Workshop Productive Knowledge Work

Besides workshops about social media I've also been giving workshops about Productive Knowledge Work. It's a lot of fun. And I'm surprised at how many people are looking for ways to become a productive knowledge worker.

One theme that is addressed by the participants in almost every workshop is 'email guidelines'. They say: We should agree not to 'reply all', have clear email subject lines, etc.

I shared the slides I use for you. If you have comments or questions, I'd love to hear them.

Workshop Social Media

Recently my colleague Jan van Veen and I have been giving internal workshops about social media. I shared the slides on Slideshare and would love to hear what you think of them.

We really enjoyed giving the workshop. There was lots of discussion with the participants and its great to see participants starting to use social media in their daily work! New workshops are being planned.

Google Living Stories also for Companies

4019442875_b66f667c22_b Not too long ago I shared an idea I had. Wouldn't it be neat if you could follow a news topic? I wrote:

Wouldn't it be interesting if you could just point to the article or video about the topic and say: subscribe to all articles about this topic. A topic-RSS feed. Of course you can do this for big topics, using hashtags in Twitter for instance. And you can also define a query and subscribe to that feed, using Google Alerts for instance. But for smaller topics it's not that easy.

Or am I missing something? Or do you know of apps that already solve this problem?

Well, it looks like some people at Google had the same thoughts. Recently Google launched 'Living stories'. The NY Times and the Google System blog ran articles about this new app. Currently it only works with news from two large newspapers: The New York Times and The Washington Post. But it relates well to my idea.

Think about what this could mean. We could be able to point to an article on the web and say: send updates on this news item when they show up. And we can take this even further: inside companies. For some topics a lot of time is need to make decisions. How often do we not forget about the topic that was interesting at a certain point in time? For instance, maybe you worked on a strategic plan. Before management actually decides to act on the proposals in the plan and start project, it could be months later. Say you could subscribe to the 'living story' 'strategic plan x'. When management makes next steps, you'll be updated. In the mean time you can focus on other stuff. By the way, this is also a great way to see if internal and external news gets any follow up at all. We forget so quickly. But to show and visualize all the 'next actions' or 'no actions' also shows if the promise that was made is lived up to.

What do you think about Living Stories? Do you see other ways it can be applied on the internet or inside companies? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Here's a short video explaining Living Stories.

[Picture by Hungry Hungry - thx]

Towards the Workplace Web - Review Global Intranet Trends for 2010

cover2010 It must take Jane McConnell a lot of time to write her yearly Global Intranet Trends report. 300 organizations participated in her Intranet survey this year! At least it took me a lot of time to read the report! But it was well worth my time again. And I'm sure it's worth your time (and money) as well.

I'd like to share with you what I learned from this report. Hopefully it will trigger you to read the report as well. I'd also like to share why I take time to read this report. Let's start there.

Intranet and the state of the intranet may seem to be boring and 'old skool'. 'Social media in the enterprise', that's what we want to read about and discuss. Well, this report is basically about all the web applications in organizations and how they are connected, used, valued, developed, etc. I find that very interesting. But what I find even more interesting is that the intranet says a lot about and contributes to the way we communicate in the organization and share information. Jane's yearly report marks the progress on this topic. And, concluding from this report, most companies still have a long way to go.

So that's one of the ways I use the report. As a mirror to see yourself and the corporate web initiatives (Jane calls it the "Workplace web"). How far are we compared to the other participants?

Another reason I read it is to get good ideas from other participants. I'm triggered most by the things that don't seem to work for most companies. I'd like to know more, but usually the report doesn't go into those details. And that's understandable - I'd have even more to read.

And a final reason is to measure the state of enterprise 2.0 adoption. (I think Jane's report would be read by much more people if it had the words 'enterprise 2.0' and 'adoption' in the (sub)title somewhere... ;-))

Now what did I learn from this report? Here are some highlights. (Find Jane's own highlights here.)

