Tag Archives: Enterprise 2.0

Best Practices, Enterprise 2.0 and Social IT – with Passion

Let all the flowers blossom under the clouds. I took this photo @ La Gomera, February 2012

I have a long history with many great IT Service Management (ITSM) professionals. For many years I worked in this industry and simultaneously I was an eager ‘activist’ for a global non-profit association called IT Service Management Forum (itSMF).

I have been thinking what was it that strongly drew me to towards this group of IT professionals. Afterwards it is easy to say that it was maybe my strong urge to help and to mediate. It is quite common that there is a communication gap between the IT people and the business people. It was sometimes painful to watch. The gap can be seen in the field of communication especially, but also in the way of seeing how organization should prioritize projects and how the customers should be engaged with.

Many of my (IT) readers know the ITIL framework well and have been utilizing it for a decade or two. Some of you might not have heard about it. To put it shortly, it is a set of best practices for aligning the IT services with the needs of the business. It consists of several books that describe the processes, roles, and many other things. A better definition of ITIL can be sure found. My ITSM friends, you could add those to the comments section, thank you! You know that stuff better than me.

Best Practices, is it a swear word?

Anyways, the inspiration to write this post initiated as the word pair ‘best practices’ popped up yesterday evening from a totally different environment. I was following Enterprise 2.0 Summit conference ongoing in Paris, and suddenly my E20/Knowledge Management/Collaboration guru friends started to speak about best practices in the Enterprise 2.0 context. For example IBM’s Collaboration Evangelist Luis Suarez tweeted the following:

Well, it made me think: how Enterprise 2.0 issues and challenges relate to the discussion in the IT Service Management sphere? It is about people and the organization culture in both cases. It is also about the processes and tools. It is about how enterprises must adapt to change. There are many basic processes within the IT support function (Incident management, problem management, etc…) that are relatively similar for many organizations, so you can pick and choose suitable parts of the suggested processes from ITIL framework. Let us call these, not best practices, but perhaps ‘common practices’.

So, Best Practices, is it a swear word? Yes, if misunderstood and misused as a standard that must be strictly followed. As Luis tweeted “what works for some won’t work for the others”. When best practices are approached as a set of suggestions, it works better.  I’d dare to say that the same that applies to ITIL & IT Service Management works for Enterprise 2.0/Social Business design.

Despite of which business process we’re looking at, we all know that we need easier and more transparent communication and collaboration, and more open information and knowledge sharing. Unluckily it is sharing that is a swear word for many.

ITIL Framework and Enterprise 2.0?

For too many professionals the Enterprise 2.0 and collaboration initiatives are something fuzzy, non-measurable, or too tool-oriented stuff. Similarly lots of criticism has been targeted against ITIL framework. Analyst Stephen Mann from Forrester described the situation very well in his recent blog post. Simultaneously many organizations are telling that they are benefiting from these initiatives. My professional ITSM friends know all this better, and can sure share good examples. My humble point here is that I recognize the same kind of suspiciousness and unhealthy pessimism with Enterprise 2.0 discussions in the organizations as we have experienced with ITIL. The arguments are pretty much the same.

My view on this topic of “IT & Social” is close to how Stephen Mann chose to put it when speaking about the ITIL challenges and bashing. And that is why I’d like to expand this to other areas too (HR, Marketing etc). Stephen says (emphasis is mine):

“However, I can’t help think that WE need to change as much as [ITIL] needs to change.”

That is indeed wisely said, we need to start the change from ourselves. No framework will do the change, the way we behave will. It is important that we are not putting all our energy to finding the threats and disadvantages of ITIL or Social Technology, or any disruptive stuff landing on our path (right now Cloud Technology, consumerization/BYOD, social media, or business models as SaaS). BTW Have anyone studied the headlines about Cloud Computing, the ratio between positive and negative, between the threats and opportunities presented? In Finland you hardly see any positive Cloud Computing articles. Ah, the attitudes, ok, I am biased…

IT Professionals as Social Creatures

IT professionals (as a role) have been around for a few decades, so the fact is that IT is not yet a very mature profession. People within IT have grown in to their (sometimes fuzzy) roles via many different paths, often more or less randomly.

