Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Archive for the ‘Enterprise 2.0’ Category

New and Required Skills in Ten Years

The Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix Research Institute recently delivered a report called Future Work Skills 2020, which analyzes the key factors that will impact the nature of work the next 10 years and identifies key work skills needed.

This report was sufficiently interesting to me that I thought it would be worth simply summarizing its findings. The report itself has much other interesting and evocative information, but for the sake of efficiency, I’ll simply include the top-level points of the report.

The skills are based on six drivers, which it defines as disruptive shifts that will reshape the workforce landscape:

  1. Extreme longevity: Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems: Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks
  3. Computational world: Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a programmable system
  4. New media ecology: New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text
  5. Superstructured organizations: Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation
  6. Globally connected world: Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations.

In the report, these six drivers create the following ten critical skills. What I find interesting about these skills is that they are both the product, as well as the drivers, of new social engagement especially within organizations.

1. Sense-making
Definition: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed

2. Social intelligence
Definition: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions

3. Novel & adaptive thinking
Definition: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based

4. Cross -cultural competency
Definition: ability to operate in different cultural settings

5. Computational thinking
Definition: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning

6. New-media literacy
Definition: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication

7. Transdisciplinarity
Definition: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines

8. Design mindset
Definition: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes

9. Cognitive load management
Definition: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques

10. Virtual collaboration
Definition: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

Written by tstaley

June 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Culture, Enterprise 2.0

6 Keys to Launching Successful Collaborative Intranet Groups

For a social and collaborative Intranet, bootstrapping the newfound sharing behavior may be challenging. Here are some ideas on how to focus and orient groups getting started on a connected internal platform.

Contrary to the popular expression from Field of Dreams, simply building an online capability for your group’s collaboration does not by any means guarantee that your teammates will come. There are a few keys to attend to when planning your collaboration site and some up-front planning along these lines will go a long way to making the online facility a success for your team.

This post goes through the keys to success in creating and managing a social collaboration community. But because this is a collaborative environment, please weigh in with insights from your experience. You can add comments at the bottom of this entry, or add your feedback to the discussion forum.

The keys to collaborative Intranet success include the following:

  1. Clarity of Purpose
  2. Setting Expectations
  3. Familiar and Useful Content
  4. Easy Navigation
  5. Kicking Off
  6. Encouraging Usage / Celebrating Success

1. Clarity of Purpose

You can expect that all your prospective online cohorts are already busy, so much so that each will have little or no extra time for a gratuitous online experiment. The most important first message to deliver to prospective participants is that, although this is a pilot project, you expect significant value from the ability to share files and other content, engage in online discussions, coordinate activities and distribute information.

Yes, a collaborative Intranet is intended to help the culture and level of engagement within a company. But your colleagues should know that you expect to achieve significant value directly from participation in the online environment. These benefits can include some of the following:

  • Knowledge sharing. By participating in the online environment, your group’s knowledge, decisions, questions and plans will all accrue in one central, shared location. This represents not only time saving, as people will more easily be able to find key content, but it also means a clearer and more widely shared understanding of the group’s mission.
  • Strengthened Relationships. Especially for teams that are spread across multiple locations, it’s difficult to develop a sense of team identity. It’s similarly difficult to get to know the individuals on your team with sparse real-time interactions and ill-focused email threads. An online environment enables teammates to engage more deeply, and asynchronously, than other methods.
  • Improved efficiency. Meetings and email have come to define how collaboration occurs within organizations. Yet these are increasingly exposed as inefficient ways to work: meetings often wade through information that could have been shared online; emails push content out to individual Inboxes through successive (often endless) messages. An online sharing environment won’t replace meetings or email but, by providing a place to capture background content and discussions, it will make meetings more productive, and email easier to digest.
  • New Idea Generation. By collecting content in a single, well-organized environment, your Intranet will enable team members to better engage with the content and purpose of the group’s activities, and will likely stir new ideas, discussions and directions. This might currently happen, by luck, in the context of a meeting or a long email thread, but in the shared Intranet environment idea generation and sharing is not constrained by fleeting moments or messages that difficult to parse.

Your declared purpose can be declared during a kick-off event for the space (more on this below), but it’s also useful to add it prominently to your collaboration environment as a reference document.

2. Setting Expectations, Gaining Commitment

Even if your teammates have seen and understand the value inherent in a collaborative environment, they are likely to remain rooted in their old behavior patterns. Sharing information online and engaging in the team space is new behavior for most people. Expectations are generally pretty clear when it comes to meetings and email. Our calendars and Inboxes fill up with content and commitments, and we respond accordingly.

