Big Data on the way YOU work

Big Data on the way YOU work

Totally by accident, something popped up on LinkedIn this morning which turns out was a glorified advert for an IoT/PowerBI dashboard solution which tracks employee performance in relationship to their environment.

Personally (and professionally) these types of ‘behaviour’ tracking tools fascinate me. Tech companies spend millions developing capabilities to help us work better and organisations spend millions deploying them but the expected benefits never materialise. There is a big discussion on the whole change / adoption approaches taken by organisations in nurturing the workforce but these types of ‘employee performance’ tools begin to move us to the next steps by exploring the way we as individuals / organisations work and eventually providing solutions, not just around technology but also on behaviours and environment.

Tools like those mentioned in the article above, and others such as Microsoft My Analytics, can eventually tell us how much time we spend on email, in meetings, creating documents, extent of network etc. It could also look at enterprise wise behaviours – i.e. if you project team are spending most of their days in meetings you may have a cultural issue around decision making; if managers are spending too much time in hastily arranged meetings and email there may be a fire-fighting, hero and devolution issue in the culture; if a leader’s network doesn’t extend far enough across the organisation there may be an engagement issue and so on.

So, technology that tracks the way you work and can present remedies from both an individual and an organisation context can be a very valuable capability for companies undergoing digital transformation. You sense its part of the reasoning that companies such as Microsoft are buying training and learning components and LinkedIn so they can begin to link ways of working to job families, skill sets, organisation culture and beyond. It will begin to dramatically change the way organisations look at design, recruitment, technology and the physical environment.

Technology is a people business

Technology is a people business

Interesting article about digital workplace trends. Interesting for me is that 5 years ago these type of trend articles were almost entirely focused around technology. Now the shift is towards the people, cultural and behavioural aspects. That’s reflected in the disciplines within the consultancies that produce these type of reports. They are no longer published by the technology streams but from Human Capital Management and Org Design areas of the consultancies. Technology is becoming a people business.

Becoming a social leader

Becoming a social leader

Trying to get leaders to understand the potential and value of creating an open and collaborative business can sometimes be a hard sell. One of the key milestones is to get them embracing and supporting the deployment of tools and associated behavioural change required to utilise the investment.

Key elements when approaching leaders should include:

  • Explain the key elements of open / social working
    • Outline the need to appeal to individual’s ‘intrinsic motivators’
    • Provide practical examples of individuals becoming more effective and engaged
    • Guide them on how to develop and spread the habit via doing
    • Explain how they would “contribute to people in their organisations to deepen the relationship”?And also why should they?
    • Don’t replicate a process. It has to replace it or be something new.

Using the ‘seeing is believing’ mantra here are some tips to get your leader involved. O365 is used in this examples but this would apply to most collaboration and open business technologies.

1- Explain to them the overall benefits, ideally linking to the overall strategy. Normally the benefits would include:

o Enables ‘new ways of working’ by providing:
 Access everywhere, anytime
 Transparent and open working
o Builds a connected organisation enhancing business agility
o Increases employee engagement
o Improves team collaboration
o Enables external collaborative working

2- Set out the benefits for the leader (try to understand what would be key motivations prior to the session). These could be:

• Build a personal brand across the organisation
• Network across silos
• Increase engagements and receive feedback
• Access and share documents easier
• Network / collaborate externally
• Manage meetings and reporting more effectively
• Build a connected organisation by increasing participation in Townhall events

3 – Getting the leaders started

• Update their Profile with skills and experiences and explain the benefits.
• Profiles and reputations develop fast in the online world. Yammer offers Leaders new ways to promote their views and skills
• Leaders will emerge that may otherwise have been hidden in dark corners
• Yammer gives everyone the chance to share their views in an open forum
• Contributions are a lot more transparent and the Personal Brands Leaders create allow leadership potential to be spotted
• Smart Leaders and Talent teams embrace this opportunity.

4 – Spend 5 minutes building or expanding their network on Yammer

• Guide them on how to ‘follow’ people and join ‘groups’.
• Ask them to pick a few key words around topics which reflect their role and aspirations within the company (don’t just follow the people you already know) and use the ‘search’ option to explore what people and groups have similar interests.
• Begin following and see the value it may begin to bring.
• Don’t suggest they select hundreds or they will be ‘drowned in the noise’.

5 – Explain the power of ‘liking posts’

• Leaders should be taught the power of liking posts.
• A ‘like’ from a Leader has a big impact and is a good way to drive colleague engagement and motivate action all in one second.
• Encourage Leaders to use the ‘like’ option but also to be aware of the impact that ‘like’ can have if it’s not actually genuine.
• Before they know it a whole new process could be accidentally developed.

6 – Get them to join conversations and ask them to assess what benefit this has brought them over a period of a few weeks.

• Leaders’ reactions to posts shape how people perceive them as leaders
• What’s key is to teach Leaders how to handle conversation well and to do so publicly
• Over zealous comments or poor ends up sending a much louder message than simply responding in a well thought through manner

7- More things to remember

• At the outset it’s too easy for leaders to say it’s not for me. You want colleagues to make an informed choice knowing what is on offer before they decide not to use it, not to decide against it because it’s a big unknown quantity.
• If they are resistance or believe they need ‘training’ before they use it then offer them this through beginners coaching sessions
• It’s a self-updating skill set once they are on the bandwagon but at the start you don’t want to leave good talent behind. Everyone should be given equal opportunity to shine.

8 – Next steps

Once they are confident and comfortable with this way of open working then get them to expand. The next steps will be:

• Running a crowdsourcing session ‘ Yamjam to increase participation and innovation
• Hold ‘Town Hall’ events to increase engagement
• Sharing a vision for a better future and they ask their people to co-create this together in open innovation forums.
• Get them to ask colleagues to combine our strengths and spend more time collaborating around that which we wished to accomplish, rather than that which we wished to avoid, what’s possible?
• They co-design what is next.

