Tuesday, 23 February 2010

informatology 2010


   On 28th April, I’ll be speaking at informatology’s 2010 "Good Practice for Great Performance" conference, which is designed to give business and talent leaders inspiration and insight to help their organisations be as successful as they can be.

The conference sounds like a lot of fun, with plenty of 2.0 and even an unconference thrown in!

Key themes include managing change, leadership, customer service, executive coaching, engaging and utilising talent, great places to work, the professional services sector, e-learning, making video, the future of workplace learning, team collaboration 2.0 (my session), sharing knowledge 2.0, enterprise 2.0, and learning & performance 2.0!

Other confirmed speakers include...

  • Professor Robert Winston - Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, world-famous author and TV personality delivers the inspirational opening keynote
  • Michael Izza - CEO, The Institute of Chartered Accountants chairs the session focusing on the Professional Services sector
  • Jo Causon - CEO, The Institute of Customer Service chairs the "Great Customer Service" session
  • Tom O'Byrne - CEO, Great Place To Work® Institute UK, chairs a session featuring winners of their award
  • Professor Andrew Mayo, frequent speaker, writer and facilitator in international HRM, specialising in people and organisation development, chairs the session on Great Leadership
  • Julie Starr, Author of the bestselling “The Coaching Manual” chairs the session on Executive Coaching
  • Nick Shackleton-Jones, Online & Informal Learning Manager at the BBC leads a whole-day masterclass with his BBC colleagues, on how to create video on a shoestring
  • Jane Hart leads a whole-day masterclass on Learning & Performance 2.0
  • Sudhir Giri, Global Head of Learning Technologies at Google, speaks on Sharing Knowledge 2.0
  • Clive Shepherd, a consultant specialising in learning and communications technologies, chairs the session on Great e-Learning.


The conference will be held at Baker Tilly’s Conference Centre in London from Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th April, 2010.

Can you attend this event?  Book here.



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Thursday, 18 February 2010

Justmeans Social media and stakeholder engagement conference


   In a month’s time (19th March 2010), I’m going to be moderating one of the sessions at Justmeans’ Social Media and Stakeholder Engagement conference in London.

Building on the success of the inaugural event worldwide on Social Media and Sustainability, this event will bring together the top minds in sustainability, marketing, innovation, and technology.

It will focus on how social media is changing the way companies engage key stakeholders, whether employees, customers, activists, investors, or the media.

Topics covered include:

  • Transparency and authenticity as cornerstones of the new business reality
  • Stakeholder engagement as it relates to employees, customers, and activists
  • How to mobilize support for adaptation of new technologies to advance social and environmental initiatives
  • A look at various techniques on how to break through the clutter with your message.


Other speakers and moderators include:

  • Lee Bryant, Co-Founder and Director, Headshift
  • Jean-Philippe Renaut, Manager, Engaging Stakeholders Program, SustainAbility
  • Bjorn Edlund, Executive Vice President, Communications at Royal Dutch Shell plc
  • Tim Callington, Communications Consultant, Edelman
  • Robert Nuttall, Director, GreenMandate
  • Tim Johns, VP Corporate Communications, Unilever
  • Ed Gillespie, Co-Founder, Futerra
  • Marcia Stepanek, Publisher, Cause Global
  • Dr. Dan McQuillan, Head of Digital, Enterprise UK
  • Karina Brisby, Head of Digital Campaigns, Oxfam (UK)
  • Renate Nyborg, Director, Social Media & Engagement, IF Communications
  • Jo Confino, Executive Editor and Head of Sustainable Development, Guardian News and Media
  • Neville Hobson, Head of Social Media Europe, WeisComm Group
  • Tom Raftery, Social Media Consultant, GreenMonk
  • Antony Mayfield, Head of Social Media, iCrossing UK
  • James Farrar, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, SAP
  • Amit Mehra, Managing Director, Reuters Market Lite.


For more information on the event, please contact Serina Mufti at smufti@justmeans.com or +44 (0) 203 238 2121.

And if you’re going to be there, do come and say hello.



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Sunday, 7 February 2010

TalentedApps continues the Carnevale di Venezia tradition


   The 7 February Leadership Development Carnival is being hosted by Mark Bennett at TalentedApps.

Mark notes:

“Last year about this time, our colleague Jon Ingham hosted the HR Carnival and pointed out that it was during Carnevale in Venice. We’re continuing that tradition for this month’s Leadership Development Carnival.

Carnevale is perhaps best known for the wide variety of masks that participants wear. The role of a mask in leadership has also been recognized throughout history, particularly in thecontext of politics and war. We tend to associate masks with “hiding” and “being fake”, but one can argue that even authentic leadership sometimes entails keeping a calm demeanor while chaos swirls around.”


