Here’s an excerpt from a one page flyer I’m doing for Communities of Practice at our work:
“We like to think that people in our [firm] are more than their job title describes, we all have many talents, and we all have many needs to draw on each others talent. This is what we call ’social productivity.”
NOTE: I got the term “Social Productivity” from Sam Lawrence.
Basically, if I only had my team to rely on to get things done, I would not be as effective or be able to deliver things of optimum value. Why? Because my team doesn’t know everything. I need to be able to tap into people outside my team for advice and help. This is what we do everyday at work, we network with others to get our work done…without our informal network we would be at a loss.
Further to this, there are lots of people in other teams and offices that I don’t know who have great expertise; we need to explore and discover people, and tune our ambient awareness. We need some horizontal glasses to discover these people, and these glasses are social networks (and blogs). Mostly by the strength of weak ties and potential connections, in our ambient awareness.
And of course from this we are capitalising on opportunities, and there emerges an element of self organisation and autonomy. Basically we are making the most of what our collective organisation knows by tapping into it via a participation network structure. There’s lots more benefits like re-use (cost), innovation, opportunities, cooperation, communication, collaboration, awareness, adapt to change, knowledge transfer and retention, talent retention (feeling of belonging, heard, advancing career prospects), etc…
I read something related to this today by Paul Iske, head of KM for ABN Amro bank.
Here’s an excerpt:
“What proportion of your talent, ideas and experience are used in your job?
What percentage of your intellectual capital do you use?
The survey results came back with the response that 70 percent of staff felt that only 15 to 20 percent of their intellectual capital was being used. With 100,000 staff around the globe, this amounts to a significant amount of untapped potential for the organisation”
From this aspect talent and knowledge management is about opportunities and the way (method) to capitalise on them to benefit productivity, and effectiveness of workers, groups, and the organisation.
Is your Organization Talent Ready?
Margaret Schweer has an excellent post, Is your Organization Talent Ready?, referring to:
“…what are the most important competencies (skills, knowledge, experience, behaviors) for organizations today and tomorrow? That’s a very tricky question because creating capability is a continuous journey - there is no steady state for talent readiness, particularly given the current pace of change in technology, our workforce demographics, and in the global economy. “Forward looking” leaders are always in the hunt for talent with key capabilities in anticipation of the organization needs, especially in times of uncertainty. Newly developed, purchased, or even borrowed capabilities can become important inflection points for an organization . . . a way to seize unique opportunities ahead of competitors.”
“The rear view mirror no longer reflects the future. Workers need to be able to assess new situations, learn in real time, and improvise solutions. That’s an entirely new learning agenda, for it means putting enough trust in workers to give them the wheel””
Margaret goes on to say:
“In our practice we are seeing the current economy accelerate profound changes in the fundamental structure and operating principles of organizations. These changes are challenging people to behave in different ways . . . requiring new capabilities.?”
Reading this; social computing, networks, and the whole social productivity movement is perhaps a response or a need to cope with our current fast-paced economy…effectiveness is the new efficiency (or the new ‘black’ as some would say).
Social computing is a coping mechanism and enterprise 2.0 is what one day may eventually result.
Some more brilliant gems from Margaret:
“Many of us are transitioning away from job to roles based on work for some portion of our organization. This is an important paradigm shift for leaders – ownership for talent is shared. Talent needs to be flexibly deployed against the areas of highest value for the organization.”
“The ability to structure work and talent in a flexible fashion increases the organization’s ability to rapidly and effectively respond to needs in times of crisis or opportunity.”
“…collaboration allows the organization to accomplish tasks or create new business offerings in ways that could not have anticipated or even attempted with traditional organizational structures.”
This rings a sympathetic vibration with the self organisation and autonomy that can result from a system where people are discovering, connecting, conversing, etc (a networked organisation). In this type of enterprise your profile page is like your living resume, you become your own person for hire, tasks/jobs you like will gravitate towards you, as you will be visible and known…just beware the numerati.
Simply said, we are too hidden in a hierarchy based organisation. As a result the organisation is not tapping into know-how. It just sounds silly that within your place you have ten experts for the job at hand, but you don’t even know of them, or of their talent (kick yourself).
