The MASIE Center and The e-Learning CONSORTIUM

Beyond getting the technology right and offering high quality courseware, much work remains to be done if we want our e-learning efforts to be more than a short-term ‘flash-in-the-pain.’ This book clearly shows why a successful and sustainable e-learning approach must consider issues of strategy, culture, communication, and change management. –Marc J. Rosenberg, Senior Director, DiamondCluster International

This book is a balanced, honest look at the realities of achieving what e-learning promises, but seldom delivers. Implementing E-Learning offers lessons from the ‘trenches’ that can boost your chances of success by focusing your attention on the well constructed implentation strategy the authors provide. –Daryl R. Conner, CEO of ODR


“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood.” Daniel H. Burnham

Change Management 101 by Fred Nichols

books
Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Classifications

Classifications? We don’t need no stinking classifications.

Integration is the goal. Classifications invite disintegration.

internet culture

Comments (0)

Permalink

Community-building on the web

When I read Amy Jo Kim’s Community-Building on the Web in 2000, I was enthralled. Few books on this topic were available. Most of what I knew about online communities I had picked up here and there on the WeLL. My knowledge was fuzzy. Amy Jo’s book made things clear. Re-reading her work eight years and countless other community-building books later, her message still rings true.

Excerpts:

Successful, long-lasting communities almost always start off small, simple and focused, and then grow organically over time—adding breadth, depth and complexity in response to the changing needs of the members, and the changing conditions of the environment.

Successful community building is a constant balancing act between the efforts of management (that’s you) to plan, organize and run the space, and the ideas, suggestions and needs of your members. To manage this co-evolution, you’ll need to keep your finger on the community pulse — and you’ll do this by creating and maintaining feedback loops between members and management.

Nine Timeless Design Strategies: “Social Scaffolding:”

1. Define and articulate your PURPOSE

Communities come to life when they fulfill an ongoing need in people’s lives. To create a successful community, you’ll need to first understand why you’re building it and who you’re building it for – and then express your vision in the design, navigation, technology and policies of your community.

2. Build flexible, extensible gathering PLACES

Wherever people gather together for a shared purpose, and start talking amongst themselves, a community can begin take root. Once you’ve defined your purpose, you’ll want to build a flexible, small-scale infrastructure of gathering places, which you’ll co-evolve along with your members.

3. Create meaningful and evolving member PROFILES

You can get to know your members – and help them get to know each other – by developing robust, evolving and up-to-date member profiles. If handled with integrity, these profiles can help you build trust, foster relationships, and deliver personalized services – while infusing your community with a
sense of history and context.

4. Design for a range of ROLES

Addressing the needs of newcomers without alienating the regulars is an ongoing balancing act. As your community grows, it will become increasingly important to provide guidance to newcomers – while offering leadership, ownership and commerce opportunities to more experienced members.

5. Develop a strong LEADERSHIP program

Community leaders are the fuel in your engine: they greet visitors, encourage newbies, teach classes, answer questions, and deal with trouble-makers before they destroy the fun for everyone else. An effective leadership program requires careful planning and ongoing management, but the results can be well worth the investment.

6. Encourage appropriate ETIQUETTE

Every community has it’s share of internal squabbling. If handled well, conflict can be invigorating – but disagreements often spin out of control, and tear a community apart. To avoid this, it’s crucial to develop some groundrules for participation, and set up systems that allow you to enforce and evolve your community standards.

7. Promote cyclic EVENTS

Communities come together around regular events: sitting down to dinner, going to church on Sunday, attending a monthly meeting or a yearly offsite. To develop a loyal following, and foster deeper relationships among your members, you’ll want to establish regular online events, and help your members develop and run their own events.

8. Integrate the RITUALS of community life

All communities use rituals to acknowledge their members, and celebrate important social transitions. By celebrating holiday marking seasonal changes, and integrating personal transitions and rites of passage, you’ll be laying the foundation for a true online culture.

9. Facilitate member-run SUBGROUPS

If your goal is to grow a large-scale community, you’ll want to provide enabling technologies to help your members create and run subgroups. It’s a substantial undertaking — but this powerful feature can drive lasting member loyalty, and help to distinguish you community from it’s competition

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

KM, learning, OD, and the Tower of Babel

Harold Jarche pointed out that it would be nice were the learning/living model…

live_and_learn

…to highlight the differences between learning, KM, OD, education, performance support, communities, and HPT. Continue Reading »

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Papa Bear

PAPA BEAR
Papa Bear, sometimes known as executive management, has slept through Baby’s and Mama’s online collaborative campaigns. Sleep is good, he thinks to himself. Having been around long enough to be sporting an occasional grey hair, Papa’s nose tells him something important is going on.

Papa Bear’s primary concern is milking online collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 for all they are worth. He knows it’s important for workers, clients, and partners to connect and collaborate. Papa Bear wants to be certain he’s leaving no honey, oops money, on the table.

WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
The rest of the business world was hardly standing still while Papa Bear hibernated, for this is the age of networks. Collaborative software will connect prospects and sales people, customers and service, partners and product information, and supply chain with operations.

The future world of business is evolving into plug-and-play, outsourcing functions that are not core. Internet technology provides a common language for connecting business functions and processing routine transactions. “I’ll have my computers talk with your computers.”

Papa Bear knows that without an online collaboration framework in-house, the company could be cut off from its customers and business partners. Also, it’s unlikely many of the people being hired right out of college would buy into the old lone worker with pencil and paper routine.

Papa Bear expects collaboration and network infrastructure to follow the trajectory of IT. At first, computing was relegated to the low- hanging fruit: routine tasks like accounting that were simple to automate with the same logic humans had already applied. In time, IT expanded to become enterprise software, an octopus hooked into sales, inventory, accounting, financial forecasting, HR, marketing, business intelligence, and vendor relations. Collaboration – relationships – give an organisation the agility to adapt to change and the speed to create value ahead of others.

Whenever a bottom-up phenomenon in business evolves into a strategically vital proposition, executive management steps in to insure the firm isn’t treading on thin ice and to track to make sure the return their investment is optimal, neither too risky nor too conservative.

THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
For three hundred years, bears (and people) have revered efficiency, productivity, the accumulation of wealth, and things they could see and touch. This view of the world became second nature, so obvious that we didn’t question it. Until now. We are in transition from the industrial age to the network era. When it’s difficult for people to make connections, knowledge and power are scarce, and a few ‘haves’ control the ‘have-nots’. We see this top-down structure in feudalism, kingdoms, colonies, armies, and industrial organisations.

When it becomes easy for people to make connections, knowledge and power are distributed, and everyone has a say. The internet lives to make connections, millions of them daily. Connections beget connections, making the whole ever more value, and perhaps ending up a ‘singularity’ where things happen so fast that we no longer recognise what’s going on.

No organisation inhabits these extremes. Even the most command-and-control firm uses email and has internet access; the most networked still harbour unconnected nooks and crannies. Most knowledge organisations today find themselves in this in-between state. They have one foot in the command-and-control model. New hires, at this point twenty-somethings, are bringing the ways they have been doing projects at home with them.

New recruits are refusing to work with organisations that don’t permit them to post a personal profile, use instant messenger, and connect to friends when they encounter a question. Elliott Masie tells of his disappointment with a new hire who had the continual distraction of six friends always a click away on her desktop. How could she concentrate? Then he realised that instead of having one new person working for The Masie Centre, he had seven!

LOOK IN THE MIRROR
We’re not all Motorolas or Ciscos, ready to adopt new technology at the drop of a hat. Most companies are somewhere between being stuck in the past and embracing the future.

I think of organisations with the industrial-age beliefs as ice, because they are rigid. In addition to their orientation to control, ice organisations think business is a zero-sum game; for me to win, you must lose. They have a black-and-white view of the world; things are rigid; the fundamentals still apply. Secrecy is competition advantage; hoarding information is the norm.

Water companies are less sure of themselves or what the future will bring; Reality is the unpredictable result of complex adaptive forces. Nothing’s perfect; stuff happens. Cooperation is a win-win game. Relationships are all-important, and the more open you are, the easier it is to form them.

Where is your organisation? Ice or water? Your answers to a few questions will probably make it clear:

  • Can employees access the entire internet from their desktops?
  • Are People in our company not learning and growing fast enough to keep up with the needs of our business?
  • Does corporate policy forbid blogging outside our firewall.
  • Do our sales people share sales techniques and call reports online?
  • Following a major success or failure, do we take time to reflect on what we’ve learned?
  • Do people know how their work relates to our mission and vision?
  • Do employees in one department know what’s happening in other parts of the company?
  • Is it simple to set up an online meeting here?
  • Does my team frequently talk about the trends and forces that drive our business?
  • Are relationships between departments cooperative and effective?
  • Do we distribute information through podcasts?
  • Do we believe in transparency and openness whenever possible?

You don’t need an answer key to figure out where you are.

If your company is on the water side, you are a candidate for the transformation Andy McAfee describes.

MURPHY’S LAW
In the interest of getting a lot of suggestions in front of you, I have focused on what has worked. One could write a longer paper on what has not gone well. Implementing collaboration online systems is not a day at the beach. Doing it right takes vision, persistence, and courage. Don’t give up; the rewards are worth the effort.

THE NEXT STEP
In your father’s time, workers prospered by knowing how to do their jobs and doing them. In our time, workers get along by connecting with others and staying in sync with ever- changing conditions. Increasingly, what they need to know is not in their heads; it’s a shared understanding held by lots of people. Having exceeded the limits of what any of us can understand on our own, we turn to our collective intelligence to survive.

Organisations at the top of the food chain are shucking off industrial-age thinking as best they can, but it is difficult. Since your great- great- great- great- great- great- great- greatgrandfather’s day, we’ve revered efficiency, productivity, the accumulation of wealth, and things we could see and touch. The game is changing. With one foot in the industrial age and the other in the evolving network age, our organisations are being ripped up the middle. The world is too volatile to wait for it to pass over.

Never before in history has progress raced along at such a rate that children lap their parents. If you’d like to brainstorm how to inject collaborative technology into your organisation, please call me or any thirteen-year old. Collaborate with them.

Organizations & community
Tools for Learning

Comments (0)

Permalink

Baby Bear


WHERE DOES IT START?

Baby Bear is intensely curious, driven to try new things just for the heck of it. Most collaboration projects begin at the bottom of the organisation and migrate upward. Typically, a young internet enthusiast who knows the web 2.0 environment joins the company. She sees an opportunity to improve local performance with a blog or wiki. She takes a proposal to her manager. One hopes that the manager asks “What’s the business case?” If they decide the proposal is worthy of consideration, the next step will be to create a prototype to try the idea on for size.

