One word as a focal point for change – Collaboration

Taking up my last post on the role of social software and collaboration technology in organizational change management (“Cultural change and developing collaboration capabilities“) I want to add Charlie Bess’ view on EDS’ Next Big Thing Blog. Here Charlie holds that collaboration is the focal point for change in 2008:

[collaboration] can be applied at many levels to the changes that are underway.

At the cultural level, we’re all familiar with web 2.0 and the collaboration across organizations it supports. Wikinomics states the view of collaboration between organizations, increases diversity of perspective enabling innovation and reaching objectives more quickly.

At the software level, the concept of SOA is based upon the collaboration between services, enabling clear separation between the interface and the underlying data, freeing up organizations to focus at a higher (more business oriented) level.

[…] Companies need to be more agile, moving from viewing change as a periodic disruption of the status quo to accepting continuous change as the norm. Information technology (IT) has an important role to play, since it enables agility through collaboration. IT needs to collaborate with the rest of the enterprise in meeting the business objectives, probably until it fades into the business itself.

It’s timely also that Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (blog here) was recently invited to the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast. Topic of the talk is “Be a Social Technology Provocateur”. Get the mp3 here, listen to it.

Makes me wonder – is there a place for a “consultant provocateur” to get enterprise social software going? Provocation is such a bad and naughty word. Well, sometimes it’s a necessary part of the consulting task/project at hand, smartly disguised as innovation consulting. But this works best when combined with the credibility and professional ethics that clients always need. Being pushy is a dumb idea. Bringing an outside-in perspective is a good start, and if let’s add smart questions, communication, promotion, explanations of best practices. So we can make friends and win inner-organizational allies etc. – even when we’re shaking the boat?

Cultural change and developing collaboration capabilities

Scott Anthony – president of Innosight (see some of my innovation related posts over at bmid) – compiles some of the drivers needed for organizational change, based on a panel discussion he moderated with CEOs from Dow Corning, Eastman Kodak, Procter & Gamble etc.:

  1. The need for a crisis or some kind of “burning platform” to motivate transformational change
  2. A clear vision and strategy … that allows room for iteration
  3. A recognition that transformation is a multi-year journey
  4. A need to put the customer or consumer in the center of the transformation equation
  5. The critical importance of demonstrating to skeptics that different actions can lead to different results
  6. The need to over-communicate to employees, customers, stakeholders, and shareholders

While I doubt that implementing social software in the enterprise profits much from a state of crisis (we need some careful planning and concepts which suffer from too much fuzz, social software doesn’t help turning the ship around quickly – at least not in financial terms, etc.), the other success factors make perfect sense. And they’re people centered success factors – highlighting communication, leadership and (customer) relations.

So it’s kind of disheartening when Susan Scrupski paints a bleak picture and perspective of the setting, the context and the understanding of organizational change for enterprise social software (“Corporate Antisocial Behavior: the Enemy is Us“):

I once heard from a Wall Street executive that he was no longer permitted to use the word “social” when describing 2.0 opportunities. It made senior management uncomfortable. Similarly, if there is more emphasis on social than networking, our clients raise the justifiable question of employee productivity. When we talk about collaboration and breaking down barriers with earnest information-sharing and knowledge harvesting, the conversation is more intriguing. But, realistically, can technologies engender cultural change? That is the $5 billion dollar question that will be answered over the next few years.

It’s 4,52 billion USD by Forresters account (btw, I’ve made a long german language comment arguing it’s actually a lot more). What stresses me out is this “being uncomfortable” – this is strange: Management is supposed to be people business, it is inherently social by all accounts.

Well, here’s my answer to Susan: It’s the social stuff that makes “Enterprise Social Software” projects both complex and worthwhile. Technology is easy to figure out, while it can effect interesting and complex changes. And some technologies can engender cultural change:

the way I see it is that social software is both a driver and an enabler (or infrastructure) of organizational change.

All the while this changing of work practices, routines etc. doesn’t come easily. So I’m glad I am a subscriber to the Anecdote newsletter, because I learned early that Shawn Callahan, Mark Schenk and Nancy White have published a new Anecdote Whitepaper entitled “Building a Collaborative Workplace” (pdf):

Today we all need to be collaboration superstars. The trouble is, collaboration is a skill and set of practices we are rarely taught. It’s something we learn on the job in a hit-or-miss fashion. Some people are naturals at it, but most of us are clueless.

Our challenge doesn’t stop there. An organisation’s ability to support collaboration is highly dependent on its own organisational culture. Some cultures foster collaboration while others stop it dead in its tracks.

To make matters worse, technology providers have convinced many organisations that they only need to purchase collaboration software to foster collaboration. There are many large organisations that have bought enterprise licences for products like IBM’s Collaboration Suite or Microsoft’s Solutions for Collaboration who are not getting good value for money, simply because people don’t know how to collaborate effectively or because their culture works against collaboration.

