This post is a follow on from some loosely tied posts
- Is knowledge hoarding all about your pay cheque
- We are more than our job title describes, so let’s get social!…
- Sensemaking KM and CoPs (Just-in-time vs Just-in-case), engaging and embedded KM, and a competitive vs collaborative culture
- I don’t want to share, that’s counter to meeting my objectives…and reward!!
- Work group fatigue : level of effort vs funded, or transform the organisation!
This is not a post about the overall ROI on social computing effectiveness, but more on the supposed expense of workers spending time away from their immediate tasks, even if it’s about helping others for the greater benefit of the organisation.
It’s something we have to think about when we move from PC to SC (Personal Computing to Social Computing).
In these previous posts the theme is that for a collaborative, sharing, transparent, engaging and aware organisation we need more than bottom-up emergence. We also need a top-down shift and seriousness into this new way of working; with role-models, and a change to the performance appraisal model. Departments like HR, Talent and KM need to work together. This is a holisitic approach.
If what I know gets me more money, and if spending my time helping others doesn’t contribute to my performance, then why would I do it!
Well we do it to an extent with people we trust, "I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine"…this barter-type organisation is how real work gets done. But from a high-level we don’t try and leverage or harness the effectiveness of the barter-based organisation. Look no more than Verna Allee on intangibles as the real value of organisations.
My past posts have been about a change from a competitive workforce to a collaborative one, and also a more role-based network blended with hierarchy.
A current post by Hutch Carpenter shares a quote from an MIT Sloan working paper, about the knowledge hoarding attitude between competitive innovation communities:
|"The likelihood of giving away innovation related information may be affected by the level of rivalry within the community. If an innovator believes that revealing innovation-related information will allow a rival to outperform him, the likelihood that the innovator will reveal this information will decrease unconditionally. This hypothesis is clearly confirmed in the communities studied here: assistance is given less often in more competitive settings."|
NOTE: In the context of innovation, ideas, brainstorming; competition may be relevant as a starting block (personally I don’t think we should force a process, just let them co-exist) to avoid "group think", but then we move on to collaboration.
If we do have a networked and collaborative workforce, then how do we measure performance?
Olivier Amprimo has a pithy take:
"Work is about team work, not individual performance"
"Over the last year HR has put a lot of attention on evaluating people on their individualistic performance while creating the notions of ‘competency’ and personal objectives. ‘A lot of attention’ often means too much attention ie to a point where participation to collective works was not evaluated. This creates inefficiencies as it favours individualistic strategies that can be adverse to organisational performance."
I mentioned that measuring performance of a group rather than an individual means that each group member ensures that each other are doing a good job, and you get this by collaborating.
But what about measuring non-group work or ad-hoc requests like helping other people out on tasks you are not involved in, etc…?
But what about measuring how well you sourced quality people and networked to get to help you on your task?
As Bertrand Duperrin ponders:
"…businesses don’t know how not to pass a local cost along to the the whole organization since everyone has to justify the way the allowed funds are used…businesses don’t understand free across its departments."
The "talk" is easy to say, "we need to be a more knowledge sharing organisation".
But when it comes to the "walk", the current design of business is counter to these intentions.
How do we cater for a networked organisation where you help, respond and spend time on other people’s tasks, without the cost centre you are working in not gettting ripped off ie. while they are paying you, you are spending time helping others out, and at the same time not spending time on your work.
Either we move to a freelance, role-based, self-managed organisation; or we somehow find a way to measure our time spent collaborating and networking…or a bit of both.
Managers need to understand what they lose, they gain in other ways. If one of their workers spends time helping others, in good turn others will help them when in need. In the long term, nothing is lost, in fact effectiveness is gained.
Again and again this takes me to Boyd’s law which I think defines the theme of a new enterprise, OK, enterprise 2.0:
“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 behaviour, 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.“
Measuring time and value of the group
Like others I proposed that we can measure groups rather than individuals, which works OK for group work, but not so much for social networking.
Applying a basic value on time well spent in a collaboration group, can be based on the output. And we are not even measuring; learning, helping others out, sense-making…so the value is much greater, but we know management like hard things to measure.
You could say: employees time spent in the collaboration group is worthwhile based on the group output (group ROI).
If there are 10 collaboration groups, and 10 people in each you can do an ROI on 100 people, by just looking at the output of 10 collaboration groups.
Some might say this is not fair as some individuals may not pull their weight, but rather than the manager pointing this out, the group itself will make this known to the person as it’s in their good interest.
I don’t think the same approach to group measurement can be used for Communities of Practice (CoP).
A collaboration group is more interdependent, and participation is often more equal, every player contributes to the final output, otherwise why would you be in the group.
Whereas in a Community of Practice participation is voluntary and we have a power law of participation 90-9-1. Which means the majority of the contributions are made by a very tiny percentage of the members.