Happily, the costs of setting up a web 2.0 application are trivial. Furthermore, applications are simple to program. You no longer need to be a programmer to produce a prototype for show-and-tell. Many a prototype has been developed in a matter of hours.

Baby bear is the application champion. If he is low in the organisation, he probably begins with a simple, free, online wiki to deal with
a local problem and builds support by pointing people to the wiki. Baby bears come in all sizes. In addition to the local enthusiasts, social software projects have been initiated by:

  • CIO – fulfiling request from others
  • CIO – trial, seeing if it lives up to rumours
  • Line manager with specific problem to solve
  • Staff – exploring process improvements
  • HR – best practices, organisation development
  • Exec – read about it in airplane magazine
  • Exec – major push, organisational challenge.

The U.S. Department of Defence spends the most money on training of any organisation in the world, yet a simple web application started by two company commanders on their own has become the most important source of collaboration and knowledge sharing among officers in Iraq.

Two company commanders who had been classmates at West Point shared quarters. In the evening, they would talk over the day’s events and reflect on what they had learned. Sensing that other officers might want to join the conversation, they started a blog. Rather than go through channels, they didn’t ask for permission. (Anyone can set up a blog for free in less than five minutes.)

The blog spread virally among company commanders, becoming more valuable as more voices chimed in. Soon the blog, Company Command, was a must-read. Unlike material coming from the Pentagon, the conversations in the blog told what had happened only hours before; they were in everyday, conversational English, not bureaucratese; they focused on need-to-know information for survival, not something one might use next year.

In another case, a staffer in a large company thought an in-house Wikipedia would help employees find information and retain a corporate memory. A technology evangelist downloaded free software and implemented a wiki behind the firewall. It soon became the bridge among five divisional silos and the go-to place for finding things out. Volunteers populated the system with handy information from all corners. New hires get up to speed by spending a day exploring the in-house information centre.

Bottom-up collaborative environments all over the corporation tend to improve functions that are already in place. Criteria for selection: pick the low-hanging fruit.

When small projects gain enough attention to appear on the corporate radar, responsibility for selecting and implementing social software is delegated to the IT department, either to take the prototype forward or perhaps because the IT press and CIO community say it’s the thing to do. CIO magazine, once sceptical of the web as an intrusion onto IT’s turf, is now singing its praises, e.g.:

One of the driving forces behind Web 2.0 is the virtual office – teams of far-flung experts collaborating online to create a whole greater than the sum of its contributors

A KM system that’s ‘actually being used’ – this kind of language hints at the scepticism both users and CIOs have had about KM for years.

One final bit of good news: Users say the new, simpler KM tools make it easier to justify the investment to your fellow C-level executives. “It can be very difficult to make a pitch to senior management about why knowledge management is important, because it’s not real to them,” explains Northwestern Mutual’s Austin. Now, she just shows them blog users engaged in explaining their projects to coworkers.

Enterprise 2.0 tools make it easier to share and organise information. Tagging and rating provide a straightforward way to find content and make judgments about what to look at. Blogs and wikis are natural collaboration and communication platforms. Social network tools help staff find the right individual or group of people. Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to provide knowledge and content management in a surprisingly cheap and easy fashion using Web-based tools (ABC An Introduction to Web 2.0, CIO magazine, July 12, 2007).

Sometimes IT becomes involved because it controls everything to do with computers. This can have disastrous consequences if IT takes full control. Implementing online collaboration deals more with people issues than software decisions, but IT people solve IT issues.

A typical selection process may involve setting up a matrix of vendors and features, yet features are unimportant compared to ease of use and other factors. Social software is often lightweight, but inexpensive can translate as unimportant to IT. The upshot is that often the customer view is not taken into account.
Little bear needs IT’s help in enforcing the standards necessary for efficiency. IT should lend its expertise and influence in security, compliance, and building a foundation for growth.

If not an IT decision, a business user with a problem to solve probably initiates the inquiry. Sometimes the goal is meta, for example, increasing innovation. More often the issue is immediately practical, for example  onboarding 1,500 new staff or tracking plans for 75 customers. Criteria for selection: solve a burning business problem.

Sometimes executives mandate experiments with social software because they’ve read about it in the business press or hear success stories from colleagues. Their interest may be faster cycle times, unleashing corporate wisdom, consolidating an acquisition, or other over-arching need. Criteria for
project selection: focus on strategically important areas.

One of the driving forces behind Web 2.0 is the virtual office – teams of far-flung experts collaborating online to create a whole greater than the sum of its contributors.

IS BABY BEAR’S ORGANISATION READY FOR THIS?
At this stage, all we have is a prototype. Nonetheless it’s a good idea to test the water before jumping into the pool. At least that will keep you from diving into hot water.

Consultant, online advocate, and champion of NGOs Beth Kanter has lots of experience assessing whether an organisation is ready for online collaboration. Beth thinks you are not ready if:

  • Management is obsessively controlling
  • The organisation will not accept changes in how you work
  • Your employees are not online
  • Everything must be vetted by central authority

On the other hand, you may be prepared if you want to:

  • Make it easy for people to share knowledge
  • Are willing to share ideas in progress and let others join in
  • Want to enable many voices
  • Can deal with messiness

SELECTING A STARTER APPLICATION
Your mileage may vary, but initial projects have a better chance of thriving if:

  • Participants have a shared need.
  • It’s easy for participants to see what’s in it for them.
  • The information involved is not controversial.
  • A sound business case can be made.
  • Stand-alone implementation is feasible (i.e. not requiring connection with other systems)
  • The project yields a good example to use when getting support for other projects.
  • You can open in New Haven.

New Haven? Sixty years ago, producers staged new plays at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, before taking them to Broadway. No critics were in the audience, so if a major overhaul was required before the official release, no one was the wiser. Similarly, if your first prototype bombs, it’s nice to be able to sweep it under the carpet and begin anew.

DOCUMENT THE BUSINESS CASE
To maintain focus, the owner of a project should prepare a document in response to these questions:

  • What is the goal of the collaboration?
  • What’s the current situation?
  • What do you expect it to be after the project?
  • How will this be accomplished?
  • What is the business benefit? (In business terms).
  • How do you quantify the size of the benefit?
  • Who’s going to take part?
  • What might go wrong?
  • Is this a one-time project or an on-going process?
  • Do we have sponsorship higher up?
  • Who will participate on the team?
  • If it’s a one-timer, when will it be completed? What is the kill date?

Display your answers prominently on the wiki, blog, or whatever tool is involved.

COMMITMENT BY TEAM MEMBERS
It’s great to begin a long-term collaboration with a face-to-face meeting. Either in person or virtual, social bonding comes before business, for that’s the platform on which the work will be built. Begin with games and getting-to-know-you exercises. Give people time to talk and become familiar with one another.

Social connections remain vital throughout the collaboration. People work best with people they know. Encourage people to share information about themselves. Post photographs of participants. Pinpoint their locations on a map. It’s important that collaborators are working under the same set of assumptions. Discuss each of these areas and ask for individual commitment to them.

  • Respect the team, and do what is best to accomplish the objective. Be selfless, not selfish.
  • Members will be active. If a member spots something to improve the collaboration, she volunteers to do it.
  • Members freely share ideas and suggestions. They do not hoard information or keep secrets.
  • Members treat each other with respect. The team is committed to continuous improvement.
  • Members care for one another emotionally, helping one another over rough spots and fears.
  • Use whatever tools are appropriate to advance the project: phone calls, on-line meetings.
  • Members trust one another. They ‘make this marriage work.’

Be prepared for push-back. Workers who see collaboration as hindering their work rather than supporting it will be reluctant to join the effort. organisations that are accustomed to a single viewpoint (usually top management’s) can become rattled as other voices begin to speak. It’s useful to recruit a band of early supporters to help sell the value of the project.

ONLINE COLLABORATION DRIVER LICENSE
You cannot learn to swim without getting in the water. You will not appreciate collaborative technology without writing entries in a blog, taking part in a wiki, and subscribing to an RSS feed.

If you haven’t experienced these things, don’t go into denial. Yes, you really need to do them. No, logic is insufficient for grasping what is going on. It needn’t take more than an hour or two, spread out over a week or two to experience these things. Find a private place to practice. Trust us, it’s painless. And you’ll be rewarded with not only your online collaboration license but also a big ah-ha of understanding.

To earn your automobile license, you have to demonstrate that you can drive the vehicle. Likewise, you don’t really qualify for a collaboration driver license until you’ve taken part in a successful collaboration.

Hints on what works with social software

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it flexible
  • Do it yourself (blog/wiki) or you won’t understand it
  • Be innovative, ever alert to productivity improvements
  • Be open to new ways of doing things
  • Release early and release often. Just do it
  • Promotion is important. Remind people where to look
  • Focus on the function rather than on the tools
  • Provide step-by-step how-to guides
  • Provide the opportunity to celebrate small successes
  • Give people time to practice using the software – it is easy to forget how to do things, especially when you don’t use the software regularly.

Organizations & community
Tools for Learning

Comments (0)

Permalink

Talent

Traditionally, HR has two major functions: administration and developing people. The administrative part is the busywork benefits, personnel policies, retirement plans, reporting and other routine activities. Outsourcing this clutter is generally a good idea.

What remains is talent. Some people call this Talent Management but management is the wrong term. We want to inspire people to do great work; telling them to do great work is a non-starter. People are not assets; all assets depreciate in value over time. Think of your people as investors. High performance is in an investor’s self interest. In-house investor relations is more a matter of stewardship. When I use the term talent, talent stewardship is what I mean.

Talent has everything to do with relationships: recruiting the right people, developing people, keeping them on board, and seeing that they are fulfilled. Successful relationships are flexible and personalized.

In lieu of control, organizations must provide opportunities for people to grow, to excel, to find meaning in work, and to find a higher purpose in what they do. Once we point to the desired destination, we must trust our people/investors to head there.

Power to the people! Giving people freedom is a trade-off with trying to control them. Micro-managing adherence to rules instead of helping our people focus on outcomes gets in the way of getting the job done. People resent the intrusion. It is high time to replace rules-based management with principles-based leadership.

Traditionalists worry about the time unmanaged people will waste going down blind alleys. This sort of thinking misses the bigger picture. Giving people more freedom enriches the role of the manager. Gone is the tarpit of looking for exceptions and whipping people back into line. You can inspire many times as many people as you can try to control. Eliminating needless minor adjustments frees up manager time to work on the big stuff.

