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Realities of the New Work Environment April 15, 2013

Posted by stewsutton in business analytics, business intelligence, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Communications, Community, Data Portability, Economics, Information Policy, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Software.
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Trends such as globalization, economic change, externalization, and consumerization are creating  new realities in the modern information workplace.  Here are four workplace realities that are already having an effect on the way we get things done.

1. Greater Interdependence – Employees collaborate many more individuals in their day-to-day work than they did just a decade ago (typically ten or more). As a result, nearly one-half of an employee’s impact on business unit profitability comes from network performance—the ability to help others perform and be helped by others. In contrast, in 2002, nearly 80% of an employee’s impact came from individual task performance. Although network performance is vital, only 20% of employees are effective at it. The way IT supports enterprise collaboration must change as IT adopts techniques to understand and support the needs of teams and individuals.

2. Frequent Organizational Change – Clearly organizations have never stood still.  However, a majority of employees feel that the rate of change is accelerating. Since 2010, the average employee has experienced major changes including:  reorganizations, strategy revisions, or new leadership, at a cycle of roughly every seven months. This state of near continuous change shortens business partner time horizons and puts a premium on responsive IT planning and budgeting. It also undermines efforts to encapsulate business process in enterprise systems and increases the value of integration.

3. Greater Knowledge Intensity – Ah, the Knowledge Management stuff…  An increasing percentage of employees (over 80%) are conducting knowledge work that requires analysis and judgment. Knowledge work is becoming ubiquitous because of transaction automation and the emergence of “big data,” In addition, business volatility means that even when transactions remain manual, there are plenty of exceptions that require analysis and judgment to resolve. Information technology investments are already changing to reflect this trend, with more money being spent on analytics and collaboration and less on process automation.

4. More Technology Choice – It is commonly reported that a serious majority (nearly two-thirds) of employees use personal devices for work purposes.  This is huge!   However, this transition to device consumerization is only the starting point. After BYOD comes BYOI, BYON, and BYOA; bring your own information, networks, and applications. Almost one-half of all employees already use external, unofficial information sources for work purposes,  about a quarter of employees source their own collaboration and networking tools, and a fifth of employees use their own analytic tools. Although BYO has risks, it cannot be stopped. Managed correctly, it can provide faster access to new capabilities and a better fit with individual employee workflows.

Event Networks October 15, 2010

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Information Technology.
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The buzz continues within the enterprise around blogging, microblogging, and wiki’s. Now we are seeing a compound buzz (if there is such a thing) in relationship to how all this works nicely as a coordinated set. There are several commercial products out there that were built in the “suite” approach for that very reason. IBM Connections, the latest release of Microsoft Sharepoint (SharePoint 2010), and Jive to name a few. There are also open source software “suites” like ELGG that one can consider also. So what do all these suites do that is so interesting?

What the current crop of “suite” approaches in the social software / social media / social computing arena are pointed at is the gold mine of enterprise event streams. Getting the population off their further entrenched addiction to mobile email and out into open aggregated communications channels where these communications in combination with their enterprise activities (events) are also recorded and routed into event channels is the new frontier.

Placing these event aggregation tools in the path of work is essential. It allows us to more efficiently share expertise and to discover expertise when needed. As the push and pull toward these event networks becomes more commonplace, then our collective efficiency may further improve quality and performance in wiring the right information to the right person at the right time for the right reasons.

Trust in the Virtual World February 27, 2010

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Humanity, Identity.
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I’ve been having some interesting conversations lately related to the level of trust that can be accepted from a virtual-only professional relationship.  Can you truly have a deep and enduring trust relationship with a person who you have only “met” online?  I think that the simple answer to that is no and let me offer a defense for that position.

  1. Most companies have recognized that deep trust between team members sometimes requires a “bonding” session of physical “person-to-person” interaction.  These activities can often take the form of different “social” engagements ranging from “horseback riding” to “downhill skiing time trials” to the more traditional “dinner with colleagues”.
  2. At most every MBA program that I am aware of, a key facet of the “bonding” and “trust” formulation for a newly entering class, there is the traditional “weekend” retreat.  This forces participants to “open up” to one another and through observations and exchange of personal information during the long weekend, the classmates have a baseline from which to conform useful and productive procedures for team-based coursework.
  3. Some of the most successful “high-performance” project teams have typically initiated “retreats” in advance of the collective team work in support of the project.  This very casual face-to-face (multi-day) adventure allows individual members of the team to become aware of the personal side of their colleagues by observations made during face-to-face activity.