I think IT professionals are Passionate Pioneers, very often much in love in the ways of working they have created by themselves. (Of course, this is a rough generalization.) Passion is good, but stubbornness in front of the change is not. It is totally understandable that it will take some time to adapt to the disruptive changes we have at hands. Social media adoption is challenging for many IT people, as well as for HR people, as it means, for example, that the illusion of full control, that both IT & HR people often have, must be gone. In my IT circles I also hear repeatedly, “social media is not something for a professional IT work, it is a play”. An alarming attitude but I stay optimistic.

I recently attended an interesting event organized by ITSM SaaS vendor ServiceNow. During the event I heard lots of success stories and, of course, challenges related to all three areas: IT people, their tools and the processes based on ITIL framework. Their Social IT evangelist Chris Dancy is passionately preaching to IT people about the importance of embracing social media. And he does it well :) Here’s a link to one of his excellent presentations.

Ok, now back to the Enterprise 2.0 Summit tweeting rally (hashtag #e20s) where I saw short discussions about the characteristics of the IT people and their willingness to ‘go social’. Here’s an example in form of tweets by Mark Masterson of CSC and Dion Hinchcliffe of Dachis Group:

Interesting indeed! But having worked with IT people a lot, I can see not only challenges but so many great opportunities too. I do believe that we’ll “get by with a little help from my friends” in a Beatlessian style, passionate IT people could and can take a more active role with the social media initiatives and truly be an enabler in the social wave within their organizations.

Right Attitude towards the Soft Social Side is the New Black

How to be prepared? As an ex-girl-scout I believe that you can be better prepared for surprises and new situations when having an open attitude and some curiosity. Even in the most disruptive changes, it is your attitude that counts. How do you choose to approach the situation at hands? The support functions in organizations, as for example IT, Marketing and HR, truly need to stop ‘dragging’ and start to act. Focusing on the customer, internal or external, is vital. The soft side, people & culture related, must get more attention.

I very much like the five recommendations Forrester’s Stephen Mann suggests for the IT Department, the steps which might help you to cope with the challenges (with ITIL adoption):

  • Step 1: Understand what ITIL is all about, especially the importance of people.
  • Step 2: Be realistic about existing ITSM process maturity and improve them gradually.
  • Step 3: Evaluate technology only after you’ve addressed goals, people, and processes.
  • Step 4: Get the initial planning right, but also plan beyond the “technology project.”
  • Step 5: Regularly communicate ITIL’s value and involve the IT and non-IT stakeholder.

I am surprised and delighted how well Stephen’s five steps fit to Enterprise 2.0/Social Business discussions! Let me compare these two, well, it fits like a glove. I modified Stephen’s steps a bit:

  • Step 1: In Enterprise 2.0/Social Business initiatives, you need to understand the big picture and especially the importance of people.
  • Step 2: Be realistic about existing information and communication processes and improve them gradually (and make more social).
  • Step 3: Evaluate social technology only after you’ve addressed goals, people, and processes.
  • Step 4: Get the initial planning on the sufficient level, and also plan beyond the “technology project.” Pilot and pivot, find the passionate firefighters to open the way.
  • Step 5: Regularly communicate the value of social for your organization and truly involve and engage all the various stakeholders, from business side and from all support functions. Social ‘belongs to’ everybody.

These areas — IT Service Management & Enterprise 2.0/Social Business — have a lot in common. Both are about people, processes and the tools. And in both areas the discussion is too often spinning around the technology and the processes, leaving the people play the supporting part in the process and tool play. And it should be the opposite.

Luckily, there are hundreds of wise people in both camps speaking about the essential role of the people. To name a few from the ITSM sphere: Rob England, Chris Dancy, Aale Roos, Jaakko Kuosmanen, Mark Smalley, James Finister, and Paul Wilkinson, and from the E20/Social Business side (a quick selection from yesterday’s #e20s discussions): Luis Suarez, Susan Scrupski, Dion Hinchcliffe, Thomas Vander Wal, Mark Masterson, Rawn Shah, Ana Silva and many, many more. I wish that we can learn from each other, and support in the painful unlearning process as well.