Most of these are Kevin Wheeler‘s ideas, not mine.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Unwarranted control

When we deal with others, control is often superfluous. The best policy for managing knowledge workers is to get up on managing them. Inspire them instead.

Managers Coaches need to give people challenges and very broad boundaries to operate within. It’s analogous to a child’s puzzle. Give people the dots but let them connect them for themselves. Managers have build up elaborate rituals to doublecheck their people are connecting the dots in the proper sequence. Cruft accumulates on the simplest of processes, obscuring their original meaning.

Kevin Wheeler shared a story that provides a solid example:

A new manager found herself fielding the usual headaches of dealing with “managed” workers. Some complained of having too much to do. Others had finished what they were working on and asked what to do next. Projects were falling behind schedule. People were not happy.

The manager was called away for a month-long business trip. She called everyone into a conference room. They brainstormed lists of what needed to be accomplished while the manager was away. They left with an understanding of what needed to be done but no individual assignments for doing it.

When the manager returned, the group exceeded expectation. All projects were accomplished. People were proud of their accomplishment. The manager learned that her job was to set direction; next, she had to get out of people’s way so they could do it. Many managers spend too much time managing.

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Tips for Community Building

Tip #1. Create infrastructure for questions
When dealing with small businesses, questions are par for the course, and every business’ questions are unique. While no single person can possibly answer them all, an environment that invites questions and answers from businesses of all types always has someone with answers.

Tip #2. Understand how comfortable users are with technology
While blogs are everywhere in the press, not every individual is comfortable with them.

Tip #3. Foster relationships
First, make sure that the environment has a variety of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Then, build relationships with some of them in the same way that those individuals are building relationships with each other. And because most word of mouth happens offline, be sure to encourage offline relationships as well.

Tip #4. Utilize user-created content
User-created content is an excellent trigger for discussion. By making the content accessible and easy to find, those discussions happen much more easily.

Tip #5. Have a moderator
A moderator is useful in connecting people in similar industries and with similar interests, challenges, and problems. That’s important when a site has a lot of information where it may be difficult for people with like interests to find each other.

Jake McKee

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Community

A community is a group of people who form relationships over time by interacting regularly around shared experiences, which are of interest to all of them for varying individual reasons.  Jake McKee

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

A Manifesto for Collaborative Tools

•    Be people-centric. This applies both to how we design our tools, and how we market them.
•    Be willing to collaborate. We all belong to a community of like-minded tool developers, whether or not we are aware of it. Working together will both strengthen this community and improve our tools.
•    Create shared language. Our tools share more similarities than we may think. Conversing with our fellow tool builders will help reveal those similarities; creating a shared language will make those similarities apparent to all. As a shared language evolves, a shared conceptual framework for collaborative tools will emerge, revealing opportunities for improving the interoperability of our tools.
•    Keep improving. Improvement is an ongoing process. Introducing new efficiencies will change the way we collaborate, which in turn will create new opportunities to improve our tools.

from Jake McKee

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Overview: Organizations

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Implementing eLearning

Five years ago, Lance Dublin and I wrote a book on how to implement eLearning. Our premise was that eLearning was largely a flop because learning “professionals” were throwing it over the wall to an unprepared audience. Lance tackled the issues of change management; I explained how to market eLearning as one would a product.
Continue Reading »

Organizations & community

Comments (0)

Permalink

Beta is beautiful

All hail the early adopters

The first people to try a new product or new idea are enthusiasts, visionaries, tinkerers, and experimenters. They are the crazy ones. They live on the bleeding edge. They put up with half-baked, pre-release products for the opportunity of reaping early rewards, bragging rights for beating others to the punch, and having vendors pay them respect.
Continue Reading »

internet culture
Meta

Comments (0)

Permalink

Waste of time or productivity enhancer?

GigaOm reports that

Content security firm Clearswift recently tried to quantify the magnitude of the problem with a survey of 827 employees in organizations of 1,000 people and up. Among their findings:

  • 43% of office workers access social media sites from their work computers several times a day
  • 51% spend an hour or more a week on the sites; 13% spend five hours or more
  • 46% have discussed work-related issues on social media sites
  • 46% regularly access Wikipedia during work hours

del.icio.us popular
digg swarm
originalsignal buzz
explore flickr
technorati popular
youtube top favs today

  • 50% believe they have a right to use work computers for personal internet access”
  • internet culture
    Tools for Learning

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Setting up online collaboration

    Start right away Collaboration is about building relationships that foster ideas, intentions, and interests. Coworkers learn and inspire one another. They build on each another’s ideas. Small groups of them can move mountains. A collaborative enterprise with shared values and common purpose can change the world. Why wait?

    People working together create much more value than the same people working in isolation. Working with others also boosts morale, for it’s more fulfilling emotionally. Until recently, collaboration was not easy, especially when distance was involved. People didn’t have access to the information they needed and couldn’t figure out who was the right person to contact. Continue Reading »

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Communities of practice

    A Community of Practice (or CoP) doesn’t require computers. If you have a group with a shared identity who give back to the group, who uphold and refine its practices, and who nurture new people entering the group, you have a community of practice. Communities grow to advance the greater good of their members.

    Continue Reading »

    case examples
    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Organizational readiness to adopt web 2.0

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Harnessing Collective Intelligence (1)

    Harnessing Collective Intelligence:
    Frameworks for Learning & Development Professionals

    “Learning and development professional.” How quaint.

    Learning is not what organizations should focus on these days, at least not learning as we have known it. Once empowering, our traditional concept of learning has grown obsolete. And development? Development is a shared responsibility, not something we do for others.

    In the mid-twentieth century, learning sought to bridge the gap between people’s current skills & knowledge and what we thought they would need to get the job done in the future. Here’s the rub: treating learning like this assumes that conditions never change. Yet today’s jobs change blazingly fast. Shorter and shorter product development cycles leave no time to develop training programs even if people wanted it.

    Consider the textbook process for designing learning, ADDIE: analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. Analysis is crippled when the vision of the future is murky. Program design presumes we can peer into the heads of self-service learners. Development is a farce when the lessons are co-created with the learner. Implementation implies an event, something that ends, and that’s when we evaluate it. Learning today is ongoing; it advances incrementally. It has to keep current with its subject matter. Development never stops.

    Think back to why organizations wanted learning in the first place:

    for people to know how do their jobs
    to improve service to customers, internal and external
    to stay current with new developments
    to prepare for the challenges of the future

    Workers still need to know how to do their jobs and increasingly, it’s something they have never done before. What better teacher than someone who has been there? Let me have the email address or phone number of someone who can answer it without wasting time to tell me what I already know. Or give me the number of an internal customer service hot-line. Or let me look up where the instructions or FAQ are located. Let me find things out at the moment I need know, not so far in advance that I will have forgotten it by the time I need it.

    Knowledge workers demand to know what they’re expected to do, but they resent being told how to do it. This is where co-creation comes in. Instead of force-feeding my brain, make it easy for me to find the answers for myself.

    Live instructors are analogous to bank tellers. Thirty years ago, few people could imagine making their own deposits and withdrawals. Now they can’t imagine being required to work with a teller face to face. The only place to get cash was inside a bank building or perhaps at a grocery store. Banks were only open during limited “banking hours,” usually the same time that yo had to be at work. And that you couldn’t go to just any bank, you had to go where you had your account. It wasn’t that long ago that many banks in the United States were not allowed to operate in more than one state. Some states (think Illinois, Texas) did not permit a bank to have more than one location! If you travelled internationally, you carried cash or traveler’s checks. In large quantities. Before long, when we look back on instructor-led training, we’ll scratch our heads and ask ourselves “What was with that?”

    Learnscaping

    Networks, both personal and electronic, provide the means to populate the workplace with the knowledge equivalent of Automatic Teller Machines, online banking, electronic bill-paying, debit cards, and electronic funds transfer, everywhere and any time. Building the connections for a networked knowledge system seems so appealing that you wouldn’t expect resistance, as least among professionals who value the outsize convenience and benefits. You would be wrong.

    Everyone I talk with can get behind no-brainers like making it easier to get answers to questions or cutting down on email. This is but the tip of a very, very deep iceberg. In this case, incrementalism is the enemy of innovation. Trusting employees to do the right thing, encouraging people to share information, expecting innovation from everyone, not keeping an eagle-eye on employee behavior, living in real time, and making people responsible for their own development and growth: these are cultural issues. Imagine replacing a tightly structured one-way corporate meeting with a loosely-structured un-meeting, trusting things will self-organize.

    The internet and, more important, the values that accompany the internet create a radical transformation of our most basic assumptions. I don’t mean using Google to look things up or Skype to make free phone calls anywhere in the world. No, I’m thinking of a business world that is transparent, authentic, open, collaborative, customer-facing, loosely-coupled, and amorphous. I mean a world where time is relative, distance is dead, observation changes what the observer see, value resides in intangibles, and inflexibility spells extinction. Getting even the tiniest inkling that this is what’s just ahead provokes extreme reactions. As on the issue of abortion, people are pro or con; I’ve yet to meet anyone who is sitting on the fence. That’s why I’ve begun calling the chasm between the old view that harkens back to Descartes and Newton and my vision of a future that’s congruent with Einstein and Bohr “the great divide.”

    Hyperbole is me. Sometimes the future appears clear to me, and I don’t shy from sharing what I see, even though the first things to appear are its extremes. So no, I don’t expect everyone to try leaping over to this side of the great divide. I do believe, however, that you can’t reap the benefits of the new way of seeing the world without letting go of what you’ve become accustomed to. Perception is reality but we perceive only what we expect. Therefore, the entrance to the new landscape for intellectual adaptation, continuous improvement, and learning without end is UNLEARNING.

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Both sides now



    I was reading the collaboration section of a magazine geared to IT professionals when I came upon an article titled Cat-Herding Nightmare.

    The first paragraph echoes the Web 2.0-is-good-for-you party line I’ve heard again and again this week:

    Web 2.0 collaboration tools are irresistible to end users: They’re easy to set up and use and can be accessed from anywhere. Employees can upload or create documents, spreadsheets, wikis, and blogs, then invite co-workers and partners to access, edit, and download content. These apps often include productivity enhancers such as search and tagging. And not surprisingly, vendors are encouraging the trend–Microsoft and IBM have added wikis and blogging capabilities to enterprise apps including SharePoint and Lotus Quickr, while Google and upstarts like Socialtext, PBwiki, and Jive Software are luring corporate users with freebie accounts and dead-simple deployment. provision users in minutes, pay with discretionary funds–and never make a single call to IT.

