Systems Intelligence, Serendipity and Listening for the Better Decisions

A beautiful moment I managed to capture in the Helsinki summer!

I’ve earlier blogged about how I find intuition and seeing the value of the tacit knowledge as very interesting perspectives for the decision-making. As social business and new ways of working are now changing the organizations and the entire business landscape, and further adding to the complexity I’ll find it even more interesting to study decision-making and how understanding is created.

I was looking for something else from my bookshelf and found the good old book by Stephen P. Robbins “Essentials of Organizational Behavior”, and randomly checked out the chapter about individual differences in decision-making.  What I found was an interesting quadrant that describes the leadership styles related to the decision-making, it has two axes: Way of Thinking and Tolerance for Ambiguity. The four styles of decision-making are:  Directive, Analytical, Conceptual, and Behavioral.

Decision-Style Model. Source: A.J. Rowe and J.D. Boulgarides, Managerial Decision Making (Prentice Hall 1992)

So here’s a quick go-though of this model, followed by my free associations from it.

  • Way of Thinking, very simplified: Logical, analytical leaders are processing information serially versus intuitive and creative ones perceiving things as a whole.
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity, again simplified: some of us have a high need to structure information in order to minimize ambiguity, while others can process many ideas and thoughts simultaneously.

A very quick comparison of the types (yes, pretty obvious ones, you can hop over to my associations if you like):

  • Analytical types have a better tolerance for ambiguity than the “traditional” directive decision-makers. An analytical type of leader usually search for more information and alternatives than directive ones.
  • Leaders applying the conceptual style in decision-making are often considering many alternatives out of broad perspective. Additionally they take a longer term perspective. This style gives most room for creativity, the authors claim.
  • The forth style, behavioral style, is the most receptive for suggestions from others, peers and subordinates, and leaders of this style love the meetings! They are also trying to avoid conflicts and find a consensus.

In Finland we call the behavioral style as a Swedish leadership style: it is based on utterly politeness and caution, and taking ages to get any decisions. Meanwhile the traditional Finnish way has been the opposite; very direct, focused on the matter (seeing people as resources, no space for feelings here) and with low tolerance of ambiguity. The formal business education in Finland has a long time emphasized the rational analysis and thinking which have led to this ‘inflexible’ style. Naturally leadership styles are developing here in the Nordics too. But I think we Finns have much more home work to do than our friends in Sweden.

An essential perspective to this very topic comes from the always inspiring Rachel Happe who recently blogged about decision-making in the networked world, here’s a quote from her excellent post:

“We need to move forward boldly and make decisions despite incomplete information… but also be prepared to change our path. It’s easy to just shut down when faced with an environment in which you can never be certain or absorb all the information available. But if you are a leader, you need to accept the uncertainty and move forward anyway. “

I very much agree with her and that is exactly why I wanted to look at the model, via three associations I spontaneously got.

My three spontaneous associations on the model

This decision-style model gave me the following associations:

  1. Systems Intelligence Theory of Esa Saarinen,
  2. Value and Importance of Serendipity (the weak links and the edges),
  3. Value and Importance of Listening.

Firstly, this decision-making style model and its division associated with the Finnish philosopher Esa Saarinen and his research of Systems Intelligence. Saarinen and his fellow researchers describe the two ‘thinking systems’ we all have: System 1 thinking as automatic, associative, and intuitive. System 2 thinking is dominating in the work places: you better be strictly rational. In every day work situations the System 2 thinking is active and often unintentionally blocking System 1 thinking – and therefore narrowing the possibilities at hands. When both systems are active, there’s a room for intuition, interaction and emotions – and for better understanding and decision-making.

Being strictly rational in your work role is not working anymore. We need utilize our full potential. I have blogged about this earlier e.g. in posts “Mental Bodybuilding for Knowledge Workers” and “Are You Systems Intelligent?” featuring my favorites Hagel and Saarinen.

Secondly, I thought of the on-going lovely discussion about serendipity, a discussion where John Hagel, Luis Suarez and Ana Silva are the ones I love to follow, to interact with and listen to. When I saw the decision-style model I was right-away thinking about replacing the Tolerance of Ambiguity into the Level of Embracing Serendipity.

It would broaden the model towards the thinking of the “Power of Pull model” (by John Hagel, Lang Davison & John Seely Brown). I agree with them that the cloud-enabled new platforms for serendipitous encounters lead to new kind of innovation, decision-making and leadership.  We can now easily meet companies and people we did not know existed, and this helps us to be more creative and also broaden the basis we rely on when making decisions. The edges are fruitful places for the innovation, to help us to make innovative decisions, but also for supporting a better understanding.