But the online collaboration environment is a new destination, not accessible through Outlook or other usual business applications or locations. Most collaboration environments will notify participants of new content via email, but even this remains a passive, reactive mode of engaging in your group’s interactions.

Start by asking your teammates to visit the shared workspace at least once a day. Encourage them to add information that might be useful to the group. This could be something as mundane as a Facebook-like update on their state of mind that day. This simple update goes a long way to building relationships and humanizing the work environment.

Once your group is in full swing, you may still need to encourage participation, but that will be covered below in the “Encouraging Usage” section. To start, just get your colleagues to commit to a daily check-in.

3. Familiar and Useful Content

The value of a collaborative environment comes from the content shared. A good way to start a community is to collect documents, images, reports, etc. that have been shared among the team – often in the form of email attachments or links to web pages. A useful way to prime the content for your team start is to take a little time and mine the emails sent to your group for attachments and references you can collect and add to the shared space.

Some of this content may be fixed and final, and can be added simply as reference material. Other content might be the potential subject of additional commentary or discussion. When you add this content to your site, consider what kind of reactions it might generate: if people will want to comment, make sure you enable and encourage comments. If the content would lead to discussion, you might want to add it as the lead topic in a discussion forum.

Most importantly, just make sure there is content on the site before people join. It’s the first impression thing: you want newcomers to see potential value right from the beginning. When starting a new group, here are some typical things you might want to add before people arrive:

  • A welcome notice (probably as a blog), setting the context for work on the space. This would include things like your hope that everyone will participate, either by adding original content, or by commenting on other participant’s content.
  • Add one or more discussion forums that are pre-populated with issues, ideas or questions with which the group is engaged. This would provide an easy way for new members to add their two cents and see some value.
  • Create a simple calendar of group events, milestones, deliverables, etc.
  • As mentioned above, if you have documents, images or other files that the group has shared, upload them to the shared space.

4. Easy Navigation

Nothing discourages users more than frustration of a web environment that isn’t easily comprehensible. Your users may buy into the purpose, and they make a commitment to participate regularly, but if they are thwarted in their attempts to understand the environment, those best-laid plans will be set aside.

As the Community Manager for your team, take some time regularly to make sure that the site remains comprehensible and hospitable. You may have some control over the layout if important content isn’t being displayed effectively. And you may want to re-post items that have dropped too low in a the sequential display, but remain important.

A key to making a site accessible and comprehensible is the use of hyperlinks. Some environments allow your team to create saved bookmarks, which acts as an informal table of contents. Also, encourage your participants to use hyperlinks in the content they create. For example, in the midst of a forum discussion, someone might refer back to a document or other information item stored on the site. If so, encourage this person to add a hyperlink to the document – it only takes a minute, but the connectivity is what helps build the corpus of knowledge for the group.

5. Kicking off

Once you have primed the site with content, and you have readied a welcome document and are ready to discuss expectations for your team’s use of its shared environment, it’s time to formally kick off the platform. Ideally, your users should see the site for the first time when you can introduce and guide them through it. If users go to the site before all of the foregoing – purpose, expectations and content especially – they will easily get discouraged and leave unimpressed.

A kick-off doesn’t have to be a huge affair – it can be done as part of a regular team conference call, for example, and could even be done in 20 – 30 minutes. The key again is that you do the work up front, so their first impression is positive and they will know how to engage with the site.

6. Encouraging Usage, Celebrating Success

Finally, once the site is up and running and your teammates have been introduced, it’s likely that the community will need ongoing encouragement. Whenever possible, you can politely ask a colleague whether the excellent document they have just shared with you via email has also been uploaded to the shared environment.

Or, when you find yourself in the midst of a long and intractable email or thread, move the discussion to an online forum and notify the group of its new home.

When people add great content to the site, or when you observe a meaty discussion happening online, call it out! This can be done by email, as contradictory as that sounds, in meetings or on the site itself. When and if appropriate, share the success outside your group and show off!

This will be an ongoing process as your teammates get acclimated to sharing online. However, if you believe the initial purpose statement, you and your team will get great results from your efforts.

Written by tstaley

January 28, 2011 at 7:04 am

McKinsey: Rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday

The most recent edition of the McKinsey Quarterly included an article entitled, The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday. The article publishes findings from recent research, in which McKinsey connected with 3,249 executives in a variety of regions, industries, and functional areas.

The results were predictably favorable for web 2.0 usage. The report includes statistical analysis of the findings, which supports a correlation between web 2.0 and business success, defined a number of ways.

