Tag Archives: Esko Kilpi

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.


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).



Haluatko johtaa moottoripäitä vai verkostopelaajia?

Photo taken by me @ Paphos 2010

Hesarin tiistainen otsikko pysäytti minut, muumifanin: Management by Muumipappa. Otsikko liittyi tuoreen johtamisoppaan kirja-arvosteluun: ”Muumipappa ja meri auttaa muutosjohtamisen ymmärtämisessä, Seitsemän veljestä valottaa huipputiimin työskentelyä ja Tuntematon sotilaan kautta peilataan johtamiskäsityksiä asiantuntevaan sävyyn”, kirjoittaa Helsingin Sanomat.

Jäin miettimään johtamista, johtamiskirjoja ja -koulutusta nopeasti muuttuvassa, verkottuvassa bisnesympäristössä: mitä yksittäinen luettu johtamiskirja voi antaa ja toisaalta miten johtamiseen liittyvä valmennuskurssi vaikuttaa?

Johtamiskirjan opeilla? Kirjan arvostellut toimittaja huomaa, että ”johtamiskirjallisuus kuvaa usein sitä, minkälaisia johtajien pitäisi olla, kun taas kaunokirjallisuus sitä, mitä johtajat oikeasti saattavat olla.” Tästä on helppo olla samaa mieltä. Ikisuosikkini Kari Hotakainen kuvaa johtoa ja toimiston työntekijätyyppejä hykerryttävästi kirjassaan Klassikko (1997 WSOY):

”Toimistojen työntekijät voidaan jakaa karkeasti neljään pääluokkaan: Moottoripäihin, Toteuttajiin, Energiansyöjiin ja Sivustakatsojiin.

Moottoripäät ideoivat ja ahertavat lakkaamatta jonkin uuden ajatuksen parissa. He tekevät töitä kuin omassa yrityksessään, puhuvat tauotta, eivät ole hiljaa edes kahvitauolla, jotka on pyhitetty esimiesten vikojen etsintään. Moottoripäät syöttävät tietoa eteenpäin, mutta kohtaavat innostumattomuuden muurin miltei kaikkialla. He eivät helposti lannistu, koska heidän päänsä erittävät lakkaamatta endorfiiniä, ainetta joka lähtee liikkeelle urheilusuorituksen jälkeen. Se on laillista huumetta, ja kun on kerran sen huurun kukkuloille noussut, ei tunnetta unohda koskaan.

Yrityksen johto kannustaa Moottoripäitä, sillä johto näkee heidän maanisissa toimissaan yrityksen tulevaisuuden, mikä onkin oikea johtopäätös. Johdon ei tarvitse nostaa moottoripäiden palkkaa, sillä nämä katsovat etuoikeudekseen olla töissä yrityksessä, joissa heidän ideoilleen on kasvualusta.”

Viestintä- ja vuorovaikutusteknologioiden nopea kehitys vie pohjan monelta tottumukselta, myös perinteisiltä johtamistyyleiltä ja siltä miten arvoa syntyy. Tuottavuuden mittaamiseen eivät riitä määrälliset mittarit, vaan tarvitaan myös laadullisia mittareita. Olemme tilanteessa, jossa sekä johtamisen että organisaatiorakenteiden on muututtava. Painettu sana, eli johtamiskirjat, eivät tahdo vauhdissa pysyä. Suosittelenkin seuraamaan työn uudesta arkkitehtuurista ja johtamisesta kiinnostavasti kirjoittavan Esko Kilven blogia.

Esko Kilpi korostaa tietotyössä toisiaan tarvitsevien ihmisten vuorovaikutusta eli suhteita. Fiksu yritys varmistaa tiedon ja erityisesti hiljaisen tiedon rikkaan virtaamisen. Perustaksi tälle tarvitaan monipuolisten suhteiden synnyttämää ja vahvistamaa luottamusta.  Hotakaisen toimiston moottoripäät eivät ehkä ole tässä parhaimmillaan. Luottamuksesta ja hiljaisesta tiedosta lisää aikaisemmassa kirjoituksessani.

Siilomaisesti toimivan organisaatioiden sisäiset kommunikaatiokäytännöt ovat usein puutteellisia, läpinäkyvyys loistaa poissaolollaan ja vuorovaikutusta ei tueta riittävästi.

Siilon asukin on vaikea tietää mitä yrityksessä tapahtuu ja mikä on oikeasti tärkeää.

Klassikon sivuilla – ja monissa organisaatioissa – seikkailee sivustakatsoja: ”He muistavat tulla ajoissa töihin katsomaan sivusta ja lähtevät kotiin juuri kun toteutunut seitsemän tunnin neljänkymmenenviiden minuutin sivustakatsomisaika on kulunut”.

Kun suomalainen yritys huomaa, että vanhat mallit eivät toimi, se kääntyy energisen valmentajan puoleen.

Valmennuskurssi, jossa valmentaja on maaninen moottoripää? Tästä syntyy mielenkiintoinen tilanne: valmennuksen ostava yrityksen johto ihastuu valmentajan energiaan ja korkeaan sykkeeseen ja haluaa samaa vauhtia nuupahtaneeseen organisaatioonsa.

Pysyvä energiatason kohotus onnistuu kuitenkin yhtä heikosti johtamiskirjan lukemisella kuin yksittäisellä vauhdikkaalla tiimivalmennuksella. Vaikutuksesta organisaation tuottavuuden kasvuun puhumattakaan! Johtamisvalmennus herätyskokouksen muodossa päättyy usein krapulaan – syketason ero on liian suuri ja perusta on valettu eri tonteille.

Mitä lääkkeeksi? En tiedä! Onneksi Esko ja kumppanit etsivät vastausta tähän. Minä tutkin amatöörin innostuksella ns. Enterprise 2.0 -lähestymistapaa, sekä johtamisen että vuorovaikutuksen, tiedon hallinnan ja jakamisen näkökulmasta. Monille #E20 ja sosiaalinen media on pelkkää teknologiaa, mutta itse näen näiden tukevan organisaation vuorovaikutusta laajoissa verkostoissa ja myös hiljaisen tiedon liikkumista.

Väitän, että enää ei riitä, että on hyvä tiimipelaaja (team player) – täytyy olla myös verkostopelaaja (network player). Löytyykö Suomesta tähän valmennuskursseja?


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