Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bridging Organizational Silos

Gems from Karl Albrecht's white paper titled Organizational Intelligence & Knowledge Management: Thinking Outside the Silos.

  • Albrecht's Law: Intelligent people, when assembled into an organization, will tend toward collective stupidity. (Who hasn't experienced this one?)
  • Intelligent organizations are those with Strategic Vision, Appetite for Change, (internal) Alignment & Congruence, “Heart”, Shared Fate, Free Flow of Knowledge, and Performance Pressure.
  • Enablers of organizational intelligence are Thought Leaders, Communities of Interest, (judicial use) of task forces /ad-hoc teams, and knowledge platforms to support knowledge deployment.
One element I think is missing from Albrecht's list is rewards and recognition. A very smart colleague and friend once said that you can't expect an individual to be an effective team member if they are rewarded/recognized more for solo effort than team contributions and playing a role in team success. I think bridging silos is also about ensuring that implicit / explicit reward/recognition systems and actions do not reinforce a siloed model, despite our very human tendency to think of "me" and "we" before thinking about the broader "us."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let's Acknowledge "Practices"

I was reviewing some documentation about Information Management governance today and came across that ubiquitous people-->process-->technology model again. When I see it, regardless of its flavour, I always reflect on the way we approach organizational change, in particular change driven / enabled by technology, with an underlying presumption of a completely "engineerable" end to end solution.

There seems to be a regular failure to acknowledge that "people exercise free will as they see fit, in all circumstances." Knowledge workers in particular make hundreds of micro-decisions on a daily basis. Their attention, time, support, contributions and even compliance with changes to how work is done, when there is latitude for discretion, can only be volunteered. This means clear direction, encouragement and support at a wide variety of levels are required vs. an expectation that either staff will "do what they are told" or that they simply need options other than compliance removed.

So let's start using a people-->practice-->process-->technology model so we can accomodate the human factor, and acknowledge that not all work can be reduced to a series of detailed "must do" steps in a process flow chart.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Social Media Increases User Information Management Burden

On Monday December 7th, Google began including real-time feeds from Twitter, Facebook and MySpace in search results, with more real-time feeds to be added in the future.

Certainly, the upside is the accessibility of a lot of outstanding content created/captured in these social applications. The downside is that it also increases the burden on each and every user to:

  • pick the right (one or few) communications/ information sharing channel
  • manage privacy settings/security in each channel to ensure that only the information we want broadly available is broadly available - in so much as the software enables you to control security
  • be expremely dilligent about reading social networking sites privacy policies
  • carefully consider the broader impact / implications of content contributed in one context to other contexts / channels through which you are known - for example, being consistent with ideas and perspectives across multiple channels to ensure that contradictions aren't surfaced and criticized in online discussions
  • manage the connections / potential colisions between one or more "personal' presences and professional ones - it may be getting more and more difficult to separate the two
  • be dilligent about the type and nature of information about themselves they expose on the internet as it is becoming easier all the time to aggregate, combine and analyze through advanced data mining techniques
Perhaps in the past siloing of information in the differernt Internet-based social media applications provided a certain degree of de-facto information security, but, based on the recent Google announcement, "times they are a changin'."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Respectful Practices in Social Media

A few years back, I had some great conversations with The Email Shrink, and a concept that he spoke of often was "respectful practices" in the use of email - one of them I'll paraphrase as don't flood your colleague's business email boxes with unnecessary junk - anything from a pointless "CC" to forwarding those intrnet chain messages containing jokes, photos or videos. The impact of doing this is pretty obvious - additional workload to deal with the unwanted emails. The point I take from this is consider the receiver before pushing Send.

So, I was looking at Facebook last night noticed that over 1/2 of the news feeds are generated from apps like Snowball Fight, Island Paradise, The Warlords, Tartan Treasures, Farmville, etc. etc. etc. which makes it difficult to identify (what for me is) more important updates and information provided by the friends network. I certainly respect and support people having the right to decide what they do (plus, "people will exercise free will as they see fit in all circumstances"), but I also think that social media, in particular as it is used in the workplace, will require additional considerations by everyone to ensure we all don't end up collapsing under the weight of having to deal with all the unwanted information. Plus, many of the min-apps available in social applications require that recipients take specific steps to block / opt-out of receiving information automatically generated. Again, more unnecessary work.