    Warning to IT folks: Mayday! Mayday! Turf is being threatened. Put up the shields. Ready the cannon. Mayday! Mayday1

    All these wonderful benefits. Too bad there’s a dark side.

    Sadly, all IT gets out of the deal is a big fur ball as it struggles to organize corporate content run amok. The potential for exposure of sensitive information or theft of intellectual property runs high, as do concerns about noncompliance with corporate or third-party requirements as end users scatter sensitive information around the Internet. If the company gets tangled in litigation, data relevant to discovery requests may be lurking unknown on third-party servers, exposing the organization to financial or legal sanctions.

    Implication: IT can’t trust those pesky users. Possible solution: Get the knock-off versions of web tools provided by IBM, EMC, BEA, and Microsoft. That lets IT continue its battle to maintain control, even if it means dumping all those great benefits. The article notes that the products from the big boys…

    …also come with the downsides of enterprise software–longer and more costly deployment than software as a service, and longer lag between upgrades. Enterprises are unlikely to dip their toes into collaboration through a six-figure software deployment. It’s not uncommon to find companies using SharePoint and third-party SaaS products.

    The article concludes that IT needs to keep ahead of technologies and provide services before users demand them. That would be great but I am skeptical. Since IT has rarely come down from its me-first perch, why stop now? Isn’t it easier to focus on the damage workers might do rather than the benefits an open business gives its stakeholders. Should we really let IT make the tradeoff between the hair-ball messiness of web 2.0 and staying in business? Nah, we won’t get fooled again.

    I’ve look at this from both sides now, it’s up and down and still somehow, I don’t think we should be picking sides at all. IT should support the business, not the other way around.

    Related:
    How it’s going to be

    internet culture
    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Pattern deconstruction

    Moving our thoughts into the future involves dumping obsolete assumptions from our past.

    A time-and-motion expert looking to improve the performance of mobile artillery crews around the time of World War II analyzed the process of firing a round. The gunners’ every move was precisely choreographed; only a fool would improvise on something as dangerous as firing heavy artillery.

    The analyst watched crews and studied films of field artillery crews. One aspect what the gunners did made no sence. Two members of the crew did nothing but watch the other three load and fire the gun. An old artillery colonel revealed the secret. The two observers were there to hold the horses. The horses would bolt if you didn’t hold them when the gun went off. Hold your horses!

    Mechanized artillery had replaced horse-drawn artillery many years earlier.

    Saying that we need to unlearn makes breaking with the past sound easier than it is. I just learned Pavlov rarely used a bell in his experiments making dogs salivate. Easy, huh? That only took 3 seconds to learn. Shouldn’t unlearning be equally easy? It’s not. Unlearn what I just told you about Pavlov’s bell.

    It gets worse. The Pavlov story is but the tip of a vast set of patterns in your mind. Memories are not isolated facts, waiting to be recalled when needed. Rather, memories are created when you think of them. Your memory of Pavlov’s bell (you haven’t forgotten yet, have you?) emerges from mental patterns about Russians, dogs, science, motivation, bells, experimentation, and more. Learning consists of making connections between patterns, so unlearning involves breaking connections between patterns and that’s easier said than done.

    Neurons connect patterns in the brain. Like a path through the forest, the more frequently you use it, the more familiar it becomes. Neurons that fire together, wire together. When you read about Pavlov’s bell again and again, this is your fourth time in the last few minutes, they take hold.

    Our attention is selective. We take in a tiny fraction of what’s presented to us. To reduce cognitive load, we substitute assumptions for inputs. Most of what we “see” doesn’t come from our eyes; many visions are created entirely inside our heads.

    Show me the same thing again and again, and after a whlle I stop seeing it entirely. I habituate to it. This makes unlearning even more difficult. How can I erase a pattern so deeply buried in my thoughts that I’m no longer aware that it’s there?

    “Ellen Langer in her books, especially Mindfulness, has portrayed mindfulness as good and habit, mindlessness, as bad. “A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective.” “Mindlessness, in contrast, is characterized by an entrapment in old categories; by automatic behavior that precludes attending to new signals; and by action that operates from a single perspective.”

    But isn’t this a balance? How can I live without categories, rules of thumb, preconceived notices, and habituation. Before driving a car became second nature, the number of things to keep track of was overwhelming. I don’t want to go back…

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Clay Shirky

    Group action just got easier. Ridiculously easy group forming.
    Social impact takes place when the technology gets boring.

    Sharing, conversation, collaboration, collective action
    In order of increasing coordination Continue Reading »

    books
    internet culture
    Learnscapes

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Push and pull

    Telemarketers from the vendor with a push strategy call to sell you insurance as you sit down to dinner. The Hard Rock Café displays Bo Diddley’s guitar pick and plays throbbing music to pull you in. The itinerant Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman pushes; the Gilroy Garlic Festival is pull. Push is generally someone else’s idea; pull is what you think you want.

    The Industrial Age was pushy. Owners predicted what would people would buy, built the factory, made large quantities to take advantage of economies of scale, and then tried to convince people to buy. Today change is so rampant and the future so unpredictable that Dell doesn’t build your computer until you order it. You cannot set up in advance when you don’t know what the future holds.

     

    PUSH PULL
    Assumes you can predict demand Assumes world is unpredictable
    Anticipate Respond
    Rigid, static Flexible, dynamic
    Conform, core Innovate, edge
    Monoliths, components glued together Small pieces, loosely joined
    Program Platform
    Get better at what you are currently doing Get better at whatever comes along
    Standard content Standard interfaces

    New management disciplines for the pull world all involve how organizations relate to one another (outsourcing, orchestration, productive friction). This, in turn, makes one think about where strategic advantage comes from. China is rapidly becoming the center for business management innovation, and this is the source of continuing advantage; copycats won’t catch you if you’re always ahead of them.

    All of this is nurtured by networks stitched together with responsive, modular IT. 

    Value, i.e. what it takes to stay ahead, used to reside in killer products or shrewd finance. In the pull world, value results from talent. Talent, in turn, is the result of maintaining relationships. The leading organizations of the future will be those with the ability to create and retain talent. Developing talent will become the role of the firm – and the way people choose who they want to work for.

     

    Business
    footnote
    internet culture

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Digital Ethnography

    The videos of Michael Wesch

    Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist and media ecologist exploring the impacts of new media on human interaction. The Digital Ethnography Working Group is a team of undergraduates exploring human uses of digital technology. Coinciding with the launch of this group, Wesch created a short video, “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us.” Released on YouTube on January 31st 2007, it quickly became the most popular video in the blogosphere and has now been viewed over 3 million times. You must watch this vide

    For me, cultural anthropology is a continuous exercise in expanding my mind and my empathy, building primarily from one simple principle: everything is connected. This is true on many levels. First, everything including the environment, technology, economy, social structure, politics, religion, art and more are all interconnected. As I tried to illustrate in the video, this means that a change in one area (such as the way we communicate) can have a profound effect on everything else, including family, love, and our sense of being itself. Second, everything is connected throughout all time, and so as anthropologists we take a very broad view of human history, looking thousands or even millions of years into the past and into the future as well. And finally, all people on the planet are connected. This has always been true environmentally because we share the same planet. Today it is even more true with increasing economic and media globalization.”

    Digital ethnography

    Information R/evolution

    A Vision of Students Today

    Digital Ethnography YouTube Project

    internet culture
    Learnscapes

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Unmeetings

    BETA

    Unmeetings

    Open source, open space, grapevines and gossip, conversations and stories, learning spaces and learnscapes, unconferences and The World Cafe, podcasts and wikis, graphics and concept maps, complexity and community…these are part and parcel of the free-range learning I investigated relentlessly while writing The Book Continue Reading »

    Organizations & community
    Tools for Learning

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Art Kleiner

    You may not have heard of the guy, but Art Kleiner, has made a major impact on my thinking.

    Art Kleiner is a writer, lecturer and editorial consultant with a
    background in management, interactive media, corporate
    environmentalism, scenario planning, and organizational learning.
    His column, “Culture and Change,” appears in Strategy & Business,
    the business quarterly for general readers published by Booz Allen
    Hamilton. He is a co-author (with Peter Senge et al) of the bestselling
    Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (1994), The Dance of Change
    (1999), and Schools That Learn (2000) — a multiple-author trilogy
    published by Doubleday, focusing, respectively, on organizational
    learning, sustaining change in business, and the education system.
    Kleiner’s book The Age of Heretics (1996, Doubleday/Currency), is a
    history of the thinkers and practitioners who sparked the modern
    organizational change movement; it was a finalist for the Edgar G.
    Booz award for most innovative business book of 1996. His
    forthcoming book Who Really Matters is an exploration of the hidden
    purposes of organizations in action.

    The Next Wave of Format

    important voices
    internet culture

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Learning from the future as it emerges

    Presencing Institute

    Theory U

    Otto C. Schamer

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Illuminating the Blind Spot of Leadership

    Design principles for evolving high-velocity business environments

    Immersion—becoming fully engaged in the contexts at issue. In the words of Brian Arthur:
    observe, observe, observe. All profound innovations occur in an atmosphere of
    immersion. In that atmosphere, or sphere, one fully observes all that is happening and is
    also open to ideas from outside its boundaries.
    Interpretation—becoming conscious of one’s own and other people’s views and moving across all of them
    with ease. Nonaka’s principle of multi-discipline and multi-viewpoint dialogue supports the
    development of new interpretations. McKinsey’s Richard Foster brings artists into
    corporate strategy conversations to inspire new interpretations.
    Imagination—a quality of observation that involves seeing and sensing: seeing objects and sensing
    emerging patterns that suggest future possibilities. The imagination, says Henri Bortoft, is
    an “organ of perception.” To imagine is to “redirect one’s attention,” as Varela puts it,
    from objects to sources and patterns.


    Inspiration and Intuition
    —the senses that allow one to recognize and strive for the highest possibilities.
    This is the level of primary knowing that Eleanor Rosch talks about, the level of
    presencing one’s highest possibility. And it is the level Kahane was speaking of when he
    talked about the turning point of stillness in his Guatemala story.
    Intention—the alignment of one’s will with what is trying to emerge as the larger whole.79 One of the
    best leverages for changing the structure of organizational fields lies in the conscious use
    of one’s intention. “Intention is not the most powerful force” says Brian Arthur, “it is the
    only force.”
    Instant execution—rapid experimentation and prototyping in order to capitalize on
    emerging opportunities. At this stage, a laser focus on instant execution and fast-cycle
    experimentation and learning are paramount. Execution also means terminating
    experiments and options that do not work.
    Implementation—embedding and embodying the seeds of innovation in appropriate structures. These
    structures facilitate the next phase of evolution, emergence, and flow.