  1. I said: We still have a long way to go. This is underlined by the fact that only 15% of the participants have a "unified workplace web". 55% have "hybrid workplaces" and 30% have a fragmented intranet landscape.
  2. 40% of the organizations have the Communications department as the owner of the Intranet. Human Resources is still surprisingly not present in Intranet steering groups.
  3. Senior management is slowly finding the intranet more important (+10%).
  4. "Out-of-date and missing information" is a big problem in 20% of the organizations.
  5. Related to the previous point, the survey says the 'read-write-intranet' is still far away for most companies. Only 20% of the organization allow commenting on official content. 30% are experimenting with social networking tools. And 10% have personal pages. About 25% of the organizations have implemented some from of social media. Interestingly "the difficulty of finding information" is rated 10% higher than by organization who have not yet experimented with social media ("more silos", p. 76). It would be interesting to hear more from the participants about the search engines they use and their configuration (p. 40). Only 50% have a search strategy... (p. 41)
  6. The mobile intranet is being planned by 25% of the participants.
  7. Jane defines the "real-time intranet" by pointing to "technologies such as presence indicators, instant messaging and web conferencing". Later on she also points to microblogging. To be a bit picky about definitions... I'd would call the 'real-time intranet' all internal synchronous web communication (p. 51). In my opinion, blogs for instance wouldn't fit in this definition. By the way, only Twitter and Yammer are referred to when asked about microblogging (p. 90 footnote).
  8. An interesting trend reshaping the intranet is the "place-independent intranet". It would be interesting to see if the geo trend on the Web (location-based services) will also influence the intranet. I tried to find numbers for the trend to move the intranet to the extranet, but could not find them. I see many companies moving their intranet to the extranet (a.o. to collaborate with external parts and to support tele-commuting). I'm curious if Jane has data to support this. And it would be interesting to know how companies are doing this (via VPN, tokens, DMZ, ...).
  9. How mature is your intranet (organization)? This is an interesting part of the report. What I was wondering is what the % of organizations is in every stage?
  10. There's an interesting figure on p. 22 with a strong statement: intranets are not very "people-focused". Most intranets do have a who-is-who tool (which is not updated frequently... (p. 59), but that doesn't make it people-focused. And "team spaces" are usually outside the intranet. (p. 48) This is where people do the work... I think this is one of the core problems of intranets. If you don't connect the intranet to employees' daily work, the intranet will be 'yet another tool'. This is also a key to getting senior management on board. Intranet teams could start out by asking: Why would someone from senior management want to go to the intranet 3 times a day? If you find the answer to that question I'm sure you'll have senior management buy-in.
  11. Prediction markets is still a hidden gem. Used by almost none of the participants.

One last question for Jane. You use origami figures as visuals in your report. I tried to find a reason to relate origami with intranet, but I couldn't. Is there a reason you chose to use these visuals? Just curious. ;-)

Thanks for this report Jane and all the work you put into it! I hope many will read and process this report and share what they're doing with it on their blogs.

Trust in a Smart Way

trust A couple of days ago I posted about 'candor'. In that same issue of HBR another article was written about 'trust'. Roderick Kramer wrote "Rethinking Trust" (June 2009) - summary pdf here.

The open source, web 2.0 and knowledge management domain talks about trust a lot. We should be opener as people and as companies. We should trust our customers more. Etc.

However the economic turmoil we're in and how we got there puts a question mark behind 'trust'. Isn't it naive to trust? And to be open? If you don't watch out people will run off with your product ideas and, even worse, your money.

Kramer wants to 'rethink trust'. We can learn who to trust and how to trust in a more disciplined and sustained way. Even though "human beings are naturally predisposed to trust. (...) We're born to be engaged and to engage with others, which is what trust is largely about."

Kramer defines several rules to help us trust in the 'right' way:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Start small
  3. Write an escape clause
  4. Send strong signals
  5. Recognize the other person's dilemma
  6. Look at roles as well as people
  7. Remain vigilant and always question

Of course he elaborates on these rules. I thought number 3 is interesting. Research says when "people have a clearly articulated plan for disengagement, they can engage more fully and with more commitment." Never thought of that. Is this true to you? I'm not sure it is to. But maybe I don't "know myself" (number 1) well enough... ;-)

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Creating a Culture of Candor

candor I recently learned an important new word: candor. "Candor" is honesty, openness, sincerity. HBR ran an interesting article about this term and what it means for business some time ago: "What's needed next: A Culture of Candor" (June 2009) by James O'Toole and Warren Bennis.

When talking about 'enterprise 2.0' and openness and transparency, words like 'trust' and 'authenticity' are often also discussed. Another important aspect is 'candor'. The authors stress its importance due to the context we live and work in:

Now the forces of globalization and technology have conspired to complicate the competitive arena, creating a need for leaders who can manage rapid innovation. Expectations about the corporation's role in social issues such as environmental degradation, domestic job creation, and even poverty in the developing world have risen sharply as well.

According to the authors this context asks for a specific type of leadership. The metric of corporate leadership will be: "the extent to which executives create organizations that are economically, ethically, and socially sustainable."

For leaders 'transparency' is one of the ways to go, although it seems to be contradictory to most leaders:

Organizational transparency makes sense rationally and ethically, and it makes businesses run more efficiently and effectively. But leaders resist it even so, because it goes against the grain of group behavior and, in some way, even against human nature.

Even though they know and are learning - as we all are! - that the "ability to keep secrets is vanishing - in large part because of the internet."

What leaders - and we all do - forget is this culture of transparency, of candor, does not come automatically. It's hard. It has lots to do with the way we see information and knowledge. And do we accept that knowledge is no longer power?

A culture of candor doesn't just develop on its own - the hoarding of information is far too persistent in organizations of all kinds. That said, leaders can take steps to create and nurture transparency. The bottom line with each of these recommendations it that leaders need to be role models: They must share more information, look for counterarguments, admit their own errors, and behave as they want others to behave.

So, what's the first step towards a culture of candor?

... create an unimpeded flow of information and an organizational climate in which no one fears the consequences of speaking up. ...extensive share of information is critical to both organizational effectiveness and ethics.

Because "...better information helps them make better decisions."

Now, let's get to work and create this culture!