So, to all social media users out there, consider for a moment the impact of your choices on the members of your "network".

For business looking to leverage social media inside the enterprise, it might be advantageous to consider limiting the number of non-work related apps that can be installed on your social media platform. The risk of unnecessary distractions and productivity loss is significant, as is the impact of having this type of content around the organization in scope for any form of legal discovery.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Rewarding Employee Engagement

The November/December 2009 edition of Ivy  Business Journal features The Four Intrinsic Rewards That Drive Employee Engagement by Kenneth W. Thomas.  Unlike many other discussions abour rewarding employees that are rooted in industrial age "carrot and stick" thinking, the author offers a far more realistic approach, and some great tips for taking action.

Thomas identifies the key rewards highly relevant, from my perspective, to knowledge workers in all generations:
  • meaningful work
  • control over how work is performed
  • sense of competence, pride and satisfaction in the work
  • sense of progress
Later in the article he further defines the rewards and what is required to implement/changes in an organizational context.

He concludes with a point that resonates a lot for me. Thomas advocates not using a traditional top down method for building the rewards, but a participatory one, where employees themselves analyze situations and suggest solutions.  This approach, the author claims, will foster the high levels of engagement and excitement that will enable the organization and its people to better adapt to the changes.

Given what I'm reading and experiencing with multiple generations at work I think Thomas provides an excellent framework and approach that will be useful in many different contexts.

Friday, December 04, 2009

8 Things You Need to Know About Collaboration


  1.  Collaboration is over used and mis-used and is becoming a buzzword for business people and technologists alike
  2. Collaboration isn’t the same as cooperation or coordination - each have different processes, practices and depth of engagement
  3. Collaboration is a human process – throwing technology at people won’t magically/automatically create collaboration
  4. Meaningful, productive collaboration won’t happen without mutuality of desired outcomes, shared values of transparency and information sharing, compassion, compromise
  5. Collaboration implies that "the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the needs of the one" and sometimes people aren’t really interested in living by that principle
  6. Collaboration isn’t always the best process
  7. Collaboration is not equal to Web 2.0
  8. Collaboration can be a source of real value in the face of complex environments and situations where no single person has the right answer

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Important Things Facilitators Should Know About Adults in a Group Settng

Does anyone doubt that a facilitated workshop of virtually any type involves learning? Hopefully not. So if you have a room full of adults who are learning as part of achiving a shared outcome, it is a good idea to have an understanding of the adult as a learner.

In the mid '80s when I joined a training company, the VP Education made it a point of ensuring that I had a good grounding in andragogy and adult education popularized by Malcom Knowles in the 1970s. Since then, and in a number of roles throughout my career, including management consulting, change management, facilitation training, developing e-learning strategies, marketing and communications, I've always tried to keep adult learning in mind, and have regularly refered back to 30 Things We Know for Sure About Adult Learning, written by Ron and Suzan Zemke, and publised in a number of trainining related magazines.

Many of these "things" should have a direct bearning on workshop design and the presentation of new learning content leading up to any analysis, cause analysis, decision making and planning etc..

Another good reference is The Adult Learner, Some Things We Know by Robin Fogharty and Brian M. Pete. They explore the adult learner in a change context.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I was listening to Stefana Broadbent's Ted talk this morning titled How the Internet enables intimacy and was intregaued by a couple of her key points.  The first is that despite the possibilities social media provides for connection and communication, despite having hundreds of "friends" in Facebook, MySpace or IM, people are truly intimate with less than 5 on a regular basis. The second is that "institutions" as weve come to know them over the last 150 years or so, have implicitly and explicitly enforced and encouraged social isolation and continue to do so via means that include blocking access to various communications channels, and training people in how to work in teams of strangers. Yet people can often find innovative ways to overcome the isolation and connect with close friends and family, further enabled by emerging technologies.   

A very interesting talk.
(The Economist has an article about her work titled Home Truths About Telecoms.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

No More Consultants! According to Collison and Parcell

Not sure how I missed it, but just came across a reference on Chris Collison's blog for No More Consultants, co-authored with Geoff Parcell.