The approach both Esa Saarinen and John Hagel & his fellows suggest helps us in achieving our full potential as individuals, and the same applies to our organizations, via the people in it. In addition, serendipity can be shaped, and utilized in decision-making.

The third association I got is the value and importance of listening in decision-making, and in life in general. I serendipitously bumped into a beautiful TED Talk by Julian Treasure (what a lovely last name he has) about the importance of listening.

I warmly recommend you to listen to his talk (7:50 min), very inspiring.

Yes indeed, active listening deserves our attention in the chaotic and changing environment, too often forgotten. In his talk Julian shares five tips for better listening. I found the fifth one, his RASA model, beautiful and absolutely something every one of us should apply in our daily life and the decision-making situations. Acronym RASA comes from Receive, Appreciate, Summarise, Ask and these four verbs should be part of our personal decision-making, learning processes, and leadership.

Julian says aptly: Conscious listening creates understanding. I’d like to add that listen not only your peers, colleagues, family members and friends, but listen to yourself too.

I believe that better decisions and shared understanding are both enabled by these notions we associate with the social business:

Genuine interaction, collaboration, learning, openness, sharing, trust, P2P instead of B2B & B2C, living network instead of stiff hierarchies, listening, intuition, passionate creativity, and embracing serendipity.

All these leading to not only learning and better understanding but also to better decision-making, and success in whatever you are doing.

Personally I have so many things that I need to do differently. Starting today.


Related reading:
Rachel Happe’s beautiful post: A Vision of The Social Organization
Dave Gray in Dachis blog: The Connected Company
Christoph Schmaltz  in Dachis blog:  From traditional business to social business
John Hagel’s grain of gold: Reshaping Relationships through Passion

EDIT 2011-08-02: Professor Esa Saarinen’s research can be found here.


Decision-making: Flipism, Gut Feeling, and Systems Intelligence

Dan Ariely knows all about our irrationality.

There’s a sea of different theories on decision-making. Most recently I’ve read Dan Ariely‘s Predictably Irrational, a very good read.

A Disney version of decision-making is flipism. It is a pseudophilosophy under which all decisions are made by flipping a coin.

In this 4-minute video Henry Mintzberg explains his theory of management and also speaks about decision-making, presenting these three paths: Thinking first, Seeing first, and Doing first.
I recognize them all.

I personally find intuition and seeing the value of the tacit knowledge in decision-making is one of the most interesting options. I often believe in my gut feeling and I am not alone: “Gut feel” or “intuition” is popular and being used by many. Professor Weston Agor states that every one of us use tacit knowledge in our decision making process, at least to some degree.  Agor also argues that “it is perhaps best to think of intuition as being a highly rational decision making skill – one that is logical for managers to use”.

Check out this 5-minute video interview of Professor Agor where he describes the importance of intuition in business.

According to Agor intuition is a brain skill that organizations must learn to tap in order to remain competitive. Professor Agor speaks about experience-based intuition and he lists situations where intuition is used:

  • when there is a high level of uncertainty,
  • when facts are limited, ambiguous or incongruent with events,
  • when variables are not scientifically predictable,
  • when time is limited,
  • when several alternatives seems plausible, and
  • when cost of failure is large.

The situational facts listed above match perfectly with the life of the startup entrepreneurs: living and working in uncertainly, with time limitations both financially and commercially, and all that in a complex environment with huge numbers of variables.

What else than intuitive power does it take to be creative and successful in the rapidly changing environment?

Firstly, the equation must include a certain degree of healthy curiosity and stamina, but also risk-taking capabilities and on top of that some sweet serendipity.

Secondly, this becomes easier if you’re using your thinking and perception capacity more widely. In a complex environment Systems Intelligence approach is one of the methods that might help you. I am very fond of it. Professor Esa Saarinen describes Systems Intelligence as follows:

“Systems Intelligence (SI) involves the ability to use the human sensibilities of systems and reasoning about systems in order to adaptively carry out productive actions within and with respect to systems.”

Far too often we are having a surprisingly narrow sense of ourselves! When both systems – the rational & analytical and the intuitive & associative – are active, there’s a room for intuition, interaction and emotions which in turn nourish and create the trust-based relationships – which in turn helps us in decision-making.

What is Strategic Intuition?