Love it!  Take a look at the great collection of posts there (including my ‘Work sucks...’ piece which deals in passing with the development of leaders through gaming experiences).


Picture credit: Dragoos 


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Saturday, 6 February 2010

Work sucks, play games!


World of Warcraft  Ive recently been reading a new book, ‘Total Engagement’, by Byron Reeves and J Leighton Read and it’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read during the last year.

Despite the title, there’s not a lot of new information in here on engagement, but there is a lot on gaming (the book’s sub title is ‘Using games and virtual worlds to change the way people work and businesses compete’) and on gaining Social Advantage too.


Gaming Engagement

I should explain that I’ve never really spent any time playing computer games, never mind massive multiplayer online role-plaing games (MMPOLGs).  I have experimented in Second Life but the type of environment the book describes is quite new for me.  Nevertheless, I’m happy to go along with many of the authors’ conclusions.  I can believe games are fun, and I completely support the ideas that people should have more fun at work.

I also believe that gaming can develop useful skills.  The book Leaders make the Future, which I reviewed recently on Talking HR, suggested that game players would stand an advantage in leadership roles in the future.  This book’s authors support this conclusion and also claim that every skill in the list of O*NET generalised work activities is included multiple times in gamers’ experiences.

Gamers gain other benefits as well – they are apparently physically healthier, work harder, make better grades, earn higher salaries and are more socially connected than those who play less or not at all.

So I’m quite motivated to try some games out – but probably not until I’ve finished my Social Advantage book (although I make try out 10 day free membership to World of Warcraft at some point in the next few months).

However, I also feel that the book pushes the argument for gaming  a bit too far.  The authors note that work is often repetitive and dull; that workplaces are legacy-bound and risk averse; and that workers are overloaded with information and worried about the future.  But is bringing games into the workplace, or making work more game-like, really the solution to these problems?

This situation clearly needs to improve.  Particularly since, as the authors point out, the future of work is going to be more about engaging people than commanding them.

Leighton Read writes about his experience attending Gary Hamel’s MLab meeting in Half Moon Bay in 2008 (which resulted in the Moon Shots for Management which are the focus of my ning community).  He describes the group’s conclusions about the remedies for work and management as:

  • A sense of purpose (mojo)
  • Connected structures that minimise degrees of separation between workers and actual customers
  • The end of short-termism, micro-management and burnout from corporate initiatives.


Well OK, so games provide the same ingredients that will help solve these business problems.  But suggesting that games are the definitive model of engagement is a bit far fetched. 

But I am prepared to accept the points it is a model, and that some people will soon do their jobs inside a game (perhaps a ‘mixed-’ or ‘augmented-reality’ one).

Supporting this, I’ve also seen a very compelling presentation from Microsoft’s Ross Smith (who is referred to in this book) at a MLab Management 2.0 event, describing how his team test software in a game type environment in order to make this work more interesting.

Also, as the authors write,

“Games can make huge improvements in work with only small adjustments to current practice and technology.  You don’t have to build an entire game to use games at work.”


Meez at Work

Examples of these small adjustments include using three-dimensional environments allowing you to do things otherwise impossible in the real world.  But more than anything else, the authors focus on the use of avatars (see their blog / recent HBR post too), providing people the opportunity to try out new styles, new behaviours and so on:

  • Customised avatars increase engagement and affiliation compared to impersonalised activities (a personalised avatar provides ownership and arousal leading to engagement, commitment and learning in a similar way to taking an action in the real world)
  • The use of avatars can create emotional and social connectlons
  • I also like the authors’ comment that social trumps efficiency (“‘efficiency isn’t the sale criteria by which virtual [I’d suggest any] interactions should be evaluated’).


The authors expect use of avatars to further increase with growing expressiveness as facial features become more distinct, movements more lifelike and user control more richly intuitive (they become ‘mini-me’s’):

“It’s the equivalent of looking in the mirror, only the character in the mirror has a lot more freedom to do things you can’t do yourself.”

“At IBM, thousands of employees meet weekly, using their avatars , in a virtual space to talk about business (dubbed the company ‘intraverse’.”

“A majority of the Fortune 100 companies we’ve spoken to in the last three years have at least one virtual-world prototype that makes use of avatars.”


I also think it’s interesting that I probably get more verbal comments about the Meez avatars on my blogs than anything else.

But I still don’t think that work necessarily needs to become a game in order to improve…


Taking Lessons

The authors note that “gamers don’t discuss hypotheticals or simulate play when the real thing is readily available”.  So why simulate business as a game when the real thing (ie work) is readily available too?