Interesting premise.. why spend money hiring external consultants without (perhaps first) tapping into the knowledge and experience of staff / employees? Great question. 

There are lots of good resons to hire consultants; validation, "sober second thought," expertise etc. But certainly this should go hand in hand with tapping into the experience and knowledge of the people inside an organization.

The book, and the Ning site, look like excellent resources. Learning to Fly certainly "set the bar pretty high."  I'm looking forward to seeing how much higher No More Consultants takes it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Magic of 8 in the ECM World

AIIM President John Mancini has a very interesting initiative going that is yielding some ideas in the broad realm of Enterprise Content Management. Through his Digital Landfill blog, John is inviting people to become an "8 things" author, and ultimately be published in one of AIIM's e-books.

Interesting concept ... and already a number of good guest blog posts on managing your inbox, building an ECM strateg etc. and AIIM has released full e-books titled "8 reasons you need a strategy for managing information — before it's too late", and 8 secrets of an effective content or records management implemementation."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Google 3D Warehouse

I just stumbled across Google's 3D Warehouse - with links for Google SketchUp, free 3D modelling software. Looks like 3D models that meet selection criteria can be uploaded to Google Earth.  Very cool!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where We Are and Where We're Going

An updated to XPLANE's 2007 "Did You Know? 2.0", this video was again developed by XPLANE, in partnership The Economist, Scott McLeod, Karl Fisch and Laura Bestler.  I find the amount of change outlined is amazing, and the impact of technology and the web profound and fundamental.  Have societal values kept pace?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Implementing Enterprise 2.0

Highly recommended: Ross Dawson's Implementing Enterprise 2.0. I find it an excellent strategic overview of the concept, components, key issues and implementation strategies from the business/organizational/people perspective. Sample chapters are available for download on the web site. On the site as well are discusssion forums for the different chapters, and a forum for offering suggestions for "Release 2.0" of the guide.

I see this as a highly useful key resource for building common language/understanding and engaging key stakeholders on building Enterprise 2.0 strategies.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Magic of the Internet

Yet another example... a reference to "Informing Oursleves to Death" on an Information Zen Enterprise 2.0 discussion post let me to a thought provoking speech by the aforementioned title given by Neil Postman to the German Informatics Society, 11 Oct 90, Stuttgart sponsored by IBM-Germany, which led me to the Neil Postman information page, which kindled my interest in reading his book Amusing Ourselves to Death as well as pointing me to Joshua Sowin's thoughtful Fire and Knowledge blog, and a post that references an interesting cartoon, based on the forward in Amusing Ourselves to Death, that compares/contrasts the future created by Huxley and Orwell. 

The links/relationships created between information can be as valuable as the information itself.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Solution to the Attention Economy Challenges

(tongue in cheek)
In his book the Attention Economy, Tom Davenport discusses how attention is the scarecest organizational / individual resource, and how difficult it is to attract it.

I think the folks at Air New Zealand have found the solution.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Living Library

Stumbled across an interesting story on CBC News about The Living Library - "an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding." - where people can check out "living books" (other people) that are representative of and have experienced specific stereotyping / common prejudices. A great concept / approach, and I wonder if it can be implemented inside an organization.  It does have much in common with mentoring, but I can also see it as a possible extension of Library services - connecting the right people with each other about a topic. (Though maybe I'm being seduced somewhat by what the above initiative is titled.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Value of Facilitation in Emergent Collaboration / Crowdsourcing

In The Crowd Is Wise (When It’s Focused), a NY Times article by Steve Lohr, the author makes a pretty good point: "Evidence suggests that crowdsourcing succeeds when it’s designed for specific tasks — and when the incentives attract the most effective collaborators."

Would indicate to me that even in the brave new world of Enterprise 2.0, some form of facilitator  is required ensure that great ideas are generated, and that the right ideas are acted upon to yield meaningful results, all within a resontable timeframe.