Attitude, Behavior, Culture

As an example of one possible remedy, I would like to introduce to you a new kind of ABC — ABC for IT people, and why not for HR people too. My dear friend Paul Wilkinson has brilliantly coined the term of ABC of ICT, ABC meaning Attitude, Behavior, and Culture.

It is so easy to stick (and to stuck) to fine-tuning of processes and buying fashionable set of tools – and at the same time to bluntly expect:

  1. that people automatically have the right attitude that is needed for the changes in the work processes and tools,
  2. that people behave as wished and that they right away understand the reasons behind why this new behavior is required,
  3. that the employees live, breathe and nurture the culture which the management have manifested in their new strategy slides. Or that the employees easily skip the existing culture that has been around for years.

I recommend that you check out Paul’s book of ABC for ICT, it is brilliant. Lots of great examples from real life IT. Could be usable in the E2.0 side too?

To summarize my thoughts on the topic, here’s my two cents:

People practices. As much as we need best (or common) practices for some processes, we need to remember to ensure the continuous focus on people, and also learn and embrace some new people practices. He tangata, as Rob England reminds us.

Healthy Attitude towards Control and Risks. Support functions as IT & HR need to find a new kind of balance for their urge for control. Naturally risk management is always needed, but it should not prevent necessary improvements and changes. To find a balance between risk taking and embracing opportunities is the key. Policy is too often a way of saying ‘we don’t really have a reason, but we don’t feel like it’.

Relationships, Networks, and Innovation. It is all about open, trusting relationships and learning networks. Innovation grows from that. Unnecessary hierarchies must be opened and partly broken down in every silo in the organization. Co-creation and innovation with both internal and external parties should be actively promoted and supported. This is not always easy task for neither HR nor IT as they have strong professional identities with a culture of control. Simultaneously HR people have the advantage that they know the human side, and the IT people are often of curious nature, just re-target some of that curiosity from technology to the social aspect.

Power Balance and ‘People Units’. The power balance of the different organizational units should be studied too. My hunch is that business units and Financials & Legal from the support side have often advantage, power-wise. The strong and the noisy gets heard easier? Maybe. The people in Marketing, Customer Service, IT and HR have the power in certain areas, but it is not always balanced. (I am aware of the fact that there are, of course, exceptions and lots of variation, but please let me play…).  As people issues are essential to tackle in the disruptive change, more power to the ‘people units’ would not be a bad idea.

Finally, yes, I confess that I do oversimplify some aspects here and I am very aware of the enormous complexity in many business environments. But I wish that you take this post just as a quick reminder and continue the discussion in your blogs and in your organizations. I love IT people and I love social media opportunities, and I am for all kinds of collaboration for the better outcome.

We all know that “social” is not something you glue on top of the things, applications, processes…it’s not a feature. It’s about relationships and communication. The ongoing change is something bigger, it is something deeper: it’s in our DNA to interact with other people, despite of your profession. I am optimistic. We have all the ingredients for a continued passion.

And remember to leave room for serendipity!

Thank you Luis Suarez, Paul Wilkinson and Stephen Mann for the inspiration for this post.

Related reading:
Stephen Mann: The ABC of ICT – The Top 10 People Issues
Bertrand Duperrin: How to put the social into the processes?
Dion Hinchcliffe: Next-Generations Ecosystems and its Key Success Factors

More presentations coming to this list from #e20 Summit, will add as soon as I have checked those out!


Social Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, ready for the Social Business?

Supertramp album from 1975 - Photo by me

I recently found my old thesis, and yes, some of its topics and content are (still) relevant, as this one: the evolution of organization and work structures. The very same topic Esko Kilpi is researching. The discussion in my old thesis and Esko’s blog posts inspire me to learn more about this topic.

One chapter in my thesis starts with a quote by Michael Porter:

“Industries are profitable not because they are sexy or high tech; they are profitable only if their structures are attractive.”

