Second day of rebooting – working for free

Second day at reboot, started in the main hall with Jerry Michalski (“Thinking through free“) and Thomas’ (“Free Information Structures“) second talk.

Now it’s “Working for free” with Peter Rukovina (listen to the pre-conference podcast interview with Nicole Simon)

Some notes
– Peter introduces “selfish altruism” and some other nifty definitions (I will link the video here when provided, this is a great presentation but it’s going fast)
– we really need to trust each other more – the alternatives are miserable
– small is good
– not “almost free” doesn’t work – there’s no point in discounting in client relationships – do it 100%-money-based or for 0% – there’s no in between
– essential: we must be clear about the basics (and be prepared for suspicion)

For Peter it works because:
– feeds his curiousity
– gives him access to cool people
– he likes the fun in it
– builds up skills and gives him plenty of learnings

Being Free within Organizational Structures

Next reboot-session where I am again actually taking notes is “Being Free within Organizational Structures – A conversation on achieving “free working” in a more traditional environment” by Robert Slagter:

Within the existing structures of a larger organization it is not trivial to be a “free worker”, even when the organization embraces the idea.

– goal: insights in how to cope with “old school” structures

– what does being free mean for knowledge workers (e.g. when, where and with whom and how; choose topics that align with passions; use tools that work best for me; …)

– organizations aren’t keen on providing freedom (yes, I know that one’s obvious) & freedom comes at a price (more responsibility; less structure and predictability; less guidance; …)

– Robert says that some people seem to be quite comfortable within their “iron cages“, well, yes, in fact living in walled gardens feels safe.

– Simple model of barriers that prevent people from venturing into a more free kind of working: 1. Myself & the people around me 2. Work setting, organization, technology

Now Robert asks us for our experiences and tricks to deal with these barriers, some topics discussed:

– problems stem in part from an outdated understanding of work

– we also need a new role understanding of leadership

– while the need for coordination of big tasks doesn’t disappear (and organizations will continue to thrive) a more 21C-way of working may appear alongside – flexible ad-hoc value networks, business ecosystems, companyconglomerates, etc.

– to leverage the full potential of your knowledge workers you better design for emergence and adaptivity, ie. allow for heterarchic configurations

For me it’s a different kind of game, as an independent consultant your work is life and life is work (still, work-life balance is a problem sometimes). In fact the line between work and leisure time is blurring, but out of free will. Still, as a freelancer you’re less bound and restricted by a boss (no, multiple clients don’t mean multiple bosses …) and most of the barriers I experience are self-set-up and well-thought out 😉

Organizational information architecture: Freely Seeping through the walls of the garden

Some notes from a talk at reboot10: Thomas Vander Wal on Freely Seeping through the walls of the garden

I’m here for obvious reasons: collaboration, knowledge and innovation management (enabled by social software). Besides I travelled to Copenhagen with Thomas this morning, we talked shortly about his planned talk (and he’s a nice chap, too).

– walled gardens inhibit creativity & sharing, yet they create so comfortable environments

– no cross-pollination, no problems of seredipidity and innovation

– people connect on average with 10 people on Twitter (some are not average somehow) – we’re sticking to small groups of people we know

– connections and relationships aren’t commodities and will never be (Luis said something along these lines yesterday in Varese too)

– are we really aiming at freely sharing of information (around and about identity/objects)?

– increased understanding, let everybody in the organization get smarter

– on the elements of social software (duality of identity and object – presence, actions, sharing, reputation, relationships, conversation, groups, collaboration) and how to build order (I have to ponder this a little bit, I doubt that this is a sequential model, seeing also frog-leaping and some fuzzy, i.e. spirally-/recursive learning and adoption curves powered by feedback and learnings etc.)

– spheres of sociality (personal, selective, collective, mob)

– sharing one by one then sharing with groups (e.g. Dopplr, Ma.gnolia)

And yes, all this plays into

– why social software in the enterprise “doesn’t spread like wildfire” and

– yes, there’s much food for thought in here, some derived consulting and implementation challenges are:

– we need to help in easing the fear in the organization, help people go exploring the neighborhood gardens etc.

– we need to teach and inform on the “dangers and pitfalls” of departmentalized knowledge management systems – rebuilding silos and all – trying to look like a worthwhile solution (drag queens, anyone?) while we need to make the walls permeable. Have hedges but tear down the brick wall … then expand on your garden design endeavours (yes, this in freely linked to the earlier responsive architecture session).