In light of this it would be unfair to measure the group as a whole, as some people would be free riding on the kudos, whilst the fierce contributors feel they need to be more recognised…it’s only natural.
But yet it’s a hard one, because someone that contributed just a little may have made a big difference to the quality of the output. Or they didn’t score the goal, but having them in the group was essential in the conversations that led to great ideas.
Measure the effectiveness of using your network to get things done
If the firm has 1,000 or 10,000 people how are you going to do the ROI on each person for time spent doing work in a social networking way.
Whether collaboration groups, communities or networks, the new organisational design has to work out a way beyond incorporating group measurement, but as Bertrand said earlier a way for workers to transcend teams without the obstacle of local costs getting in the way.
As mentioned, value is just not about output, but the learning that happens along the way, and sense-making so we can make better decision and produce more optimal work.
It’s ultimately about how we build capabilities and skills from each other, by hanging out with each other…no training course can beat that! Plus we can measure value with anecdotes.
Gia Lyons post, Individual measurements in a social world – adoption obstacle?, has been the inspiration for this post.
This takes us back to earlier points made in this post…Gia says:
► Will how well I use my network to tap into talent to produce that report be recognised, compared to just using my team resources?
"…how do we measure a person’s prowess at making their individual contributions better because they knew who knew what, and had a relationship with them such that they could tap their expertise (there’s another blech phrase), whether directly or through their social contributions, at a moment’s notice?"
► Will sourcing my networks for help (collaboration), reduce the measure of assets I produce, if so I will produce something of less value on my own, at least I get all the credit and a bag of carrots?
In this comment Gia explains what prompted her post. She was contemplating whether to go the social route on a task or to keep it to herself, as she isn’t measured on how well she uses her network, she says:
“…there is a direct correlation between the number of assets I create in a quarter, and my quarterly bonus…”.
► I mentioned previously that you need time to spend using social tools to get to know people so you can use them properly
"To network, one must be social, must participate in online communities as well as offline, must spend time getting to know others and letting others know them.
So really, we are asking people to spend precious time to do something for which they are not measured.
Fix this, and you will have removed a major obstacle to the inside-the-firewall business adoption of social networking and productivity behavior."
Again we come to the space where bottom-up tools are not enough, workers need to be allowed time to become more effective and sense-make…and I’m not asking for Google 20% time.
Employee Performance Review based on ratings and reputation (peer review)
Rawn pondered this a while ago:
"During the Industrial Age, we achieved similar goals for manufacturing output. Now that we are in the Information Age, we are stumped, because rather than a physical unit output, it is more of a mental qualitative output, and that seems to us a very subjective element."
"…there is at least one way to measure the quality of knowledge. It’s been done for centuries: the Peer Review process."
Andy McAfee posted about utilising ratings in social software as part of individual performance in six areas:
- Positive feedback
Andy’s subsequent post showcases a few comments that allude to this type of measurement as killing the quality of participation, and people gaming the system. I don’t quite think it’s the same as rewards, but it could have the same effect. Andy also has a follow up post.
Hutch Carpenter riffs off Andy’s post; social software like Spigit can monitor participation and generate ratings/reputation. He says:
"The feedback is in real-time, not annually. The views of colleagues throughout the organization can be captured, providing greater diversity in feedback. Ratings come from all levels of the organization, making them true 360 degree reviews.
Obviously, great care must be exercised in introducing this concept. Early on, the social software ratings can be advisory in nature. As they prove themselves out, they can supplement the performance review process."
I agree that this only supplements, as there are other places that people participate that may go unrecognised eg. face-to-face, email, IM, on the phone…
Rex Lee also warns of such a rating systems being the only means of measuring the effectiveness of an E2.0 program, and the value of a contributor. He posts about the "false assumption" of measuring activity levels:
"Without any ratings, how would you know whether to trust the content? Rating a contributor based on activity levels is intended to provide participants with a gauge to the "quality" or "accuracy" of the content. This is a dangerous and false assumption. Just because someone may post a lot, or interact a lot, doesn’t mean that their content is necessarily of high quality. As an analogy, I spend a long time doing house repairs, not because I am good at but for the exact opposite reason!"
Rex alludes to a holistic approach in relation to motivation (which I’m going to have to post about separately):
"There is sometimes a desire to use ratings as a means to motivate employees to contribute. If you focus on "quantity" you are incenting the wrong behaviour, focus instead on "value"."
Rex also warns to not confuse quantity with value:
"A heavy focus on individual ratings will also diminish the real value of tapping into the long-tail."
"The question isn’t about how much input you provide. Even if you provide only one single piece of contribution, what if that contribution turns out to be a major breakthrough?"
Clay Shirky’s book, "Here Comes Everybody", describes this as the 80/20 optimisation:
“…because of transaction costs, organisations cannot afford to hire employees who only make one important contribution-they need to hire people who have good ideas day after day.”
