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– problems stem in part from an outdated understanding of work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).

Next week: International Forum on Enterprise 2.0

Next week I am going to attend the first International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 in Varese on 25th, right before heading to Copenhagen for reboot (flying with SAS the other day from Milano-Linate).

Here’s the program of this workshop day – will be great to meet some people for the first time after all this internet-only communication (Stewart, Thomas), and to greet friends and colleagues from all over the world (Luis, Ran).

09.00 – 09.45 Registration
09.45 – 10.00 Welcome Reception by Renzo Dionigi (Rector University of Insubria) – An Overview on Enteprise 2.0 and its Strategical Value for Companies
10.00 – 10.30 Web 2.0 comes to an enterprise near you by Rosario Sica, Emanuele Quintarelli
10.30 – 11.00 It’s not technology, stupid! Enterprise 2.0 as an organizational and strategic revolution (TBD)

Enterprise 2.0: Tools and International Success Stories

11.00 – 11.30 Building web communities that add value by David Terrar (D2C and ITBrix LLC)
11.30 – 12.00 Social network analysis: From informal conversations to tangible assets by Laurence Lock Lee (Optmice)
12.00 – 12.30 Cultivating wikis to change the enterprise and improve the bottom line by Stewart Mader (Atlassian)

12.30 – 13.30 Business Lunch & Networking

13.30 – 14.00 Social tagging to unlock the collective intelligence by Thomas Vander Wal (InfoCloud Solutions)
14.00 – 14.30 TamTamy: our reply to Enterprise 2.0 needs by Emanuela Spreafico (Reply)

14.30 – 15.00 Thinking out of the inbox: More Collaboration through less e-mail by Luis Suarez (IBM)
15.00 – 15.30 Consumerizing the Enterprise by Ran Shribman (Worklight)

15.30 – 16.00 Coffee Break & Networking

Italian Cases

16.00 – 16.30 Innovation through Collaboration: Social Networking for Sales by Diego Gianetti (BTicino)
16.30 – 17.00 Empowering the Middle Management Leveraging Communities of Practice by NN from Direzione Personale (Banca Popolare di Vicenza)

Enterprise 2.0 at Work

17.00 – 18.00 How to bring Enterprise 2.0 to your company by Emanuele Scotti (Open Knowledge), Roberto Battaglia (Intesa Sanpaolo), Roberto Mairano (Future Drive)
18.00 – 18.15 Presentation of the Course in Enterprise 2.0 by Gaetano Aurelio Lanzarone (DICOM)

Stumbled upon: Enterprise 2.0, intranets and cognitive surplusses

There are now a lot of open tabs in my browser – small wonder when researching, conferencing and preparing a new consulting gig. Let me try a rundown, no special order:

Clay Shirky says on CIO Insight that businesses are just beginning to understand the value—and challenges—of social technologies.

Nora Young of CBC Spark show posted audio from a full interview with Clay Shirky. The interview is worth hearing, and touches on some of the topics in his new book (Here Comes Everybody, see also here and here) – such as the pros and cons of social media, new business models online, and how big change comes from human motivation, not shiny new technologies. Download the mp3.

Nora and Clay started off by talking about our “cognitive surplus,” which Clay describes as “all the free thinking time that society has access to… in the brains of its citizens that isn’t getting used for specific tasks.” Think TV watching time, except Clay has some ideas on how you should be/could be spending your surplus.

There’s a (german language) issue of UNESCO Heute on the web society and its understanding and emergent uses of knowledge, this is a rather heterogenous beast, a compilation of small articles:

[…] Begriffe, Konzepte und Themen der Wissensgesellschaft mit Bezug auf das Internet

Then here’s a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit about collaboration.

Corporations all over the world are making tremendous investments in technology, from servers, to storage, and network. Although technology is used on a day-to-day basis (think about the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) deployments) to enhance productivity and to curb costs, it seems that collaboration is still best performed face-to-face. The study provides a glimpse into the reason: trust.