The article’s value is partly in simply defining the areas where success can be expected, McKinsey measured benefits in the following areas:

  • Increasing speed of access to knowledge
  • Reducing communication costs
  • Increasing speed of access to internal experts
  • Decreasing travel costs
  • Increasing employee satisfaction
  • Reducing operational costs
  • Reducing time to market for product/services
  • Increasing number of successful innovations for new
  • products/services
  • Increasing revenue

A companion article offers an interactive set of charts for understanding the results of their research (this article requires a free subscription). An example of the kind of data available in that chart is shown below.

One other point the article made which is important, though harder to measure its impact: the network effect of web 2.0 will expand its influence over time:

The benefits from the use of collaborative technologies at fully networked organizations appear to be multiplicative in nature: these enterprises seem to be “learning organizations” in which lessons from interacting with one set of stakeholders in turn improve the ability to realize value in interactions with others. If this hypothesis is correct, competitive advantage at these companies will accelerate as network effects kick in, network connections become richer, and learning cycles speed up.

via Rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday – McKinsey Quarterly – Organization – Strategic Organization.

Written by tstaley

December 15, 2010 at 7:38 am

Posted in Enterprise 2.0

Communities, Teams and Organizations; Requirements Differ

Last week was the E2.0 Expo in Santa Clara. This week it’s KMWorld 2010 in Washington DC. The topics seem interrelated, so there must be a swath of people herding from one side of the country to the other in pursuit of the latest thinking on building social Intranets.

One attendee at KMWorld, Bill Ives from Darwin Ecosystem, reported on a session called 10 Principles for Successful CoPs (Communities of Practice).  The principles are listed below, but it brings up another question about the kinds of groups that might form for any Intranet.

  • Communities of Practice, according to Wikipedia, is “a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession.” The principles below are directed at this kind of group, which tends to be cross-organizational and voluntary.
  • Work Teams, are more focused and tend to work towards a common goal. The small and diverse group working on the new Intranet, for example, is a work team.
  • Organizations are structural parts of an enterprise, and can be either horizontal (HR) or specific to a product line or market.

Each of these kinds of groups – and there may be more – has its own requirements for communication and collaboration. An Intranet designed to address all three of these kinds of groups needs to be clear on those requirements, and perhaps even offer different kinds of groups based on the interactions required.

From the blog post, here are the ten principles:

One – Communities should be independent of organizational structure. They should be based on the content.

Two – Communities are different from organizations and teams.  People are assigned to a team. Communities are better with self–selection for joining and remaining.

Third – Communities are people and not tools. You should not start with tech features. A platform is not a community. Readers of the same blog are not a community but that might be a byproduct.

Fourth – Communities should be voluntary. The passion of members should be what drives a community.  You should make the community appealing to get members and not assign them to it.

Fifth – Communities should span boundaries. They should not be for a particular group likes Sales or IT. There is a lot of cross-functional or cross-geography learning that would be missed then. Diverse views help communities.

Sixth – You should minimize redundancy in communities. Consolidation helps to avoid confusion by potential members. It also reduces the possibility of not getting a critical mass. Reducing redundancy also enables more cross-boundary sharing.

Seven – Communities need a critical amass. You need at least 50 and likely 100. Usually ten percent are very active so you can get sufficient level of activity with 100 people.

Eight – Avoid having too narrow of scope for the community. Too much focus can lead to not enough members. Stan advises people to start broad and narrow if necessary.  Or start as part of broader community and spin off if needed.

Nine – Communities need to be active. Community leaders need to do work, often in the “spare time” at their regular work. This means that the leader needs a passion for the topics so he or she will spend this extra time. There needs to be energy to get things going.

Ten – Use TARGETs to manage communities. TARGET includes: Types, activities, requirements, goals, expectations, and tools. Each of these issues needs to addressed and explained to prospective members.  Tools are necessary, but the least important component, so they are placed last.

KM World 2010 and Enterprise Search Summit 2010 Session Notes: 10 Principles for Successful CoPs – Darwin Discovery Engine Blog.

Written by tstaley

November 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

Help for the Disconnected Knowledge Worker?

A blog post today on a site called Fierce Content Management – Can Enterprise 2.0 save the disconnected knowledge worker? – focuses on employees who work remotely, and may lose the social and productivity benefits of working in an office.

Today’s workers are more disconnected from the company than ever. Spread out by distance, sometimes even without an office, these workers are looking for a way to connect to their fellow workers like never before, and this is especially true for knowledge workers who frequently require contact with other employees to get their work done.