Open Source platforms for Enterprise 2.0

John Eckman also moderated a panel on Open Source Platforms at the recent Boston Enterprise 2.0 conference. He talked to Bob Bickel , John Newton (of Alfresco) and Jeff Whatcott from Acquia. I like this take – if we want to achieve more adoption in the world of SMBs (that are lacking adoption drive) it’s necessary to have inexpensive, adaptive tools as an alternative to the established systems. There’s a record of the panel’s audio (mp3). And John links to various places where the panel was covered, I found some interesting things there:

He has some good points why Drupal should be considered, forget about the stabs at proprietary software and take it with good humour even if you’re non-organic …

She’s noting Socialtext’s (here) and Jive Software’s (here) efforts in open source but yes, it’s not their primary model. By the way, Kathleen has a nice summary too (“Enterprise 2.0: the good and the bad“). She’s complaining about too much talk on cultural change. Well yes, I agree but out of other reasons – I think there’s too much talk on these issues by people who basically don’t get it. It’s like the revenge of technology people for INATT (“it’s not about the technology”). Then it were people who want to cover up that they don’t understand these technologies, now too often it’s lighthearted chit-chat about organizational culture, motivational structures, change management etc. (“We’ve all read our Dilbert so we can all talk at lenghts about this fluffy stuff, can’t we?”). But hey, this is no “fluffy stuff” and that’s the real reason why these discussions are so unnerving – deep inside we all know that cultural and people issues are central and that they need to be thought through thoroughly (sic!) and not chatted about lightly

More coverage of the Enterprise 2.0 conference at Boston …

Stephen Collins reports on Dion Hinchcliffe’s seminar on “Implementing Enterprise 2.0: Exploring the Tools and Techniques of Emergent Change” (the state of Enterprise 2.0, the tools and platforms scene, best practices and Cutting-Edge Techniques and success stories). Most disturbing thing in my view is this one:

An interesting point is while SMBs are proving slow to adopt, large organisation are buying tools today.

Some more notes

Tools that provide high leverage value in E2.0 adoptions are key, as is efficient and effective enterprise search. The gulf between good search on the web and good search inside the wall is significant.

In the comments James Dellow notes that RSS is missing, yes I agree, RSS provides a good investment / benefit ratio (well, after people understand it, we need more explaining, showing and telling).

Obviously, Dion also talked about the importance of understanding Andrew McAfee’s thinking on Enterprise 2.0 (start with the SLATES acronym, full ack Stephen, that “Dion continues to use this set of definitions indicates their ongoing importance.”).  Stephen notes:

At it’s core, the notion of applying the “Web 2.0 effect” at work is critical:

  • globally visible (which is not everything, but everything appropriate), persistent collaboration
  • use of the tools of the Web 2.0 world
  • putting workers into the centre of the contributory world

And for some more interesting coverage see the stuff aggregated at the conference site. Like e.g. that Thomas Vanderwal talked about how to manage the flood of information via social bookmarking and advanced forms of tagging (slides found via John Eckman), btw – good writeup by Stephen:

Bedrohen Wikis die Macht von Managern?

Die nette (aber auch etwas reißerische) Frage und der zugehörige Artikel aus dem Harvard Business Manager von Juni 2008 sind nun via ManagerMagazin auch offen zugänglich. Im Interview äußert sich Jimbo Wales, u.a. zu den Chancen für Unternehmenswikis und der Rolle von Führungskräften:

HBm: Wozu brauchen Unternehmen denn all diese Wikis?

Wales: Sie nutzen sie für jede Art von Wissensmanagement, bei der es auf offene, flexible und schnelle Zusammenarbeit ankommt – insbesondere wenn Mitarbeiter an weit entfernten Standorten arbeiten und gute Beziehungen zueinander aufbauen müssen.


Wales: Wikis können bei Führungskräften Bauchschmerzen auslösen, insbesondere in Unternehmen mit einer stark hierarchisch geprägten Kultur. Das Management formuliert seine Ängste zwar nicht unbedingt in präzisen Worten. Aber es entwickelt ein vages Unbehagen, wenn es sieht, wie Mitarbeiter Probleme unter sich lösen, statt auf die Anweisungen ihrer Vorgesetzten zu warten. Wenn Sie auf die Wikis Ihrer Mitarbeiter überempfindlich reagieren, sollten Sie sich fragen, warum.

How to build vibrant communities …

Found via Bertrand Duperrin (“Enterprise 2.0 according to SUN“) – this presentation by Peter Reiser (“Risk Management and Community“). I like the strategy and “why”-parts but am a bit hesitant in liking the Community Equity Model (measuring the various elements of equity seems hard). But well, if that’s what is needed for getting organizational support and buy-in …

Royal Bank of Scotland is holding their International Risk Congress in Edinburgh this week. The theme is “join the conversation” and it is all about communities, Web 2.0, sharing and participation.

[Peter Reiser] had the pleasure to lead a workshop with RBS on how to build vibrant communities.

It is a great sign that large enterprises like RBS are really getting serious about Web 2.0 and Communities. It is fascinating to see how a bank can differentiate and distinguish themselves by applying communities to their existing business processes. And yes – building a community value system as part of strategy is very important to drive active participation and contribution – and our Community Equity model fits very well