    Business
    internet culture

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Language of organizational change

    from the Society for Organizational Learning


    The word comes from the Greek archetypos, meaning “first of its kind.” A stepchild of the field of systems thinking, systems archetypes were developed at Innovation Associates in the mid 1980s. At that time, the study of systems dynamics depended upon complex causal loop mapping and computer modeling, using mathematical equations to define the relationships between variables. Charles Kiefer, I.A.’s president, suggested trying to convey the concepts more simply. Jennifer Kemeny (with Michael Goodman and Peter Senge, based in part upon notes developed by John Sterman) developed eight diagrams that would help catalogue the most commonly seen behaviors. Some archetypes, including “Limits to Growth” and “Shifting the Burden,” were translations of “generic structures”–mechanisms which Jay Forrester and other systems thinking pioneers had described in the 1960s and 1970s. (Art Kleiner)


    Like the word “author,” this word can be traced back to the Greek authentikC3s, which meant “do-er,” master, or creator. The English meaning of “authority” (possession of the right and power to command) stems from the fact that the creator of a work of art or craft has the power to make decisions about it. (Charlotte Roberts)

    Related Documents:
    Communal-Rational Authority, Control, and Self-Managing Teams: Implications for Leadership, by James R. Barker


    The word “community” has old roots, going back to the Indo-European base mei, meaning “change” or “exchange.” Apparently this joined with another root, kom, meaning “with,” to produce an Indo-European word kommein: shared by all.

    We think the idea of “change or exchange, shared by all,” is pretty close to the sense of community in organizations today. Community building is a core strategy for sharing among all its members the burdens and the benefits of change and exchange. (Juanita Brown)


    The word “intimacy” stems from the Latin intimatus, to make something known to someone else. (Another derivation is the verb “intimate,” which originally meant “to notify.”) In its original meaning, in other words, intimacy did not mean emotional closeness, but the willingness to pass on honest information. (Charlotte Roberts)


    These Chinese characters represent the word “learning.” The first character means to study. It is composed of two parts: a symbol that means “to accumulate knowledge,” above a symbol for a child in a doorway.

    The second character means to practice constantly, and it shows a bird developing the ability to leave the nest. The upper symbol represents flying; the lower symbol, youth. For the oriental mind, learning is ongoing. “Study” and “practice constantly,” together, suggest that learning should mean: “mastery of the way of self-improvement.” (Peter Senge)

    The roots of the English word for learning suggest that it once held a similar meaning. It originated with the Indo-European leis, a noun meaning “track” or “furrow.” To “learn” came to mean gaining experience by following a track– presumably for a lifetime. (Art Kleiner)


    The concept of mental models goes back to antiquity, but the phrase (to our knowledge) was coined by Scottish psychologist Kenneth Craik in the 1940s. It has been used by cognitive scientists (notably Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert of MIT), and gradually by managers. In cognition, the term refers to both the semipermanent tacit “maps” of the world which people hold in their long-term memory, and the short-term perceptions which people build up as part of their everyday reasoning processes. According to some cognitive theorists, changes in short-term everyday mental models, accumulating over time, will gradually be reflected in changes in long-term deep-seated beliefs. (Art Kleiner)


    A system is a perceived whole whose elements “hang together” because they continually affect each other over time and operate toward a common purpose. The word descends from the Greek verb sunistC!nai, which originally meant “to cause to stand together.” As this origin suggests, the structure of a system includes the quality of perception with which you, the observer, cause it to stand together.

    Examples of systems include biological organisms (including human bodies), the atmosphere, diseases, ecological niches, factories, chemical reactions, political entities, communities. industries, families, teams — and all organizations. You and your work are probably elements of dozens of different systems. (Art Kleiner)

    Related Terms: Systemic Structure and Systems Thinking.


    Some people think the “structure” of an organization is the organization chart. Others think “structure” means the design of organizational work flow and processes. But in systems thinking, the “structure” is the pattern of interrelationships among key components of the system. That might include the hierarchy and process flows but it also includes attitudes and perceptions, the quality of products, the ways in which decisions are made, and hundreds of other factors.

    Systemic structures are often invisible — until someone points them out. For example, at a large bank, whenever the “efficiency ratio” goes down two points, departments are told to cut expenses and lay people off. But when bank employees are asked what the “efficiency ratio” means, they typically say, “It’s just a number we use. It doesn’t affect anything.” If you ask yourself questions such as: “What happens if it changes?” you begin to see that every element is part of one or more systemic structures.

    The word “structure” comes from the Latin struere, “to build.” But structures in systems are not necessarily built consciously. They are built out of the choices people make consciously or unconsciously, over time. (Richard Ross, Charlotte Roberts, and Art Kleiner)

    Related Terms: System and Systems Thinking


    At its broadest level, systems thinking encompasses a large and fairly amorphous body of methods, tools, and principles, all oriented to looking at the interrelatedness of forces, and seeing them as part of a common process. The field includes cybernetics and chaos theory; gestalt therapy; the work of Gregory Bateson, Russell Ackoff, Eric Trist, Ludwig von Bertallanfy, and the Santa Fe Institute; and the dozen or so practical techniques for “process mapping” flows of activity at work. All of these diverse approaches have one guiding idea in common: that the behavior of all systems follows certain common principles, the nature of which are being discovered and articulated.

    But one form of systems thinking has become particularly valuable as a language for describing how to achieve fruitful change in organizations. This form, called “system dynamics,” has been developed by Professor Jay Forrester and his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology over the past forty years. “Links and loops,” archetypes, and stock-and-flow modeling– all have their roots in the system dynamics understanding of how complex feedback processes can generate problematic patterns of behavior within organizations and large-scale human systems. (Peter Senge and Art Kleiner)

    Related Terms: Systemic Structure


    The word “team” can be traced back to the Indo-European word deuk (to pull); it has always included a meaning of “pulling together.” (The modern sense of team, “a group of people acting together,” emerged in the sixteenth century.)

    We define “teams” as any group of people who need each other to accomplish a result. this definition is derived from a statement made by former Royal Dutch/Shell Group Planning coordinator Arie de Geus: “The only relevant learning in a company is the learning done by those people who have the power to take action.” (Art Kleiner)


    By the term “theory,” I mean a fundamental set of propositions about how the world works, which has been subjected to repeated tests and in which we have gained some confidence. The English word “theory” comes from the Greek root word theo-rC3s, meaning spectator. This derives from the same root as the word “theater.” Human beings invent theories for the same basic reasons they invent theater–to bring out into a public space a play of ideas that might help us better understand our world.

    It is a shame that we have lost this sense of the deeper meaning of theory today. For most of us, theory has to do with “science.” It suggests something cold, analytic, and impersonal. Nothing could be further from the truth. The process whereby scientists generate new theories is full of passion, imagination, and the excitement of seeing something new in the world. “Science,” as Buckminster Fuller often said, “is about putting the data of our experience in order.”

    New theories penetrate into the world of practical affairs when they are translated into methods and tools. “Method” comes from the Greek mC)thodos— a means to pursue particular objectives. It gradually evolved into its current meaning: a set of systematic procedures and techniques for dealing with particular types of issues or problems.

    “Tool” comes from a prehistoric Germanic word for “to make, to prepare, or to do.” It still carries that meaning: tools are what you make, prepare, or do with. (Peter Senge)


    Although this discipline is called “building shared vision,” that phrase is only a convenient label. A vision is only one component of an organization’s guiding aspirations. The core of those guiding principles is the sense of shared purpose and destiny, including all of these components:

    Vision: an image of our desired future
    A vision is a picture of the future you seek to create, described in the present tense, as if it were happening now. A statement of “our vision” shows where we want to go, and what we will be like when we get there. The word comes from the Latin videre, “to see.” This link to seeing is significant; the more richly detailed and visual the image is, the more compelling it will be.

    Because of its tangible and immediate quality, a vision gives shape and direction to the organization’s future. And it helps people set goals to take the organization closer.

    Values: how we expect to travel where we want to go
    The word “value” comes from the French verb valoir, meaning “to be worth.” Gradually it evolved an association with valor and worthiness. Values describe how we intend to operate, on a day-to-day basis, as we pursue our vision. As Bill O’Brien points out, Adolf Hitler’s Germany was based on a very clear shared vision, but its values were monstrous.

    A set of governing values might include: how we want to behave with each other; how we expect to regard our customers, community, and vendors; and the lines which we will and will not cross. Values are best expressed in terms of behavior: If we act as we should, what would an observer see us doing? How would we be thinking?

    When values are articulated but ignored, an important part of the shared vision effort is shut away. By contrast, when values are made a central part of the organization’s shared vision effort, and put out in full view, they become like a figurehead on a ship: a guiding symbol of the behavior that will help people move toward the vision. It becomes easier to speak honestly, or to reveal information, when people know that these are aspects of agreed-upon values.

    Purpose or Mission: what the organization is here to do
    “Mission” comes from the Latin word mittere, meaning “to throw, let go, or send.” Also derived from Latin, the word “purpose” (originally proponere ) meant “to declare.” Whether you call it a mission or purpose, it represents the fundamental reason for the organization’s existence. What are we here to do together?

    The “mission” is more popular in organizations today, but it has unfortunate military, religious, and short-term overtones: “Our mission is to take this hill [or die in the attempt]!” I prefer the word “purpose”; it suggests more of a reflective process. You will never get to the ultimate purpose of your organization, but you will achieve many visions along the way.

    Goals: milestones we expect to reach before too long
    Every shared vision effort needs not just a broad vision, but specific, realizable goals. Goals represent what people commit themselves to do often within a few months. The word may have come from the Old English goelan, to hinder, and goals often address barriers and obstacles which we must pass to reach our vision. (Bryan Smith)

    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    School’s out

    In a world of Gustavo Esteva was an IBM executive and adviser to the president of Mexico before joining the guerrilla freedom fighters in Chiapas. Several years ago he had to bow out of a meeting with a group of us because the rebel leader Subcommandante Marcos was in town and needed Gustavo’s advice.

    Reclaiming our freedom to learn

    “We learn better when nobody is teaching us. We can observe this in every baby and in our own experience. Our vital competence comes from learning by doing, without any kind of teaching.”

    The people in the villages know very well that school prevents their children from learning what they need to know to continue living in their communities, contributing to the common well-being and that of their soils, their places. And school does not prepare them for life or work outside the community.