I often act intuitively in the daily decision-making situations and I have been able to recognize situations of different nature. I was glad to find a good classification by Columbia professor William Duggan. He writes about three kinds of intuition: ordinary, expert, and strategic. He explains these nicely:

Ordinary intuition is just a feeling, a gut instinct. Expert intuition is snap judgments, when you instantly recognize something familiar, the way tennis pro knows where the ball will go from the arc and speed of the opponent’s racket. (Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this kind of intuition in Blink.) The third kind, strategic intuition, is not a vague feeling, like ordinary intuition. Strategic intuition is a clear thought. And it’s not fast, like expert intuition. It’s slow. That flash of insight you had last night might solve a problem that’s been on your mind for a month. And it doesn’t happen in familiar situations, like a tennis match. Strategic intuition works in new situations. That’s when you need it most.”

Most interesting!

I cannot resist thinking about Mikael Granlund’s incredible goal against Russia in IIHF World Cup semi-finals in Ice Hockey – he did indeed use his expert intuition and had the extreme courage when he made this absolutely amazing trick and the winning goal for Finland! Check out this video (with crazy Finnish announcer Antero Mertaranta shouting wildly in Finnish):

When you look at the Finnish ice hockey team this year and especially the young talents, as this goal wizard 19-year-old Mikael Granlund, I cannot help thinking what kind of role intuition plays in the fast “the decision-making game” in the digital, creative startup sphere, and further in helping us (and them) to reach our goals and success?

I strongly feel that the ‘trial and error’ culture and mentality among entrepreneurs does – at least partly – rely on this kind of intuitive power, and as a bi-product it does make the entire ecosystem buzzing and high-spirited. I am lucky to be part of it.

Long live the gut feeling!

PS. Here’s some related reading:
My recent post about Mental Bodybuilding for Knowledge Workers
Harvard Business Review blogs: Intuition Isn’t Just about Trusting your Gut
Henry Mintzberg: Patterns in Strategy Formation [pdf]

Embracing Chaos with a Little Help from My Friends

In a recent blog post Harold Jarche – a great knowledge source for smart work and learning – described his view on how real value creation happens at the edge of organizations and requires different management and communications practices.

Here below Harold’s wonderful visualization of how and where value is being created: the chaotic edge, complex and complicated, and the automated parts of the business ecosystem. He states:

“I think the edge will be where almost all high value work gets done in organizations. Core activities will be increasingly automated or outsourced. Most of the people in an organization will be on the edge. The core will be managed by very few internal staff.”

Emergent Value by Harold Jarche (see licensing at

The aspects he has included into his picture are very much like how I see the changing environment for the most businesses. However this wasn’t the case few years back. Ten years ago I did some research on the same topic, in an entirely different business environment.

Harold’s visualization reminded me of my 10-years old Analyzing Framework for Value Creation. It was a part of my Master’s thesis (anno 2001) in which I researched how organizations (at that time) tried to create value by enhancing their supply chain processes, and finding new ways for cooperation within their business network.

The leading discussion topic was process automation; it all was very transaction-oriented. And instead of the notion social, it was all about virtual. Yes, it was the golden time of ERP’s and Business Process Management.

My idea and approach was to study how value was created in our common business processes, and how those could be developed towards more collaborative and ‘virtual’ ones, and especially what aspects have an effect on the value-creation in these processes. Here below my framework from 2001.

Analyzing Framework for Value Creation from my thesis "Value Creation in Integrated and Collaborative Business Processes".

On the outer circle a blend of soft and hard elements: Culture, Commitment, Leadership, and Strategy. The middle circle represents the two main tasks associated with managing business processes: Coordination and Integration. On the inner circle I’ve chosen three set of pairs: Infrastructure & Architecture, Relations & Processes, and Information & Knowledge. All these further having an effect on the ultimate target in the middle – Value innovation and Creation.

Kind of Social Business 1.0, or Enterprise 1.0 or what do you say; some of the aspects are quite close to the today’s key topics social and social business?

All the elements are still valid but clearly my framework needs re-structuring and refreshing. When I now look at Harold Jarche’s model and my old framework, I see clearly three things:

  1. Firstly, business development people at that time were stuck at the process automation hype, in the name of cost and time savings. Both good targets, however people and innovation (other than process innovation) were neglected. The same applies to organizational learning. These were not in the core focus for most organizations.
  2. Secondly (ok, this is obvious); the speed by which the level complexity has grown is huge. Change and complexity are becoming a norm. As Harold Jarche says: “Any work where complexity is not the norm will be of diminishing value.” In my model, I see it all too simplified.
  3. Thirdly, I was on the right track but missing some adjectives – especially the social. And I was stuck to the processes too much; the physical process (distribution of goods) and the related information processes.

Summarized it can be said that from the people and innovation perspective, my model is indeed missing some width and depth.