Of course technology plays an important role in effective collaboration. We are not anti-technology. Rather we want to help redress the balance and shift the emphasis from merely thinking about collaboration technology to thinking about collaboration skills, practices, technology and supporting culture. Technology makes things possible; people collaborating makes it happen.

This paper has three parts. We start by briefly exploring what we mean by collaboration and why organisations and individuals should build their collaboration capability. Then, based on that understanding, we lay out a series of steps for developing a collaboration capability. We finish the paper with a simple test of your current collaboration capability.

Looks like an interesting read for enterprise social software (who really need to understand change management deeply) consultants.

Wikibility of Innovation oriented Workplaces

This is the networked professional’s web 2.0, via Sebastien Sauteur I found Vincenzo Cammaratas master thesis, called “Wikibility of Innovation Oriented Workplaces – The CERN Case” (pdf). Here’s the abstract, I have skimmed through the +100 pages over the weekend and recommend it basically:

[…] Wiki systems and other social networking applications
represent an important shift on the way in which people work: at the opposite of other previous IT technologies in this field, the Enterprise 2.0 is not about simple devices of office automation, but requires (and brings to) a dramatic organizational culture shift. In particular Wiki offers new possibilities and opportunities in order to exploit in a more effective way the entire potential of the collaborative work coming from the active participation of all the individuals that are present in a workplace.

This dissertation wants to contribute to the current debate on the cultural shift that the introduction of this tool in a workplace is able to produce: we will see that, for a Wiki – or any Enterprise 2.0 tool – being effective it has to activate a virtuous circle able to create new knowledge.

The peculiarity of this work is that it focuses on this particular cultural
aspect and aims to define the features of the ideal workplace that can optimize wiki use in order to be innovation oriented and “hence” competitive.

Once identified these “cultural key drivers” and defined Wikibility as the
cultural attitude of an environment able to make the Wiki use in a workplace effective, the further scope of this thesis is to measure the presence of this Wikibility mind-set and to propose a new tool (not yet validated). This sort of cockpit could be useful for the management that, interested to promote a better and true collaborative approach to work, wants to be sure on the effective support in order to produce true innovation.

I like the goal of his work and am absolutely sympathetic (hmm, wikibility, yes, a neologism but I dig it) – but I am also a bit cautious. “Measuring” organizational culture and designing a cockpit or “dashboard” that enables management to steer (and control) processes of organizational change sure is attractive, as is the vision of an “ideal wiki situation” where implementation of enterprise 2.0 is naturally, but I doubt that the CERN situation nor the learnings made there can be replicated in “normal organizations”. And I sure don’t buy the idea that a fitting organizational culture must be present in advance, as “a preliminary workplace attitude”, put forth here (see slide 15):

Of course it helps if the people “grok it”, and it helps a lot if management gets it too, but otherwise I side with Mike Gotta (“Enterprise 2.0: Culture Required?“)
and Michael Idinopulos (“Culture is a destination not a starting point“).

Mike, (who referred to Michael’s post) says:

You can be very successful in use tools associated with E2.0 (blogs, wikis, tag and social bookmarks, etc) even in situations where culture is “unhealthy” – and when participation is more or less “directed” by role, workflow, and functional duties

Michael entering stage too:

[…] There is a view out there that an organization needs to have a “culture of collaboration” culture in order to successfully employ wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools.

That view is dead wrong. I’ve seen wikis thrive in un-collaborative cultures. I’ve seen wikis fail in collaborative cultures. I’ve seen wikis thrive in an organization alongside failing wikis in the same organization.

Even within “non-collaborative” cultures, people have to work with other people. We’ve seen lots of examples of wikis being introduced into those cultures in very safe ways – to streamline and simplify existing business interactions within existing organizational silos.

He also elaborates on an example of how social software inside an organization can act as a change catalyst – yes, the way I see it is that social software is both a driver and an enabler (or infrastructure) of organizational change.

Some recent enterprise social software notes …

Thomas Van der Wal ponders the uses of social software in mergers and acquisitions, referring a recent post by Stewart Mader on the opportunities of getting new employees up to “working speed” quickly (“Onboarding: getting your new employees cleared for takeoff“).

Ken Thompson on the relation between collaboration, teams and business process management:

It’s the human-to-human interactions of teams that count when it comes to innovation and agility. … you and everyone you work with must be able to function in and through internal and multi-company teams, and must also grasp what the latest concept of “team” really means

Matt Moore interviewed James Dellow about the Enterprise RSS Day of Action, here’s the mp3

Armin Karge tells us the story (in german language) of a tangible method of change communication:

Das “Cockpit” muss vor allem zwei Anforderungen gerecht werden: Einerseits soll es Alarmanlage und Kontrollinstrument sein. Andererseits soll es durch Offenheit und Transparenz zu mehr Akzeptanz der Beteiligten führen. Im Idealfall sind die Mitarbeiter beteiligt und identifizieren sich.

