Social capital RoI – preserving collaborative networks and work-life balance

I am in the midst of collecting interesting thoughts and remarks from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week in San Francisco (while preparing for the Enterprise 2.0 SUMMIT this week in Frankfurt) and this one caught my eye. Noticed this too during the life video stream from the conference, but it was only a side-remark then, and it’s more interesting in terms of RoI and “collaborative performance” than one sees at first sight. During a panel Booz Allen Hamilton VP Art Fritzson and senior associate Walton Smith shared their experiences integrating social and collaborative software into the BAH consulting business and argued like this (via Thomas Claburn at Information Week):

Enterprise 2.0, properly implemented, can create a barrier to exit.

[…] it can help companies retain valuable knowledge workers by weaving social bonds into the fabric of the workplace.

“People think twice about leaving and giving up all that”

Sounds a bit like “silk bondage” replacing the iron cask of lifetime-employment – but I wouldn’t be so negative, would I? It’s probably more about designing a workplace people enjoy and allowing the growth of employee’s social capital is good business practice with (hard to calculate but substantial) side benefits. Preserving functioning teams (and collaborative networks) by keeping people from leaving for good is one good benefit, OK.

Yet I wonder how this ties in with a caring for work-life balance – nurturing human-relations to colleagues, partners and bosses is vital, but this isn’t the social life of people alone. Entertaining a campus cafeteria, pet barber shop and sports facilities might be good for people with work-related friends mostly, but this is worrying me a bit. What’s your take, am I too negative and “german” again?

Teams’ knowledge use and performance (under stress)

Just a short note – check out  Heidi Gardner’s Harvard Business School working paper Feeling the heat: The effects of performance pressure on teams’ knowledge use and performance (pdf)

Why do some teams fail to use their members’ knowledge effectively, even after they have correctly identified each other’s expertise? This paper identifies performance pressure as a critical barrier to effective knowledge utilization. Performance pressure creates threat rigidity effects in teams, meaning that they default to using the expertise of high-status members while becoming less effective at using team members with deep client knowledge. Using a multimethod field study across two professional service firms to refine and test the proposed model, I  lso find that only the use of client-specific expertise (not the expertise of high-status members) enhances client-rated performance. This paper thus reveals a paradox affecting teams’ use of members’ knowledge: the more important the project, the less effective the team. This paper contributes to the emerging literature linking team-level expertise utilization (instead of just recognition) with performance outcomes and also adds a novel, team-level perspective to the literature on inter-firm relations.

This is close to being an organizational collaboration pathology – huh? Now, it’s clear that having some slack time to build up social capital is essential (for building up trust and more – we’re talking of forming, norming, storming phases in teams) while in reality teams don’t always get that time (it’s a fast-paced multi-project world after all).

But putting on the heat on teams with an overblown performance focus seems to aggravate effects we know by the name of group think (and the related fall-back to well-established patterns when the going gets rough). And group norms kill creativity:

Unfortunately groups only rarely foment great ideas because people in them are powerfully shaped by group norms: the unwritten rules which describe how individuals in a group ‘are’ and how they ‘ought’ to behave. Norms influence what people believe is right and wrong just as surely as real laws, but with none of the permanence or transparency of written regulations…the unwritten rules of the group, therefore, determined what its members considered creative. In effect groups had redefined creativity as conformity.

Now what role may social software play in this situation? I agree that just mimicking Xing or LinkedIn in the hope of supporting and facilitation intra-company knowledge networks is bound to fail (and more, it’s following a flawed paradigm, social networks in companies should be understood as emergent properties of this complex social system we call organization). Designing the knowledge environments (and tools) for smart and action-oriented workers tasked with creative jobs is not easy (and very dependent of actual context too), letting the connections between interdependent teams simply emerge is a challenge. Just think of the various relations we entertain to people not in our actual company network (freelancers, alumni, competitors and complementors, partners, …), these are complex systems too:


Leveraging unexpected uses (of Twitter), more proof

Well, just got another proof for the benefits of social media serendipity and being well-networked. Right after posting the TED talk by Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter) on my Business Model Innovation blog (posted it there because I deemed it more relevant from an innovation management perspective than from an Enterprise collaboration perspective) I did see this tweet by Ross Mayfield of Socialtext and another one retweeting a comment by Clay Shirky to an observation and warning Ross just posted. Sounds more complex than it is in fact. Quoting Ross comment on his very own post here is just that, a nice little addition to my BMID post on serendipity which will show up over there via Trackback, yes, I said it pays to be networked).

@replies were invented by users of twitter as a convention to address a tweet to someone. Then some 3rd party clients like Twhirl implemented them, and then Twitter did. They are valuable ways of stringing together Tweets into a conversation. When someone @replies your username on twitter, you see their message in your replies tab. The problem is that anyone or anything can do so, so you may have a ShamWow message in your face.

Now, I am not going to mourn the loss of Twitter (not on a day on which I have crossed the treshold of 1000 followers, yesyesyes). But balancing spam and keeping those very welcome serendipitious effects is what we need to achieve indeed. I for one am not willing to give up on Twitter, even when I know this situation too. And this reminds us how lucky we are in our nice little corporate settings, no wiki vandals, no spammers on the microblogs … yes, the good life.


I don’t know if this is some kind of sarcastic joke (the naming of the service is somehow strange) but I agree with Luis that it might be cool to have a tag cloud of the people that are following on the Twitter sidebar. But I don’t guess that we’ll see that too soon, so here’s mine for documentation, refined tags from close to 900 followers, obviously a pretty impressive and earnest crowd, one that I can be proud of … (now, go and follow me, quick).


