Tag Archives: Harold Jarche

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 http://www.jarche.com)

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 : )


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.


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!


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