Vacation First

I was planning to write two more posts today and this evening, but I decided they can wait. I really wanted to write about two things that I'm really hyped up about:

  1. Andrew McAfee's book Enterprise 2.0. Great read, great book. Really good overview of the Enterprise 2.0 landscape for people that are new to this interesting field and even for the experienced early adopters. I'll share my review in September.
  2. Lots of debate has popped up quite recently about Enterprise 2.0 and business processes. I was working on a post, based on all the older and newer posts that I've collected. Great stuff and very deep thinking going on there.

But 'vacation first'. I'm heading to Germany, near Trier, and hope to be there with my family. Really looking forward to it!

So, blogging and tweeting will be slow! See you later.

The Problem with (Enterprise) Social Bookmarking?

standingout The Dachis Group recently shared a really nice overview of "The 2010 Social Business Landscape", written by Dion Hinchcliffe. One of the tools I missed in his overview is 'social tagging' or 'social bookmarking'.

Based the research being done by my student, Arzu Yucekaya, on social bookmarking, I've thinking about and discussing with her why social bookmarking adoption seems to be harder than, for instance, the adoption of enterprise microblogging. At least, in the company I work for...

I'd like to share a citation from a (preliminary) version of her literature research. This citation relates to the adoption of knowledge sharing tools in organizations in general. She writes:

In the context of knowledge sharing systems, public good nature of knowledge introduces two major challenges that organization face (Prasarnphanich & Wagner, 2008):

1. The start-up problems (achieving critical mass)

2. Discontinuity problem (sustainability of actively contributing user base)

Critical mass is a small core of people who are willing to contribute at the expense of low returns in order to overcome the start-up costs and to create conditions for more widespread contributions (Prasarnphanich & Wagner, 2008). Critical mass theory concerns the joint action of groups that provide “collective good” or “public good”. The success of communities or social networks depends on two parameters: the shape of the production function of collective good and the heterogeneity of resources and interests across the potential contributors (Prasarnphanich & Wagner, 2008). Communities which consist of individuals with different backgrounds, interests and resources will maintain the attractiveness and will likely produce more public goods (Arakji, Benbunan-Fich, & Koufaris, 2009). (Arakji, Benbunan-Fich, & Koufaris, 2009) argued that the nature and contribution mechanism of web 2.0 communities is different due to their “low-barrier” characteristics; consequently, achieving critical mass is easier. (Millen, Feinberg, & Kerr, 2006) confirmed that the ability to reach critical mass does not present a problem as the marginal cost of bookmarking an existing resources is low. Following these arguments, the focus is on the second challenge in this thesis.

So, Arzu will focus on the second problem, because the bookmarking tool is easy to use, we just have to promote it more.

I agree we have to promote the bookmarking tool more and explain to colleagues why it's so useful. But these two problems bug me a bit. Are these really the fundamental reasons why knowledge sharing systems are not adopted and used over time? Or is there a more fundamental reason. For instance, if you don't understand the concept of sharing and the value of sharing, you'll never use tools that support sharing. Maybe this is a bit far-fetched, but I see this in practice. Just remember the 'knowledge is power' paradigm, which is still very prevalent in many companies. Or does this group of 'non-sharers' have no influence on the critical mass and therefore the adoption of these tools?

To make things more complicated: I'd use a blog and/or a bookmarking tool even if I was the only one using them. There's no critical mass there; I'm the only user. (Of course I understand bookmarking and blogging is more valuable and interesting in a network of bloggers/bookmarkers.)

So, what is the deal here? What is the real problem we are addressing? This is food for my thoughts and hopefully yours as well. I'd love to hear your ideas/remarks on this topic. And we'll definitely get back to you when Arzu comes up with more interesting insights!

Enterprise Inception

Just for fun and for the weekend. :-) Have you already watch the movie Inception? I did and loved it. I was wondering: What if inception was really possible? And you could do it. What would you do? How would you change you colleague's or manager's mind? Maybe this is something to start influencing...

Building a Company on Happiness

Zappos is a bit far away from a Dutchman. We don't have it here, yet. But of course you hear a lot about them. Zappos is praised for its culture, very engaged workforce, use of social media in business, great profit, etc.

Recently I wrote a post about 'Organizing on Passion'. Frederik Vieten, a student doing research at Océ, pointed me to Tony Hsieh's new book, Delivering Happiness. I hadn't heard of it yet, so that was a great pointer. I'm going to order and read it. But I also browsed the site and found a recent talk by Hsieh at Google.

Man, I watched it this talk this evening. And it's absolutely great. If you have an hour, just sit down, watch it and be inspired. What a great company and what a great leader Tony is. Here's the video:

I really liked the way the importance of company culture is stressed and how it can be crafted. I also love the way they select new employees based on questions linked to their core values. One of the most important Zappos values is 'be humble'. Wow! Tony says a company doesn't have to have the same values as Zappos, but if you have them it is key to really commit to them. To prove they are committed to their values they offer $2.000 to every new employee who wants to leave the company.

A neat thing is Zappos trains their employees to use Twitter (to express themselves, for customer contact, colleague connections, etc)

Another wow-moment was about their library. They have an open and free library for their employees and guest. Two key book in their to which Zappos relates deeply are: Jim Collins, Good to great and Dave Logan a.o., Tribal Leadership. Both books are great. And I've always wondered which high-level managers would take G2G and use it as a mirror for themselves as a leader and for the company. Hsieh is doing just that.