Jay Cross too has some hints for online collaboration (pdf). Dion Hinchcliffe is explaining where the conversation is going (“Endless Conversation: The Unfolding Saga of Blogs, Twitter, Friendfeed, and Social Sites“), including Twitter and Friendfeed uses for business. And Michael Krigsman analyzes power politics and pitfalls in Enterprise 2.0 adoption. Yes, we need to understand the corporate context to make this work, this is true especially when dealing with middle management. Now, getting out there and trying it is an option, it’s “show and tell” – indeed, in my experience upper management gets it rather easily. Still I somehow like this cartoon by geek and poke. Better beware this situation …

And finally check out Ross Mayfields slides of his keynote at Van Web 2.0 naar Enterprise 2.0 in the Netherlands:

I wasn’t there, nor at the Intranet Summit 2008 (Saim Alkan has a german language summary). I’ve been at the Intranet.days (meeting Saim and others) and will be here at the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0 in Varese and have some rebooting too.

Thomas Vanderwal will be there both times, in fact we will have the same flight from Milano to Copenhagen. Here, he writes on success with enterprise social tools, i.e. difficulties of applying social tools in the organisation using an illustrative model of four intersecting areas of enterprise social tools:

– tools (I would include methods as well here)
– interface and ease of use (yes, usability has some merits and plays an essential role for adoption)
– sociality
– encouraging use

Hmm, the model can serve as a good starting point, even when – as Paula Thornton observes in the comments – placing tools so prominently feels awkward.

Termine: Seminar zu Enterprise Portals, Enterprise 2.0 Usability und mehr

Transparenz von Terminplänen ist manchmal eine gute Sache – wer mich bei den folgenden Veranstaltungen treffen möchte weiß nun wo und wann. Also, rund um verschiedene Kundentermine (die ich natürlich nicht transparent machen werde …) bin ich in nächster Zeit hier tätig:

Als erstes das Barcamp Bodensee – vom 31. Mai bis zum 01. Juni in Friedrichshafen.

Es folgen die Intranet.days vom 3.-5. Juni 2008, hier werde ich zusammen mit Michael Schuler von der Architektenkammer Baden-Württemberg am ersten Konferenztag einen Vortrag mit dem Titel “Usability innovativer Intranet-Werkzeuge: Einfachheit, Schnelligkeit, Klarheit” halten.

Insbesondere freue ich mich auf die Panel-Diskussion mit allen Referenten zum Abschluss des ersten Veranstaltungstages. Aufgrund der thematischen Vielfalt ist ein spannender Tag garantiert, das ausführliche Programm der Intranet.days mit allen Uhrzeiten und Referenten ist hier zu finden.

Leider kann ich nur am ersten Konferenztag teilnehmen, das liegt an einer Terminkollision mit dem dritten Dresdner Zukunftsforum am 5. Juni – veranstaltet von der T-Systems Multimedia Solutions. Motto ist „Leben in der digitalen Welt“, unter anderem wird Don Tapscott zu dem durch „Web 2.0“ eingeleiteten Wandel zum „Unternehmen 2.0“ und Wikinomics sprechen:

Im Mittelpunkt des Zukunftsforums stehen nicht die Technik, sondern neue Möglichkeiten zum sozialen Austausch, die durch moderne Technologien entstehen. Wie verändert der Einsatz von „sozialer Software“ die Arbeitswelt? Welche neuen Möglichkeiten bietet das Web 2.0 der Unternehmensführung?

Passt sehr schön zu meinem Termin am 10. Juni in München. Hier werde ich im Auftrag von Componence und BEA Systems einen Vortrag zum Thema Enterprise 2.0 halten. Im Mittelpunkt werden Praxisberichte und Implementierungswege stehen, sprich welche Einsatzmöglichkeiten bestehen und wie Unternehmen diese Konzepte erfolgreich umsetzen können. Ich werde dabei u.a. auch eine Brücke zum Thema Geschäftmodellinnovation schlagen, d.h. deutlich machen, wie mit Enterprise 2.0 Konzepten Business- und Marketing-Ziele erreicht werden können.

Und ein Termin für die langfristige Planung, vom 26.-27. Juni findet in Kopenhagen die reboot10 statt, hoffentlich mit mir …

“[…] a community event for the practical visionaries who are at the intersection of digital technology and change all around us…

2 days a year. 500 people. A journey into the interconnectedness of creation, participation, values, openness, decentralization, collaboration, complexity, technology, p2p, humanities, connectedness and many more areas.”