Tag : collaboration

I can work from anywhere. Can you?

Do you let your employees work where they’ll be the most productive?  CEO’s and business owners fall into two camps.

One = I trust my employees. I tell them what I expect and I give them to tools to do their job. Performance is what matters.

Two = I think it’s human nature to try to take advantage of lax supervision so we don’t allow for flexible working conditions.

Hmmm. In the war for talent (do you believe there is one now? if not now, is one coming?) it will require us to change the way we think about work. The winners will be leaders who understand the way work is accomplished today and leverage it.

I have a client, a construction company. Perhaps not the kind of company that you might think is on the leading edge of marketing but these guys are so cool, they totally get it. They think about customers first…both the contractors and the homeowners. They are morphing the way they interact with and help both.

Caterpillar Inc. (yes the folks that make the big yellow earth movers) are also leading the way in marketing. How? By creating communities where customers can discuss equipment, business or regulatory issues. Collaboration among customers is cool. Cat gets to learn a ton about what is on their customers mind with very little effort.

All you office people; you may not think that you can learn something from these folks, but you can. Pay attention, the war for talent is heating  up in every industry.

photo credit : O2.com.uk

Pakistan. We hear about in the news. Do they harbor terrorists? Are they our enemies? Perhaps.

But one thing I know is that in any country, there are people, just like you and me who only want to work so they can feed their families. We have way more in common than we might imagine.

Look at these kids. They are dressed differently but they just want to play.

When I read that twitter had been rolled out  in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu for the first time, I was ecstatic. (Languages that read right-to -left presented special programming challenges.)

They did this with the help of:

            13,000 volunteers!

… including some who live where Twitter is officially blocked. The reason? ” to help more “ordinary people” make use of the service;  both to hold politicians to account and to tweet about their everyday life.”

Understanding each other, communication and learning are key ingredients to preventing war. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Photo credit: Glacier  Kids (Boston.com)

Executive Wanted to Watch My Toys

Every parent of a two year old has heard the cries of, “mine.”

Every person who has worked at a large (or perhaps small) company has heard the same thing. None of us want to think of ourselves as uncooperative… but many of us have attitudes about our work, our reputation and our ‘stuff’ that prevent us and our organizations from progressing.

The article, “Do Organizations Need a Chief Collaboration Officer,” struck me as both ridiculous (really another executive position?) and telling. A significant enough topic to be written about in the revered (by some) Harvard Business Review in 2010, the notion that collaboration is so important to business today that we need to give someone the authority to override silos, fiefdoms and ‘it’sallaboutmes’.

The idea here is to have someone at the executive level assuring that technology, people and culture are focused on how the new tools (web 2.0) and attitude (social) are moving the company towards increased sales and improved customer and employee relations.The holistic view of the way the company adopts and adapts to creating community for employees and customers is best seen from 30,000 feet.

Large organizations have had some advantages in technology (Lotus Notes was a revolution in communication in its day.) But now, they are at a real disadvantage as they try to control 1,000’s of employees. Real-time collaboration tools like yammer and dropbox are making it fast and inexpensive (or free!) for small companies to outpace their larger brethren.

Bottom line: the executive best suited for the new responsibility is not selected by title but by who collaborates the best.

If you believe that Web 2.0 and social networking are revolutionizing business from top to bottom, then you get this. If you think that social is for marketing and maybe human resources… then this all seems likes child’s play.

 

Photo credit: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

That Guy's An Idiot: Multigenerational Communication - Ugh

A communication breakdown is common. Sometimes it’s the transmitter and sometimes it’s the receiver. Lalalalalala…

According to a recent article,  people between the age of 18 and 30 (GenY or Millenials) send about 3,000 text messages a month. I send about 100 (I’m a Baby Boomer.)

So while email is the preferred method of communication for some, with 4 generations at work, we run the risk at work of having serious productivity problems if we don’t pay attention and reconcile these diverse communication styles.

To make things more interesting, by 2014, almost half the workforce in the US will be Millienials. The time to take action is now. Do you know what to do? Do you know how to help your team work through these challenges?

One is to get the age groups together and have them talk about the issues. Provide them with guidelines and rules for communication. Hold them accountable for deadlines and projects. Create reverse mentorship programs.