Engagement is ‘nice’ but democracy provides the value

Engagement is ‘nice’ but democracy provides the value

I sense we are still in the early stages of how ‘social ways of working’ can create value. Communications, engagement and knowledge sharing are early ‘adopters’ of ‘social’ but the internal audience’s affection with tools may eventually fade and move on to alternative channels. The real value from these ‘social’ tools comes when we explore how to utilise them for innovation, crowdsourcing, validation and creating more open, transparent and democratic structures within organisations.

By using collaboration and open business tools like Jive and O365 (Yammer) the chance to develop new ways of working is immense. Rapid validation of innovation and and organisational structures are enticing but the opportunity to bring democratic approaches into areas such as product development, strategy and governance can truly change the way colleagues, suppliers, customers and leaders can develop organisations for the future rather than bleak rigid corporations built on ‘war-like’ structures and sound bites.




I’m currently reading ‘Pandaemonium 1660-1886: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers’ (by Humphrey Jennings, co-founder of the Mass Observation movement of the 1930s)…

It fascinates me to compare the benefits and dangers of the industrial revolution with today’s digital revolution.

Pandaemonium collects texts taken from letters, diaries, literature, scientific journals and reports of the time, and traces the development of the machine age in Britain. Covering the years between 1660 and 1886, it offers a rich tapestry of human experience, from eyewitness reports of the Luddite Riots and the Peterloo Massacre to more intimate accounts of child labour, Utopian communities, the desecration of the natural world, ground-breaking scientific experiments, and the coming of the railways. Pandomonium was originally published in 1985, and in 2012 it was the inspiration behind Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony for the London Olympic Games.

Interestingly (for me anyway) is the book is divided into 4 sections:

 Observations and reports

  • Exploitation
  • Revolution
  • Confusion

I spend much of my time looking at how organisations introduce and sustain knowledge sharing, collaboration and communication technology and associated behaviours.  

If we get adoption and adaption right these are disruptive technologies that can assist in changing the nature of the way colleagues engage, communicate, share, learn, nurture and collaborate with each other.

If we get adoption and adaption wrong organisations, and the people / networks within them, go through the trials and pains articulated in the chapter titles above (quick reality check – I’m not comparing the suffering of the industrial revolution with that of an employee who can’t work out the # function on their enterprise social network).

We have seen the observations and reports of how a more open and transparent environment can enhance both employees and organisations.

We are at the exploitation stage where there is a mad rush to social without the analysis or change management processes needed to create the value.

We will soon have the revolution as organisations and employees fight, struggle, resist or forge ahead in the use and value of this new way of working. Many organisations will embrace, while many will fail to get value and asset it’s the technology and / or culture that is the issue.

For those that forge ahead confusion will be created if we lose interest in the on-going stewardship of these tools and behaviours and at worst we see employees burdened with another deafening channel in an already noisy eco-system or technology.

Movement of the People

Movement of the People

Is it me but do all the major issues over the summer appear to deal with ‘movement’ (or maybe transportation)? The news agenda is full of items around the movement of:

  • People (across borders, cities and the basic A-B of getting from work to home – or maybe the issues of why many people still do this as networks, drones and live video streaming becomes more common).
  • Identities – easily replaced, replicated or stolen
  • Data – see above
  • Finance – across borders and laws
  • Goods – whether physical or how they will be replaced by 3D printing

Maybe how we fuse the physical and digital worlds will be the key to dealing with the issue of movement over the next 5 years?

Freedom or control?

In every collaboration transformation project you reach a certain stage when the discussion / debate turns to the amount of control and governance you should introduce. If the platform has very little engagement or traction then this argument doesn’t surface much so if you are faced with it you must be doing something right!

My firm belief is that if we want to make collaboration work inside the organisation and exploit the ‘implicit’ knowledge that eludes companies we need to provide ‘stewardship’ rather than ‘control’.

The more control and process you put into these systems the less people want to contribute. You can create a wonderful centrally structured system with only certain groups allowed a presence or a written business case before something is created but I will guarantee you are creating conversation graveyards because it’s just too much hard work to share and collaborate.

This doesn’t mean we have a ‘free-for-all’. Each Country / Function will have the ability to develop their ‘structured’ area when they see a need. Here you can create moderated conversations and more formality but this shouldn’t be at the cost of people or communities that are ‘not near the centre’ and want to share and collaborate – or in essence just make it easier to connect.

This ‘stewardship’ (use cases, guiding early adopters etc onto the platform) allows people to see how they can begin to use collaboration platforms in a business context (and much of the coaching material should focus on behaviours to encourage collaboration), provide guidance and best practice on developing groups / communities and give then the freedom to build relationships, networks and communities. The ones that begin to provide value will soon come to the attention of the more ‘structured’ areas. The ones that provide no value will lose appeal and fade away.

The Darwin effect will take place. Groups will develop and you will get some duplication but that ‘duplication’ will soon be whittled out of the ‘network’ as people will gravitate to the networks and communities that give them most value. It is highly unlikely that 2 identical communities will exist for a period of time without coming to the attention of each other. They can then generally determine the future existence of their groups / content / networks and certainly doesn’t need a central structure to play ‘judge and jury’ on this.

Rather than look through a list of every group that has been people will begin to change their behaviour and use search more to find suitable content or groups to join. This has been my experience in previous organisations (all have been highly regulated and dealing with delicate subject matters) Give people a degree of ‘stewardship’ so they feel ‘safe’ and confident to share and collaborate. Create a rigid control and you continue the development of conversational graveyards.