By allowing workers to be visible and network online as we do offline, all these connections will percolate, and make visible everyone’s talent. This is not giving management some sort of x-ray vision, this happens in a distributed way, where everyone together as a result of their networking, will by default leave tracemarks of who know’s what? who’s connected to who?
Related to this topic is for employees to participate, and feel heard, for them to gravitate to work they like and enjoy, as the company equally wants something out of them…this mutual benefit brings more happiness, purpose, and increases career opportunities.
Even more so for GenY; if you aren’t on Facebook, you just don’t exist. Online they have their profile real estate where they connect and are known. When they join the workforce this ethos is missing. It’s like watching DVD’s all your life, and now you have to start watching VHS…it’s going backwards…did I just say organisational structures are backwards and colleague student structures know where it’s at
I like this excerpt from the slidedeck below:
“An engaged person brings creativity, passion and energy to the job; they proactively drive change, deliver business results and infect others with their enthusisasm. They are achieving their full potential.”
Being social at work
Matthew Hodgson as always as a post on the behavioural side of things.
A high performance team requires knowledge sharing rather than hoarding, as high group performance depends on each individual performing well. The next step is to have a high performance organisation, where this happens between teams.
From Matthew’s post:
“Taylorist management practices in particular only focus on those things that are measurable and directly associated with the task rather than understanding whether or not social interaction is of benefit to the task at hand. The result is seen in many modern managers who believe that their employees need to be busy and not wasting time (where wasting time equals socialising).”
“MIT research shows that 40% of creative teams productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others to discover, gather, and internalise information. In other MIT studies, research shows that employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues.”
“Since information does not diffuse randomly in organisations, but rather reflects the nature and structure of human relationships, providing the right tools that support human social relationships, communication and interaction, will provide a significant ROI to the enterprise.”
Jordan Frank also pitches in his thoughts…but more on an ROI roundup another day.
“Connected people will naturally gravitate toward an ethic where they will trade personal productivity for connectedness: they will interrupt their own work to help a contact make progress. Ultimately, in a bottom-up fashion, this leads to the network as a whole making more progress than if each individual tries to optimize personal productivity…
Perhaps more importantly, the willingness to assist others leads to closer social connections, and increases the likelihood of reciprocal behavior, where an obsession with personal productivity does not.
On a work basis, businesses today want it (or think they want it) both ways. They want their employees to be personally productive, making the classic logical error that if everyone is highly productive personally then the company will be. Nope.”
The other day I commented on a post that kind of sums this up, in that part of our job performance needs to be measured on the “value” of our social interactions (network/collaborative), in this way it will be motivating people to network, and share. Performance measures or employee worthiness based on this criteria would promote organisational effectiveness and adaptability. Along with social work as top-down strategy or mantra that is as serious as safety and quality. The business needs to walk the walk, and middle managers and senior managers need to be on the same page, otherwise knowledge workers are confused about the mixed message of how they should balance efficiency and effectiveness, and the conflict that may arise when they try to practice effectiveness.
Ross Dawson points to a recent study on the positive productivity results of organisational online networks, in his post Largest ever organizational network analysis shows how social networks drive performance. I’ll think I’ll blog about this in a future post on the ROI of organisational online networks.
Amplified network effects
Let’s top this blog post off with an excerpt from an article by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison, called Introducing the Collaboration Curve. It’s about the concept of network effects which I’ve mentioned before in my post, Communities don’t rely on network effects to be successful. What is I like about it is the concept of value increases when there are more players, but when those players are people there is an additional amplifying effect.
An example used is the World of Warcraft as a knowledge economy.
Do you think these guys have even heard of knowledge management?
They probably haven’t; what some of us call KM or sense-making is what these participants have embedded in their way of being.
If it’s effortless and a way of being, is there such thing as KM?
Does KM only exist until it finally becomes absorbed into the psyche, and then vanishes into the fabric?
Anyway, here’s the excerpt:
“There’s a classic story in economics primers illustrating the power of network effects. It tells how the first fax machine gave little value to its owner–after all, there was no one else with whom to send and receive faxes. As time went by, however, the value of that first machine increased as other people bought fax machines, and soon its owner could send faxes to the far corners of the earth, and receive them in return.