Instead of creating a battle of wills (“those older people won’t learn anything new”) (“those young people are phone obsessed”). Guess what, you also need to lead by example; how’s your iPad?

Photo credit: Sad and Useless.com

You've Got Email... Not!

I’m old enough to remember the world before the Internet. We didn’t use email because only the Internet removed the need for matching hardware and software –  so prior to the big “I” — electronic communication was largely an internal communication tool for large corporations.

I like to ask people if they find direct mail or email more intrusive and the answer is a resounding, “Email!” So in a couple of decades we went from no email to too much email and now we’re heading… according to some… back to less email.

Check out this article titled, “Tech Firm Implements Employee ‘Zero Email’ Policy, ” from ABC news. It describes how a European tech company is working to ban internal email and replace it with real time collaboration tools like … a “Wiki, which allows all employees to communicate by contributing or modifying online content, the company’s online chat system which allows video conferencing, and file and application sharing.”  They are not banning external email with customers just internal spam and nonsense.

Are you ready to collaborate in whole new ways? If you had to start work at a new company and they asked you to share your thoughts on a wiki, would you say, “Sure, no problem,” or would you stare blankly at your hiring manager.

What are some of the new collaboration tools? Check out Yammer. It is a free private social network (like twitter) that is used by over 100,000 companies worldwide. Little companies like Ford and LG.  And what about those wikis? Go into Google and search for almost anything and add wiki to the search. You may be surprised to see how companies are using this handy technology to develop everything from policies to tech road maps to employee on-boarding processes.

Whether or not email goes away entirely or not isn’t really the issue. How we adapt to new ways of communicating and collaborating is. The rules, tools and expected results are all changing folks. Get ready!

Isaac Asimov, author of over 500 books, is best known for his science fiction.  A scientist who poked and prodded his way into our subconscious – he wanted us to view the future with joy and possibility.

He wanted us to understand things that unified us. Surely the internet, more than any other invention (ok maybe movable type), has brought us together in ways we couldn’t have imagined, even in science fiction.

So today, when you’ve put away your laptop, phone, iPod or Kindle; remember what Isaac was trying to teach us.

— That we need think beyond our little corner of the world

— That together we can create the world we envision

— That one day robots really will rule the world… hehe

That it’s up to us to use  our imagination and creativity to understand a world and to make it better.

We’re all in this together.

The One Million Masterpiece is a world wide online art project.  Anyone can create a drawing and submit it to be part of a huge printed banner that joins images from a million other people.

What’s it all about?

“Get together one million ordinary people from all around the world, and get them to work on the picture  in the world’s largest ever artistic collaboration; where everyone is equal and all outcomes are valid.”

This is a great example of the power of collaboration.  Any one artist can make a statement about their point of view of the world.  This project uses the power of art, the ease of the computer and the web to create a global expression of where and who we are.

Check out the website. See the artwork. Sign up, draw something, be a part.  It’s free, it’s fun and you might just feel connected in ways you never expected.

And remember, we’re all in this together.

I have a friend who talks about the power of two. One person can make a huge difference in the lives of many people. However, 2 people, joined in purpose and intent, can move mountains.

I believe that the way that we work, play and innovate is undergoing a revolution and social media/web 2.0 are at the heart of it. Beyond Facebook, Twitter and Linked In are wikis, online communities, videos, ning groups, meet ups, blogs, podcasts and so many more cool ways to communicate that we have barely begun to scratch the surface.

Back in the mid-1990’s, we used altavista to search for information on the then new “world wide web.” Remember?  If we had to use a search tool like that today, we would be tearing our hair out. The tools we have for collaboration are similarly unsophisticated compared to what we’ll have at our fingertips in just a few short years. The ways we want to work together are already evolving faster than the toolkit.

I have started this blog to share ideas and get us thinking not only about tools for sharing ideas, but also how we work together. I came across a book called “The Power of Two” and from it, I took this excerpt;

Effective allies agree with these 3 statements:

  • We focus on each other’s strengths, not weaknesses.
  • We accept each other as we are and don’t try to change each other.
  • We are understanding of each other when one of us makes mistakes.

In those cases where you work with one other person, how effective are you as a partner? When we focus on the power we have to make great things happen, guess what; great things happen.