Well put. Many industries and organizations are trying to score right under the constant change requiring new type of more adaptable structures. The development has been very rapid and raises increased demand for choice, chance, change and flexibility.

A number of concepts have been proposed and developed over the years. Earlier we spoke about Virtual Organizations, and now about Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business.

The evolution of organization and the work structures has been fascinating. More and more of our core business processes are cross-functional; and cutting company borders. And we all have seen that it can open up for aggressiveness and resistance to change.

If you put fences around people you get sheep

This quote above by William L. McKnight suits well for many organizations. Are we social wolfs in sheep’s clothing? The silo-like organization cannot act any better than a flock of sheep, and the genuine value creation requires a larger ecosystem. Esko Kilpi writes beautifully about this in his post “From systems to ecosystems”:

“Minimal hierarchy, organizational diversity and responsiveness characterize ecosystems. Ecosystems are a response to the increasing complexity of strategic horizons and short half-life of designs. To cope with the uncertainties firms see themselves and the world around them as ecosystems, where every unit, every node in the network, should engage with learning. Instead of centralized design and planning, the activities of exploration are the responsibility of the whole network. Because of greater complexity, coordination and communication cannot be planned in advance, controlled or managed hierarchically.

Authority needs to be distributed; it is no longer delegated vertically but emerges horizontally in the networked ecosystem. Under distributed authority work teams and knowledge workers need to be accountable to other work teams and other knowledge workers instead of a single boss. You need to have many “bosses”. Success at ecosystems depends on learning by mutual accountability and responsiveness. This is much more than matrix organizations or internal markets.”

He ends his post with wise words:  “Value creation cannot be understood as industrial systems any more, but as continuously developing, complex, responsive ecosystems of connected people.” I warmly recommend you read the entire post.

This discussion also reminds me of old article of Normann and Ramírez (From Value Chain to Value Constellation: Designing Interactive Strategy, Harvard Business Review, 1993). They stated that organizations that are going to survive in the changing environment are:

“[…] those looking beyond their immediate boundaries to the social and business systems in which they are enmeshed and discover new ways to reconfigure those systems in order to reinvent value for their customers.”

And this article is 18 years old.

Crisis? What Crisis?

Yes, it is a name of an excellent album by progressive rock band Supertramp, but also a question Larry E. Greiner raises up. Related to the issues described above I’ll find Greiner’s model of organizational growth and development very interesting. The model describes the way organizations change over time and how these changes can shape not only organizational structures but also management practices.

His model consists of five development phases, which are made of two stages; evolution and revolution. What he means is that each evolution stage causes its own revolution (crisis). The original phases and the following crisis are:

  1. Phase of evolutionary creativity followed by leadership crisis;
  2. Phase of directed evolutionary growth followed by an autonomy crisis;
  3. Phase of evolutionary growth through delegation followed by a control crisis;
  4. Phase of evolutionary growth through coordination followed by a crisis in bureaucracy; and
  5. Phase of evolutionary growth through collaboration followed by another crisis of unknown origin.

In 1998 Greiner added a 6th phase into his model: growth through extra-organizational solutions. It suggests that outsourcing, mergers, networks and other solutions involving other companies come into the picture.

However, the Greiner model emphasizes the age and size of the organization and the growth rate of the industry – but now we have a special addition to that, the paradigm change in the way we communicate.

Do you have the personality structure for the social business?

Associated with the fifth phase of collaboration Greiner speculated that the following crisis could be around the psychological saturation of the employees. He says:

“Intensive teamwork can dissipate employee efforts on the other hand, while on the other some may find the new behavioral concepts and techniques incompatible with their personality structure”.

What an interesting point of view! Think about the development and the challenges many Enterprise 2.0/Social Business initiatives are facing. Indeed, evolution and revolution on-going: on the system, ecosystem, and the personal level. Could we apply Greiner’s phases to the adoption of the Enterprise 2.0/Social Business?

Ha, I think my personality structure is made for social business. How about yours?