“the institutional response to this imbalance is to ignore the people with only one good contribution; the dictates of 80/20 optimisation forces a firm to maximise its output by ignoring casual participants. As a result, many good ideas are simply inaccessible in an institutional framework, because most of the time most institutions have to choose ‘steady performer’ over ‘brilliant but erratic’.”
“It’s not that organisations wouldn’t like to take advantage of the idea of the occasional participant-it’s they can’t. Transaction costs make it too expensive”
Another social tool called Rypple replaces the traditional performance review with a peer-based review.
As usual Bertrand Duperrin has excellent perspective on what’s measured, and the difference between measuring a final result and the contributions that made the result possible.
Further to this is how measurement itself can be counter-productive, if you are measuring the wrong thing. Be careful what you measure, as this will effect performance.
He alludes to the game of basketball measuring the performance of the team rather than the individual:
"…at the end of the game, if you only focus on points you’d think that some players are useless because their specality is to help others score. Fortunately, statistics take “assists” (ie passes that help another player to score) into account for players and teams evaluations and they’re as important as points to measure player’s performance. It’s logical : the player who gives the ball makes his partners succeed and without him no point would have been score. More, a pass becomes an assist when and only when points are scored so it force people to make the right choices and not only pass the ball hoping others will do some positive things with.
So basket ball knows how to evaluate the people who make other’s succeed. If this wasn’t measured I’m sure many players would focus on their own points without paying any attention the the team’s points. When such behaviors happen, you often have a team with two main players (according to the points they score) but that lost all of its games.
How are people evaluated at work ? The answer will surely help you to understand why effective collaboration seldom happen."
As for traditional performance review in general Peter Bregman sums it up :
"Traditional management systems encourage mediocrity in everything and excellence in nothing. Most performance review systems set an ideal picture of how we want everyone to act (standards, competencies, etc.) and then assesses how closely people match that ideal, nudging them to improve their weaknesses so they "meet or exceed expectations" in every area."
This is also typical of traditional KM and all outcomes based management. The new enterprise is more about emergence, diversity, facilitation, the unexpected…rather than an addiction to pre-define how people should perform.
Peter also posts about performance review in relation to the big picture of traditional management and the running of business and how it relates to culture change
"Performance reviews and training programs define the firm’s expectations. Financial reward systems reinforce them. Memos and communications highlight what’s important. And senior leadership actions — promotions for people who toe the line and a dead end career for those who don’t — emphasize the firm’s priorities."
Bill Bradford and Sue Traynor continue on this train of thought about out-dated performance review methods, and talk about it as a process, not an event. They also write about how this relates to competency:
"If an organization sees its appraisal process as the primary vehicle for performance management, it is in trouble. Performance management is a daily activity and supervisors and managers need to be highly trained in the coaching and counselling skills to deal with a wide range of issues on a daily basis. Without the confidence that only comes with acquired skill and practice, they tend to swing between the extremes of avoidance and emotional reaction. Acquiring the confidence to address poor performance and the emotional intelligence to know when to encourage, when to teach, when to reward, when to challenge and when to praise is fundamentally important."
An article in the Wall Street Journal says the performance review kills teamwork, but they don’t come from the angle I’ve been talking about lately in relation to knowledge hoarding.
The Invisible hand
Not sure I agree with a post on the Social Glass blog from back in 2007, where Jeremy Thomas comes up with a model where participation in fueled by competition.
He likens workers in organisations to a free-market, whereas the whole notion for this post and others I’ve linked to is to change the free-market competitive organisation into a collaborative one…where the motivators are not exclusively about "self gain".
Charles Darwin says:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change"
Well what about "Survival of the Kindest" which is a feeling that I get from an online system like Twitter. I’m often reading tweets and then replying back with links to similar research, etc… There is no self-gain for me, but as it turns out I get rewarded as people do the same for me. If anything it allows conversation, and who knows where conversation is going to lead, and the unexpected benefits we get from this dance.
The Invisible hand is a game where everyone can pursue self interest which promotes the greater good for the market (cooperation without coercion). Basically consumers are free to buy and producers are free to sell what they want as well production methods. This results in a beneficial distribution and price for all, due to ‘greed’ ie efficient production increases profit, and competition leads to low prices.
Jeremy relates this to knowledge workers:
"A knowledge worker “…intends only his own gain”, he seeks recognition which can ultimately lead to promotion and increased salary.
A knowledge worker “…intends only his own gain”, he seeks recognition which can ultimately lead to promotion and increased salary."
"Enterprise 2.0 is not based on utopian ideals. It is instead based on the very principles that drive all free-market economies. Organisations that adopt enterprise 2.0 will do so for auto-preservation and corporate gain - to help their bottom line. Period."