When value creation and innovation is discussed, a notion of the ‘edges’ Harold referred to, is an interesting one. The idea of ‘edges’ was presented by two of my favorite thinkers John HagelJohn Seely Brown, and can be associated into this discussion. Here’s a snippet from HBR article few years back:

“Edges within firms represent early stage business initiatives with high growth potential, whether new market-oriented initiatives or new work practices, often generated by the born-digital generation entering the workforce. Edges at the individual level represent the weak ties in our social networks that quicken personal growth by connecting us with experiences and resources we might not have otherwise encountered.”

The book of the above-mentioned talent duo – Power of Pull – presents The Pull approach which enables organizations to learn faster and translate what we’ve learned into improved performance and customer value. Warmly recommended book, it gives many valuable ideas of how to succeed in the world where value is created in a very complex environment; on the edge, in the interactions, in the trust-based relationships. Within and outside the organization.

Yes, I’ll very much agree with Harold’s wise words:

“Social networks, collaboration and cooperation must be the norm when dealing with complex or chaotic situations.”

Changes in the organizational culture, more open attitudes and behavior, together with social media tools and services, are altering the landscape of human connectedness and the ways of value creation.

I’ll end this post by quoting The Beatles: With a Little Help from My Friends!

Welcome, Renaissance of Relationships!

PS. Check out the recent video by John Seely Brown: Collaborative Innovation and a Pull Economy
PS2. If somebody would like to refresh my old framework, feel free to do so : )

Mental Bodybuilding for Knowledge Workers

These two beauties live with me: the one on the left have managed to develop quite good muscles, the one on the right side have a style of her own, a bit Picasso-like shape. She's a creation by my talented ex-father-in-law Georg Korolkoff.

I stumbled upon a beautiful video about Michael Wolff, an acknowledged British graphic designer. I am not a part of the design professionals’ clan, but his message touched me. I think his way of thinking is applicable to all of us knowledge workers who are trying to cope with the changing work environment.

In this lovely video (see below) Michael Wolff shortly describes the three muscles he needs in his design work. These are very much needed in the knowledge work too:

  1. The Muscle of Curiosity
  2. The Muscle of Appreciation
  3. The Muscle of Imagination

According to Wolff the first muscle, the Muscle of Curiosity, enables him to notice things in an active way and to ask the key question ‘why’ more often. He sees ‘seeing’ things as a muscular exercise, a way being open. He claims:

You walk around head full of preoccupations; you’re not going to notice anything, in your visual life.

As a busy entrepreneur I find this interesting. During a work day, full of meetings and tasks, this muscle can easily weaken. However I think I’ve managed to strengthen this muscle via social media, especially via Twitter. The people I follow in Twitter are amazing; they share the most interesting thoughts and articles, and write wonderful blog posts. These active, wise and open-minded persons form my “Serendipity Heaven” in Twitter, and elsewhere in the social media communities, help me to notice things and pick up ideas I’d never found without them. They exercise my muscle of curiosity. Thank you, you know who you are!

The second muscle, the Muscle of Appreciation, is the one that interests me most. I do agree with Michael Wolff, it is the attitude that is crucial: our attitude and the level of interest towards other people – and further to learn from them.

To support innovation and creativity, it is also important to not only notice the obvious (things) around you, but to take it further. Look around, ask, listen, and take all the wonderful opportunities to learn more. You will be able to understand a bit better, and nourish your imagination.

I’ve always been interested in people – their stories and experiences, their hopes and fears, their values – and can’t get enough of that. However in my work life this skill hasn’t always been considered as strength. Sadly enough, way too many bosses, even in the personnel departments, still see people as ‘resources’, like movable parts of a machine. With no interest of their thoughts. Luckily the signs for the change are here.

Out of these three muscles the third one, the Muscle of Imagination, is enabled by the two other muscles: curiosity and appreciation. I think that something else is required here too; read further and I’ll explain what I mean.

Now enjoy the video, I find it beautiful both visually and verbally:

What can I learn from Michael Wolff?

Michael Wolff encourages me to compare his profession to mine: what can I, as an entrepreneur and a knowledge worker, learn from this legendary graphics designer and brand guru?  Probably a lot, but I chose two aspects that I wish to look at with fresh eyes. Neither of these two aspects is new, but I try to see a new facet in these:

Firstly, he speaks about the power of the parts for the success of the whole.

From his video we learned that not only knowledge workers in the technology industry but also the different kinds of designers are working in the silos. And hindering the best results to come out.