PS. For my Finnish readers, another natural association from Greiner’s model & Supertramp is, of course, Ismo Alanko’s song “Kriisistä kriisiin” (a Finnish song called From crisis to crisis).



Playing Social with Words

A quick post about playing with words, notions and associations, and about what I did 10 years ago – and in the end of the post I make a promise!

 

Years ago I was in Supply Chain Management business, and now my startup is developing a SaaS application for businesses, in a #E20 style. That is why I am very curious about Social CRM, SCM and Enterprise 2.0.

Two recent ‘good bits’ started a thought process: 1) Jacob Morgan’s tweet and 2) Seth Godin’s fantastic post.

Seth Godin wrote about “the pleasant reassurance of new words”:

“It’s a lot easier for an organization to adopt new words than it is to actually change anything. Real change is uncomfortable. If it’s not feeling that way, you’ve probably just adopted new words.”

I do agree, seen that happen.

Jacob Morgan tweeted about how we are using new words for something that has been around for a long time:

 

What Seth is saying and what Jacob points out reminds me of two examples of how words are getting new lives – gently or with some violence – or how old and new denotation can live side by side:

Social Business

One example of the phenomenon Seth referred to could be the use of the notion of ‘Social Business’ by the big (legacy) players. In an interesting Forbes article ‘Shining the Limelight on Social Business Services’, by Rawn Shah, he describes how the large vendors are looking for different approaches to integrating collaborative capabilities into the IT infrastructure. In addition he points out an important issue:

“However, it’s important to see that social business is not simply a software one. It is a business transformation involving organizational culture, enterprise business processes, customer relations, and workforce behavior just as much as it is a change to the enterprise IT infrastructure.”

He continues with wise words:

“While it may be relatively easier to push technology onto users, transforming business culture takes much more convincing: changing attitudes to do work in a social space, changing task and workflow behavior, changing motivation and compensation models, changing business metrics and KPIs, changing customer facing processes, working through longer adoption cycles, and ingraining a culture of collaboration. This involves a different lens than just the IT department—it can involve HR, business management, customer service, product development and innovation. Hence, to develop a mature social business, you will need to explore how it applies to these respective areas—this is where consulting services can provide guidance.”

Indeed important, a trinity of the people, process & technology. A very timely topic I’ve touched on in my earlier post ‘A job for a Silo Integrator?‘.

Lean

For me the word lean still denotes strongly to the Japanese car industry! Yes, I worked in a Swedish Supply Chain Management company at that time and the local car and machinery industry was actively applying lean production. And I still recall ABB Sweden’s T 50 project (cutting troughput time by 50%) quite well.

We have seen a clever reuse of the notion ‘lean’. As a startup entrepreneur I do like a lot Eric Ries’s Lean Startup philosophy. His work was presented in Wall Street Journal with these words:

“Mr. Ries’s Lean Startup philosophy aims to help new companies make speedier decisions by taking a more disciplined approach to testing products and ideas and using the resulting customer feedback. “

I definitely want to study Eric’s philosophy and writings in more detail, and maybe I get rid of the Toyota association.

Social Business Process Management

Back to Jacob Morgan’s tweet – what he asked in his tweet gave me an idea: Social Business Process Management! I thought I had invented a new notion, I googled, and of course found a nice post about Social BPM written in June 2010 by Joe McKendrick. In the post McKendrick describes his discussions with Forrester Research analyst Clay Richardson, and shares some SBPM aspects: the need for increased end-user involvement, better understanding and assessing the capabilities, and how the communication and coordination issues between the teams are challenging in many organizations.

Ok, enough playing with words.

What did I write 10 years ago?

What makes me very excited is the fact that I have written about these issues 10 years ago. And forgotten most of it! I just found and browsed through my old Master thesis (from 2001) with the title Value Creation in the Integrated and Collaborative Business Processes. I am reading it now in order to find out how “Enterprise 2.0” my old work is. With quick browsing I saw quite many fitting E 2.0/Social Business key words. And the Analytical Framework which summarizes the thesis is not totally bad.