(Thanks to Peter Z at Cognitive Potential for pointing me to the article.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Market for Ideas and Innovation

Jen Hunter over at Learning Catalyst recently made reference to, a very interesting online market connecting people with ideas to people with challenges. It is a very interesting site, with contests, shared collaborative spaces, access to experts, related markets for technolgy licenses, and a whole lot more. A very well thought out space, with some interesting potential inside organizations.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Journal of Knowledge Management Ranked Number One

Nick Bontis and Alexander Serenko have recently authored A follow-up ranking of academic journals that identifies Journal of Knowledge Management as the top ranked knowledge management and intellectual capital academic journal.  This is a follow- up to their earlier Global ranking of knowledge management
and intellectual capital academic journals.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Is the Time Finally Right for a Knowledge Market Model?

I was just reading Leon Benjamin's KnowledgeBoard article titled Social media on the inside in which he writes about the transformative nature of social media platforms, the value of "flat" communities and networks as structures for building and maintaining intangible assets and getting work done, and the conflicts between these and traditional management approaches - a good, pithy article.

One phrase in Leon's article jumped out at me - "markets are conversations."

In 2002 I was fortunate to have had a number of great conversations about knowledge management with Leigh Weiss and Tim Shavers from McKinsey. Many of the conversations revolved around the concept and applicability of a market model for knowledge. This concept was succinctly described in Making a Market in Knowledge written by Lowell Bryan, McKinsey Quarterly 2004.

In a preamble to describing the concept, Bryan explores a number of "KM" approaches that have failed to generate the required returns, including:

  • big investments in document-management systems, shared servers, and other technology solutions that most often result in large volumes of outdated documents, making it difficult for users to locate the best few "just in time" relevant, quality and timely documents
  • "push" strategies where centralized staff provide knowledge to users that does not meet user needs
  • letting organizational units solve their own knowledge problems, which often results in knowledge silos and solutions that are non-scalable across the organization
I think most medium to large organizations have felt at least some of this pain. Though I don't whole heartedly agree with Leon's assertion in the KnowledgeBoard article that "It should be obvious by now to most people that social software changes people’s behaviour," I do think that social technologies, if fluidly interconnected and highly customizable, can create a "knowledge platform" that will allow natural human behaviour to emerge - productive conversations and knowledge markets.

Critical, though is the need to build a true learning and collaboration culture, else these markets / platforms will remain underutilized.. Many knowledge and information initiatives I've heard about focus on enabling the knowledge / information owner capturing and making their "stuff" available, or pushing it on overworked knowledge workers. The focus needs to be more on the learner / consumer. (Nancy Dixon wrote a great article titled The Neglected Receiver of Knowledge Sharing a while back - one of the few on the topic.)

We all learn before doing (from information content, friends, colleagues, experts etc.) as part of doing knowledge work, and as a result, often create new / improved /evolved knowledge and information. We need to remove the many organizational and social barriers to learning and knowledge seeking, recognize and reinforce these forms of behaviour in ourselves and our colleagues, and create a demand for knowledge and information in all its forms.

That demand, the learning needs, will create the context and the markets that are critically important for learning from and benefiting from the experiences of others. Learning is evidenced in changes in thinking and behaviour. And the change comes from the learner (demand side of the market) not the knowledge / information transmitter (supply side).

Nurturing the evolution of this type of learning and collaboration culture is not an easy task, given the power of the human ego - "I'm different".. "my agenda above all else".. "I can do it better".. "I'm afraid to let others know I don't know something" - or the time pressures we're all under - "it's too hard to find what/ who I'm looking for.. so I'll just recreate it.." Nonetheless, a culture that values experential and serendipitous learning is a critical success factor for knowledge markets and platforms.

I'm beginning to think that the evolution of knowledge management thinking, the growing promise and potential of emerging social technologies, demographic shifts in organizations, behaviours of newer generations of techno-savy employees, and the growing acknowledgement of the need to systematically go about connecting people to each other and to information, may be creating a more generalized readiness for "knowledge markets" of the type McKinsey was writing about earlier in this decade.

As I mentioned above, Leon writes "markets are conversations." I'd like to flip that and say "conversations are markets." Thinking back many of my conversations, they are often highly dynamic markets where knowledge and information are exchanged in a complex web of interactions across multiple communications channels, with each participant assessing value of the exchange based on their own criteria.