Michael Wolff uses a meal as a simple metaphor. He says “it’s only through the parts that the dinner gets delivered”, and “you never cook the same meal twice”. I think in my industry – software & service business – we do this often, time and time again, totally unnecessary. Is it out of laziness or due to a lack of perception? I don’t know. But I do agree with Michael that the role of the details is important, of a single tiny part of the equation has to be seen. And for that we need to develop our ‘seeing’ muscles and attitudes.

I’ve earlier written about the on-going change and the silos in the work places, silos that lead to idea poverty and ineffectiveness. As a remedy for this our existing organizational structures needs a refresh, and we knowledge workers, should become more passionate about helping our organizations to be open, learning organizations. Mr. Wolff’s thinking helps us in this as both the acknowledgment and appreciation are the key ingredients in this.

Secondly, Michael Wolff states the kind of obvious but easily ignored idea: Emotion is most important component in graphics design.

In line with Michael I do believe that active observations combined with having our emotions ‘open’, is an essential fuel for our creativity, for better thinking and for the innovation.

I find here a clear connection to Esa Saarinen’s theory of Systems Intelligence about which I’ve blogged earlier:

We all have two different thinking systems, so-called System 1 and 2: System 1 thinking as automatic, associative, and intuitive. System 2 thinking is dominating in the work places: you better be strictly rational. In every day work situations the System 2 thinking is active and often unintentionally blocking System 1 thinking – and therefore narrowing the possibilities at hands. When both systems are active, there’s a room for intuition, interaction and emotions.

An interesting connection between the System 1 thinking and the Muscles of Curiosity and Appreciation. Genuine two-way engagement with other people enables us to better co-create and develop ideas.

Systems Intelligence & the Three Muscles Combined

The unpredictable, more global, mobile and social business environment brings tough challenges for the areas of communication, coordination, learning, and leadership.

I believe that acknowledging the role of Esa Saarinen’s Systems Intelligence theory in the knowledge work and combining it with Michael Wolff’s idea of exercising these three muscles – Curiosity, Appreciation, Imagination – takes us a step closer to a more creative, productive and human working environment.

Do you think there is a need for a mental bodybuilding for us knowledge workers?

Related reading:

PS. My long-time motto is “Always in Beta. And passionately so”. I think I’ll modify it with Michael’s wonderful motto, which is: Obsessively Interested in Everything.

Game Mechanics and Landscape Design for Customer Value Creation

My daughter checking out the landscape design of Crete (Summer 2010)

I recently met a marketing professional who had seen the “social light”, or should I say Social Business Light. He was stressed about the fact that most of his colleagues and the management “don’t understand the value of social media and what is happening within marketing communication”. Very familiar set up!

At least some of the common misunderstandings and friction is a result of language we use. Different backgrounds and experiences lead to a situation where mutual comprehension is not easy.  Other challenges are – no news here – results of silo-liked work environments, communication and collaboration gaps, and also some kind of idea “inbreeding”.

All these factors complicate the work of management, business operations, and strategy work. More precisely, complicating the way management is use to manage and lead.

People, Process, Tools

What I am trying to do is to learn more about the challenges related to the communication and language issues. In the background I have several years of work with the global community of great IT Service Management people. So I am familiar with a situation where business people are accusing the lazy techies in the IT department for hampering the competitive edge, and the IT folks are blaming (laughing and crying at) business units for their unrealistic wishes and lack of understanding related to the various IT services and systems.

A best practices framework (called IT Infrastructure Library, ITIL) introduced the key processes for IT services and the common terminology for IT people; however it’s clear it isn’t the language of business people. They speak dollars and Euros, hours and minutes. I’m not going deeper into ITSM now; my wise friends from the ITSM sphere can help me with that. I’ll continue with wondering communication and organizational culture related to people, processes and tools.

From Land Border Discussions to Landscape Design

A common language does not solve all the challenges, but it sure supports better mutual understanding. I have recently experienced that often there’s a severe lack of trust between the departments (silos) and no common language. How on earth would they use social tools together?

Both understanding and trust are created in the interactions, in the value-creating relationships, between individuals within companies and also over the organizational borders. This is a must for value creation. An organization, that recognizes the customer value and customer experience as their core tasks, will be successful. I would like to describe its benefits with this metaphor:

An organization that, instead of “land border discussions”, invests in “landscape design”, where each part is creatively fitted into the environment, sometimes with some trial and error. This kind of organization can be more innovative and produce more value for the customer. And further, an organization which has managed to skip the land border talks and proceeds to landscape design, is able to learn both from its existing business environment, and also better perceive the future changes.

This kind of organization also learns not only more quickly but also smarter what ‘social’ really means. Check out one of my favorite blogger Harold Jarche, he discusses about smart learning, working smarter. The foundation for this kind of development lies on an open attitude and desire to learn.