    After the exercise, a very practical question came to the table. We have learned, with the Zapatistas, that while changing the world is very difficult, perhaps impossible, it is possible to create a whole new world. That is exactly what the Zapatistas are doing in the south of Mexico. How can we create our own new world, at our own, small, human scale, in our little corner in Oaxaca? How can we deschool our lives and those of our children in this real world, where the school still dominates minds, hearts and institutions?

    The most dramatic lesson we derived from the exercise was to discover what we were really missing in the urban setting: conditions for apprenticeship. When we all request education and institutions where our children and young people can stay and learn, we close our eyes to the tragic social desert in which we live. They have no access to real opportunities to learn in freedom. In many cases, they can no longer learn with parents, uncles, grandparents—just talking to them, listening to their stories or observing them in their daily trade. Everybody is busy, going from one place to another. No one seems to have the patience any more to share with the new generation the wisdom accumulated in a culture. Instead of education, what we really need is conditions for decent living, a community.

    In Unitierra we have been fruitfully following a suggestion of Paul Goodman, a friend of, and source of inspiration for, Ivan Illich. Goodman once said: “Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side won, and you had the kind of society you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now! Whatever you would do then, do it now. When you run up against obstacles, people, or things that won’t let you live that way, then begin to think about how to get over or around or under that obstacle, or how to push it out of the way, and your politics will be concrete and practical.”

    cf John Taylor Gatto

    internet culture
    Learnscapes

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    It’s not about the technology

    COLLABORATION 2.0 – IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY

    Jay Cross argues that online collaboration is not just about the technology.

    To the best of my knowledge, this is the first article on online collaboration written explicitly for managers to focus on people and politics instead of buzzwords and technology.

    The business press, executive conferences, and other leading voices can’t stop talking about Web 2.0 and collaboration. You’ve read the stories: The web is now Web 2.0, the read/write web. Wikipedia is a user-written encyclopaedia written entirely by volunteers. Facebook and YouTube are growing faster than the web in its meteoric growth phase. Google’s P/E ratio is astronomical.

    This is all well and good, but it provides no guidance to the business manager who wants to take advantage of the new technology.

    Managers need to know the opportunities and the pitfalls, applications and benefits, tricks of the trade and where to begin.

    THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE
    People working together are vastly more productive than people working in isolation.

    Collaboration is about building relationships that foster ideas, intentions, and interests. Coworkers learn from one another. They inspire one another. They build on each another’s ideas. Small groups of them can move mountains. A collaborative enterprise with shared values and common purpose can change the world.

    Workers innately know that when people work together they produce greater results and enjoy their work more, too. Until quite recently, collaboration was not easy, especially if distance was involved, people didn’t have access to the same information, or a worker couldn’t figure out who was the right person to contact.

    Those barriers are fading fast. Software and networks that support collaboration are in place and cheap, too. Workers complain about silos; social networks enable them to walk through silo walls. Companies are losing customers disgusted with unhelpful help desks, phone labyrinths, and not understanding what’s going on. Transparency and self-service are the cure.

    In business, collaboration is a means to an end, and that end is prosperity, longevity, and growth. I asked Harvard Business School’s Andrew McAfee, who coined the term Enterprise 2.0, why he thinks social software will transform the business world. He told me that today’s collaborative technologies can knit together an enterprise and facilitate knowledge work in ways that were simply not possible previously. They have the potential to usher in a new era by making both the practices of knowledge work and its outputs more visible.

    What’s holding us back? It’s no longer the technology. It’s the people and their organisations. That’s what this article is all about. How are companies working with their people to take advantage of the power of the collaborative web? Why might you want your organisation to embrace web 2.0? To collaborate is to work jointly with others or together, especially in an intellectual endeavour (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

    Business has already squeezed the big process improvements out of its industrial systems. For many companies, the benefits of collaboration and networking are virgin territory. The upside potential is staggering: people innovating, sharing, supporting one another, all naturally and without barriers.

    The traditional approach has been to automate routine tasks in order to reduce cost; the new vision is to empower people to take advantage of their innate desire to share and learn.

    Web 2.0, the ‘collaborative web,’ makes file cabinets and hard drives overflowing with email obsolete. Members of a group can share information and make improvements to one copy that’s virtually available to everyone. Workers learn to remix rather than re-invent, and having everyone read from the same page overcomes the danger of mistaking obsolete information for current. Distance no longer keeps workers apart. As we remove obstacles, the time required to do anything shrivels up.

    Collaboration that does not increase revenue, improve relationships with customers, cut costs, grow employees, expand innovation, communicate values, streamline the work process, or help execute strategy should not be funded. As Eugene Kim has noted, “There is no such thing as collaboration without a goal.”

    The Web is chock full of explanations of blogs, tags, and other social software. Little has been written about how managers can put these things to work. I interviewed scores of people to capture their thoughts on the human side of implementing and sustaining collaborative networks. As you would expect, people have different notions of what works. I’ve tried to capture these multiple perspectives in the checklists and vignettes that follow.

    Following the suggestions here may improve your odds of success but there’s no guarantee. Successful collaboration requires dedication, continuous small improvements, and cultural support.

    WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
    Companies are using social software to:

    • Speed up the flow of information through the organisation
    • Improve customer service
    • Streamline workflow and slash bureaucracy
    • Unleash the power of collective intelligence
    • Create a nerve centre for corporate news and market intelligence
    • Make all corporate know-how accessible 24/7
    • Recruit the best candidates for new positions and make them productive quickly
    • Replace training classes with informal, hands- on learning
    • Open the process of innovation to all employees
    • Help workers build strong, supportive relationships
    • Enable managers to assess the status and direction of projects
    • Empower all employees to contribute ideas and feel part of the team
    • Develop more productive relationships with customers, prospects, recruits, partners, supply chain, and other employees

    Compared to old-style groupware such as Lotus Notes, social software is simple, unstructured, emergent, inherently transparent, and can scale.

    THINK SMALL
    The balance of this article tells what companies did to achieve these benefits and share their advice on being successful while avoiding the pitfalls. Changing the nature of how people relate to one another at work is not easy. People, organisations, and corporate cultures have different views on being open, taking risks, trying new things, realigning responsibilities, learning new technologies, and trusting one another. What works in one organisation may fail in the next.
    The safe approach is to begin with a few small- scale experiments, score some successes, and replicate them in other areas of the company. As the technology takes hold, policies are drawn to enforce common standards and safe behaviour.

    THE THREE BEARS
    Once upon a time, there were three bears: Baby Bear, Mama Bear, and Papa Bear. Baby Bear was curious, enthusiastic, and a bit unruly. Mama Bear was practical, cautious, and experimented in the kitchen. Paper Bear spent most of his time hibernating but was a powerhouse once he woke up and smelled the coffee.

    The bears mirror the stages of adoption of online collaborative environments. (We use a fairy tale because while the bears’ biographies are drawn from real life, their stories have been simplified, merged, and selectively edited here. The real world is never this simple). You’re about to get a bear’s eye view of collaboration, its business value, and potential pitfalls, at each stage.

    Baby bear Mama bear Papa bear
    Motivation Curiosity, immediate need Opportunistic application Leverage enterprise assets
    Focus Prototyping Applying Exploiting
    Level Individual, team Group, department Enterprise
    Benefits realised Capture organisation-wide knowledge and keep it alive, save time, self-service information, non-controversial projects Increase innovation, cut bureaucracy, don’t re-invent the wheel, simplify project management Nimble, quick-response organisation, improve service
    Sample project Coordinate supplier information across company Google searching inside the firewall Knowledge management that works

    WHAT IS NEW WITH THE WEB?
    Originally the web resembled a brochure; you could read it but not much else. Now the web is morphing into a stage. The audience are becoming the actors. The set is flexible. Most of the acting/collaboration is improvisational. The platform does not determine what takes place on stage. It’s an environment.

    Andy McAfee says “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”

    Figuring out the nuts and bolts of the technology is the easy part. If you want to find out more about the technologies underneath social software, check out Ross Dawson’s wonderful diagram of the collaborative web on the next page.

    I’m going to use the terms social software, web 2.0, and collaborative online environment interchangeably. It’s all a mix of blogs, wikis, RSS, mash-ups, search engines, tags, widgets, and bots. The medium is not the message.

    BABY BEAR
    WHERE DOES IT START?

    Baby Bear is intensely curious, driven to try new things just for the heck of it. Most collaboration projects begin at the bottom of the organisation and migrate upward. Typically, a young internet enthusiast who knows the web 2.0 environment joins the company. She sees an opportunity to improve local performance with a blog or wiki. She takes a proposal to her manager. One hopes that the manager asks “What’s the business case?” If they decide the proposal is worthy of consideration, the next step will be to create a prototype to try the idea on for size.

    Happily, the costs of setting up a web 2.0 application are trivial. Furthermore, applications are simple to program. You no longer need to be a programmer to produce a prototype for show-and-tell. Many a prototype has been developed in a matter of hours.

    Baby bear is the application champion. If he is low in the organisation, he probably begins with a simple, free, online wiki to deal with
    a local problem and builds support by pointing people to the wiki. Baby bears come in all sizes. In addition to the local enthusiasts, social software projects have been initiated by:

    • CIO – fulfiling request from others
    • CIO – trial, seeing if it lives up to rumours
    • Line manager with specific problem to solve
    • Staff – exploring process improvements
    • HR – best practices, organisation development
    • Exec – read about it in airplane magazine
    • Exec – major push, organisational challenge.

    The U.S. Department of Defence spends the most money on training of any organisation in the world, yet a simple web application started by two company commanders on their own has become the most important source of collaboration and knowledge sharing among officers in Iraq.

    Two company commanders who had been classmates at West Point shared quarters. In the evening, they would talk over the day’s events and reflect on what they had learned. Sensing that other officers might want to join the conversation, they started a blog. Rather than go through channels, they didn’t ask for permission. (Anyone can set up a blog for free in less than five minutes.)

    The blog spread virally among company commanders, becoming more valuable as more voices chimed in. Soon the blog, Company Command, was a must-read. Unlike material coming from the Pentagon, the conversations in the blog told what had happened only hours before; they were in everyday, conversational English, not bureaucratese; they focused on need-to-know information for survival, not something one might use next year.

    In another case, a staffer in a large company thought an in-house Wikipedia would help employees find information and retain a corporate memory. A technology evangelist downloaded free software and implemented a wiki behind the firewall. It soon became the bridge among five divisional silos and the go-to place for finding things out. Volunteers populated the system with handy information from all corners. New hires get up to speed by spending a day exploring the in-house information centre.

    Bottom-up collaborative environments all over the corporation tend to improve functions that are already in place. Criteria for selection: pick the low-hanging fruit.