Symbiotic relationship between Web 2.0 and the Enterprise

Nice presentation by Shiv Singh of AA | Razorfish on the blurring between the (at first sight disparate) worlds of social networks in the enterprise and Enterprise 2.0. There are at least 5 reasons why it is a symbiotic relationship:

1. Facebook enters the Enterprise
2. Principles of Trust everywhere
3. Big Ideas & Little Ideas matter
4. Social Graphs serve as a bridge
5. Organizations have changed

Well, exactly my point about the importance of informal organization, when the collaboration infrastructure that’s available (determines ?) supports and complements “levels of feasible autonomy”, an autonomy that’s needed to fully leverage the capabilities of knowledge workers (and their creativity, their potentials to explore weak ties in their social graphs, their chances to float little ideas with potential, and more). So, while we shouldn’t neglect the nice things we can do with Enterprise mashups, SaaS, “the cloud” and all, this is technology at the heart. Yes, there are more areas where Web 2.0 in the Enterprise may help in reaching growth and resilience and Dion is giving a concise rundown. But many interesting things are related to the social fabric of the Enterprise 2.0, and Shiv Singh is reminding us about that.

ps. Shiv’s implementation lifehack (“People don’t start collaborating on the first day. You first need to provide context & content and champion entrepreneurship before fuelling participation.”) has me agreeing only halfway. Sorry, but to me entrepreneurship as characteristic of organizational culture is more of a journey than a starting point, nothing bad about this – you may very well change your organizational culture with 2.0 as driver of change. Not all pieces of an organizational culture need to be in place for good results.

WikiWednesdayStuttgart, business model innovations for Non-Profits and open-source organization principles

Yes, this is a really long title, but wait …

BarCamp Berlin 3

I am currently in my third sunday session at the BarCampBerlin 3 – and Clemens Lerche and Peter Bihr are leading an open brainstorming session on user-generated content, open source principles and more. I found about this via my post on The Web is changing the world (with Open Source organization principles) – Clemens commented and alerted me to their session.

But where’s the connection to the rest of the title? I guess it’s all about the implications (and potentials) of open source principles. And as we were discussing this (literally, well) also at the last WikiWednesday Stuttgart, e.g. innovative approaches non-profits are applying. While we started with community wiki projects, due to an interesting mixture of audience we ended at a discussion that went much farther then just discussing the potentials of social software – it touched upon business model innovations, especially structural and strategic innovations that can be employed.

So this is the idea for the next (and 7th) WikiWednesday Stuttgart: Let’s have a meeting of social entrepreneurs, innovators and social software enthusiasts and discuss this space. This must not be an incarnation and variation of SocialCamp or Social Bar, but it may well be a start to get local enthusiasts going.

One item on the agenda might be “What can we do with collaboration tools to support Non-profit work?” Well, yes, things like e.g. find experts, build up competency and “professional standing”, help our people to collaborate and communicate more easily and profoundly (all the while given that this is not coming for free but needs quite some time) …

But I guess that’s not all, so I’m thinking of inviting people like Christian Kreutz and Alex Osterwalder to do a keynote of some kind (in a very literal sense). Why do I ask them – for Christian it’s clear, he’s working in this space. And Alex? Lately he posted this:

[…] Some entrepreneurs involved in business model innovation are not only seeking for financial returns, but are also aiming at achieving social, development and environmental returns. In other words, money and fame are not their only motivators. They want to have an impact. What is interesting is that they are aiming at combining financial AND social success. These entrepreneurs try to prove that these two are not necessarily contradictory.

There are are a couple of interesting business models out there that I follow with quite some fascination. Grameen Phone is a telecom company founded by Iqbal Quadir, that has brought connectivity to rural areas in Bangladesh. What is interesting about their business model is that they partnered with the world famous micro finance institution Grameen Bank to exploit synergies.


And he did a workshop on this topic in London (“Disruptive models: The art and science of VISUAL BUSINESS MODEL DESIGN for breakthrough social innovation“) …

Making the links, i.e. how to leverage these new social software tools, new communication channels, new communities et al. in this space might be interesting for many people from Stuttgart too, like e.g. Dr. Brigitte Reiser from nonprofits-vernetzt, Thomas Becker, Cedric of course and other present and past WikiWednesday attendees.

I will coordinate the room and then announce the date via the usual channels, looking forward to this.

Upcoming – Intranet 2.0 Webinars

Via Jörg Hoewner habe ich vom Webinar zu Intranet 2.0 (“The future of intranets – a sneak preview“) mit Prescient CEO Toby Ward erfahren. Ganz interessant und darum angemeldet …

[…] a sneak preview of the findings and analysis of the first major study on Intranet 2.0. The webinar will also preview some of Toby’s case study examples he’ll present at the jboye08 conference in Denmark.

The Intranet 2.0 phenomenon is beginning to gather speed. More than 50% of medium-to-large organizations have implemented, or are testing, piloting or evaluating blog and wiki applications. Just about everyone wants to rollout social media, but not everyone understands how to do so most effectively. In this 60-minute information session, attendees will:

– Learn the real numbers on what is being done (and not done)
– Case study examples from IBM, Cisco, BT, Sabre and others
– Lessons learned and key recommendations for undertaking an  Intranet 2.0 initiative

Am anderen Event werde ich aus nachvollziehbaren Gründen – nicht teilnehmen können: Key Strategies for Successful Enterprise Social Computing Deployments von Newsgator am 22. Oktober:


While most people are familiar with some components of social networking and collaboration, that doesn’t mean your project will be a “build it and they will come” success scenario. Find out what strategies you can employ or those that you should avoid to ensure that your social computing deployment meets or exceeds your business goals. […]