New Structures of Work, Language Bath and the Process of Helping

How a silo-like organization will be a smart, learning, social organization? There are naturally lots of answers to that but here are three suggestions:

  1. New structures of work lead us towards a situation where departments and hierarchies as the operating platform for management, are becoming useless. We need to move towards distributed work structures and new kind of organizational landscape design is needed.
  2. A common understanding that is supported by language bath (nicer term for language immersion) so that the language does not form new barriers. Forget about placing people in the offices by the unit and role, mix them up, let them find their swarm, distribute work, crowdsource, and utilize collaboration tools effectively. This contributes to development of a common language and understanding.
  3. On top of these two, an entirely new process is needed: A Process of Helping. This new process together with the two previous points will help organizations to create value.

Point 3. is an idea which was presented by the pioneer of organizational development and culture Edgar H. Schein in a recent interview ”A Corporate Climate of Mutual Help” (pdf). He says wisely:

”Better teamwork requires perpetual mutual helping, within and across hierarchical boundaries.”

”…companies need to train their teams in the helping process. Most teams training that I’ve seen is focused on making people feel good about one another. But what I’m talking about is something much more profound and essential: knowing how to work with one another as equal partners in an operational setting.”

Beautiful. BTW I think it’s also applicable to a marriage.

Esko Kilpi describes the value creation in this kind of organization – and with this kind of attitude – in his interesting blog post from May 2010, “Online multiplayer games teaching management”. He suggests:

“The new landscape of work consists of the network as the architecture of work and work as interaction between non-co-located but interdependent people. The astonishing thing is that we can find an existing, efficient, working model for this kind of digital work. It is multiplayer online games and the game environment in general.”

“Acting in the game environment is always based on uncertainty. You can’t succeed in an uncertain environment without trial and error, without taking risks. You can’t embrace risk taking without accepting failures. Here the game environment is fundamentally different from most corporate cultures. In corporations the often-heard objection to trying out something is: “We’ve already tried it and it didn’t work!” The game environment approach is “Let’s try that again. The situation has changed and we have learned!” Frequent risk taking and confronting risks routinely help players to learn to keep paradoxes alive calmly and to live efficiently with continuous uncertainty.”

Very well put. I recommend that you read the entire post. I do favor an entrepreneurial attitude, risk taking and curiosity, genuinely taking all parties into account – the client first and foremost. Like in the game mechanics.

I do believe in the ideas of game mechanics and a new kind of business landscape design for the customer value creation. I’ll end this post by Esko’s wise words:

“Widespread adoption of game mechanics to communication, coordination and taking responsibility would require a dramatic change in the mainstream organizational culture. However, these games are here today and the generation that has grown up playing the games is growing up and joining corporations. They are going to be the drivers of the change towards a more productive and more fun work environment.”

And I feel genuinely good about the fact that he is speaking about my WoW playing son too. 

PS1. One aspect to the value creation is open innovation. Hutch Carpenter’s recent post about social CRM and innovation is excellent, he says:   “Open innovation is the two-way engagement with external parties to source, co-create and develop ideas that benefit the market and the company.” A topic for another post.

PS2. I’ve earlier written about this topic in Finnish, you’ll find it here.

Odottamattomia yhdistelmiä, somea ja johtajaominaisuuksia

Minulla on tapana katsella kattoja, sieltäkin löytyy välillä yllätyksiä.

Haluan jakaa muutaman tarinan, tarkemmin sanottuna odottamattoman yhdistelmän.

Odottamattomista sattumuksista ja mahdollisuuksista olen runoillut aiemminkin: avoimella asenteella, systeemit 1 & 2 käytössä. Niistä voit lukea lisää täältä.

Minulla on tapana havainnoida hauskoja, odottamattomia yhdistelmiä, ja nauttia niistä. Kahden minulle rakkaan asian yhdistelmiä. Usein välittömästi hymyilyttäviä ja päivän pelastavia, kuten äidiltäni lahjaksi saamani äänikirja, jossa Dr. House, näyttelijä Hugh Laurie lukee Tove Janssonin Muumi-kirjaa englanniksi. Aivan mahtavaa kuunnella Hugh’n brittikorostuksella lausumaa tuttua tarinaa ja muumihahmojen englanninkielisiä nimiä. Mahtavan rentouttava, odottamaton yhdistelmä. Suosittelen lämpimästi.

