Fire all the managers?

I listen to the HBR Ideacast regularly. Recently Gary Hamel was interviewed about his HBR article 'First, Let's Fire all the Managers'.

As you may know Hamel has devoted a large part of his life to thinking about better ways to organize and manage companies. What kind of management (if any) does this time period need. Of course, Hamel goes into why he wrote an article about this topic. But to me the most interesting part was that Hamel provides examples of companies that don't have management. When I was listening I caught myself thinking: Yeah, less management would be great, but can we really live without them? Hamel shows it can be done. He points to one company called Morningstar for instance.

Very interesting and thought-provoking! What do you think? Can your company or could you live without management?

The invisible company

Eryc Branham recently posted an interesting article about 'The invisible company' over on ReadWriteWeb.

I think his post also underlines that companies are inherently social. A company is a collection of humans. And (most) humans are social beings. I find most people don't look at companies this way. I hear lots of talk about social business as if business' are only social if they use social media internally and interact with the market via social media. Companies aren't social when they use social media. But, as Eryc says, social tools can be and should be used to make the social interactions between colleagues visible.

Social Media in Practice Event #socmedprak

A conference about social media, organized using social media and presented by experienced social media enthusiast, can that be done? Yes, it can. I was part of such a conference a couple of weeks ago. It was called 'The Social Media in Practice Event' (Dutch: Social media in de praktijk).

Ronald van den Hoff of Society 3.0 kicked off the event. He gave an interesting talk about the influence of the internet and social media on society, and its implications for businesses. I liked how he stressed businesses should be built around passion and learning from mistakes. They should be ever more open to what's happening around them or else they will be eclipsed. Interestingly he also said large companies will get smaller and smaller and independent contractors/free agents will be the 'companies' of the future.

I also went to Roos van Vugt's breakout about leading into social media. She works for Deloitte and explained how see introduced and is cultivating social media inside the company. She stressed to make sure higher management is on board and agrees with internal social media deployment.

I also was asked to give two breakouts about social media and knowledge management. My slides (in Dutch...) can be found here:
During both breakouts the discussion was lively. Discussion topics were about the difference between business processes and networks, the security of hosted social media like Yammer, how people can be encouraged to share their knowledge and should companies introduce a central, all-encompassing social media platform or separate tools?

Location and News(papers), also for Intranet?

The New York Times has an interesting 'experimental projects' group, beta620. ReadWriteWeb recently pointed to an interesting experiment, called Longitude.
Wouldn't it be neat if news items could be browsed through by a map? So you can see what news has been published about the city or country you live in or are interested in? Longitude does just this.

One thing I was wondering is: Is this concept also interesting for the intranet? Could it be valuable to international companies to link the news items and intranet pages to a location? Clearly there are good cases for the combination of location and intranet. Curious to hear your thoughts about this.

Go ahead and play with Longitude. Great stuff for in the weekend if you ask me!

Control and audit implications for social media

What does social media have to do with finance and control? And even auditing? Those were questions I had to think about after I was invited to give two talks with prof. Eddy Vaassen about 'Control and audit implications of social media'. And I must say, it was challenging and fun.
Our slides can be found here:
Most of the questions from the audience were about control. What are the implications of using social media for the company's reputation? Should social media be organized centrally? Etc. Furthermore, some wondered if social media was only for marketing and communication, not for other parts of the organization, like R&D and Finance.

There were several other keynotes. One was particularly interesting. Prof. Dennis Campbell gave a talk about 'Control and customer experience'. His research clearly related to the points we made. It shows that: More (tight) control (does mitigate risk) but does not lead to learning. In loose control there is about 9% more learning. 
And I also liked the simple version of the service profit chain:
Employee satisfaction > service value > customer satisfaction > customer loyalty > profitability
Reality is more complex though and this is a long process to get this right, Campbell said.

Social business and compliance are interesting areas to keep an eye on. Recently several good posts by Joe Shepley were written on CMSWire about this topic. I commented on the first one.