    When small projects gain enough attention to appear on the corporate radar, responsibility for selecting and implementing social software is delegated to the IT department, either to take the prototype forward or perhaps because the IT press and CIO community say it’s the thing to do. CIO magazine, once sceptical of the web as an intrusion onto IT’s turf, is now singing its praises, e.g.:

    One of the driving forces behind Web 2.0 is the virtual office – teams of far-flung experts collaborating online to create a whole greater than the sum of its contributors

    A KM system that’s ‘actually being used’ – this kind of language hints at the scepticism both users and CIOs have had about KM for years.

    One final bit of good news: Users say the new, simpler KM tools make it easier to justify the investment to your fellow C-level executives. “It can be very difficult to make a pitch to senior management about why knowledge management is important, because it’s not real to them,” explains Northwestern Mutual’s Austin. Now, she just shows them blog users engaged in explaining their projects to coworkers.

    Enterprise 2.0 tools make it easier to share and organise information. Tagging and rating provide a straightforward way to find content and make judgments about what to look at. Blogs and wikis are natural collaboration and communication platforms. Social network tools help staff find the right individual or group of people. Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to provide knowledge and content management in a surprisingly cheap and easy fashion using Web-based tools (ABC An Introduction to Web 2.0, CIO magazine, July 12, 2007).

    Sometimes IT becomes involved because it controls everything to do with computers. This can have disastrous consequences if IT takes full control. Implementing online collaboration deals more with people issues than software decisions, but IT people solve IT issues.

    A typical selection process may involve setting up a matrix of vendors and features, yet features are unimportant compared to ease of use and other factors. Social software is often lightweight, but inexpensive can translate as unimportant to IT. The upshot is that often the customer view is not taken into account.
    Little bear needs IT’s help in enforcing the standards necessary for efficiency. IT should lend its expertise and influence in security, compliance, and building a foundation for growth.

    If not an IT decision, a business user with a problem to solve probably initiates the inquiry. Sometimes the goal is meta, for example, increasing innovation. More often the issue is immediately practical, for example  onboarding 1,500 new staff or tracking plans for 75 customers. Criteria for selection: solve a burning business problem.

    Sometimes executives mandate experiments with social software because they’ve read about it in the business press or hear success stories from colleagues. Their interest may be faster cycle times, unleashing corporate wisdom, consolidating an acquisition, or other over-arching need. Criteria for
    project selection: focus on strategically important areas.

    One of the driving forces behind Web 2.0 is the virtual office – teams of far-flung experts collaborating online to create a whole greater than the sum of its contributors.

    IS BABY BEAR’S ORGANISATION READY FOR THIS?
    At this stage, all we have is a prototype. Nonetheless it’s a good idea to test the water before jumping into the pool. At least that will keep you from diving into hot water.

    Consultant, online advocate, and champion of NGOs Beth Kanter has lots of experience assessing whether an organisation is ready for online collaboration. Beth thinks you are not ready if:

    • Management is obsessively controlling
    • The organisation will not accept changes in how you work
    • Your employees are not online
    • Everything must be vetted by central authority

    On the other hand, you may be prepared if you want to:

    • Make it easy for people to share knowledge
    • Are willing to share ideas in progress and let others join in
    • Want to enable many voices
    • Can deal with messiness

    SELECTING A STARTER APPLICATION
    Your mileage may vary, but initial projects have a better chance of thriving if:

    • Participants have a shared need.
    • It’s easy for participants to see what’s in it for them.
    • The information involved is not controversial.
    • A sound business case can be made.
    • Stand-alone implementation is feasible (i.e. not requiring connection with other systems)
    • The project yields a good example to use when getting support for other projects.
    • You can open in New Haven.

    New Haven? Sixty years ago, producers staged new plays at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, before taking them to Broadway. No critics were in the audience, so if a major overhaul was required before the official release, no one was the wiser. Similarly, if your first prototype bombs, it’s nice to be able to sweep it under the carpet and begin anew.

    DOCUMENT THE BUSINESS CASE
    To maintain focus, the owner of a project should prepare a document in response to these questions:

    • What is the goal of the collaboration?
    • What’s the current situation?
    • What do you expect it to be after the project?
    • How will this be accomplished?
    • What is the business benefit? (In business terms).
    • How do you quantify the size of the benefit?
    • Who’s going to take part?
    • What might go wrong?
    • Is this a one-time project or an on-going process?
    • Do we have sponsorship higher up?
    • Who will participate on the team?
    • If it’s a one-timer, when will it be completed? What is the kill date?

    Display your answers prominently on the wiki, blog, or whatever tool is involved.

    COMMITMENT BY TEAM MEMBERS
    It’s great to begin a long-term collaboration with a face-to-face meeting. Either in person or virtual, social bonding comes before business, for that’s the platform on which the work will be built. Begin with games and getting-to-know-you exercises. Give people time to talk and become familiar with one another.

    Social connections remain vital throughout the collaboration. People work best with people they know. Encourage people to share information about themselves. Post photographs of participants. Pinpoint their locations on a map. It’s important that collaborators are working under the same set of assumptions. Discuss each of these areas and ask for individual commitment to them.

    • Respect the team, and do what is best to accomplish the objective. Be selfless, not selfish.
    • Members will be active. If a member spots something to improve the collaboration, she volunteers to do it.
    • Members freely share ideas and suggestions. They do not hoard information or keep secrets.
    • Members treat each other with respect. The team is committed to continuous improvement.
    • Members care for one another emotionally, helping one another over rough spots and fears.
    • Use whatever tools are appropriate to advance the project: phone calls, on-line meetings.
    • Members trust one another. They ‘make this marriage work.’

    Be prepared for push-back. Workers who see collaboration as hindering their work rather than supporting it will be reluctant to join the effort. organisations that are accustomed to a single viewpoint (usually top management’s) can become rattled as other voices begin to speak. It’s useful to recruit a band of early supporters to help sell the value of the project.

    ONLINE COLLABORATION DRIVER LICENSE
    You cannot learn to swim without getting in the water. You will not appreciate collaborative technology without writing entries in a blog, taking part in a wiki, and subscribing to an RSS feed.

    If you haven’t experienced these things, don’t go into denial. Yes, you really need to do them. No, logic is insufficient for grasping what is going on. It needn’t take more than an hour or two, spread out over a week or two to experience these things. Find a private place to practice. Trust us, it’s painless. And you’ll be rewarded with not only your online collaboration license but also a big ah-ha of understanding.

    To earn your automobile license, you have to demonstrate that you can drive the vehicle. Likewise, you don’t really qualify for a collaboration driver license until you’ve taken part in a successful collaboration.

    Hints on what works with social software

    • Keep it simple
    • Keep it flexible
    • Do it yourself (blog/wiki) or you won’t understand it
    • Be innovative, ever alert to productivity improvements
    • Be open to new ways of doing things
    • Release early and release often. Just do it
    • Promotion is important. Remind people where to look
    • Focus on the function rather than on the tools
    • Provide step-by-step how-to guides
    • Provide the opportunity to celebrate small successes
    • Give people time to practice using the software – it is easy to forget how to do things, especially when you don’t use the software regularly.

    MAMA BEAR
    Mama Bear is practical. She has little choice: raising a cub while holding down a full-time job is no picnic. Baby Bear was happy to conduct experiments. Mama Bear is hungry for major change. She is chasing after value. Baby Bear was a little scared; Mama is a fearless huntress. Baby Bear tried a few prototypes. Mama contemplates a network of networks that’s grows like a virus.

    NETWORK GROWTH
    Metcalf’s Law posits that value of a network grows exponentially with the addition of connections. Left unfettered, network nodes reproduce like rabbits on espresso. Think, for example, of the hyper growth of the internet, the web, MySpace, YouTube, and FaceBook. Once social networks take hold, expect them to grow like topsy, too. Moreover, the denser the network, the faster its cycle time. More connections make it quicker to get from one node to another.

    Imagine how this can happen in an organisation. The first nodes appear as the company experiments with a few small projects such as co-ordinating online project groups or making it easier to find information with a ‘Wikipedia inside.’ New hires are accustomed to going wherever they wish in a network; imagine that they begin communicating between silos.

    HR realises that the company-pedia can accelerate onboarding new employees. Customer service improves as everyone gains access to corporate resources such as who does what and how to find them. Replacing multiple versions with a single source of information cuts bureaucracy and chops email volume back. The growth of corporate connections feeds on itself.

    WHAT PROBLEM SHOULD WE BE SOLVING?
    Baby Bear was looking for simple applications that showed the potential of online collaboration. Mama Bear is out for the biggest bang for the buck. She will have to explain her choices to the bears with more seniority. It’s sensitive.

    Here’s a list of organisational dysfunctions and opportunities for improvement that others have solved using enterprise 2.0. Mama Bear will use the list to set her mind to work; she will share it with the other bears to get their insight. Which of these things will return the most value to the corporation?

    Inefficiency and bureaucracy

    • Deluged by internal email
    • Can’t find the right person when you need to
    • People don’t know who knows what
    • Can’t find the right information when you need it
    • Project coordination is tedious and things fall through the cracks
    • Re-invent the same documents and processes over and over again
    • Departments squabble more often than they collaborate
    • Don’t learn from the people who join us from competitors
    • Execs can’t get a read of progress on projects
    • Documentation is dated, versions confuse Not learning
    • Not prepared for the onslaught of digital natives we’re recruiting
    • Training can’t keep pace with the business
    • Training administration, creation, and delivery cost too much
    • Managers hoard information
    • Not learning fast enough to keep up with the needs of our business

    Unenthusiastic, sluggish staff

    • Recruiting is harder than ever
    • Some do the minimum to get by
    • People are not innovators and don’t keep up
    • Our know-how is walking out the door due to retirement and turnover
    • People are glum because of the economy, an industry slump, etc
    • Turnover is too high
    • When good people leave, we never see or hear from them again
    • No time for experimentation or prototyping Underdeveloped organisation
    • Difficult to collaborate inside the corporate firewall
    • Difficult to collaborate outside the corporate firewall
    • People prefer to work solo than on teams
    • Takes too long for new hires to become productive
    • Analysis paralysis
    • ‘Wait and see’ attitude = missed opportunities
    • Culture clash, as if we are two organisations with different priorities

    Suboptimal execution

    • Not everyone is on the same page
    • Our people don’t know our history, values, culture
    • Set in our ways, reluctant to change
    • Not moving fast enough to stay ahead of competitors
    • Functional silos thwart process improvement
    • Still acting like two separate organisations long after the merger
    • Hard to find out where we are as an organisation
    • Teams don’t talk about the trends and forces that drive our business
    • Don’t reflect on the lessons of our successes and failures
    • Don’t take advantage of our collective intelligence

    Substandard revenue

    • Sales are declining, customers are postponing decisions
    • Sales and marketing departments are on different planets
    • Sales force cannot express benefits of new products
    • Sellers unaware of industry conditions and competition
    • Friction in relationships with distributors
    • Partners are not well informed
    • Relationships with customers are arms-length Deficient service
    • Response time to customers is sub-par
    • After-sales enquiries are bogging down our call centres
    • 800 numbers and phone trees are driving customers away
    • Service is inconvenient for customers, not 24/7
    • We don’t learn from our customers
    • Not building customer loyalty
    • Customer and prospects are confused, frustrated

    SUSTAINING MOMENTUM
    As the organisation’s use of collaborative software crosses the chasm from speciality item to important business process, focus shifts to keeping collaboration vibrant, disseminating lessons learned, and informally benchmarking performance.