Kuten Hugh & muumit toinen sydäntäni lähellä oleva, epätavallinen yhdistelmä – trumpetin ääni ja lentäminen – löytyy tästä videosta:

Norjalainen trumpettivirtuoosi Ole Edvard Antonsen nousee F-16 -hävittäjän kyytiin Pohjois-Norjassa ja taustalla soi sävellyksensä Vidda (mikä tarkoittaa tundraa). Video on minulle rakas, palaan sen pariin säännöllisesti. Trumpetin sointi tuo minulle mieleen rakkaita muistoja ja olen jo vuosia haaveillut lentolupakirjasta. Ihana, jos vähän kummallinen yhdistelmä.

Twitter on ehtymätön odottamattomien yhdistelmien löydöspaikka. Serendipiteettitaivas. Hugh’n ja muumien, Ole Edvardin ja hävittäjälennon jatkoksi sopii tämä esimerkki, hiukan eri linjalla, mutta kuitenkin. Odottamaton suomalainen yhdistelmä: Sosiaalinen media ja Puolustusvoimat.

Yle raportoi hiljan Puolustusvoimien satsaavan sosiaaliseen mediaan, esimerkiksi nostettiin armeijan oma YouTube-kanava, jonka sisällön tuottavat combat camera -miehet. Loistava idea.

Kohtasin Puolustusvoimat somessa myös henkilökohtaisella tasolla. Olen todella vaikuttunut Pääesikunnan päällikön, kenraaliluutnantti Markku Kolin toiminnasta sosiaalisessa mediassa. Markku Koli ilmestyi Twitteriin jokin aika sitten ja alkoi toimia aidosti, aktiivisesti ja uteliaasti. Luovastikin, Markulla on omat lyhenteet, esim. tviitin alussa oleva PP tarkoittaa Parasta Päivässä ja HA on Huolenaihe. Eipä tullut ensimmäisenä mieleen, että Puolustusvoimien korkea-arvoinen upseeri heittäytyy someen. Suuntaan siis katseen peiliin. Vaikka pitäisihän minun tietää, edesmennyt rakas upseeri-isoisäni oli varsin luova persoona.

Hetki sitten lukemani Markku Kolin tviittaus inspiroi tähän kirjoitukseen. Se kävi näin. Tviittasin eilen McKinsey’n tuoreen artikkelin Seven steps to better brainstorming. Illan aikana kenraaliluutnantti Koli oli sen re-tweetannut ja lisännyt oman kommenttinsa: Laatutavaraa! Lisäisin vielä: Understand your culture. Minun aamuni alkoi siis (Japanin tilanteen ohella) sillä, että mietin Markun kommentin ulottuvuuksia. Kiitos, Markku!

Avoimuus, ennakkoluulottomuus ja kokeilunhalu ovat mielestäni hyviä johtajaominaisuuksia. Niitä voi opetella sosiaalisessa mediassa. Jospa suomalaiset yritysjohtajat ottaisivat mallia Markku Kolista – sen sijaan, että ulkoistavat somen ‘sisäisesti’ markkinoinnille tai surkeimmassa tapauksessa lykkäävät homman organisaation ulkopuoliselle gurulle.

Rakastan odottamattomia yhdistelmiä. Tänä aamuna somea ja johtajaominaisuuksia. On mahtavaa löytää niitä kaikilta elämänalueilta.

Mikä on sinun yhdistelmäsi?

PS. Muutoin tämän aamun ajatukset ovat tiukasti Japanissa. Vuoden 1986 huhtikuu on kirkkaana mielessäni.

My Nostalgia Trip to Pre Social Business

As part of my unlearning and learning process towards better understanding of Social Business I’ve been thinking back the time I worked for a Swedish Supply Chain Management (SCM) company IBS.

Yes, I am recalling the attempts we made in order to build a platform for a global wholesale distribution, the concept was called as Virtual Enterprise.

It is now most interesting to follow the discussion about social business design and to find many similar perspectives.

Simultaneously with The Power of Pull, a warmly recommended read, I have been re-reading older European research about business process design (pdf), written by two Swiss gentlemen Elgar Fleisch and Hubert Österle. Already eighteen years ago (!) in 1993 they created an interesting concept of Integration Area that refers to organizational processes which are characterized by high dependency, and therefore require a high degree of coordination.

They discuss the complexity of inter-organizational networking which is associated with human interaction, organization structure, and the culture. In order to reduce this complexity, Fleisch and Österle presented the Coordination Areas. The five coordination areas that are highly dependent of each other are: Supply Chain Management, Relationship Management, Innovation, Infrastructure, and Organization Development.

Here below their model for inter-organizational networking for complex environments:

Coordination Areas. Source: Fleisch & Österle (2000)

The difference between these two concepts is that the integration area pursues integration through integrated information processing, while the coordination area pursues integration through the organization of dependencies.

Related to the latter, organization of dependencies, an interesting parallel could also be drawn to the systems theory and its qualitative determinants. Two system determinants, attributes of the elements and the degree of the organization among system elements, employ the same kind of complex dependencies.

Fleisch & Österle also used a notion of networkability:

“The inter-organizational dependencies within coordination areas are contrasted by the intra-organizational dependencies across areas. Both play a decisive role in the networkability structure of businesses.”

It is easy to find confluence. After reading some of the recently published books related to the social business and comparing the models and messages in those to this older research – you can find many themes that are in common.

Good old SCM and the Social Business

Fleisch & Österle state that coordination of business processes have to cover both outputs and all associated design areas such as process, IT, people, organization structure, and culture. The efforts my company made 10-15 years back, associated with Supply Chain Management, were directed towards this kind of coordination of the inter-organizational processes.

Yes, there’s a clear connection between these SCM development efforts and Social Business/Enterprise 2.0! Exactly as Jacob Morgan tweeted while ago.

Here’s few more pickings from the nostalgia period research (1997-2001):

Fleisch and Österle developed a model called “Five computerization phases towards business networking”. They describe an integration area as an indicator of the degree of “informatization” of an organization. The size of integration area is growing while technology develops. Well, this reminds me of Enterprise 2.0 when seen from a tool & information perspective. However, their model was not yet very social one.

Some of the nostalgic themes of that time were:

  • On the tool side, the new portal technologies as the tools to give a common view of supplier relationship related information and system integrations for integrated processes. For example information stored in the ERP, CRM and Human Resource systems. Very much system and information flow centred approach.
  • On the process side, the concept of Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) was a hot topic as the supplier relationships emerged and companies wanted to create a strategically managed structure around their supplier relationships. In 2001 Gartner Group stated about SRM as follows: “[…] this goes beyond e-procurement and strategic sourcing to embrace the collaborative creation and management of supplier-enterprise products and processes.”

A bit like pre Social Businessian, isn’t it?

Summarized it can be said that the focus were clearly around the processes, work flows and managing information within the processes.  Some initial ideas for the collaboration on the individual level were present, but were still rare in the businesses. What was missing then was naturally the emerging new communication culture and the possibilities enabled by social media – to connect, discuss, and to create value also on the individual level.

From a System Level to a Human Level & The Power of Pull

The focus is now broadening from the system level to the human level: how individuals communicate, interact and create value together has become essential. The core concepts have changed from the pure process view with task descriptions, detailed instructions and strict control towards empowerment of people, enhanced interactions inside and outside of the own organization, away from the information/knowledge silos – all this supported by the new kind of social technology.

However, there’s much to do. Firstly, we are still often calling people as resources or assets, sigh! We do have Human Resources departments, like people were parts in a machine. And secondly, social media is often reduced to a set of tools only.

One of the best readings on the topic is the latest book of John Hagel, John Seely Brown & Lang Davison. They present a Pull approach with which you can turn uncertainty into opportunity, and further enable small moves to make a huge impact. The Pull approach consists of three levels:

  • At the most basic level, pull helps us to find and access people and resources when we need them.
  • At a second level, pull is the ability to attract people and resources to you that are relevant and valuable, even if you were not even aware before they existed.
  • Finally, the third level of pull – the ability to pull from within ourselves the insight and performance required to more effectively achieve our potential.

I do believe that the Pull approach enables us to learn faster and translate what we’ve learned into improved performance; the performance of ourselves but also the people we connect with.

One driver for this nostalgia trip was actually this sentence in their book:

“These three levels of pull go far beyond the “on-demand” focus of technology industry in recent years. On-demand initiatives generally seek to facilitate the first level of pull, but they have very little to offer regarding the second and third levels of pull.”

I fully agree with them.

I will continue to study social business design and how to use the power of pull to access new sources of information, to attract like-minded individuals, and to shape serendipity to increase the likelihood of positive chance encounters.

Still much to learn for a Serendipity Hippie like me. The passion will help me on the way.

PS.  Dachis Group describes the Social Business Design in a way I like a lot. Their model covers how customer can participate in the value creation, how to enhance collaboration, and how to rethink and optimize the value network. The latter – Business Partner Optimization – is quite close to the Virtual Enterprise concept I was working with in the end of the 90’s. It is fascinating to notice how the basic ideas of social business have been around for a long time, and now finally becoming part of our daily business.

Related reading from Dave Grey of Dachis Group – The Connected Company.

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