This is what needs to change as it’s all a "game" of competition, rather than collaboration, and it’s totally the antitheseis to Boyd’s Law mentioned at the start of this post. To re-iterate the last bit "…making the classic logical error that if everyone is highly productive personally then the company will be. Nope."
Jeremy then moves to the point of this paper which sticks to the market concept called the, Enterprise Knowledge Market:
"…is an information discovery system designed to valuate and promote knowledge assets. It serves as the platform from which knowledge workers receive recognition for knowledge assets they produce in both "legacy" and Enterprise 2.0 environments. Within the EKM the enterprise collectively adjusts the calculated value index of a given knowledge asset. Over time the value index of an asset reflects its true value relative to other knowledge assets. This process acts as an efficient way to promote valuable over less valuable knowledge."
"…the Enterprise Knowledge Market efficiently discovers and exposes enterprise information assets in an effort to recognize the knowledge workers who author them. The most valuable information assets are given the most visibility. Visibility leads to recognition, which knowledge workers compete for. Competition fuels participation, and participation increases the number of quality knowledge assets at the enterprise’s disposal. This raises the likelihood that innovative ideas will be discovered, and innovation helps the enterprise remain competitive."
I don’t mind the EKM concept too much in that the valuation is based on peer activity, but I do have a concern with knowledge referred to as a commodity, and the whole concept of popularity as the main driver. It’s a middle space concept I must say, as usually competition promotes knowledge hoarding, but in this case people are competing out in the open, which means knowledge sharing. Again this is only one aspect or way to measure quality and performance.
A more engaged and connected worker is more productive. Let’s revisit whether Boyd’s law is true…I think so!
Hutch Carpenter’s post the revenue impact of enterprise 2.0 cites a study, where he shares that:
“The author’s looked at the connections people had built on their own, and those who had the best, most diverse networks outperformed everyone else. What Enterprise 2.0 does is take these characteristics of the top performers and exposes them for everyone else in the organization.”
Then I came across Matthew Hodgson’s post about a study, called the ROI of being social at work, and a follow-up piece; the more connected you are, the more productive and effectively you can operate…the social interaction and group effort is an interdependency factor to achieving tasks and goals.
Ross Dawson also has a post reviewing a study where connections and patterns at work correlate with higher revenue production.
Jack Vinson’s post extends this discussion as he states that just because you can be more productive, it doesn’t mean the time saved will be spent productively. He says:
"Activity does not equate with utility."
But again the issue is no longer about believing the effectiveness or worthwhileness of collaboration and sharing, it’s about taking action and structuring an organisation to harness this fact. And not just by saying it, but re-designing the business so it enables or is conducive to this new way of working.
In an earlier post I mentioned management approval to use enterprise 2.0 tools, which I think goes against the whole ethos. I said, "Chuck mentions that some people were not sure if they could participate unless they had approval by their manager."
Time well spent learning, helping other, and making new contacts doesn’t have to have an immediate efficiency impact on your job, sure you can productively collaborate, ask questions for immediate benefit, but the unique part is that we can become more capable and skillful (effectiveness).
There is a stage where we have to develop our network, follow those people we are interested in, and also create our own brand by participating in blogs, etc…we also comment and answer questions, as we know this is a reciprocated relationship.
Perhaps the paradox is senior management want people to share know-how (be effective), but middle management need you to be efficient, because they are pressured from senior management about the bottom line. So in the end senior management may claim they believe in KM or enterprise 2.0 effectiveness, but they force middle management to go against this grain.
But middle management may not need any encouragement to not like social computing, as they may feel dis-intermediated…more on this in another post.
I’m also going to have to follow-up with a post on motivation/reward/engagement.
[ADDED 11/01/10 Jack Vinson - Individual measurement in team efforts
“Successful projects depend on the entire group working well together…individual measures work against group cohesiveness. I’ve written more lines. I’ve answered more phone calls. I’ve put out more fires. Therefore I must be better. Has the fact that an individual shines done anything for the success of the overall project? Has the entire group been given new skills or capabilities with which to meet the next challenge?“]
[ADDED 10/06/10 Society is more than an aggregation of individuals
“I’ve never really understood why anyone gets taken in by arguments along the lines of “get the individuals right and society will work itself out”. Ok it was the basic of classic liberalism and aspects of social contract theory but I did think by now most people realised that individuals co-evolve with each other, ideas, the cultural ideation patterns of their society etc. etc. The focus on individual competences and the assumption that they will aggregate is reductionist in nature, it fails to appreciate the complexity of social interaction.“]
[ADDED 10/06/10 It’s not all about you
“…successful DL [Distributed Leadership] companies do not leave collaboration to the predilections of individuals, but build it into structures, reward systems and HR practices. At Cisco, cross-functional councils and boards were created to quickly make strategic decisions and respond to new opportunities. In addition, a significant portion of senior managers’ compensation is based upon peer ratings of how well they collaborate“]