So I’m probably more interested in the use of gaming to support work, than to replace it, for example in development:

“We also believe that companies could explicitly include multiplayer entertainment games as part of their leadership development programs.  These would be like' ‘management flight simulators’ for softer aspects of leadership, as opposed to the more analytical aspects for which simulators and spreadsheets are available.”


And for me, the even bigger opportunity to those I’ve described above, which seem to assume that work can’t be improved other than through gaming, is to use the lessons from gaming, rather than gaming itself, to make work in the real world more engaging.

I’ll be coming back to write more about this soon.



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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Lynda Gratton on Nokia and the future of work


    I’ve already posted at Strategic HCM on Lynda Gratton’s Future of Work blog and her recent article at HR Magazine.  But she’s also got a good article up on London Business School’s site, reviewing Nokia’s Booster Programme.


One of the things I’ve posted on quite frequently at this blog, is the need to combing real and virtual (or as Nokia say, analogue and digital) activities in order to best achieve certain outcomes.

In Gratton’s article, she explains how Nokia’s ‘Booster Programme’ used a blended approach including both sets of activities to engage with people throughout the world and to do so in fast and compelling ways:


Need: fundamental organisational change covering 5000 employees.

Analogue activities: a two-day face-to-face workshop with team leaders

Digital activities: online social network communities providing much broader involvement of the whole organisation.

“The two-day workshops were staged in locations across the world, including Beijing, White Plains (New York), Helsinki, London and Dubai. About 100 potential change leaders were part of each workshop.

When all workshops were completed, the 700 participants then returned to their teams to engage them in the ongoing process. It was at this point that the online community came to the fore. Working with specialist partners, the design team created an intranet site accessible to workshop participants and all employees of the Markets business. The online community was designed to host conversations and communications with senior managers as well as to provide information and ideas from content experts and community members.”


Result: daunting organisational change made fully effective within one week!

Gratton notes that:

“The capacity of social networks to create engagement and innovation is seen to be crucial to the long-term success of Nokia.”


But importantly, social networks didn’t achieve this on their own!  It was down to both real and virtual communication, and importantly, to Nokia’s collaborative organisation structure and culture:

“Only about 100 people assuming new jobs. For the rest of Nokia’s employees, there was no need to change jobs; the modular teams of which they were members were simply reconfigured. The discipline, philosophy and mindset of reconfiguration through standardisation and shared platforms ensured that Nokia is able to skilfully and rapidly reconfigure its human resources to meet changing customer needs.”


So that’s change management sorted then!


Photo credit: boostedfc3s


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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Enterprise 2.0 conference: why Collaboration & ‘being’ social ARE outcomes


E20 virtual conference   This evening, I attended a couple of sessions at a virtual event linked to this Summer’s Enterprise 2.0 conference (where I’m still hoping to present).

I really enjoyed the presentations, particularly Morten Hansen’s session on Collaboration.  And I agreed with most of the points made.  However, I do disagree, quite strongly, with a point made by Oliver Marks and Sameer Patel in their session, that the objectives for E2.0 projects should always be financial ie increasing revenues or reducing costs.

I seem to have a minority viewpoint here – certainly Marks’ and Patel’s point rippled through the Twitter stream at #e2conf (“Collaboration & ‘being’ social are not outcomes. business objectives are outcomes”) for a quite a while afterwards.

So why do I consider the point to be wrong (and substantially limiting):

  • Firstly, another good point on the Twitter stream was that we shouldn’t start with Enterprise 2.0 at all (a potential solution in search of a problem).  We should start with the business, and look at how its objectives can be realised, which may include Enterprise 2.0.  These objectives don’t always have to be financial.
  • In fact, surely one major learning over the last decade and beyond, through inputs like the balanced business scorecard, is that focusing purely on financial objectives limits what’s possible.
  • The main reason for this is that capabilities like collaboration, especially those which are vitally important, and under-developed, like ‘being’ social, can have a dramatic and transformational impact on end business results further down the value chain (they can create as well as add value).


It’s by focusing on the social aspect of organisations that we stand the best chance of enabling the deepest change.  I don’t think focusing on the technology, or non-technological activities, is going to do it on their own, as unless there’s a desire and an understanding of what social is, the full benefit of a more social approach isn’t going to be gained.  But focusing on business results isn’t going to achieve much more.

‘Being’ social is an outcome, and it’s the key leverage point to change this system too.


For a deeper explanation, see my recent post, 3 modes of web 2.0 implementation.



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Monday, 1 February 2010

Looking back to February 2009


RitaE   You may also be interested in these posts from February last year:


Or even from the year before?


My contact details:

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Picture credit (Rita Montana): unknown