The author claims that, though traditional communications tools are not the answer, Enterprise 2.0 tools could help. His premise is that a social platform within a company can provide “a virtual water cooler where [employees] can formulate ideas, shoot the breeze and build relationships with one another.” However, he ends with a note of cautious optimism:

Enterprise 2.0 tools can only do so much. But they at least have the potential when implemented correctly to help disconnected knowledge workers make meaningful connections. And that could help organizations stay productive even when individuals may never see one another.

via Can Enterprise 2.0 save the disconnected knowledge worker? – FierceContentManagement.

Written by tstaley

November 16, 2010 at 10:09 am

Posted in Enterprise 2.0

The 5 Collaboration Models

The article called Collaboration – If it Were That Easy We Would all Do It – Well includes a useful segmentation of collaboration models, ranging from informal to formal:

1. Communities of Practice/Interest are social platforms that allow members of a community to share ideas and discussion. They are focused on a particular issue or topic, and provide interpersonal knowledge exchange.

2. Content collaboration is basically a library. Participants post relevant content, and thus collaboratively build the library over time. This can also include the collaborative authoring of new content.

3. Process collaboration brings the community together through a business process. Individuals collaborate based on tasks in a coordinated series of orchestrated tasks. The goal is typically process efficiency and control, including identification of the right team member at the right time.

4. Project collaboration has a defined purpose, a start and end date and clearly defined parameters.

5. Goal-based collaboration involve projects that have well defined specifically articulated outcomes or questions to be answered. The end date is basically determined by the achievement of the goal.

Each model may imply entirely different kinds of functionality, governance and behavior, and may in fact indicate different (but ideally integrated) platforms.

Though these models are presented hierarchically, from a platform and governance perspective, there are two dimensions that can be overlaid on the model, which can have implications on the target platform:

  • Structured vs. unstructured: In this context, structure is the degree to which the processes, roles, access must be controlled and managed, and the degree to which content is defined by well-defined states. For formal workflow and document-centric collaboration (models 2, 3 and 4), an environment that provides more control – such as eRoom or SharePoint – may be appropriate.
  • Goal-oriented vs. continuous. Goal-oriented collaboration efforts are defined by a milestone, date or deliverable, upon the achievement of which the collaboration instance can be closed. These collaboration environments require particular focus on either a specific deliverable or set of tasks. Goal-oriented collaboration requires either dates, events or content focus that goes beyond the purely informal communities available in something like Facebook or CubeTree.

Combining these dimensions with the five models referenced above, the following model emerges:

Five Collaboration Models in Four Boxes

This may seem like an academic exercise, but it may be helpful when considering mapping platforms to collaboration types. For example, structured environments that support models 2, 3 and 4 might inhibit the kind of ad hoc engagement that is required in the less structured collaboration models.

Imagine, therefore, using SharePoint for the structured collaboration projects, and a social environment like Jive for the less structured work. Having two collaboration platforms would indeed add complexity, though each is optimized for a different kind of function – just like Word and PowerPoint, while overlapping capability in their ability to deliver content, still have unique and differentiable strengths.

There are two keys to making this hybrid collaboration environment work:

  • Governance: a broad term, but in this case used to define what tasks to do in which environment, and how to regulate (or not) behavior and workflow in each. It seems likely that structured environments would be provisioned by administrators, while the unstructured collaboration environments could be created and managed by end-users.
  • Integration: Ultimately, all content – whether in a structured or unstructured environment – should be treated as an organizational asset, and made easily available to appropriate parties throughout the enterprise. This implies either a federated search model or, better, a unified content repository. Specifically, documents loaded into an unstructured workspace like Jive would ideally be stored in a common, structured repository like SharePoint.

More work is required to flesh out this approach, and all feedback is welcome.

Written by tstaley

November 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

Trends from Enterprise 2.0: The Move to Social Business « It’s All Virtual

No novel ideas, but good insights from Dennis Shiao, one attendee of the E2.0 conference this week, including:

  • Start-ups on Equal Footing with the Technology Giants. Jive has become “the man”, the relatively new company is now the market giant.
  • Social Business UI – New Models Needed. Everyone is copying Facebook; new interfaces will emerge. For the record, I envision less monolithic designs, and more malleable parts that can be syndicated to other working contexts.
  • The author, a “virtual event strategist,” sees similarities between Social Intranets and Virtual Event Platforms. Interesting and appropriate that there is convergence here – people coming together online to share ideas and get things done.
  • The Intranet (As We Know It) Is Dead:

The Intranet, as a self-standing web site, is now dead. In its place will be social business platforms. Do you really use your company’s intranet? It’s good for routine activities e.g. look up phone numbers, find the expense report template, etc., but it doesn’t significantly improve employee productivity.

via Trends from Enterprise 2.0: The Move to Social Business « It’s All Virtual.

Written by tstaley

November 12, 2010 at 7:05 am

Posted in Enterprise 2.0