Imagine elevating the level of conversation at an organizational level.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Combining Collective Intelligence

I just stumbled across an interesting website created by IDEO called Patterns. For those few who don't know, IDEO is widely known as a permier design and innovation company, thanks in large part to articles in BusinessWeek (2004), Harvard Business Review, and a 60 Minutes segment, now available on YouTube.

IDEO has an interesting premise for their Patterns site:

"PATTERNS are how we capture and share some of the common insights we see bubbling up across projects, as well as out and about in the world. They are a foundation for intuition. A way to elevate insights to the level of cultural impact. And a way to tap into IDEO’s collective intelligence to do better work for our clients—even faster."

Their current issue/topic, titled Designing for Life's Changes, has good succinct stories about change, and a plain-English 5 step action framework. This along with their past

I wonder what process they use to identify, discuss, decide and capture the insights and stories that they expose on their site - it could be very useful in other settings when the importance of understanding overall trends and patterns is made extremely difficult by busy schedules and siloed work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Leadership Video

A great video on leadership from the creative people at XPLANE.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What If It All Disappears?

Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, PBWiki, Slideshare, Delicious, LibraryThing, Trumba, Google Apps, Zoho etc. etc. etc. As sers of these and other similar systems on the internet we are all creating and sharing a significant amount of information in all forms that does not exist elsewhere. Much of this information has significant value to the creator, as well as the consumer.

What happens if it disappears?

We live in turbulent, complex times. Companies can easily come and go through bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, or off-shoring.

What happens to the content then?
Will it just be deleted?
Will it be organized differently and be difficult find and render past links unusable?
Will it be sold off to someone else?
Will the company acquiring the content be a data miner/aggregator?
Will the company acquiring the company / content be from a different country with different privacy legislation?
Will we have reputation management challenges if content is merged / combined and paints a different picture than we intended?
Will the company doing the acquiring maintain the system and data (As Yahoo has done with Flickr and Google with YouTube)?

If the content is important to us (even something as simple as a Delicous link to a reference that supports important research conclusions), or possibly "mission critical," how can we ensure continued access?

Should we PDF and save our blogs, comments, web links etc. on our local systems?
Should we create a time/date stamped index/diary of comments we've made on various blogs, LinkedIn discussion forums, Digg, Redit, Technocrati?

If we continue to use free, or even paid, services on the Internet, can we count on enduring content availability? Or are we all just creating fundamentally highly disposable information of no lasting value?

Provacative Thoughts from Managing the Crowd

Thanks to strong recommendations from a number of colleagues, I've been reading Managing the Crowd - rethinking records management for the web 2.0 world by Steve Bailey. In the context of challenging traditional records management perspectives in the context of current / future trends in social collaboration technologies, he raises some very provacative points:

  • given that all information regardless of source, format, media or medium is in scope of access to information requests, e-discovery / litigation, why bother identifying and managing a subset of corporate information as records?
  • ensuring that documents, emails etc. that that could potentially reflect badly on an organization are disposed of is somewhat analagous to "accessory after the fact", and in contradiction to the traditional value of the records management function
  • if no one appears to have effectively managed email records beyond minimum compliance, how can we realistically presume to be able to implement large scale content management systems to manage records and information that users will enthusiastically embrace as a productivity improver?
  • is it realistic, or even possible, to effectively manage records that are created in an ever-increasing number of information silos and the exponential proliferation and use of un-connected Web 2.0 applications?
  • if organizations are using platforms outside their firewall for social networking, collaboration, and content creation (e.g. Google Docs, Zoho, WetPaint etc.), how can records, let alone information, be managed in them from a corporate perspective?
  • is effective records appraisal possible given the increasing complexity of the world around us and the the resulting shifts organizational context, the sheer volume and type of information being created from any number of business and personal contexts, and the inabilty to accurately predict future value?
  • does using evidential value as the key criteria for managing records potentially harm an organization by allowing information that has information value to be disposed of?
These and other questions that emerge from the book itself, or from reading and considering it, and the challenges associated with integrating social collaboration platforms inside and outside the organization, would certainly seem to indicate the need to examine the 'traditional' approaches to implementing document and records management.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fun with Archetypes

For a recent project management community of practice meeting I was asked to facilitate an "ice breaker" activity for the group. Having read and heard about some of the great work that Dave Snowden (Cognitive Edge), Patrick Lambe (Straights Knowledge/Green Chameleon), Shawn Callahan (Anecdote) and others are doing with narrative patterning, fables, archetype creation, I thought I'd facilitate a fun, short exercise to create a archetype of a project manager in the context of the community members' organization.