Clearly all of these techniques are costly and yet that are commonly used where building trust relationships really matters.  So the big question hanging out there is Why?  Are these examples just illustrations of scenarios where the modern 2.0 technique has not been put into action?

I suspect that is not the case.  However, I also believe that once two or more people come to know each other through face-to-face social activity, they will be inclined to transact business activity through virtual (online) methods (web conf, instant message, email, blog, wiki, video chat, etc.) with a sufficient measure of trust.  However, the occational “booster shot” of a physical social gathering will properly charge the trust battery for scenarios where extended virtual collaboration has become the preferred transactional method.

Under what circumstances can we sufficently trust and and fully engage with others that we have only come to know in a virtual / online way?  Are these collaborative transactions left to activities that we value as simple commodities?  Or does a sort of “online reputation” play an increasing role in 2.0 trust between collaborators?  What does everybody think?

Your 3 Profiles September 17, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Community, Knowledge Management.
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Everybody has three profiles:

  1. Personal Profile – what they share on facebook with family and friends…
  2. Corporate Profile – the “brand” and personality they project inside their company
  3. Professional Profile – the professional skills and competency that transcend corporate associations

How do these profiles intersect and border each other?  What pressures force these profiles to merge?  Can these profiles be managed separately or do we attempt to simplify to a “personal” and a “work” profile?

Monitoring Corporate Identity September 17, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Identity, Information Policy, Security.
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Where is your corporate identity these days?

  1. corporate twitter profile
  2. corporate google profile
  3. corporate wordpress profile
  4. corporate facebook profile
  5. corporate linkedin profile
  6. corporate yammer profile

and the list goes on and on…

Are you securing these identity locations?  Who is in charge of that process?  What is the corporate policy for managing and policing these external identity spaces?

Something to think about…

Trust, Boundaries, and Community Value September 16, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Community, Knowledge Management.
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The value of a community.  A real community that openly shares with each other.  A community where you get to know what works well and what is not so good…  That kind of community where truth is shared will always have defined boundaries and deep trust between members.  Let’s explore both concepts briefly.

Boundaries

Boundaries offer a community an essential focus.  It’s not as if everything is to be discussed here.  The things we will share will in high probability be focused within the boundaries.  That just makes it easier to think about what you want to share in that channel and everybody that attends that community will tend to have some common expectations.  Those common expectations will more likely be satisfied by the shared dialog creating a community experience that is satisfying to the members.

Trust

It’s difficult to share truth without trust.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas speaks to a larger principal of professional trust.  If I put myself at risk and share some information that makes me vulnerable, that is trust.  The sort of trust that in animals would be akin to exposing my soft furry belly to you for a quick rub.  While I don’t typically expose my belly to my collegues, the verbal exchange offers a similar level of risk exposure when I initiate the trust relationship.  The initiation of the trust relationship by exposing your weaknesses and failings offers a channel for more open communications.  A dialog based on trust.  A community with trust has conversations of value.

Knowledge Management & Information Technology July 19, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Stewardship.
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How can improvements to organizational knowledge management be realized most efficiently:

  1. By integrating the available information technology services made available by the enterprise?
  2. By representing the requirements of new information technology services and designing these services?
  3. By coordinating the priority of specific information technology services via organizational governance?
  4. By overseeing the implementation and project management of information technology services?
  5. By taking an active role in the daily operations of information technology services?

This may be a rhetorical question for some and for others it may be the critical question that establishes balance to their knowledge management program.  Within every organization, the staff coordinating knowledge management may find a slightly different home base. The typical locations for where to host the knowledge management function vary across industries and across different organizations within those industries.  Here are some typical host locations for the knowledge management function and the general emphasis when they have that hosting organization:

  • Human Resources – focus is on organizational development and human capital management
  • Engineering – focus is on improving sharing and stewardship of explicit technical knowledge
  • Administration – focus is on performance of knowledge sharing across the enterprise
  • Information Technology – focus is on the technical service or solution that improves staff collaboration
  • Standalone – focus is toward improving organizational performance through knowledge sharing

Each hosting location provides a different organizational emphasis and all have some relationship toward information technology. Only one has a specific focus on improvement of IT services.  The other hosting locations for KM have a relationship with IT but it is not the primary focus.  Which location can provide the most effective home for KM?  That depends it seems on the performance of the IT organization.  If the IT organization has the capability to deliver innovative solutions with great efficiency, then there is the potential for a great partnership between KM and IT without KM being directly nested within the IT organization.  If however, the IT organization struggles to deliver capabilities that are essential for efficient knowledge capture and knowledge sharing, then another arrangement may be necessary.