Stewart Mader and the team from Atlassian are sharing insights on wiki functionality, use cases and adoption (and they are giving away free copies of Stewarts Wikipatterns book, my review is here) at the Web 2.0 Expo this week, see what’s on the slate and drop by if you’re in San Francisco.

And finally Andrew McAfee reminds us of the importance of all this:

Enterprise 2.0 is not a hype, but it is also not easy, and it will serve to separate the winners from the losers

Andrew will keynote Heliview on May 7th, looks promising, I am thinking of going too – want to meet up?

Wikipatterns videos, and more wiki multimedia stuff …

OK, I have to admit it – I failed. While I wanted to add Stewart’s videos on wiki adoption onto this site as soon as he put them up, add some of my own thoughts and elaborate on this stuff, I missed the easy opportunities of blog fodder miserably …

Perhaps it may appease you that I’ve been able to do some very cool client projects instead, visited cool conferences and Barcamp-alike events, presented and evangelized wiki stuff and more …

Anyway, as a follow-up I guess it’s my duty to link to the stuff you missed out, so here you go, there you’ll find all of Stewarts videos, he’s covering a wide range of wiki adoption issues and potential usage arenas.

Today, and with reference to tomorrow’s WikiWednesdayStuttgart I will only embed one video – on project management with wikis:

And if you’re looking for the other wiki multimedia stuff, there’s another post in a minute or so.

Wie Blogs und Wikis (@IBM) die Arbeitswelt verändern

Leider nur noch im kostenpflichtigen Archiv der SZ, dieser Artikel zu den Veränderungen innerhalb der IBM durch Social Software: “Im freien Fluss: Wie Blogs und Wiki die Arbeitswelt verändern“. Damals gelesen und gebookmarked, und daran anlässslich der CeBIT erinnert …

Noch gibt es kaum Unternehmen, die Web 2.0 Technologien so intensiv für den internen Informationsaustausch ausnutzen wie IBM. Dass Big Blue als Anbieter von Software für unternehmensinterne Kommunikationsprozesse auf die Technologie setzt, ist aber nur ein Grund für die starke Nutzung von Web 2.0-Technologien. Das Unternehmen wurde im Jahr 2005 vom Management massiv umgebaut und global ausgerichtet. Die dezentrale Vernetzung wurde dadurch Teil der Firmenstrategie. Viele andere Firmen sind zentralistischer organisiert und tun sich schwer damit, die Kontrolle über die internen Kommunikationsprozese aufzugeben.

Nun ja, rückblickend auf die CeBIT hat IBM meiner Meinung nach das Thema “Kollaboration” dieses Mal etwas verschenkt – zumindest wenn man das Engagement der benachbarten DNUG als Maßstab sieht. Ein, zwei kleinere Angebote am Rand des riesigen Messestands, das war es. Vielleicht auch ganz gut so – schließlich hatte ich so Gelegenheit zu einem ausgiebigen Austausch mit den IBM-/Lotus-Beratern rund um Sametime, Quickr und Connections, und speziell zu deren Erfahrungen in Bezug auf Akzeptanz und Einführungspfade in der IBM. Auch intern sicher kein Selbstläufer, wobei durchaus von wachsendem Engagement berichtet wurde.

Wikieinführung in KMU

Im Rahmen der Content Management Arena habe ich am CeBIT Samstag ein aktuell laufendes Kundenprojekt vorgestellt (“Erfolgsfaktoren der Wiki-Einführung in KMUs”). Zusammen mit einem internenen Projektteam der Firma Chevalier Pipes Technologies CPT führe ich ein Wiki als Ergänzung eines bestehenden Intranets ein, und habe von unseren Zielen und Erfahrungen berichtet.

Die möglichen (internen und externen) Einsatzarenen habe ich eher allgemein vorgestellt, im Gegensatz zu den Vorgehensweise und Erfahrungen, die wir im Projektverlauf gemacht haben. Dies war mir wichtig, weil ich deutlich machen wollte, dass die Umsetzung eines Wikis in KMU kein längerfristiges und teures Projekt sein muss, sondern dass dies – die entsprechende Projektbegleitung und -unterstützung vorausgesetzt – schnell und kostengünstig geschehen kann. Zentral ist, dass Kunde und Berater eng zusammenarbeiten, weil nur gemeinsam der Projekterfolg gesichert werden kann.

Hier die Folien:

Dirk Röhrborn von Communardo berichtet ebenfalls von der Veranstaltung, und betont dass es sich bei CPT nicht um ein IT-Unternehmen im eigentlichen Sinne handelt. Ja, hierdurch ergeben sich sicherlich spezifische Herausforderungen – vor allem in Bezug auf Schulung, Coaching und Helpdesk. Diese anzugehen und tragfähige Konzepte zu entwickeln und umzusetzen ist eine der wichtigeren Beratungsaufgaben in diesem Kontext.