    Companies that have made the transition suggest these practices for maintaining momentum after initial enthusiasm wears thin:

    • Dismantle roadblocks to collaboration
    • Make the goal and ground rules clear at the outset
    • Structure the initial framework to fit the task
    • Make the online environment attracting and inviting
    • Pre-load templates, background info, defaults
    • Provide emotional support for newcomers
    • Delegate responsibility for keeping the ball rolling to the team
    • Rely on self-regulation
    • Don’t micro-manage
    • Market the service: publicity, seed with enthusiasts, contests
    • Incentives to get things ramped up
    • Report results at least quarterly
    • Conclude project teams with written evaluation
    • Participants suggest “How we can make this better”
    • Don’t skimp on investment. This is all cheap compared to the alternative.
    • Use bots to send periodic reminders about what’s going on
    • Encourage (or enforce!) tagging, making things searchable and thus easier to use

    HOW ‘PULL’ GIVES THE USER CHOICE
    Many workers are drowning in information and info-clutter. Their lives are not their own because they feel they must deal with every incoming email or announcement.

    Every day it’s as if an evil genie dumps boatloads of information, price increases, questions, recall notices, changes to plans, trade regulations, competitive threats, and email into our offices to greet us in the morning.

    Most of what we receive is not relevant to our needs; it was the product of a thoughtless cc: or mass mailing. As with spam, the sender incurs no cost but the recipient pays dearly in time and distraction.

    One way out of this quagmire is going after the information you need rather than taking all the information that is pushed on you. My first blog post on the first day of 2007 said “The tide will turn, saving humankind from drowning in diversions. At the point of being overwhelmed by repeated shotgun blasts of
    infobits, people will turn the gun around and hunt down what they want.”

    We’ll be able to select what mail, email, television programmes, phone calls, and reports we want in our lives. We’re accustomed to taking whatever is delivered; in the future, we’ll take what we choose. Media, software, training, and telephones will give us the ability to filter what gets past our personal firewalls.

    I’m not predicting that pull will replace push everywhere we get information, just that the balance will shift more toward the pull end of the spectrum than the push.

    TRUST
    As social networks become more visible in the organisation, they are certain to attract scrutiny by senior managers who never received their Online Collaboration Driver License. Giving every worker the ability to write things into documents that can be seen by all looks like a formula for chaos. And won’t some bad actors muck about, spraying the files with digital graffiti. Time and time again, the answer has turned out to be ‘no.’

    Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has addressed the issue of vandalism countless times. He draws an analogy to opening a new restaurant. This is America, so the restaurant is going to serve steak. Some steak is tough, so he will provide patrons with steak knives. People can stab one another with knives, so he will seat his guests in cages.

    Whoa! Time out! You’ve got to trust the people to behave in a civilised manner or give up on the restaurant idea entirely.

    And so it goes with open collaboration in the corporate world. Employees don’t turn into monsters just because they are online. Everything submitted carries the name of its author. What better way to lose your job than by acting foolishly in front of all to see.

    Nonetheless, because this is a new medium and because you’ve got corporate attorneys assuming the worst, it’s wise to set expectations and post guidelines. Here’s one organisation’s policy for participating in the in-house wiki:

    Assume good faith. Assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it.

    Civility. Being rude, insensitive or petty makes people upset and hinders collaboration. Try to discourage others from being uncivil, and be careful to avoid offending people unintentionally.

    Common sense. Don’t do anything in the collaborative environment that you wouldn’t do face to face.

    Editing policy. Improve pages wherever you can, and don’t worry about leaving them imperfect. (It’s all beta.)

    No personal attacks. Do not make personal attacks. Comment on content, not on the contributor. Personal attacks damage the community and deter users. Nobody likes abuse.

    Ownership of articles. You agreed to allow others to modify your work. So let them.

    PAPA BEAR
    Papa Bear, sometimes known as executive management, has slept through Baby’s and Mama’s online collaborative campaigns. Sleep is good, he thinks to himself. Having been around long enough to be sporting an occasional grey hair, Papa’s nose tells him something important is going on.

    Papa Bear’s primary concern is milking online collaboration and Enterprise 2.0 for all they are worth. He knows it’s important for workers, clients, and partners to connect and collaborate. Papa Bear wants to be certain he’s leaving no honey, oops money, on the table.

    WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
    The rest of the business world was hardly standing still while Papa Bear hibernated, for this is the age of networks. Collaborative software will connect prospects and sales people, customers and service, partners and product information, and supply chain with operations.

    The future world of business is evolving into plug-and-play, outsourcing functions that are not core. Internet technology provides a common language for connecting business functions and processing routine transactions. “I’ll have my computers talk with your computers.”

    Papa Bear knows that without an online collaboration framework in-house, the company could be cut off from its customers and business partners. Also, it’s unlikely many of the people being hired right out of college would buy into the old lone worker with pencil and paper routine.

    Papa Bear expects collaboration and network infrastructure to follow the trajectory of IT. At first, computing was relegated to the low- hanging fruit: routine tasks like accounting that were simple to automate with the same logic humans had already applied. In time, IT expanded to become enterprise software, an octopus hooked into sales, inventory, accounting, financial forecasting, HR, marketing, business intelligence, and vendor relations. Collaboration – relationships – give an organisation the agility to adapt to change and the speed to create value ahead of others.

    Whenever a bottom-up phenomenon in business evolves into a strategically vital proposition, executive management steps in to insure the firm isn’t treading on thin ice and to track to make sure the return their investment is optimal, neither too risky nor too conservative.

    THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
    For three hundred years, bears (and people) have revered efficiency, productivity, the accumulation of wealth, and things they could see and touch. This view of the world became second nature, so obvious that we didn’t question it. Until now. We are in transition from the industrial age to the network era. When it’s difficult for people to make connections, knowledge and power are scarce, and a few ‘haves’ control the ‘have-nots’. We see this top-down structure in feudalism, kingdoms, colonies, armies, and industrial organisations.

    When it becomes easy for people to make connections, knowledge and power are distributed, and everyone has a say. The internet lives to make connections, millions of them daily. Connections beget connections, making the whole ever more value, and perhaps ending up a ‘singularity’ where things happen so fast that we no longer recognise what’s going on.

    No organisation inhabits these extremes. Even the most command-and-control firm uses email and has internet access; the most networked still harbour unconnected nooks and crannies. Most knowledge organisations today find themselves in this in-between state. They have one foot in the command-and-control model. New hires, at this point twenty-somethings, are bringing the ways they have been doing projects at home with them.

    New recruits are refusing to work with organisations that don’t permit them to post a personal profile, use instant messenger, and connect to friends when they encounter a question. Elliott Masie tells of his disappointment with a new hire who had the continual distraction of six friends always a click away on her desktop. How could she concentrate? Then he realised that instead of having one new person working for The Masie Centre, he had seven!

    LOOK IN THE MIRROR
    We’re not all Motorolas or Ciscos, ready to adopt new technology at the drop of a hat. Most companies are somewhere between being stuck in the past and embracing the future.

    I think of organisations with the industrial-age beliefs as ice, because they are rigid. In addition to their orientation to control, ice organisations think business is a zero-sum game; for me to win, you must lose. They have a black-and-white view of the world; things are rigid; the fundamentals still apply. Secrecy is competition advantage; hoarding information is the norm.

    Water companies are less sure of themselves or what the future will bring; Reality is the unpredictable result of complex adaptive forces. Nothing’s perfect; stuff happens. Cooperation is a win-win game. Relationships are all-important, and the more open you are, the easier it is to form them.

    Where is your organisation? Ice or water? Your answers to a few questions will probably make it clear:

    • Can employees access the entire internet from their desktops?
    • Are People in our company not learning and growing fast enough to keep up with the needs of our business?
    • Does corporate policy forbid blogging outside our firewall.
    • Do our sales people share sales techniques and call reports online?
    • Following a major success or failure, do we take time to reflect on what we’ve learned?
    • Do people know how their work relates to our mission and vision?
    • Do employees in one department know what’s happening in other parts of the company?
    • Is it simple to set up an online meeting here?
    • Does my team frequently talk about the trends and forces that drive our business?
    • Are relationships between departments cooperative and effective?
    • Do we distribute information through podcasts?
    • Do we believe in transparency and openness whenever possible?

    You don’t need an answer key to figure out where you are.

    If your company is on the water side, you are a candidate for the transformation Andy McAfee describes.

    MURPHY’S LAW
    In the interest of getting a lot of suggestions in front of you, I have focused on what has worked. One could write a longer paper on what has not gone well. Implementing collaboration online systems is not a day at the beach. Doing it right takes vision, persistence, and courage. Don’t give up; the rewards are worth the effort.

    THE NEXT STEP
    In your father’s time, workers prospered by knowing how to do their jobs and doing them. In our time, workers get along by connecting with others and staying in sync with ever- changing conditions. Increasingly, what they need to know is not in their heads; it’s a shared understanding held by lots of people. Having exceeded the limits of what any of us can understand on our own, we turn to our collective intelligence to survive.

    Organisations at the top of the food chain are shucking off industrial-age thinking as best they can, but it is difficult. Since your great- great- great- great- great- great- great- greatgrandfather’s day, we’ve revered efficiency, productivity, the accumulation of wealth, and things we could see and touch. The game is changing. With one foot in the industrial age and the other in the evolving network age, our organisations are being ripped up the middle. The world is too volatile to wait for it to pass over.

    Never before in history has progress raced along at such a rate that children lap their parents. If you’d like to brainstorm how to inject collaborative technology into your organisation, please call me or any thirteen-year old. Collaborate with them.

    Learnscapes
    Organizations & community

    Comments (0)

    Permalink

    Clicky Web Analytics