Thanks a lot Frederik for pointing to the book, that led to me finding this video!

Organizing on Passion

IMGP2839 It's been a while ago since I read the great Shift Index 2009 report. I've been wanting to blog about it, but haven't had time yet. It's loaded with interesting insights. One big question I had is: This report is focused on the USA; how does this compare to Europe or Asia?

One thing from the report that stuck with me, was the importance of 'creative talent' and getting them to engage in 'creative problem solving, often by connecting with peers inside and outside the firm' (p. 11). On page 70 the report goes on to talk about 'worker passion'. The findings are pretty saddening. Lots of workers are not passionate about their work and self-employed workers are much more passionate than the firm-employed. The larger the size of the firm the less passionate workers get...

I went back to the Shift Index after reading a couple of things:

  1. Steve Denning's post about the H in HR, which also points to the Shift Index and the importance of engaged workers delighting clients and stakeholders in self-organizing teams.
  2. IBM's Capitalizing on Complexity study (to which ReadWriteWeb also recently referred) which stresses (cultivating) creativity is/will be key to thrive in a complex (business) world of the future.
  3. Gartner's post about '10 Changes During the Next 10 Years'. Pointing to businesses working in work swarms. These are like teams, but have more emerging properties. They assemble and disassemble when needed. They are based on the spontaneity of workers

Maybe this is the difference millenials will make in the future, as prof. Andrew McAfee and Luis Suarez (a.o.) were debating.

All this got me thinking. As I commented on Denning's post: If this is so important, what would happen if we organized a company (even a large company!) on passion? Of course start-ups work in this way, if they're doing things well. So all workers could bail-out of their current projects, set up new ones, work on stuff (not) related to the company's mission statement, etc. What would happen? Would this work or will the un-interesting work (whatever that may be) be left undone? Or will this just lead to chaos?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic! And I'd also be interested to hear of companies that are organized based on the passions of their employees.

Behavior is...

... motivation filtered through opportunity.

IMG_0429 Recently I read this quote in an interesting interview/discussion betwee Clay Shirky and Daniel Pink. I've been thinking about this quote ever since. Is this true? Why am I thinking about this quote so much? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this quote. Its context can be found in the article, of course.

Another nice quote from the article that was an eye opener to me is:

I think our nature is to be active and engaged. I’ve never seen a 2-year-old or a 4-year-old who’s not active and engaged.

As a father of kids and as an old kid, I know this is true...

Researching Enterprise Social Bookmarking

bookmarker A couple of months ago my student, Arzu Yucekaya Bat, started working on her Master's thesis about social bookmarking and improving our internal bookmarking tool. Her research goal is:

To establish an overview for Océ Technologies B.V on motivations and barriers of the employees to adopt and contribute to the social bookmarking tool and determine possible interventions that will augment information sharing and discovery within this tool and assist to take proper incentives to increase the adoption rate.

Some excerpts from the original assignment are:

  • Within R&D an opensource social bookmarking application is being used to collect and share bookmarks.
  • Currently the implementation of our social bookmarking application is basic. We are working wider adoption of this tool and have generated several ideas to achieve this goal.
  • conduct a short analysis of the literature on how to increase adoption of social bookmarking
  • design an appealing application of social bookmarking to increase adoption (based on the current application).

Arzu's literature research has given some interesting insights. I hope to share some next week. Arzu's research will be published in a couple of months (when she finishes). You can follow her progress and engage with her via her tweets.

If you know of research that has been or is being done on this topic, please leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you!

The Travel Guide Law

thisway Some time ago I read an interesting article in my Dutch newspaper (NRC, May 1, 2010, 'Nederland bestaat voor 5 procent uit eeuwige zeuren. Negeert die frustraten') about the Law of the Travel Guide. This is how it goes: Every travel group has some notoriously dissatisfied travelers.

Mostly is not more than 5% of the group.

In whatever way the travel guide tries he will never satisfy them. The question is how to cope with this group. It is a potential danger for the travel guide. The biggest mistake he can make it to try to make this group feel OK. He will never succeed, because they are notoriously dissatisfied. All the more he does his best to satisfy them, the bigger his defeat will be. And that energy cannot be spent on the other 95%, dissatisfying them as well (with good reason). Every travel guide knows there is part of the group that is not dissatisfied, but can become that very easily. Spending too much time on the 5% group, can easily lead to a 25% group...

A smart travel guide ignores the 5% badgers as much as possible. He takes their complaints seriously and says hi to them every morning, just like the others. But he never spends more than 5% of his time on them. And he makes sure the other 95% are having the time of their life.

Aren't we all travel guides in some way?

Notorious Decadence

Love this quote by the CEO of Kodak, Antonio Perez (the highlighting is mine):

In my experience, there are three key elements in the path to disrupt a mature, well-established market--meaningful technology breakthrough, significant supply chain management improvement and valuable business model innovation. The more elements you bring to the table the bigger the disruption and the easier it will be to make money from it.

However, before any of the above will have any meaning whatsoever you need to find out the most important part of the recipe--that is the existence of "opportunity," or what I call Notorious Decadence.