So, my promise to you is:

As soon as I have had time to write down couple of thoughts around it, I will post again and also, if you like, share the thesis with you. It’s not a masterpiece, but might be of interest for some of you.

PS. Does adding prefix ‘social’ remind you of adding the little e? eCommerce…


A job for a Silo Integrator?

Many of us have organized and managed our organizations and business operations with the help of a traditional family tree type organization chart. It feels familiar and sometimes it can be effective. An additional ‘benefit’ of it has been that the management has had a map for identification of who to blame when something has gone wrong.

I’ve personally experienced how poorly this model sometimes works: the complexity of the business environment is increasing and it’s often hard to either manage operations effectively or innovate.

Many of us also need to skip the illusion of full control. Better to get use to less unpredictable, more global, mobile and social business environment. The tough challenges lie in the areas of communication, coordination, learning, and leadership.

 

Suitably I found an old book from my home library, Stafford Beers “Diagnosing the System for Organizations”. Beer discusses the science of organizing effectively – Cybernetics. The book is written 1985 (!) but while browsing it, I was amazed how accurate its statements are. And I’ve always had an odd crush for the System Theory; yes, I’ve read my Schoderbek, Schoderbek & Kefalas!

Here’s an example of Stafford Beer’s thoughts on the organizational structure:

“…if the structure is dysfunctional, then no amount of financial wizardry, of insightful man-management, of business technique, will save the day. Increasingly, it seems to me, the organizational structures we inherited do not work.”

Stafford Beer has also coined a notion I like: “the purpose of a system is what it does”. Very simple and well put. Here’s in more detail what he said in one of his lectures:

“According to the cybernetician the purpose of a system is what it does. This is a basic dictum. It stands for bald fact, which makes a better starting point in seeking understanding than the familiar attributions of good intention, prejudices about expectations, moral judgment or sheer ignorance of circumstances.”

Seeking understanding, identifying the purpose, and reorganizing organizational structure to a more dynamic one with adaptive connectivity both internally and within the ecosystem they are part of. Indeed something for organizations to study.

However, strictly drawn boundaries between the functions, silo-like structures, are still flourishing. Lots of interesting research can be found on this topic. One of my favorites is Harold Jarche, a consultant and researcher I follow on Twitter. He wrote interestingly in his recent blog post:

“The big idea that is catching on and may take shape in 2011 is the integration of organizational support. Enough people are realizing that our compartmentalized approach to supporting work doesn’t help in a highly networked world. Why should HR, IT, Finance, Training, KM, OD, Marketing etc. be separate functions? It’s time to rid our organizations of Taylor’s ghost and I’m detecting a small groundswell of similar sentiments like radically different management.”

I could not agree more with him. The organizational structure, in general and for the support functions, needs fresh approach, a new mindset. Harold Jarche’s passion is in helping organizations re-integrate work and learning. The new mindset must integrate these two. A learning organization can adapt and adopt.

There is naturally a need for tools to support the transformation: social software. These tools support organizations in the creation of trusted relationships which are required for tacit knowledge sharing.  I’ve earlier blogged about the need of knowledge flows instead of knowledge stocks.

It is easy to find excellent thinking and analysis around social software, for example by Dion Hinchcliffe, R “Ray” Wang, Oscar Berg and rest of the people on my Enterprise 2.0 Twitter list.

I’ve had my share of ‘silo frustration’ and will eagerly continue to study this topic. What exactly should be done then? I’ll leave that to the professionals, but I do believe that on a personal level some of the key areas can be found in this diagram “Principles of being a Creativist” (which I found here):

Accordingly, my new year’s resolution is that I will do my best to follow these Creativist principles.

My open questions are:

  • In addition to the beloved System Integrators do we need Silo Integrators inside the organization? Is building the integration of organizational support a responsibility of the Top Management, Human Resources, or the infamous Somebody Else™? Do we need new roles for this kind of approach?
  • In IT Service Management sphere there’s  lots of talk about Business IT Alignment. Sure, but do we need Business to Business Alignment instead? And I think IT’s business is business.

I’d love to hear your point of view meanwhile I’m trying to learn more!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: