Sunday, 31 August 2008

Trends in Digital HR

Digital HR   I'm really pleased to announce that on Thursday 11th September 11 at 1:00 pm Central Daylight Time, 7.00pm British Summer Time (Summer???!!!), I'll be presenting on 'Digital HR' with Knowledge Infusion's CEO, Jason Averbook.

In this one-hour online event, we will discuss the transformation taking place in HR, and the importance of HR leaders taking charge and leading this revolution.

Please join us to understand how workforce-facing initiatives that HR has been focusing on for the past 10 years--including employee and manager self-service, intranets, portals, and reporting--can be combined with today's consumer-based technologies such as wikis, blogs, social networking, and other Web 2.0 technologies to create a holistic approach to push, pull, interact, and collaborate with the workforce of today.

You’ll learn:

  • What Digital HR is
  • Workforce trends and the impact a Digital HR strategy WILL have on recruiting the next generation of workers
  • Why a Digital HR Strategy is a MUST in today’s hyper-connected world
  • How blocking social networking sites can harm your organization
  • Why HR should emerge as the leader of your organization’s Digital HR and technology strategy.

You'll leave this event with a clear understanding of what Digital HR is, and the next steps your organization can take to be prepared for this evolution.

Please register to join us by booking here.



Saturday, 16 August 2008

Collaboration in talent management


I've posted on HCI's / IBM's new talent management research on my HCM blog.  IBM found the factors that made the biggest difference to organisational performance are whether organisations understand and address workforce attitudes and engagement levels, and whether employee and workgroup incentives are aligned with appropriate business goals.

However, another factor that appears to quite important is collaboration (I also suspect that the importance of this element is currently being undervalued, and that it will grow over time).  The research finds here that only about half of organisations believe that their employees are collaborating and sharing knowledge with other employees.  These organisations believe that doing this helps promote organisational goals and results.

HCI IBM Collaboration


So, firstly, a lot of organisations are missing out on the potential benefits of social capital.

And secondly, many of the organisations which believe their people are collaborating do not have an infrastructure which is designed to facilitate collaboration across the organisation.

IBM note:

"One can only imagine how much better collaboration and knowledge sharing could be aligned with critical goals if more organisations were better at promoting it."


Sunday, 10 August 2008

Orange: ubuntu


I think Orange's new ad provides quite a good description of ubuntu:

"I am my mum and my sister. I am my best friend Mike who I've known since school. I am Kate who's still somewhere in Thailand. I'm all the girls I've ever kissed, and the girls I will. I am the teacher that failed me, and the one who spurred me on. I am my bosses, and every one of my friends. I am a bloke I'll meet travelling, who'll teach me the guitar. I am the places I'll go to with mates, and the jokes I'll share with them. I am the people who put me down, and the ones who'll pick me up. I am who I am, because of everyone."

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Ubuntu / Changing social thinking


Although this blog focuses on developing social capital in businesses, much of the learning that can be used within organisations comes from society at large.  And there's an interesting speech by Michael Gove on the Conservatives website, explaining how the party's social policy is designed to deliver progressive outcomes.

It refers first of all to Bill Clinton's use of the Bantu word Ubuntu which, broadly translated, means 'I am because you are'.

"It resonated because it spoke to a deep truth. Each of us is defined, and enriched, by our relationship to others. It's the strength of our relationships, the warmth of our friendships, the time we have with our partners, parents and children, the respect we're given in the workplace and by our peers, the achievements we forge collaboratively and collectively, which generate real happiness and fulfilment. We are fully ourselves because others believe in us."

The speech continues:

"One of the most profound, but under-appreciated, changes that David Cameron has brought to Conservative politics is a determination to put the strengthening of relationships at the heart of policy."

Gove argues that the UK's current Labour government is neglecting relationships and running down social capital.  An example is the government's approach to the closure of post offices "with its narrow emphasis on economic costs without regard to social benefits, is an erosion of community resilience".

Gove says this is due to Labour's conception of society in which

"There appear to be only two primary centres of decision-making, the central state organises and the individual is expected to respond appropriately.  Individuals are assessed by the State as economic units in need of upskilling, taxing, monitoring or redeploying as appropriate - according to priorities set, and policed, centrally."

In contrast, a future Conservative government will take relationships seriously and put social capital at the heart of policy as something that is good in itself and good for social justice.