Consider the questions on how to improve KM within the culture of your organization and comment on where you think it has the most effective influence and the most effective hosting location to deliver that influence.

In Perspective at 4th of July Car Wash July 4, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Community, Humanity, Wisdom.
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Now and then you may be given the opportunity to be a bit reflective on all that is going on around you in a local sense, a regional level, national, and perhaps at a world level.  It seems worthwhile to consider how everything connects.  To that end, let me offer a trivial and insignificant example – yet one that has several connections.  Connections based on decisions.

Our lives are filled with decisions each day.  Do we eat this, or eat that?  What time we wake up?  Do we take a bit longer reading that item, or do we set it down and proceed to the next item on our agenda?  Do we extend our conversation with who we are with, valuing their need for an important dialog, or do we end on time and proceed to the next conversation – assuring it is given appropriate time to mature into a dialog that may have a beneficial outcome.  How do we judge best how to allocate our time to the collective benefit of others?  Is that our primary motivation – the benefit of others – or do we seek personal benefit and gain ahead of that objective?

lexus_gs350There are simple decisions that we make every day.  The decision that begins with noticing that your car is dirty.  Does it need to be washed?  Does having a clean car signify something of value.  Is having a clean car an important life objective?  How clean must your car be?  Between the extreme of washing your car every day (or even multiple times per day) to remove every visible smudge, and going more than a year with an accumulated layer of dirt and grime – there must be an agreed on standard.  Or is there a standard.  If there was a “clean car standard” would that make the decision to wash your car any different?  Maybe if there was a “dirt index” then you could run a scanner over your car and it would register a “wash / no-wash” signal and you would have one less decision to make for that item in your life.

But choosing to wash your car or to not wash your car is an important decision.  All decisions are important decisions.  Choosing to wash your car gets you into the game.  Its an example of choosing “to do“, rather than choosing “not to do“.  If you can string together a series of decisions that seek “to do” and those decisions are largely directed at the benefit of others, then you are probably doing OK.

So I choose to wash my car.  Sometimes I wash it myself.  Other times I choose to bring it to a car wash.  Which of those choices today will have greater benefit for others?  If I wash it on my own, then I may have the option of dialog with my neighbors.  I also feel like I have more control over the outcome of the wash.  I use special soap that really cleans the surface, I use micro-fiber cloths that remove dirt without damaging the surface, and I make sure to dry the surface with special micro-fiber towels that don’t streak or damage the surface.

I feel good about washing the car myself, but sometimes I choose to have others wash it.  By making the choice to have others wash my car, I provide income to the local economy.  Somebody also gets a tip and that helps to meet the needs of those individuals.  Those that wash my car at the car wash always seem to appreciate the opportunity to offer a valuable service in return for a wage.  I feel good about participating in that cycle.  I generally believe that the quality of the car wash is not as good as my hand wash, but it is much faster and there appears to be a distributed economic benefit.  So which is better?  Neither one is better.  Each time we make that decision to wash our car, we are putting our self out there and the act of making that decision is what it’s all about.

So make a decision to decide several times today.  On the 4th of July, there are not quite as many decisions to be made as the rest of the year.  If there were decisions today, many of them were likely made weeks or months ago and they affect the way we move throughout this specific day. However, there are small decisions throughout the day.  To decide to get the tangled brush out of your daughter’s hair that is so embedded you imagine that scissors are your only recourse.  To decide to attend that BBQ event with a number of participants that you don’t really know but it’s a good opportunity for community dialog. To decide to cook dinner for your kids and their friends so that everybody involved has a comfortable location for shared dialog and companionship.  To decide that no matter how clean or dirty your car is, that you will decide how to wash or not wash it – the next time that topic pops into your head.