I certainly didn't follow any of the specific detailed processes as modeled by the experts above, given that I only had about 10-15 minutes on the agenda. I instead I simply:

  • introduced the concept of an archetype
  • showed the session participants a few examples of archetypal expressions to provide a picture of the desired outcome
  • formed small groups of twos and threes
  • asked the small groups to discuss, capture and present their observations of project managers (whether real or tongue in cheek) in areas such as social style, behavour and manerisms, posture, actions, speech patterns, appearance, how they interact with others, what they think and value etc.
It was fascinating watching what happened. Stories naturally emerged and were shared throughout the exercise. The energy in the room was palatable. Time flew for everyone - what was to be about 15 minutes of an ice breaker ended up filling the entire hour allotted for the meeting.

And the combined results of all the groups not only painted a clear and unique picture of a project manager in the organizational context of the PM community, but also some important and noticeable characteristics of the cutlture within which they function as a discipline.

 I think I'm going to keep this type of exercise in my "back pocket" for reuse in the future.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Psychology of Groups

Jeremy Dean at PsyBlog just posted on Social Loafing: When Groups Are Bad for Productivity as a first in a series about the psychology of groups. I'm looking forward to the series, and hope he somehow links the subject, even implicitly, to how people share knowledge and collaborate.  In this most recent post, Jeremy makes some interesting points on the role of expectations, anonymity, standards and feelings of importance in group psychology. 

Monday, June 01, 2009

Strategic Partnering In Corporate Administration from the "Ground Up"

Despite all the promise for more democratic, collaborative organizations predicted in much of the management literature today, stove pipes / silos still exist, often deeply ingrained in the fabric of corporate culture. Internal service groups (ISGs), such as human resources, IT, audit, communications, facilities, finance and so on genuinely look for ways to improve how they collaborate with their partners, but efforts often fall short. Pressures to focus on narrow departmental work group outcomes/objectives, affinities aligned with technical expertise, difficulty communicating due to lack of common language, mismatched workflow and planning processes, and vertical rather than horizontal / group rewards and recognition are only some of the barriers to effective internal service partnerships.

ISGs exist to enable business / management processes / practices, and support managers and staff in fulfiling their roles and responsibilities in these areas. But because of partnership and collaboration challenges across the service groups, staff and manager workloads are often added to rather than reduced, and the value ISGs deliver to their customers, and to each other as partners and customers, is less than desired.

There is a lot of good literature about stratetic planning processes, but there is one necessary element I would like to point out - the definition of "we."

It's no surprise that ISGs need to be part of the strategy development process, and not just recipients of the final strategy document, to have a clear understanding of where their customers are heading and why, along with current needs and challenges they face.

Each ISG does their best to be "at the planning table" and engage in strategic conversations with their customers. The challenge is that ISGs often compete for that valuable chair at the table. They compete for attention to sell their solutions and /or draw attention to services, for funding the projects that are sold and the services they deliver, for more attention during the projects and associated change management initiatives, and for validation of benefitis realization after the projects are complete.

Imagine, instead, redefining "we," how people refer to the group that they belong to / have affinity with, to be larger than their specific ISG or discipline.

Imagine, in over simplified terms, a planning process that looks a bit like this.

The ISGs assemble integrated / multi-discipline planning teams (an new "we") who participate directly in customer planning processes and workshops. The IGS team hears first hand about the trends / external forces the customers are considering, challenges and opportunities in the current state discussed, and strategic direction decided.

In the context of the workshops the cross-discipline ISG team has the opportunity of asking clarifying questions and building collective understanding of the customers' position - and of course everyone hears the question and participates in the ensuing discussion. The ISG team then works together as a group to create, test and position draft joined-up solutions in the workshops as part of the customers' strategic plan.