All good words, and already supported by some actions, for example Iain Duncan Smiths' Centre for Social Justice.  But beyond this, I'm not sure the Conservatives' plans really look any different from Labour's.  Take school reform:

"The principle at the heart of our schools reform programme is changing the way we make schools accountable so that community relationships are strengthened.

We will make schools accountable to parents by allowing parents to choose the school they want for their child. We'll give every parent the right to take the money currently allocated to their child's education and then deploy it in accordance with their priorities, not the Government's.

We'll make it easier for new providers to enter the state system, reforming planning and other laws to increase choice and diversity. Parents will be empowered to choose the school with the pedagogy, the disciplinary approach, the ethos and the philosophy they believe in. Whether it's the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner or Thomas Arnold, it will be parents who decide what's right for their children."

These are the sort of economic incentives that have been argued for by the conservatives (and Tony Blair) for quite some time.  And I don't see much here that will really strengthen community.

David Cameron has commented previously that "the aim of the Conservative Party is nothing short of building the good society. We will be as radical in social reform as Margaret Thatcher was in economic reform."

I think for this to happen, social reform needs to be based upon something more radical then just economic incentives.

I am a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which styles itself as "a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress".  At the recent AGM, the organisation's Chief Executive, Matthew Taylor described his ideas for developing social strategies.

In his view, social progress requires a paradigm shift in the way we think about ourselves, realising that we all connected to one another and that we need to use different tools to provide new answers to old questions.

This sounds very similar to Michael Gove's thinking but Taylor's conclusions, I think, are quite different.  These are that our sense of separateness, our very identify, is problematic.  It is this way of thinking that we need to change, in order to enable the sort of life in which we have the time and space to become more empathetic to each other, and to display what Taylor calls 'pro-social behaviour'.

As one of the audience attempted to summarise Taylor's speech, para-phrasing Margaret Thatcher: "there is no self - there is only society".

I have recently been reading Peter Block's new book, Community.  This seems to provide some useful ideas for restructuring our thinking and behaviours to"transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole":

"To create an alternative future, we need to advance our understanding of the nature of communal of collective transformation.  We know a good deal about individual transformation, but our understanding about the transformation of human systems, such as our workplaces, neighbourhoods and towns, is primitive at best, and too often naive in the belief that if enough individuals awaken, and become intentional and compassionate beings, the shift in community will follow."

"The context that restores community is one of possibility, generosity and gifts, rather than one of problem solving, fear and retribution.  A new context acknowledges that we have all the capacity, expertise, and resources that an alternative future requires.  Communities are human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness.  The conversations that build relatedness most often occur through associational life, where citizens show up by choice, and rarely in the context of system life, where citizens show up out of obligation.  The small group is the unit of transformation and the container for the experience of belonging.  Conversations that focus on stories about the past become a limitation to community; ones that are teaching parables and focus on the future restore community."

I think this outlines a very attractive and appropriate vision. After all, as Michael Give explains, people want a relationships with government and authority:

"which allows them to feel loyalty, to have their emotions stirred, sometimes to anger when authority fails them, but more often to pride at what has been achieved collaboratively by a collective of which they feel a meaningful part."

To me, it is 'social thinking' (thinking from a social perspective, one that values the importance of social capital, and the comes from the spirit of ubuntu) that provides the basis for this future state.


Aberdeen Group: Workforce collaboration and web 2.0


The Aberdeen Group report provides a number of interesting findings too.  The report defines workforce collaboration as "connecting employees and sharing knowledge to achieve identified goals".

It is therefore one outcome of both connection (through social networking) and knowledge sharing (through web 2.0).

In terms of my HCM value chain (input, activity, output, impact), the main inputs are the technologies organisations are using to support collaboration.

HCM Value Chain

These include:

  • Calendar sharing (94% of best-in-class organisations)
  • File sharing tools (81%)
  • Web-conferencing software (78%)
  • Task management tools for project-based teamwork (78%)
  • Web portal creation software (75%)
  • Wikis (72%)
  • Software that enables surveying / polling of the workforce (72%)
  • Blogs (66%).

The activities that best-in-class organisations are taking to support workforce collaboration include:

  • Capturing internal knowledge, expertise, experience and making it available to others within the organisation (52% of organisations)
  • Reducing the time it takes for workers to find relevant information (45%)
  • Enabling workers to communicate and / or collaborate via preferred modes (42%).

The top human / organisational capital challenges organisations seek to overcome through collaboration (ie outputs) are:

  • Workforce productivity (59%)
  • Transfer of knowledge between and among workers (56%)
  • Capture knowledge of existing workers (32%)
  • Employee engagement (30%).

The major intended business impacts of workforce collaboration are:

  • Responding to increased globalisation and geographic spread of the enterprise workforce (44%)
  • Responding faster to market changes (43%)
  • Providing innovative products and services (38%)
  • Responding to an increased competitive landscape (21%).


Supporting McKinsey's findings, the report also provides some evidence that organisations are starting to move from tactical to strategic applications (in my HCM value triangle, moving from value for money to adding value to creating value).

HCM Value Triangle

Value for money applications include use of web 2.0 tools within recruiting, onboarding, performance management, learning and development and succession planning.

Aberdeen Group

Adding value applications include support for project-based team work:

Web 2.0 software tools "are used to manage team calendars, project documents and milestones.  In fact 64% of best-in-class organisations cited 'collaborating on project-based work' as the number one method for which collaboration tools are used."

Creating value applications include connecting workers with subject matter experts:

"This demonstrates that in addition to using these tools primarily for improving current output (such as that from project-based work), they are increasingly used to develop employees professionally by connecting them with subject matter experts.  These experts will not only answer questions or address issues that employees face on a daily basis, but will act as mentors or coaches who become involved in those employees' learning and skills acquisition process - even if informally - making them more valuable assets to the organisation in the long-run...  Indeed, the data shows that best-in-class organisations are 69% more likely than all other organisations to use web 2.0 tools to ensure workers are connected to subject matter experts."

These findings support my view that my HCM value matrix provides an effective structure for planning workforce connecting / collaborating / knowledge sharing applications.  The key for me is selecting objectives at each step in the value chain and at appropriate levels in the value triangle, possibly but not necessarily selecting from the most popular objectives identified in Aberdeen Group's report.

HCM Value Matrix


Aberdeen Group also identify several important enablers other than the technology that is needed to support workforce collaboration:

  • A process that enables multiple units with the business to edit, modify and share content
  • Senior level support and buy-in
  • Communication of the availability of collaboration software tools to the workforce
  • All parties being able to connect and share knowledge irrespective of geography
  • Employees being able to find each other
  • Appropriate metrics for performance management of workforce collaboration activities.

Their report also identifies common hurdles and suggests the appropriate steps to success for best-in-class, industry average and laggard organisations - do check out the full report (available until 29th August).


Monday, 4 August 2008

McKinsey: Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise


There were several interesting reports on web 2.0 / social networking published last month, including by McKinsey, Aberdeen Group and Bersin (I will be reporting on my won research shortly).

The McKinsey report provides an update on last year's research and finds increased use of web 2.0 tools which are still being used more frequently for internal than for external purposes (internal applications include managing knowledge - 83%; fostering collaboration across company - 78%; enhancing culture - 74%; training - 71%; developing products and services - 67% and internal recruiting - 54%).

21% of respondents say they are satisfied overall with web 2.0 technologies and are leveraging them to support fundamental changes in their organisations.

"This year’s survey reveals continuing investments in Web 2.0. Companies that are deriving business value from these tools are now shifting from using them experimentally to adopting them as part of a broader business practice."

Almost 60% of these respondents see them as a driver of competitive advantage.

However, 22% of respondents voice clear dissatisfaction and some have stopped using certain technologies altogether.

One major difference between the two groups seems to be how the technologies are being used:

"A higher level of usage is found at companies that encourage it by using tactics such as integrating the tools into existing workflows, launching Web 2.0 in conjunction with other strategic initiatives, and getting senior managers to act as role models for adoption.

Dissatisfied respondents are likely to note more [barriers] including the inability of management to grasp the potential financial returns from Web 2.0, unresponsive corporate cultures, and less-than-enthusiastic leaders".

Another interesting finding relates to how the tools are adopted by the organisation.  The most common approach is for the business to identify new tools and to work with IT to bring them into the company (25%).  But the second most popular approach is for the IT department to find and test new technologies and for the business to bring them into business units.  Unsurprisingly, this approach doesn't seem to work that well.  Although 16% of respondents reported using this approach there was a clear differentiation between those respondents reporting the highest satisfaction with web 2.0 (only 11% of these respondents used this approach) and those with the lowest satisfaction (where a full 36% used this approach).

So if IT can't take a lead in introducing web 2.0 into our organisations then who can?  You know the answer! - so let's get to it!


Social Workers


I am quoted in an article on social networking published by the IOD's Director magazine, 'Social Workers' - see my HCM blog for details.