The point of the story is how the value of a node in a network rises exponentially as more nodes are added to it. These are called network effects.
Now let’s add a twist to the story. What would happen if, at the same time more fax machines joined the network, each machine rapidly improved its performance? The result would be an amplifying effect on the first level of exponential performance. One exponential effect occurs from growth in the number of nodes. A second amplifying effect arises from the improving performance of the machines themselves.
Fax machines, of course, don’t perform better as you add more of them to a network. But people and institutions do. And that’s where the concept of network effects gets more interesting–when we apply it to how people might perform better.”
[ADDED 28/04/09 : Susan Boyle: A Lesson in Talent Management - “Good managers help their employees succeed in whatever role they happen to be in. Great managers see the unique talents of each employee, and then create the role that’s a perfect vehicle for those talents. Great managers remove the obstacles that prevent their employees from unleashing their talent. And they make sure each employee has the right opportunities, the right stage, the right audience, to be fully appreciated.”]
[ADDED 29/04/09 : 5 Predictions for the Future of Collaboration - “At Cisco, we believe that the rigidly structured silos that were traditionally put in place in most enterprises will give way to more fluid, ad-hoc communities of experts. Increasingly, companies will rely on Collaboration Networks that bring together “clusters of experts” to get critical projects completed. These groups will form dynamically to achieve a shared outcome. This self-organizing cycle repeats itself on an ongoing basis, as the need arises. It’s both efficient and effective, in part because experts are drawn to projects and are thus motivated — rather than being “assigned” in a top-down fashion”]
[ADDED 06/05/09: Aggregative or emergent identity? Rethinking Communities - “In effect and individual was, within the team a collection of orientations that existing not in the individual in isolation, but in individuals as a result of their interaction with other members of the team, the history of that team and the context of their work. If one person left, you didn’t necessarily look at replacing that person, but you looked at the orientations, or balance of the team in consequence. If for example that individual was the only one with a primary completer-finisher orientation (one of the Belbin roles and the name speaks for itself), then it was likely that individuals with that as a secondary orientation would start to change their interactions with the team before you could achieve any replacement. In effect with were treating the team as a complex system, not as an aggregation of the qualities of the individuals.”
[ADDED 06/05/09: Video Conferencing Uptake Is Really About Changing Role of Organizations - “I believe we are nearing the time when entire organizations will make that same shift of perspective. Hierarchical command and control structures already have (mostly) given way to matrixed organizations. The next step in organizational evolution will be the formation of networks of individuals who work together to solve a specific business challenge, and then disband. The organization will support their endeavors by providing the assets and services listed above. Organizations will endure only as long as they can continue to form networks of knowledge workers and supply the assets and services those workers need.
How do I know this? I already work for such an organization!”]
[ADDED 19/11/09: On Twitter and in the Workplace, It’s Power to the Connectors - “Today, people with power and influence derive their power from their centrality within self-organizing networks that might or might not correspond to any plan on the part of designated leaders. Organization structure in vanguard companies involves multi-directional responsibilities, with an increasing emphasis on horizontal relationships rather than vertical reporting as the center of action that shapes daily tasks and one’s portfolio of projects, in order to focus on serving customers and society. Circles of influence replace chains of command, as in the councils and boards at Cisco which draw from many levels to drive new strategies. Distributed leadership — consisting of many ears to the ground in many places — is more effectives than centralized or concentrated leadership. Fewer people act as power-holders monopolizing information or decision-making, and more people serve as integrators using relationships and persuasion to get things done.”]
[ADDED 19/11/09: Is Twitter a Complex Adaptive System? - “It’s becoming clear that to constrict a person’s capabilities into rigid, set roles that limit creativity and innovation just doesn’t make sense. Diving talent into silos is an outdated paradigm. Rather, we should be encouraging the facilitation of diverse groups of people working together on common problems”]
[ADDED 19/11/09: The Future of Collaboration Begins with Visualizing Human Capital - “Social networks have the advantage of being able to connect globally distributed individuals, who can then operate with flexibility within a bottom-up, non-hierarchical framework. But, just having access to each other is not always enough to make things serendipitously happen.”]