Then all the ISG teams come together with their leadership teams to form a larger "we" and blend their commitments and findings from the different workshops into a set of operational and strategic plans that establish clear linkages of collaboration, cooperation and partnership and joined-up accountability for management, acitivies, results and performance measures across the ISGs. (A colleague of mine calls this part "dukeing it out for the customer.")

In this approach, synergies of group work are leveraged in developing shared understanding and making common sense of the customers' views, developing innovative collaborative solutions and proposals, respecting customers' scarcity of time and attention, serving mutual customers efficiently and effectively through partnership based on process and practices and not lip-service, and making best use of available corporate funding.

Some organizations I know of are taking a participative/collaborative approach to internal service planning and delivery, and I'm sure there are lots more out there. With increasing complexity of the world we work in, I think that horizontal / collaborative sense-making, planning, delivery, reflection and action are the keys to ISG success.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twitter in the Courtroom

I stumbled across a posting on a couple of days ago that mentioned a ruling by the presiding judge in the trial of Ottawa, Canada mayor Larry O'Brien that enables reporters to report live using their electronic devices.  Glen McGregor is doing so via

If you subscribe to McGregor's feed and follow his tweets when trial resumes on Tuesday May 19th, you'll get a surprisingly raw and detailed "play by play" despite the short length of the feeds. A great compliment to the more ... polished... pieces that appear in newspapers, web sites and on TV.

Meaningful content from a credible source on a (to some) relevant topic in a timely fashion to any number of "subscribers" - great application for Twitter.

(Note: if you happen to review McGregor's feeds before he begins posting again when the trial resumes, you'll see reference to "about X hours ago," which doesn't give you the sense of frequency of posts. During the actual trail he's posting every few minutes.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Identity Management For IBMers On Facebook

Via Louis Suarez' KM blog, a great overview presentation about presence management in Facebook, along with some good personal info risk mitigation strategies.

Monday, May 11, 2009

19 Years of Hubble

Amazing photographs of what lies beyond our own frame of existence.
Awe inspiring, humbling, beautiful all at the same time.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Getting Rid of "Stuff" a Perpetual Problem

So, this past weekend I was walking through a few neighbourhoods as I was giving my dog (and myself) an opportunity for some fresh air and to enjoy the spring sunshine. Of course springtime for more northern climates is about switching winter "stuff" for summer "stuff," cleaning out the "stuff" that's collected in your car(s) over the winter, and heading to the nearest outlet and picking up "stuff'" to put on your lawn. Throughout this flurry of activity on the weekend, many of my neighbours' garages were open to the elements - including my own.

An informal survey of about 100+ open garages (it was a long walk), including my own, uncovered that for every one garage that was neat, clean, organized, and practically empty, about 30 were disorganized, cluttered, and most often over filled with "stuff" - including my own.

The results of this informal survey prompted me to ask "why?" repeatedly to try and understand the cause of the accumulation of all this "stuff." (Thankfully there were no adults around to smack me for asking repeated 'whys'.)

Some possibilities:

  • thanks to consumerism, we've developed into a society of people who are adept at acquiring "stuff" but not disposing of stuff 
  • other activites take priority over dealing with our growing mound of "stuff" 
  • very few people by their nature are organized, disciplined and are able to keep their "stuff" under control 
  • because we don't know what the future will hold, we keep "stuff" just in case
No one can talk about "stuff" like George Carlin, so I'll not go much further.

Strangely, and I do mean strangely, I related my exploration of "stuff" this past weekend with a casual conversation I had with a practicing psychologist many years back. Her theoretical roots for her practice were the work of Alfred Adler. She talked about this metaphorical suit case we have as kids, and how, as we grow, we fill it with "stuff" - perceptions, values, beliefs, mental programs etc. - that are all developed through the eyes of a child and young adult. And this "stuff" is what we use to view and make sense of the world around us, and make important behavioural decisions that affect our lives.
I'm sure you'll agree - this is very important "stuff!" According to the psychologist, as we get older the "stuff" in the suit case needs to be thrown out and replaced with new "stuff" that we develop through the broader view of an adult. Other wise we continue to think and act like a child in some ways, and not always to our benefit.
So, "stuff" seems to be a perpetual problem in many different worlds. Perhaps there is a causal link between how upgraded our mental "stuff" is and our ability to manage our physical "stuff."