Is control and compliance an issue in your internal and external social media roll outs? If so, let me know. I'd love to hear how you address this topic.

Social Business Doesn't Mean What You Think It Does, Neither Does Enterprise 2.0

Some time ago Deb Lavoy wrote an interesting post titled 'Social Business doesn't mean what you think it does, neither does Enterprise 2.0'. I just wanted to point you to it. The discussion around the post is interesting.  I also commented on the post. I'll mix it into this post and hopefully you'll read Deb's post and join the conversation.

I like the way Deb links social business to deeper societal and even philosophical movements. I think this is one of the reasons Tapscott c.s. wrote the book 'Macrowikinomics'. W.r.t. philosophy she relates social business to Enlightenment 2.0. I was wondering if we can just say it relates to the current philosophy, postmodernism (- there is no absolute truth, everything is fragmented, deconstructionilism, subjectivism instead of objectivism, etc)?
Extending that thought, we know philosophies come and go (objectivism is followed by an era of subjectivism, then objectivism, etc). I think we are now learning that subjectivism alone won't get us there. Society is showing this. But in social business there's also more and more talk about social business and core business processes, and integrating formal processes and informal networks in organizations. I hope this is showing that we are learning. Because we know from history if we only focus on one side of the truth, the world will sway back the other way to address the other side of the truth for some time.
In short, networks and informal collaboration aren't the whole story, there's always some formal structure. But definitely less structure than we were used to. Because structure isn't the whole story either; networks have always been there as well.

4 Big Intranet Questions

Jane McConnell recently shared 4 questions about intranet (aka the web workplace) that she is going to ask several panelist at an upcoming conference. Big and good questions, in my opinion. Her questions are:
  1. Are we reaching the end of the intranet as we know it? How do you imagine intranets to be in the future?
  2. Enterprise search seems to be essential in today’s world of masses of content in the managed intranet, in collaborative spaces and in enterprise social networks. Some people see “search’ as the logical point of convergence and the ideal user interface for the “digital workplace”. What is your vision of search and its role in the digital enterprise?
  3. How do you see the evolution of “governance’ in a world where managed content and user-generated, spontaneous content are blended?
  4. If you were to give one piece of advice to organizations just starting the social (or 2.0) journey, what would it be?
Jane wondered what her blog readers would answer. Here are my answers (also posted as a comment to the blogpost):
  1. The traditional intranet will become much smaller, more focus will be on social tools and mobile access. I think stuff like location and gamification will also have influence on the intranet (or digital workplace…).
  2. Search is important, but social search can compensate bad intranet search. I see tools like Yammer being used to help colleagues find internal info and apps more quickly. Just ask the question and others will point you to the location on the intranet/digital workplace.
  3. Governance will be more important than ever. You don’t need to much governance around an intranet with 100s of static pages. You do need facilitation, community management around 100s of colleagues sharing and connecting within the organisation. Governance will focus on creating the playing field, facilitation and encouragement, less on control and enforcing.
  4. Try, experiment, go for it. Try internal social media on the edges of the company if you’re not allowed to roll it out centrally. And try to connect internal social tools to the core business processes and goals. Show value there and managers and decision makers will love you!
Do my answers make sense? Do you agree/disagree with them?

Internet Trends 2011 and on

There is one presentation I love watching every year. It's loaded with data and just sets the agenda for the coming year. It's Mary Meeker's talk at the Web 2.0 Summit. You can watch it here:

 And find the slides here.

As I said, it loaded with data and insights. I'll highlight just a few. Striking is the international growth of the internet. It's definitely not the US-only in the internet. And Africa and South-America are continents to pay attention to.
Another thing is the speed of adoption of new communication technology is increasing, even in recession.
The speed of adoption of the iPhone was fast compared to the iPod, but just look at how quickly the iPad took over the market.
The next big thing according to Meeker? Everything that has to do with our ears; Sound/audio. And, of course, the continuing growth of mobile.