A little homage to the master of "stuff" himself.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Four Generations at Work

At a recent Conference Board Knowledge Strategy Exchange Network meeting, I had the pleasure hearing Adwoa Buahene from nGen Performance talk about the mix of generations at work (Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers, Gen Ys), and most importantly, provide some very practical ideas on how to deal with the key challenges and create a good work environment for all.

A few key "take-aways":

  • Don't focus on one generation a the expense of the others. Many organizations focus so much attention on the impact of Gen X that they alienate the others.
  • Socio-economic status affects the prevalence/relevance of generational characteristics
  • You can't have engaged employees (expenditure of discretionary effort, emotional connection to the organization, acceptance of accountability) unless you have an engaged organization (transparent, responsive, partnering)
  • Don't over generalize and risk creating biases - seek to understand, and respect, each individual for their uniqueness, and potential contributions
  • It's important that organizational change initiatives, and language, accomodate the different generations at work
  • The sense of time is one of the key differentiators between the generations. E.g. younger generations are expecting value from their participation/contributions to an organization in a far shorter time frame than Traditinoalists or Boomers who were prepared to wait for many years. Generation X/Y will figure out in the first 90 days of employee whether or not the employer will deliver on what was promised during recruitment and around time of hiring.
Overall I found Adwoa's ideas refreshing, balenced, free of the "hype" that seems to surround many generation Y conversations, and closely linked to basic principles behind both facilitative and situational leadership.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is a Status Change on Facebook an "Announcement"

A recent AFP news article states: "Chelsy Davy, the former girlfriend of Prince Harry, has confirmed to friends reports of their split by changing her profile on her "Facebook" web page, British media reported on Monday."

Two questions crossed my mind; is leading a story with a Facebook status change good journalism, and the importance of good discussions across stakeholder groups on which social media functions to "turn on" inside the organization to enable productive conversations / collaboration, and which ones will interfere with or marginalize it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Generations Clash Over Technology Use

I think one of the deepest divides and potential clashes between boomers and the millennials, in particular at the opposite ends of the spectrum, is/will be the use of technology - not only "Web 2.0", but even more basic tools. I've been overhearing a lot of informal hallway/elevator/shopping mall conversations recently where millennials are expressing their deep frustration at the "old folks" inability to use even basic tools like email.

Though personal computing history dates back to the late '70s / early '80s (depending on if your an Apple or IBM fan), as personal computers and networks replaced mainframes, or were a company's first experience with technology, not everyone embraced getting personal with their PC with the same degree of enthusiasm. For some people it was a necessary evil. For others it was a tool/task that was best avoided, or delegated.

Even today, over 25 years later, I personally know of people who refuse to touch a computer outside of work. They don't have a Blackberry / PDA, have no idea how to add phone numbers to their cell phone address book, and often ask someone else to do it for them. They've still got glue covering the time display of their VCR at home as a reminder of the tape that once covered the flashing 12:00 display. They ask someone else, often the dealer, to set the time display in their car.. Internet banking? They’ve only recently mastered the automated teller machine and still prefer to go to a real teller for even trivial banking transactions.

In the office, they have their administrative assistant print out their emails, and then write their responses for their assistant to re-key. They print documents they receive and comment on them with a pen as a matter of course not convenience. And they make no effort to use corporate information / document management applications, instead delegating the tasks to others.

Some people have a genuine phobia about using computers, and others have a genuine lack of skill. Understandable. But what I find astonishing is that some people speak of their lack of technology fluency/use as though it was perfectly acceptable, a point of pride.

I think that respect is an important element of good peer and manager/staff working relationships, and I think respect is equally important for all generations.

Millennials coming into the workforce will be far more critical of others’ lack of technology use/skills, and I suspect will not be particularly respectful of colleagues, direct managers or senior leaders if they are not competent with technology. In turn, the lack of respect will undermine working relationships and pose significant challenges in getting work done.

Arguably, time will solve the problem as more and more of the boomer generation retires. But until then, it could be a rough ride.